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Saving the DammedWhy We Need Beaver-Modified Ecosystems$
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Ellen Wohl

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190943523

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190943523.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 14 May 2021

August: Legacy Effects

August: Legacy Effects

August: Legacy Effects
Saving the Dammed

Ellen Wohl

Oxford University Press

Emily Dickinson wrote a lovely poem using a brook as a metaphor for one’s interior life. The poem includes the lines: . . . And later, in August it may be, When the meadows parching lie, Beware lest this little brook of life Some burning noon go dry! . . . No chance of the little brook going dry if it runs through a beaver meadow. The movement of water across and through the North St. Vrain beaver meadow has slowed perceptibly by August. Some of the secondary channels barely flow and the main channel is easily crossed on foot. The water remains high in the main beaver pond, but few of the small dams winding across the meadow have water spilling over them. My feet are less likely to sink into wet black muck as I wander through the meadow, and even the moose tracks leave less of an imprint in the drying soil. Plenty of water remains, however, and the meadow is a much brighter shade of green than the adjacent, drier hill slopes. Many flowers remain in bloom across the meadow. Stalks bristling with the elaborate, richly pink blossoms of elephant’s head rise above standing water. Dusky purple monkshood flowers in slightly drier soil, as do the showy blue and white columbines. The blue bell-shaped flowers of harebell mark the driest sites. The late-summer flowers are joined now by the spreading tan or scarlet caps of fungi, as well as green berries on the ground juniper and kinnikinnick growing on the drier terrace beside the beaver meadow. Songbirds born this summer are fully feathered and capable fliers, and some of the birds have already left the meadow for the year. Early morning temperatures carry a hint of the coming autumn. The beaver kits grow steadily more capable, too, and by now they are used to foraging on their own. Presumably, this frees the breeding adult female for more time spent in dam and lodge repair or starting the food cache for the coming winter.

Keywords:   beaver behavior, carbon, elk (Cervus elaphus), fur trade

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