Strategic Communications Case Study: WCS Beaver Mimicry Project

Climate Change Challenge

Rising temperatures, lower snowpacks, earlier spring melt and a multi-year drought in the Headwaters of the Missouri River are already putting stress on wildlife and water users.Communication goal: Encourage broader adoption of beaver mimicry techniques by providing practical, hands-on learning opportunities for relevant decision makers and resource managers to see and better understand the benefits of beaver mimicry structures.

The Conservation Response

WCS worked with private landowners, landowners, local conservation districts, and State and Federal agencies to showcase structures designed to mimic some of the beneficial functions of beaver activity. Using a relatively simple technique that weaves together willow branches, these semi-permeable “speed bumps” help to slow the flow of streams, recreate meanders, and boost the storage of water in soils beneath riparian areas. These changes in turn help riparian vegetation recover, further adding to the capacity of watersheds to function as 'sponges', capturing water when it is plentiful and releasing it during dry periods.

Target Audience Identified:

The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, and Conservation Districts were identified as critical audiences because of their role in state water law (water rights), permitting riparian restorations, and interest in cost-effective solutions for natural water storage.

Message Strategy:

Beaver mimicry structures are not dams, they are non-permanent permeable structures that help 1) restore the 'sponge' function of healthy watersheds by passively recharging groundwater and restoring riparian and wetland habitat, and 2) are a relatively inexpensive watershed restoration tool that can be adapted to meet a broad range of goals.



Multiple sites in Missouri Headwaters Region

Communication products to educate identified target audiences about the benefits of beaver mimicry structures:

Huron River Watershed Council