Good Forestry in the Granite State:
Recommended Voluntary Forest Management Practices for New Hampshire
Table of Contents >> 6.7 Aspen Management << 6.8 Beaver-Created Openings >> 6.9 Deer Wintering Areas

6.8 BEAVER-CREATED OPENINGS

BACKGROUND

Beavers add to habitat diversity through their foraging and dam-building activities.

Openings created by beavers follow a predictable cycle of change. Beaver-created openings progress from newly flooded areas, to open water ponds, to open meadows containing scattered small trees and shrubs. Each of these stages provides habitat for a variety of wildlife. Frogs, turtles, waterfowl, great blue herons, swallows, otter, mink, and moose regularly use the open-water stage. Geese, grouse, woodcock, woodpeckers, common yellowthroats, yellow warblers, bog lemmings, bears, deer, and moose use the open-meadow stage. Through their damming activities, beavers have served a historically important role as a natural form of disturbance, creating young forest habitat required by many wildlife species.

Beaver flowages (i.e., flat water behind the dam) also influence water quality, as dams trap sediments, and open meadows slow seasonal run-off. As a result, beaver flowages play an important role in nutrient cycling. During the open-water stage, nutrients enter beaver flowages. Where flowages stagnate, nutrients drop out of the water and accumulate in the organic matter at the bottom. When beavers abandon flowages and water levels drop, organic matter dries and decomposes, allowing grasses and forbs to colonize. In time, shrubs and trees reoccupy these meadows. Beavers are attracted back to the site by this abundant food. Beavers create a dam, and the cycle begins again.

OBJECTIVE

Maintain adequate food supplies for beavers along wetland drainages where beaver-dam-building and subsequent wetland openings are desired, and where water levels can be controlled to minimize damage to roads and personal property.

CONSIDERATIONS

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

CROSS REFERENCES

2.3 Regeneration Methods; 4.1 Water Quality; 4.2 Wetlands; 4.3 Forest Management in Riparian Areas; 4.4 Stream Crossings and Habitat; 6.5 Permanent Openings; 6.6 Temporary Openings Created by Forest Management; 6.7 Aspen Management; 6.12 Heron Colonies.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Laramie, H.A., Jr. and S.W. Knowles. 1985. Beaver and Their Control—Wildlife Fact Sheet 10. UNH Cooperative Extension, Durham, N.H. 4 p.

RSA 210:9. Protection of Beaver. http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/NHTOC/NHTOC-XVIII-210.htm Accessed May 26, 2010.

RSA 227-J. Timber Harvesting. http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/xix-a/227-j/227-j-mrg.htm Accessed May 27, 2010.

Smith, S. 2009. Guide to New Hampshire Timber Harvesting Laws. UNH Cooperative Extension, Durham, N.H. 37 p.

Williamson, S.J. 1993. Forester's Guide to Wildlife Habitat Improvement (2nd ed). UNH Cooperative Extension, Durham, N.H.

6.7 Aspen Management << 6.8 Beaver-Created Openings >> 6.9 Deer Wintering Areas

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