The Salinas River hosts three families of beavers, and their dams

ATASCADERO — Nature lovers of all kinds headed out to the Juan Bautista De Anza Trailhead on Feb. 10 at 9 a.m. for the ribbon cutting and unveiling of two interpretive panels highlighting Atascadero’s beaver population and the benefits they bring to our community. The San Luis Obispo Beaver Brigade, the City of Atascadero, and the Amigos de Anza group, along with the California Coastal Commission WHALE TAIL grants program, made the panels possible.

“It was so exciting for us,” said Audrey Taub, the Founder of SLO Beaver Brigade. “We received the WHALE TAIL grant from the California Coastal Commission last year for these two interpretive panels at the trailheads of the De Anza Trail in two separate spots for talking about beaver habitats and the benefits they provide our area. We were super excited about that.” 

The SLO Beaver Brigade offers the public two free guided educational tours a month. Most often, because there are beavers throughout the Salinas watershed, they take people out on De Anza Trail to the Salinas River. South County also hosts quite a few beaver habitats, but Taub said that Atascadero has the best in the county, so it made the most sense to put the panels here.


“Initially, we just weren’t sure if we wanted to put beavers on the panels,” she said. “We weren’t sure. We didn’t want unwanted negative attention. So we spoke to a number of other organizations.”

After chatting with those organizations, it was clear that education with something like the panels is the best way to help protect the beavers. The SLO Beaver Brigade was encouraged to get the word out to Atascadero and promote the beavers that live here.

One of the panels focuses on how beavers help the environment as natural firefighters by creating sources of groundwater, while the other panel focuses on beavers and their lifestyles. Both panels were designed by Terre Dunivant at Gaia Graphics, and one of the photographs that features the Salinas River beaver habitat was taken by photographer Brittany App. App is also a SLO Beaver Brigade volunteer.

“We’ve been supporting the work of Dr. Emily Fairfax,” Taub said. “She features prominently on the panels because she’s been studying the beavers here in Atascadero and meassuring the greenness index of the area throughout, I think, 2017 up to 2020, and showed how even during drought periods, you couldn’t tell that any draught was happening in the beaver habitat.”

The beavers in the Salinas River have kits (babies) once a year, and those kits will then stay with their parents for three years before heading off on their own. One family of beavers will maintain a series of damns, which is called a beaver complex. 

“In our area, it’s about a half mile of river that they maintain, and then they’ll be another family,” Taub added. “In Atascadero, we have three families right now.”

On top of community members, the Atascadero Horsemens Club was invited to the ribbon cutting, and the Atascadero City Council was also in attendance. The SLO Beaver Brigade specifically asked Councilmember Charles Bourbeau to speak as he has been a huge supporter of the organization and has participated in a number of their tours.

“City Council enjoyed being part of the celebration of beavers at the De Anza Trailhead on Saturday,” Bourbeau said. “The interpretive panels are a great way to educate and bring awareness to the role beavers play with our groundwater, creeks, and rivers. We appreciate the good work the SLO Beaver Brigade is doing to lead this effort in conservation.”

The SLO Beaver Brigade will be hosting its Beaver Festival this year on March 23 at the San Luis Obispo Mission Plaza. In addition to the panels, the WHALE TAIL grant included a mural at Charles Paddock Zoo, which should be unveiled on Earth Day, April 20 this year.

To find out more about the SLO Beaver Brigade, go to


Photo 2: (From left) Fred Frank , Mayor Pro Tem Susan Funk, SLO Beaver Brigade founder Audrey Taub, Mayor Heather Moreno, Councilmember Charles Bourbeau, and Councilmember Heather Newsom at the interpretive beaver panel ribbon cutting. Photo provided by the City of Atascadero.