Leave it to Beavers

Two beavers are standing at Hoover Dam, and one says to the other, “I didn’t build it, but it’s based on my design.”

That old joke isn’t far from the truth. Before human settlement, beavers were responsible for transforming huge areas of North America, literally creating much of the wetland habitat.

Who, me?



For most of American history, beavers were either hunted for their fur, or exterminated as pests. But now, beavers are welcomed back into arid landscapes. After all, an animal that can build dams and create wetlands has certain advantages.

I recently finished an interpretive signage project in Spokane County, at Liberty Lake Regional Park. The land was once a ranch, but is now a park with a lake, forested trails, old growth trees and a waterfall.

When local park visitors noticed a stand of dying Ponderosa pines, they became concerned. Why were the trees dying? Can’t we do something?

As it turned out, the trees were dying for a very good reason. Beavers had returned to the landscape and were re-creating a wetland.

Eco-restoration, beaver-style.

Here are the signs I wrote, illustrated and designed for the project. The finished size is 2 x 3 feet.

DDahn1  DDahn2 DDahn2detail