FIVE RIVERS, Ore. -- To help restore coho salmon in Benton County, fish biologists are turning to the fish's bushy-tailed ally: beavers.

Beavers are critical to coho habitat by giving young salmon cover while they bulk up before setting out to sea for a year or two, the Corvallis Gazette-Times reports.

Beaver ponds are also critical for other species of salmon, including cutthroat and steelhead. The beaver-made ponds are nutrient rich from falling leaves and rotting wood.

To bring beavers back to Benton County, Oregon State University and governmental agencies are examining relocation efforts, as well as introducing beaver-friendly foliage.

Some landowners are wary, but a local watershed council is pursuing grant funding to support additional outreach to landowners and the development of a formal plan for beaver restoration.

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