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Elk, Cattle, Beaver and Willow – Interactions on the Dixie and Fishlake National Forests
Mary O’Brien, Grand Canyon Trust, Castle Valley, UT
The ecosystem services of dam-building beaver are manifold, and particularly so in the face of climate change in the Southwest. Beaver currently occupy a small proportion of formerly-occupied habitat on the Dixie and Fishlake NFs of southern Utah. Riparian assessments on the Dixie and Fishlake NFs during 2008-2010 have documented distinct recruitment deficits in willow, cottonwood, and aspen, with willow experiencing perhaps the greatest deficits. When beaver abandon or are removed from a site, willow recruitment may be prevented by excessive ungulate use, potentially precluding the return of beaver to that site.