Meet Think Wild’s New Beaver Works Oregon Program Manager, Maureen Thompson
Think Wild is thrilled to welcome our new Beaver Works Oregon Program Manager, Maureen Thompson. To learn more about Maureen’s background and interest in working to promote beaver success on Oregon’s high desert landscapes, please read her letter below:
“I am honored to lead the Beaver Works Oregon Program, which works to support beaver success and native wildlife habitat on our Oregon high desert landscapes. I’m excited to better understand the issues facing beaver re-establishment in Central and Eastern Oregon and to help create and share knowledge that supports their return to challenging parts of their historic range. With escalating drought, fire, and quality of life issues percolating in the public consciousness, this is a critical time to work together to understand beaver’s effect on the landscape. And with the recent passage of HB3464, changing the legal process for beaver management on private land, the potential for transformation is ripe.
I am new to Central Oregon, but I have been obsessed with beavers for over a decade. During the summers of 2014 and 2015, I monitored plant communities, water quality, and amphibians at beaver and human-managed wetlands in Eastern Washington. In this role, I observed the cascading effects beaver presence had on other species in the landscape across time and space. In this wake, I also witnessed landowners and volunteers awaken to the magic of these ecosystem changes and go on to tell their story.
Since 2019, I have been a Ph.D. candidate at the University of New South Wales with a focus on citizen science. It is one of the fewrealms of ecology that bolsters my optimism. From a bird’s eye view, the data is super powerful, and from personal experience: it’s fun, rewarding, and inclusive. I worked with Australia-wide frog call and weather data to better understand breeding cues specific to different frog species – to optimize survey timing for effective conservation. Through surveys, interviews, and experiments, I also sought to uncover how and why people participate, and how that, in turn, shapes the collective power of the data. Communicating results back to the participants is a critical part of the data cycle – demonstrating their contribution really does have an impact.
All this to say: I’ve been out of the country for a few years, but to me, there was never a disconnect. The thread weaving together these chapters is that I work towards biodiversity preservation that is practical, empathetic, and cost effective. Beavers are the other realm of ecology that fills me with optimism. Beavers are the rising tide that lifts all boats. In my short time here, I have been touched by the synthesis of kindness, sound science, and work ethic that has gone into the design and execution of all Think Wild Programs. I appreciate the many hours of love and labor from volunteers, employees, and board members that have gone into making it what it is today. I look forward to getting to know you all, and working together with you at some of the volunteer events this fall.
For more information about Beaver Works Oregon, along with ways you can get involved, volunteer and support this program’s efforts, go to beaverworksoregon.org.
Beaver Works Oregon is a Think Wild program supporting beaver success and native wildlife habitat on our Oregon high desert landscapes.