Jason Walsh, PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sonoma wildlife conservationists had one word to describe Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed new Beaver Restoration program: “Damtastic!”
Newsom floated the program as part of a May 13 presentation of his revised 2022-2023 fiscal budget. Pledging $1.67 million this year and $1.44 million in years thereafter, Newsom said the funds would go toward the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s efforts in developing “a comprehensive beaver management plan.”
The North American Beaver is considered a “keystone species” by Fish and Wildlife, which estimates its current population in the state to be between 10 million to 15 million. “Historically, beavers used to live in nearly every stream in North America with an estimated population of 100-200 million,” DFW officials state at wildlife.ca.gov.
In the budget proposal, Newsom described beaver as “an untapped, creative climate solving hero” that helps prevent the loss of biodiversity.
“Beavers are remarkable at creating more resilient ecosystems,” said Newsom. “And therefore thinking through approaches to maximize their unique skills throughout California will benefit our landscapes and help drive more cost-efficient restoration.”
Sonoma County beaver advocates have been “working hard in Sacramento” the past year to lobby for investment into just such a program, said Brock Dolman, of the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, in an email. Dolman said the next step is to continue to advocate for its inclusion in the final budget, which goes into effect July 1.