I am looking out my frozen window, watching flurries of wet flakes continuing to fall, as Western Washington becomes completely engulfed in thick blankets of snow. Nearly everything is closed, as local residents marvel at the white winter wonderland. It does, however, feel a bit like being permanently trapped inside of a tiny frosty snow globe.
Although everything here is a snowy white, many major internet sites are actually dark today, in protest of the online censorship proposed in the horrific SOPA legislation in the United States. I support these media blackout protests, and hope that more citizens realize how potentially devastating such government imposed restrictions would be.
Today I had planned to attend the initial hearing for proposed beaver management legislation, House Bill 2349, in the state’s capitol, but that clearly is not going to happen. The arduous journey through the massive snow drifts to my neighbor’s house is daunting enough — getting in a vehicle and attempting to drive in this weather all the way to Olympia would be suicide.
Beavers Help Prevent Drought
Extreme weather seems to be increasingly the norm lately, while our climate changes and becomes less stable. As greenhouse gases warm the planet, humans continue to destroy many of the natural systems which help to protect our environment, such as beaver colonies.
In her excellent book, “The Beaver Manifesto“ Dr. Glynnis Hood explains how healthy beaver populations can not only store billions of gallons of water, their work also helps mitigate drought and extreme weather:
“With both massive declines in surface water due to wetland loss and the killing of millions of beavers that would otherwise help establish such wetlands, it is curious that those who develop models for both historical and future droughts rarely incorporate these variables into their calculations . . . would not the loss of at least 70% of the wetlands on the third largest continent in the world, and the near extinction of a furry rodent with a penchant for engineering waterworks on not one but two continents, have some effect?
For local weather systems, water bodies play an important role in evaporation and local cloud formation. What goes up must come down. But what if there is nothing left to go up?”
Indeed it is shocking that the destruction of so much surface water, vital wetlands and much needed beaver habitat is not factored into the development of more sustainable water management policies. Our species has largely ignored the incredibly beneficial work of the beaver, to our own detriment. Perhaps that critical error is now beginning to be rectified?
Here are some photos from today’s unprecedented snowstorm in the Pacific Northwest: