2016 - Sage Grouse Initiative, Pheasants Forever and NRCS

Enhancing Mesic Habitat Resilience in Sagebrush Ecosystems: Beaver Dam Analogues as a Low-Cost Restoration Tool
Logan, UT 
Aug. 16-18, 2016  (2.5 days) 


Through SGI 2.0, NRCS has committed to work with landowners and partners to help protect and restore mesic habitats, such as riparian and wet meadow areas, to benefit sage-grouse. While a variety of mesic conservation strategies exist, relatively simple and low-cost alternatives are a potentially important part of toolbox for restoration at scales relevant to sage-grouse. Over the last decade, a renewed recognition of the role of the once widespread beaver has revealed insights about how this ecosystem engineer greatly impacts riparian function and accelerates recovery of degraded systems. Drawing upon lessons learned about how nature heals systems, Beaver Dam Analogues (BDAs) have emerged as a low-cost restoration tool designed to mimic beaver activity to restore hydrologic function and ecological processes in incised channels. BDAs are becoming an increasingly popular bioengineering technique employed by partners across the West and early results show promise for rapidly achieving a variety of riparian goals.

Purpose & Need 

There is a need to convene key interdisciplinary staff to evaluate low-cost, low-risk techniques that can be implemented across large scales to meet mesic habitat restoration goals. This workshop will discuss how to restore hydrologic processes that promote riparian resilience and mesic vegetation, identify opportunities for restoration, and examine how BDAs can be applied as a bioengineering technique to achieve SGI mesic habitat goals. Participants will gain knowledge and skills needed to design and implement appropriate low-cost practices and foster technology transfer within their respective work areas.

Anticipated Participants 

(~40) Primarily NRCS staff, some partners. NRCS SGI states would select key representatives involved in mesic restoration to participate. Anticipated NRCS participants include state/area/local specialists (biologists/engineers) and select field staff. States may also opt to invite a key partner who is invested locally in helping get mesic conservation on the ground. The overall goal is to build a cadre of staff to evaluate the technique and serve as local sources of expertise across the range.




Utah State University: Joe Wheaton, Steve Bennett, Nick Bouwes; NRCS West NTSC: Jeremy Maestas, Marcus Miller, Timmie Mandish, NRCS SGI: Thad Heater; Point-of-contact: Jeremy Maestas, jeremy.maestas@por.usda.gov, 503-273-2425

Venue & Logistics

See here for logistics.

Provisional Syllabus

SGI Beaver Workshop - 2016 Syllabus - Instructor Version

Lecture Slides

Day 1 - Background

Afternoon - Classroom - Context for Riparian Restoration & Sage Grouse Conservation

Day 2 - Background

Afternoon - Classroom - Restoring Process & Function in Riparian Areas

Photo Album of Field Sites

SGI Beaver Workshop

Feel free to add your photos too!