ASWM's Hot Topics Webinar Series

The Association of Wetland Managers (ASWM) occasionally opens up its Members Webinars to non-members on special topics that are not specific to any of our other webinar series and that appeal to a broader audience than our membership. For this reason, the Association started a Special Topics Webinar Series that is available for anyone to participate in. Some of the topics in the past have included the Ramsar Convention and international projects, complex legal cases, environmental economics and more. These webinars are advertised through our website, newsletters, social media and emails. There is no specific day of the month when these webinars occur. For more information and/or to join our email list for notices about upcoming events, please contact Laura Burchill at .

If you haven’t used Go To Webinar before or you just need a refresher, please view our guide prior to the webinar here.

Partnering with Beaver to Benefit Sage Grouse and Working Lands: Restoring Emerald Islands in the Sagebrush Sea

Wednesday July 26, 2017 - 3:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. Eastern


  • Jeremy Maestas, Sagebrush Ecosystem Specialist, USDA-NRCS West National Technology Support Center, Portland, OR
  • Dr. Joe Wheaton, Professor, Watershed Sciences Department, Utah State University, Logan, UT


In the arid sagebrush ecosystem of the American West, wetlands and other mesic habitats—such as riparian areas and wet meadows—comprise less than 2% of the landscape yet they are disproportionately important to people and wildlife. As summer heat dries out soils in sagebrush uplands, species like sage grouse—along with livestock and many other wildlife species—follow the green line seeking out wetter, more productive areas. These mesic habitats serve as grocery stores providing nutritious forage, including the protein-rich forb and insect foods that help newly hatched sage grouse chicks grow and thrive. With roughly three quarters of mesic areas in private ownership, western ranchers play an integral role in conserving these vital resources. Recently, the NRCS-led Sage Grouse Initiative launched a campaign across 11 western states to accelerate protection, restoration, and enhancement of mesic habitats. Restoration opportunities abound but techniques that are relatively simple, low cost, and effective are needed to engage more landowners and partners in conservation at ecologically meaningful scales. Increasingly, ranchers and agencies in the west are learning to partner with beaver as a ‘cheap and cheerful’ alternative for achieving a myriad of desired outcomes. This webinar will discuss recent partner efforts to scale up riparian and wet meadow restoration with private landowners in sage grouse habitats, and in particular, how Beaver Dam Analogues (BDAs) and other beaver-assisted techniques are being employed as a low-cost restoration tool to boost habitat resilience for wildlife and working lands. 


Jeremy Maestas is the national NRCS Sagebrush Ecosystem Specialist responsible for helping NRCS staff and partners put science into practice through strategic habitat conservation delivery in sagebrush ecosystems across the western U.S. He grew up in Nevada and went on to earn B.S. and M.S. degrees in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University. Much of his career has focused on sustaining working landscapes in desert ecosystems, where his contributions have included implementation of large-scale strategic approaches to reducing conifer encroachment, wildfire and invasive species threats, and scaling-up mesic habitat conservation.

Joe Wheaton is an Associate Professor at Utah State University and a fluvial geomorphologist with over a decade of experience in river restoration, including working with beaver in restoration. Joe runs the Ecogeomorphology & Topographic Analysis Lab at Utah State U. and is a leader in the monitoring and modeling of riverine habitats and watersheds. He is the co-director of the Intermountain Center for River Rehabilitation & Restoration. He worked four years in consulting engineering before completing his B.S. in Hydrology (2003, UC Davis), M.S. and Ph.D. in Hydrologic Sciences (2003, UC Davis; 2008, U. of Southampton, UK). He has worked as a lecturer (U. of Wales 2006-08), Research Assistant Professor (Idaho State U. 2008-09) and is an Assistant Professor at Utah State U. (2009-present) where he teaches GIS, Fluvial Hydraulics and Ecohydraulics.

To view Past ASWM's Hot Topics Webinar Series,
click here.