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Beavers: Glacier's Habitat Builders: September 13-14, 2020

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Beavers: Glacier’s Habitat Builders

September 13-14, 2020

Discover the amazing beaver! Beavers are second only to humans in their ability to alter their environment. The habitats they create are vital to the livelihood of a huge number of species from birds and fish to elk and wolves. Beavers have also helped shape the cultural history of the region around Glacier National Park. We will spend the day learning about beavers' unique biology and natural history, experiencing the habitat they create, and exploring methods of how we may coexist more productively with this essential keystone species.

*Note:  One night of lodging at Field Camp is included in the course fee.  If you do not require lodging, call the registrar at 406-755-1211 to subtract $35 from your course fee at the time of booking.

Meeting Place: Glacier Park Field Camp Meeting Hall (see campus map).

Meeting Time: September 13 at 1:00pm

Tentative Itinerary (subject to change): Locations are subject to change due to weather, trail and road closures

Day 1: We will meet at Field Camp at 1 pm for an introduction and classroom session on beaver biology, their interesting adaptations, their role in the area’s natural and cultural history, and an overview of beaver habitat areas. We will depart by mid-afternoon for field exploration on the east side of Glacier National Park, traveling by bus along US 2 and viewing some habitat areas enroute. Along the trail to Firebrand Pass we will view several beaver habitat areas from a respectful distance in the late afternoon and early evening hours. Participants should carry a meal and snacks in their packs and plan on dinner to be eaten in the field. Because beavers are most active at dusk and dawn, we can be hopeful of getting a first-hand view of how these delightful creatures alter their environment and influence countless species around them. After our time in the field, we will return by bus to field camp by about 9 pm.

Day 2: For participants who choose to stay overnight at Field Camp, the group will have a second field experience in the morning after breakfast. From field camp we will walk to view an active beaver lodge along McDonald Creek, a roundtrip hike of around two miles. Course will conclude by late morning.Food: Students are responsible for all their own food. Please arrive having eaten lunch, and bring with you a sack meal for our evening field adventure. Please bring plenty of snacks, and water. Use of the kitchen is restricted to Glacier Institute Staff only.  No food or cooking is allowed in the cabins.

Required Equipment (all seasons): Warm layers

Course Equipment: Please see basic gear list.  Most important are comfortable hiking shoes, backpack, rain gear, hat, sunscreen and binoculars.

Weather: This course will not be canceled due to weather.

Physical Requirements:  We will be hiking up to two miles on relatively flat trails.  Elevation gain will be less than 500 feet.

Transportation during course: We will be traveling in a Glacier Institute vehicle.

Accommodations: Lodging can be purchased for $35/person/night at the Glacier Institute Field Camp. Facilities include bunkhouses, a community bathhouse, a library and a kitchen. Please call the registrar at 406-755-1211 to book lodging.

Academic Credit: Please see our ‘2020 Academic Credit’ Link on our website to learn about OPI credit and FVCC and UM credit for our courses. There is a $20 administrative fee to receive OPI renewal units with FVCC.

Recommended Reading:

The Beaver: Natural History of a Wetlands Engineer

Dietland Müller-Schwarze and Lixing Sun, Cornell University Press, 2003.

Eager: The Surprising Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter

Ben Goldfarb, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2018.

Once They Were Hats: In search of the Mighty Beaver

Frances Backhouse, ECW Press, 2015.