Beavers boost biodiversity in many parched places. But they’re not always the most welcome of guests: they cut down trees and build dams that can cause unwelcome flooding for humans. In fact, over the last several decades, U.S. officials turned to “banishing” trapped beavers to remote parts of the country. Out of sight, out of mind. This love-hate relationship with the species is on full display in the United Kingdom in Wild Hope: Beaver Fever.
But even banished beavers stay busy. NASA satellite imagery has recently shown that beavers banished to rural Idaho have made significant improvements to waterways in the region, Yale Environment 360 reports. These dams are already buffering against floods and reducing the risk of forest fires.
Tracking these amazing feats of animal engineering isn’t limited to NASA scientists — anyone can get involved with the Beavers From Space initiative, a citizen science project that tasks volunteers to search for evidence of beavers in satellite images. By identifying dams, citizen scientists can help further our understanding and appreciation of how beavers improve landscapes, wherever they may be.