“I’ve wanted to get beaver in here for years but it is an ephemeral stream,” Black says. “There’s enough willows to make good food for them and everything, but there isn’t enough water for them to stay.” They’ve put in about 10 structures so far, and more are planned in the future.
“They came in and put them in very successfully,” he says. “They’re backing water up, they’re creating habitat for spotted frogs, for sage grouse, for beaver.” In fact, when the group visited the site recently, a few people got down on their hands and knees and tried to find frogs right away. Bingo! A biologist emerges with a frog in his hand.
Conservation professionals with the Governor’s Office of Species Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho Fish and Game, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service are all interested in exploring the benefits of using BDAs to improve riparian habitat and store water. The emerging technology of using natural on-site woody materials to build BDAs is building popularity in Idaho and the Intermountain West. The concept was developed initially by Utah State University and Anabranch Solutions, and it’s catching on in Idaho.
“It just benefits a whole host of wildlife species and that’s why Fish and Game is really interested in this,” says Chris Yarbrough, habitat biologist for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. “It’s a low-cost way to get a lot of bang for your conservation buck.” The Life on the Range crew visited two very different projects on opposite sides of Idaho to learn why BDAs were installed, how they were built, and what benefits may occur.