Education Update-Winter 2023
By Cindy Haws
The education program highlight for this quarter had to be tending a booth at the international State of the Beaver Conference on November 13, 14, and 15th. This biannual effort planned and implemented by the South Umpqua Rural Community Partnership Beaver Advocacy Committee brought over 200 professionals, including many agency staff, tribes, and nonprofits worldwide, to share information and progress to restore beaver populations. The EM River stream table and Creative Labworks groundwater model UW/UNLSH purchased thanks to The Gray Family Foundation was a huge hit. While stream tables have been out there for education for years, the EM River is more mobile, easier to store, and more accurate in modeling stream processes. Many at the conference saw its value as an educational tool given the difficulty in getting managers, land owners, students, and the public to understand how their activities, including the loss of effective beaver populations, affect stream processes, water quality, water abundance, and salmon. Thank you to Julie Lowe, UW AmeriCorps, and Diana Pace for helping with the models at the booth. In the demonstration, we convey that our mature and old forest, groundwater, and streams are our water catchment and storage “tanks.” We describe how logging, logging roads, and plantations have caused a huge loss of water in the winter (with an increase in flashy damaging peak flows) and summer (50% loss of summer low flows for many years), as evidenced by years of research data on paired watersheds (Jones, 2017).
The models are also very relevant in demonstrating current issues in Oregon regarding the condition and vulnerability of the groundwater, including in Douglas County. A slew of recent news articles have been published about the loss and contamination of groundwater. Many Douglas County residents could benefit from understanding the human activities impacting their water’s abundance, storage, and quality. Another related educational topic to use with the models is the exciting removal of the Klamath River dams. In addition to the beaver conference, we took the models to Yoncalla High School Natural Resources classes for two days. We took the groundwater model to Tri-City Elementary during an evening of science activities. We expect to use these models again in 2024 at many K-12 schools and events. This December, the education committee will work on 2024 programs. If we have funding, we hope to implement new project-based education programs, including resolving beaver/human conflicts and the benefits of beaver habitat surveys and Western pond turtle conservation and surveys. We would also like to accomplish field trips with youth to places such as the Klamath Wildlife Refuge during the Winter Wings Festival, Crater Lake, etc. Come join the committee. We need help planning and implementing our projects and writing grants to fund these valuable programs.