Beavers: Glacier’s Habitat Builders
Instructor: Carol Medlicott – Ph.D.
September 11 at 1 p.m. – September 12 at 12 p.m.
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.
Meeting Place: Glacier Institute Field Camp.
Itinerary: (subject to change due to trail closures and weather)
Day 1: We will meet at Field Camp at 1 p.m. 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 Glacier Institute van 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 (picnic dinner provided) 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. We will return to field camp by 9 p.m.
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 12 p.m.
Food: The following meals are included: picnic dinner Day 1, through trail lunch on Day 2.
Accommodations: 1 night of lodging are included into the course fee. Our student cabins are basic, hostel-style cabins with 5 single beds, bedside lights, and electrical outlets. Students should be prepared to share a cabin with up to 4 other people, cabins are separated by gender. Couples may be paired up in the event there is ample space. We provide a bottom sheet for your bed as well as a pillow and pillow case, but please bring a warm sleeping bag. Be sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp for night trips to the bathroom. The community bathhouse has flush toilets, sinks, and hot showers.
Park Entrance Fees: Participants are responsible for purchasing their park entrance passes prior to the course. These can be purchased online at: https://www.recreation.gov/sitepass/74280.
Equipment: You will receive a Field Camp gear list once you register. Most importantly are comfortable hiking shoes, at least 1-2 liter water bottle, backpack, rain gear, hat, and sunscreen. Weather can be varied so please be prepared with appropriate clothing, and warm layers. Binoculars and field guides are recommended.
Physical Requirements: Easy/moderate difficulty. We will be hiking up to two miles per day on relatively flat trails. Elevation gain will be less than 500 feet.
Academic Credit: Please see our ‘2021 Academic Credit’ link on our website to learn about OPI credits for our courses.