Nature's engineers help with a healthier Johnson Creek.
Recently, Watershed Revegetation staff were out at the Schweitzer Restoration site along Johnson Creek and spotted this young beaver happily swimming along a backwater channel.
We just thought that was fun to share. It's also a good intro for a little photo trip through history about restoration work along Johnson Creek and why it’s good news to see this beaver there.
First, there was the Schweitzer site before restoration. This photo from 2007 shows Johnson Creek in the rock-lined, straightened channel built in the 1930s. This site is near Powell Butte in SE Portland.
Then, there was the same area after a BES project in 2009. Here you can see the 30-acre site restored with a more natural creek channel and floodplain. Native plants and trees were just starting to take root.
Fast-forward several years, and the plants and trees are maturing. The project is performing well to help store floodwater in heavy rains, improve water quality, and provide habitat for endangered salmon. Here’s an on-the ground view of the area.
And that brings us to this spring’s happy beaver. Beavers make their homes in lodges over the winter and raise their young, who learn to swim about a month after birth. This beaver is small, so likely a youngster born this winter.
You might think beavers are nothing to hoot about, or maybe that they’re bad for trees. While it’s true -- they do gnaw down trees -- beaver activity is an important part of the natural processes in our watersheds.
The trees that fall and dams that beavers build help create and maintain wetlands that sponge up floodwater and prevent erosion. Wetlands naturally filter pollutants out of water, too, which helps the water quality in Johnson Creek.
So, native beavers like this one are out there building on the success of restoration efforts by the city and many community partners. We’re all working together for clean water and a healthy Johnson Creek!
Learn more about the Schweitzer Restoration project. You can walk or pedal by the project area on the Springwater Corridor Trail, between SE 158th Ave. and SE Jenne Rd. Keep your eye out for beaver and other wildlife!
Related story: Beavers at Errol Creek confluence.