As the Buffalo River continues to get cleaner each year, we can expect to see more signs of wildlife returning. What was once considered a ‘dead river’ is showing signs of life once again.
Over the weekend, I stopped down to check on some waterfront developments, to find that beavers had made a pretty good dent in the tree population at the Buffalo River-Ohio Street Fishing Access Site (State of NY Department of Environmental Conservation). This is not a heavily wooded area, which means that any of the large trees that have been felled by the beavers makes a significant impact on the surroundings.
Fortunately, the trees that remain have been safeguarded with wire mesh, to prevent the beavers from gnawing on the trunks. It’s funny to think that one of the initial animals taking advantage of the cleaner waters is one that’s in the business of lopping down trees. Beavers are a fascinating and extremely clever animal. The Buffalo River is, and will hopefully always be, a place where they call ‘home’, as they are part of the natural ecosystem.
Incredibly, some parts of the US have introduced real and artificial beaver dams back into riverbeds for a number of reasons. From controlling the flow of the river, to providing homes for the beavers, to allowing natural elements to take their course, there’s room for the beaver population. A NYTimes article from 2014 stated, “They [the dams] raise the water table alongside a stream, aiding the growth of trees and plants that stabilize the banks and prevent erosion. They improve fish and wildlife habitat and promote new, rich soil.”
So the question is, what’s the best course of action to take when it comes to living alongside the beaver, when there are some upsides and downsides? The Buffalo River is becoming heavily trafficked by boaters every summer, who probably won’t want to see the waterway dammed up. That’s probably the best reason to look into artificial dams that can be controlled. It’s an interesting dilemma that will assuredly takes some thoughtful insight from organizations such as Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper.