• Operation Appleseed

Bringing Back Beaver: Postponing Planting Amid a Pandemic

ONDA volunteers are working to undo 200 years of ecological damage to eastern Oregon’s creeks by enabling the recovery of a population of adorable animals that were nearly wiped out, but, who, if given the chance and tools to do so, can transform their creeks from dry, weedy gullies to lush, productive havens for wildlife, insulated from the impacts of climate change.

Beavers were nearly wiped out here in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1800’s. When we lost these ecosystem engineers, and started overusing and modifying their former habitats, we helped turn lush, diverse, wet, valley bottoms into dry, desert-like systems unable to support the plants and animals which depend on them. In many cases, current conditions are so bad that it isn’t possible for beaver to re-colonize on their own. With support from Operation Appleseed, ONDA volunteers are quickly reestablishing the specific types and amounts of vegetation that beavers need to get a (webbed) toe-hold in an area. Once we provide them with the resources, beavers can then take over restoration themselves. Luckily, in most cases, all the beavers need is lots and lots of trees.

Enter COVID-19:

To plant the thousands of trees needed by a family of beavers takes a lot of volunteers! ONDA’s projects are not only ecologically impactful, they are also social events that volunteers and staff look forward to all winter. Each outing we prove that that individual people can truly make noticeable improvements in the world and fight even the hugest problems such as climate change. Not being able to implement these projects this spring has delayed our timeline for achieving our ecological goals. We’re also worried that we’re not providing that that emotional pick-up that people need now more than ever.

To address both of these issues, ONDA staff are working hard behind the scenes to make sure we have strategies in place to not lose ecological ground as we wait to resume planting trees. Our volunteer community is such that for many, it has become an extended family and support network. ONDA staff are working hard to keep folks updated, and in touch, and to remind them that all their work from previous seasons is continuing to grow and improve conditions even if we aren’t there to see it.

Operation Appleseed partners are working within the suggestions of both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Governor's orders to continue planning tree planting efforts for 2020. Stay tuned for more update from Operation Appleseed and our partners.

Happy planting and great health!

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