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Sisters Ranger District plans simulated beaver dams to restore Lower Black Butte Swamp

U.S. Forest Service

Forest Service lists several benefits of project

SISTERS, Ore. (KTVZ) – The Sisters Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest announced Friday it will begin a restoration project this summer on the Lower Black Butte Swamp, a 50-acre wetland northwest of Sisters that’s been drying up for decades, by constructing beaver dam “analogs” to simulate natural beaver ponds.

Public comments are being sought by May 5 on the project to restore the swamp, which is the headwaters for Indian Ford Creek. While the work is set to begin this summer, maintenance may be needed over the next several years to keep the structures functioning, said wildlife biologist John DeLuca.

According to the decision document, the swamp transformed over the past century from a wetland with water at or near the surface in most areas to an almost entirely dry area, with only a channel of water running near its western perimeter. The trying has resulted in dead peatlands, willows and bog birch.

The project will build beaver dam analogs (BDAs) and other post-aided log structures to simulate natural beaver ponds, pounding posts 2-3 inches in damager about every 2-3 feet across the main channel.

The simulated beaver dams are an increasingly popular technique to restore damaged streams.

After that, vegetation such as willow stems and juniper branches will be woven through the posts, and soil from the banks and bed will be incorporated to help hold the dam together. Younger black-bark trees less than 16 inches in diameter in the area will be “incidentally felled” to provide material for the structures.

The BDAs would raise the water table, the document says, and distribute water to the lower part of the valley to the east. A horse trail in the valley would no longer be usable, once the water returns, but smaller debris jams may be added to rehabilitate the trail and keep it from turning into a stream channel.

Maintenance work may be done in future years “until beavers return to the project area,” such as maintaining the BDAs’ structure integrity and/or rebuilding failed structures or adding additional ones.

“Restoring (the swamp) would provide many benefits,” the Forest Service says, including to halt the loss of non-renewable peatlands, thousands of years old, while also saturating some areas with invasive noxious weeks, helping eradicate them. It also would restore habitat for sensitive species of wetland plants and wildlife, while improving water sources for game species.

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Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.



  1. If that area can produce and retain that much water how about we put a real dam in it and turn it into a reservoir for humans? We need drinking water more than a swamp.

    1. – the beaver dams that were originally there created the environment that humans trashed – you’d think that every living human by now could clearly understand that relentless exploitation of lucrative aspects of any system ends up destroying that system – how much of the water we have already dammed up is used for drinking? – call it a swamp if you want, but if you really don’t understand the value of a wetland like the type that should be there if it hadn’t been destroyed, then you probably never will

    1. – “…man restores what nature has destroyed…” – if that isn’t just a really bad attempt at humor, but instead what you really believe, it’s no wonder this planet we all rely on is so shredded

    1. There is obviously at least one special interest group, the horse riders who want to keep their trails from becoming water channels. Beaver would build according to their own designs which means future tax dollars would be spent to remove the beaver dams causing hardship for the horse riders who might get wet or muddy. (Eyeroll)

        1. None of these “climate wingnuts” have ANY shred of evidence. They simply believe whatever Twitter or the news stations spoon feed them. Critical thinking is not part of a liberals trait. They are easily led to believe whatever their hollypedoweirdos tell them. Liberals just melt at the sound of the multi millionaire Greta who was paid to spread her fake message.

  2. I am curious why the Deschutes National Forest rehabilitated Indian Ford Creek at Calliope Crossing, destroying beaver habitat & now wants to put fake beaver dams on Indian Ford Cr.?

  3. interested party says:
    I am curious why the Deschutes National Forest rehabilitated Indian Ford Creek at Calliope Crossing, destroying beaver habitat & now wants to put fake beaver dams on Indian Ford Cr.?
    It’s because of hubris, we humans think we know better than the beaver but the beaver has a PhD in water engineering because they’ve at it for hundreds of thousands of years. Like they say, we should leave it to Beaver.

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