Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2022

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Cultural and Environmental Resource Management

Committee Chair

Clay Arango

Second Committee Member

Jennifer Lipton

Third Committee Member

Paul James


North American Beavers (Castor canadensis) are important ecosystem engineers in the Pacific Northwest (PNW), as they provide ecosystem services and create habitats that benefit aquatic species, watersheds, and riparian vegetation. Even though the species has been coined a “nuisance” in some settings, it is common for environmental agencies to capture beavers and relocate them to areas where it is less likely for them to cause damage. This study geospatially modeled the Kittitas County landscape to identify areas of suitable habitat. Nine existing beaver ponds in Kittitas County were investigated; three of which were prior relocation sites that had failed, three were identified as successful beaver relocations, and the remaining three were naturally occurring beaver ponds. Using water quality components and vegetation surveys, each pond was determined to provide suitable aquatic and terrestrial habitat for regional flora and fauna. These ponds were characterized in relation to main channels of regional streams in Kittitas County to identify any potential differences in water quality between the two. Lastly, a geospatial analysis was used to identify county-wide areas where beavers would have the highest likelihood of successful colonization if they were to be relocated in future management practices. The county contains approximately 420 square kilometers of suitable beaver habitat, with about 180 square kilometers occurring in commercial forested lands. The most important takeaway from the study is that preliminary investigation work and habitat analysis is crucial when attempting to successfully re-locate or re-populate beaver colonies, and that beavers frequently move throughout a stream section depending on seasonal conditions.