Tribes’ beaver research featured in Seattle Times

The Skagit River System Cooperative (SRSC)  has found evidence that beavers living in the tidal marsh are creating prime salmon habitat. The SRSC is the natural resources arm of the Swinomish and Sauk-Suiattle tribes.

The Seattle Times reports:

Today, only about 6 percent of the tidal scrub shrub habitat is left in the Skagit River Delta, and that’s better than a lot of places where it’s gone altogether.

So it was here that Greg Hood, a senior research scientist with the Skagit River System Cooperative in La Conner, came to do his research on sweetgale, a shrub that thrives in tidal scrub shrub wetlands.

But the beavers provided the exciting discovery. Searching scientific literature, Hood could find not a single reference on tidal beavers in the United States. What he discovered, too, was the beavers were, well, busily creating nearly ideal rearing habitat for Puget Sound chinook, a threatened species.

In that, Hood found a cautionary tale, about forging ahead with salmon-restoration plans without finding out what was here before.

“Recovery to what, what is your historical baseline?” Hood said. “We don’t know as much as we think we do about what was here before. It’s a kind of ecological amnesia.

“About 95 percent of the tidal shrub wetlands are lost; most people have never even heard of them. You come here, and get a sense of what used to be everywhere. And the next generation that never experienced it, they don’t even miss it.”