Beavers in the Landscape with Dr Emily Fairfax
Santa Barbara Permaculture Network Presents
Beavers in the Landscape
limate, Fire, Drought, Who do you call? Beavers!
Ecosystem Restoration Heroes
An Evening with Dr. Emily Fairfax
Thursday, November 11, 2021
Event Outdoors on the Patio: Farmer & the Cook Restaurant
(Wood-fired Pizza available)
339 W. El Roblar Dr., Meiners Oaks CA (near Ojai)
Beaver dams are gaining popularity as a low-tech, low-cost strategy to build climate resiliency at the landscape scale. Emily Fairfax
Join Santa Barbara Permaculture Network for an evening with Dr. Emily Fairfax, PhD. as she shares her research focused on beaver, a keystone species that until very recently was a vastly underrated ecosystem restoration hero. Passionate about science from a young age, Emily Fairfax was happy when nature and science came together with her interest in beavers. As a geoscientist who studies ecohydrology of wetlands and riparian areas, it was a perfect academic and vocational match.
Beavers are native to North America (Castor canadensis), in populations topping 600 million before trappers in the 1800’s decimated their numbers almost to extinction. They were responsible for a landscape most early settlers and farmers took for granted--- deep soils built up over centuries--- in wetlands they created. These wetlands function then and now as natural sponges that trap and slowly release surface water and are excellent carbon sinks.
With extended droughts and catastrophic fires plaguing California and the West in recent years, Dr. Fairfax began focusing her research on the impact of beaver on wildfires. Squishy, wet landscapes simply don’t burn. And where beaver are, with multiple dam complexes and ponds, squishy land abounds. These conclusions prompted Fairfax to coin the phrase “Smokey the Beaver”.
Of course beavers and human settlements are often at odds. But in communities like Martinez, CA, where a popular Beaver Festival takes place every year, they and others have demonstrated these conflicts can be managed with clever strategies, good for the beaver and the community. And with these kind of beaver management strategies come interesting new jobs, especially good for our next generation, many who yearn for positive livelihoods. As part of the evening event we will share the work of, Cooper Lienheart a recent engineering grad of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, who currently works as a SLO Beaver Brigade Restoration Specialist, and has decided to make beaver and wetland restoration his life work.
Emily Fairfax is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Resource Management at California State University Channel Islands.
Her current research focuses on the ecohydrology of riparian areas, particularly those that have been impacted by beaver damming. She used a combination of remote sensing, modeling, and field to work understand how beaver damming changes these landscapes and on what timescales those changes operate. Dr Fairfax also have an interest in geoscience education research, particularly curriculum development.
Hosted by Santa Barbara Permaculture Network
Co-sponsors: The Farmer & the Cook; San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, & Ojai Beaver Brigades
Read More, additional resources:
Beavers and Wildfire: a stop-motion story by Emily Fairfax
Beavers held the world - Conversation with Ben Goldfarb
Grey Owl's Speaking for the beavers
San Lius Beaver Brigade
Interactive video of a creation of a beaver ecosystem
Santa Barbara Beaver Brigade
San Luis Obispo Beaver Brigade
Visit with San Luis Obispo CA Beaver Brigade and Beaver Mural in Atascadero CA
Visiting Beaver Lodge Salinas River San Luis Obispo with Dr Emily Fairfax,
Margie Bushman designer of the Ecosystem Restoration I Madonnari chalk Mural explains the creative vision May 2020
Explaining the Ecosystem Restoration chalk I Madonnari Mural Santa Barbara Permaculture Network