Thursday, January 15, 2015

Air Beavers

One of the great wilderness areas in Idaho has an equally great name -- the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area.

Boise State Public Radio tells the story of how beaver were first introduced into that region.
It was just after World War II and people had discovered what a beautiful place McCall and Payette Lake were. Idaho Fish and Game's Steve Liebenthal says people started building homes. “And in the process, kind of moved into where these beavers had been doing their things for decades, centuries, and beavers became a problem," Liebenthal says.

Enter Elmo Heter. Heter worked for Idaho Fish and Game in the McCall area. He had experience with beavers, and it was his job to find a solution.

Heter knew that the Chamberlain Basin was the perfect place for the beavers. The animals would be away from people, and their natural activity would be beneficial to the habitat there. "The trouble is the Chamberlain Basin is in what is now the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area and there really aren’t and weren’t any roads," Liebenthal explains...

Heter knew there was a surplus of parachutes from World War II, and he had an idea. What if he dropped the beavers from a plane, into the backcountry?...

76 beavers in all were dropped into the basin. All but one survived the drop and went to work. “And created some amazing habitat that is part of what is now the largest protected roadless forest in the lower 48 states," says Liebenthal.

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