Published on March 26, 2024

Hardworking Beaver – Good for the Sturgeon River!

Most people recognize the beaver as a Canadian symbol, but it’s also known as a keystone species. It's enjoyable to watch them build their dams and lodges, and with such hard work and dedication, it’s hard not to be inspired! Something not known to many people is that beavers are extremely beneficial to the environment. Beavers and their dams positively impact the environment by creating new aquatic habitat for fish, amphibians and birds, and by raising the water table through damming, preventing erosion, controlling flooding and helping purify the water.

Beaver Dam on the Sturgeon River

Beaver Dams on the Sturgeon River

Aquatic ecosystems can become quite stressed when there are long-lasting extreme heat temperatures. At times, the Sturgeon River water level can be very low, and we have our beavers to thank for creating dams along the river where fish can take refuge from the heat in deeper waters. This gives fish a greater chance of survival and is why it is so important not to deconstruct the dams.

With spring approaching, you’re more likely to run into beavers when visiting a park or trail. As with any wildlife, remember to keep a safe distance; don’t attempt to get closer to take photos or feed them at any time. Give beavers their space so they can do their part to contribute to a healthy ecosystem for the Sturgeon River.

Beaver Dam on the Sturgeon River

Did You Know?

  • The water behind a beaver dam is slow and the sediment it carries can settle out, leaving cleaner water for fish. This can also reduce bank erosion. 
  • Slower water means fish spend less energy foraging, and the higher populations of invertebrates in dammed areas means there is more food available for the fish.
  • Beaver dams allow water to pool and infiltrate into the ground which helps alleviate dry conditions during drought periods. Research has shown that for every 2 gallons of water that is stored behind a dam, 10 gallons is stored in the ground. This groundwater can be slowly released during droughts, helping the flow of the water and reducing the temperature because groundwater is typically cooler.

Beaver in water

Wild About Wildlife: Living With Beavers

The City of St. Albert and Sturgeon County presented a “Wild About Wildlife” info session on March 20 on the importance of beavers and coexisting with them. Riparian Specialist Kerri O’Shaughnessy was the special guest who discussed human-beaver coexistence, measures to prevent conflict and how beavers can benefit humans through periods of drought.

Watch the video below!

The City of St. Albert developed Beaver Management Guidelines in 2006 with input from residents and the Environmental Advisory Committee. The guidelines are part of the Integrated Pest Management Plan and outline the balanced approach of coexisting with beavers while addressing flooding control, infrastructure integrity, native tree and shrub assets, and public safety on City-owned lands.

This article just scratches the surface on what there is to know about the benefits of beavers! Learn more by visiting

Have more questions about beavers? Contact or Kerri O'Shaughnessy at

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Last edited: March 27, 2024