Cottonwood AZ (August 24, 2016) – On Tuesday, September 6th from 10:30 a.m. to approximately 2:00 p.m., a free field trip, “Beaver Blather and Otter Nonsense: Roles of Aquatic Mammals in Riparian Health”, will take participants along the Verde River to learn about beavers and otters, and the role they play in the ecosystem. Those who wish to join should meet at 10:30 a.m. at the Yavapai County Administration Building’s Board Room at 10 S. 6th Street in Cottonwood. This field trip is part of the Verde River Basin Partnership’s (Partnership) ongoing free monthly program series for the public.
The trip will include some hiking along the Verde River to search for signs of otter, beaver, and other animals. Expert guides will interpret and expand upon the clues found. In addition to learning about the fascinating traits and the ecological benefits of beavers and otters, participants will also hear studies and stories that will help illuminate the complex nature of our relationships to these mammals. This trip offers the chance to better understand the diversity of life in and along the Verde River.
For instance, beavers are a keystone species that influence many other species. Beaver dams raise the water table alongside a stream, creating wetlands and slowing floodwaters. They diversify aquatic habitats, providing niches for many organisms. Series of dams slow down runoff, retaining nutrients and reducing erosion. By felling trees, beavers create openings for new shrub and tree growth, increasing plant diversity. Innumerable species of insects, birds, and mammals benefit from or rely partly or entirely on habitat essentials provided by beaver ponds. The river otter is one of these species and an indicator of ecosystem health.
The trip guides will be Walt Anderson and Chip Norton. Walt Anderson is a naturalist, artist, photographer, and Professor of Environmental Studies at Prescott College. Formerly a refuge biologist, Mr. Anderson pioneered a program of access and interpretation in the Sutter Buttes of California, the subject of two books. He has also led nature-based and photography expeditions around the world. Chip Norton, a third generation Arizonan, lives next to the Verde River in Camp Verde. He retired from his project management career in 2008 and has since served on several nonprofit boards, municipal and regional boards, and commissions. Mr. Norton is the president of the Friends of the Verde River Greenway and program manager of the Verde River Watershed Restoration Coalition.
The Partnership is a scientific and educational resource raising awareness about the Verde River Basin’s interconnected groundwater and surface water systems, and the life they support. To find out more about the Partnership, its events, or the Verde River, please visit www.vrbp.org.