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Real Value Of Beavers


Beavers -- those buck-toothed, furry creatures we used to make into hats -- are pretty amazing builders. They craft dams more than 2000 feet long and transform mountain creeks into sizeable ponds. The ponds become valuable wetlands that protect entire ecosystems from the effects of drought.

Cherie Westbrook of Colorado State University says that the ponds raise ground water levels for miles around, providing water to thirsty roots of forest and meadow vegetation all year round. She estimated that, without the dams, it would take a very large flood to produce the same effects. So in the drought-prone American West with its relatively short, wet winters and long, dry summers, beaver ponds create an enduring source of water.

But the number of beavers in Rocky Mountain National Park is dwindling, estimated at just 30 animals from a high of about 600 in 1940. Westbrook warns that further losses could degrade the entire ecosystem.

The good news is that there are groups working to save the beavers of Rocky Mountain National Park -- and you can help.

Script by Andrew Porterfield