The beaver is a national emblem. The importance of the beaver in the development of Canada through the fur trade led to its official designation as the national animal in 1975. Beavers play a role in our shared history and future.
Typically, beavers occupy slow-flowing streams, where they construct dams of sticks, logs, debris, and mud. The beaver is one of the only mammals, other than humans, that can manufacture its own environment. They often build canals for floating logs to build dams. These dams maintain a water supply to protect their lodges, which are built of the same materials as the dams and have entrances below water level and ramps leading up to living quarters above water.
The beaver provides many valuable ecosystem services including storage of water during droughts and flooding, creation of habitat for a variety of species, and improvement of water quality. These benefits allow for increased watershed resiliency and restoration across the landscape.
In 2012, the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area reintroduced two families of beaver within the borders of their 4,800 acre conservation area through the help of the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation. The reintroduction of beavers is becoming increasingly known as a strategy to improve water storage and water quality which is especially critical in water-scarce regions like southwestern Alberta.
Water in a Dry Land exhibit looks at the past, present and future of interacting water uses in the Oldman watershed. It celebrates our relationship with water and strengthens our understanding of the history of this precious resource, in a semi-arid region. With contributions from water experts in the community, Water in a Dry Land weaves together and presents diverse perspectives and artifacts.
Water in a Dry Land opens at the Galt Museum & Archives on Saturday, May 20 and runs until September 9, 2017. Admission fees apply.