Elyssa Kerr graduated from the University of Washington in 2014. She then joined the Washington Conservation Corps with King County where she served a year on a field crew and a year as a logistics manager for four WCC crews. After planting trees, hacking away at blackberry, and playing in the mud, she developed an appreciation for the occasional beaver dam modification projects that came her way.  Upon completion of her AmeriCorps term, she escaped the dreary Seattle winter, spending 4 months working as a Restoration Assistant with the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project. Back in the PNW, she is working as an educator with the Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center. She is excited to jump into her waders and get exploring. She can often be found at Puget Sound beaches at low tide, playing in the garden or snuggling with her cat, Elon Meowsk.

​Olivia McGrath, Research Assistant

Vacant, Student Board Member

Snohomish Conservation District works cooperatively with others to promote and encourage conservation and responsible use of natural resources. They offer assistance with a wide range of natural resource concerns from farm management and storm-water mitigation to riparian restoration and beaver management.

Jake Jacobson, Board Treasurer

More Information

Contact: abby@hookenvironmental.com

More Information

Contact: jschilling@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov 

Resume & research page: Here

Ben Dittbrenner is a co-founder of Beavers Northwest; he has been the organization’s Executive Director since inception. Ben holds an MS in Biodiversity, Conservation, and Policy from the University at Albany, and BS degrees in Biology, and Environmental Science and Conservation from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. He currently is a PhD candidate in Aquatic Ecology at the University of Washington, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. His research there focuses on exploring non-traditional approaches to promote habitat enhancement and maintenance, increase ecosystem resilience, and reduced effects of climate change on riparian systems at multiple scales. He co-manages the Sky Beaver Project, which seeks to relocate beavers from areas where human-beaver conflicts would normally result in euthanization of the beaver to headwater riparian systems. The project assess how beaver dams and networks of beaver dams modify measures of stream water quantity and timing, such as residence time, base flow, hyporheic lateral flow, and stream temperature. ​Ben has managed beavers and worked with landowners to reduce conflict in a number of capacities for over 10 years. He is passionate about environmental education, creating opportunities for emerging ecologists, and providing landowners with realistic options to enable them to coexist with wildlife. 

Ben Dittbrenner, Executive Director

Our Vision

Beaver Solutions™ specializes in resolving human/beaver conflicts. Our highly successful flow devices usually offer the most cost-effective and long-lasting solution to beaver-related flooding problems. We combine an understanding of beaver behavior and abilities with the latest advances in design to create cost-effective, low maintenance flow devices that prevent damaging flooding. We also offer licensed beaver removal.


Mike Rustay, The Beaver Specialist

To advocate for the many benefits beavers provide through research, outreach,

and landowner assistance.


Our Mission

Board of Directors

Desirae Belcher is a research associate for the Sky Beaver Project. She is currently obtaining a B.S. from the University of Washington in Environmental Science and Resources Management with a concentration in wildlife conservation, as well as a minor in Quantitative Science. She looks forward to graduating in the spring of 2016. Her unwavering compassion for animals coupled with her insatiable penchant for learning created her desire to understand specific species interactions with their environment and to communicate, inspire, and excite the public to become more engaged in conserving, rehabilitating, or otherwise protecting these species. In her free time you will find her reading, writing, and often outside exploring nature.

Abby Hook received her MPA and MSc in Hydrology from the University of Washington. After spending 10 years working for Tulalip Tribes in the Treaty Rights Office, Abby founded Hook Environmental, a small consultancy focused on adaptive management frameworks, facilitation, and environmental protection approaches that optimize benefits to the environment, economic development and human well being. Abby’s strong interest in finding creative solutions led her to develop the vision for beaver restoration in the Skykomish in 2012. In her spare time, Abby enjoys reading, gardening, and skiing.

PAWS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and champion of animal welfare in the Northwest. They rehabilitate injured and orphaned wildlife and provide shelter and find homes for cats and dogs. They envision a world where people recognize the intrinsic value of animals and work to educate people and advocate for animal welfare. PAWS generously provides veterinary care and technical assistance for the Sky Beaver Project.

More Information

Contact: davidrbailey21@gmail.com 

Resume & research page: Here

David Bailey is a research assistant for the Sky Beaver Project. He graduated from the University of Washington with a BS degree in Environmental Science and Resource Management with a minor in Urban Ecological Design. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest hiking and backpacking, his love for the outdoors has fueled his desire to study the link between ecological systems and urban landscapes. He strongly believes creating and maintaining healthy beaver habitats is a critical part of improving ecosystem services and improving spawning grounds for salmon. 

Molly Alves, Assistant Wildlife Biologist

Jason Schilling, Wildlife Biologist

Tom and Pat are a husband and wife team whose photographs appear in hundreds of U.S. and foreign publications each year. Their passion is photographing a single wildlife species in an intimate and in-depth style, recording its key behaviors in every season ending with a complete story package. They have sold photo story packages on grizzlies, black bear, wolves, beaver, badger, mountain goats, and most other North American wildlife. In recent years, they have also focused on international endangered species including: pandas in China, penguins in Antarctica, elephants in Africa, tigers and rhinos in India. They have been featured in magazines including: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY, NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION, AUDUBON, SIERRA. 

Through their images, they desire to encourage others to be good stewards of this incredible resource--Earth. They make their home in Vancouver, Washington. Tom and Pat are proud sponsors of Beavers Northwest.

Healthy Landscapes

​Happy Landowners

Inspired by urban beavers in downtown Martinez, CA, local residents have advocated for the importance of beavers. They perform public outreach, keep tabs on the local beaver population and organize an annual Beaver Festival!

David Bailey, Research Assistant

Molly Alves is the Assistant Wildlife Biologist for the Tulalip Tribes. She holds a B.S. degree in Wildlife Biology and Geospatial Technologies from the University of Vermont. She has a profound interest in, and strong passion for using field research to solve wildlife conservation issues. Originally from the small state of Rhode Island, she moved out to Washington in May 2014 to pursue a career in the wildlife field. She both participates heavily in and co-manages the Sky Beaver Project and has been quoted as saying that the beavers that she works with are her “furry children” (The Everett Herald, 2014). In her free time she enjoys hiking, biking, and overall exploring the Pacific Northwest.

CREOi facilitates student research and outreach efforts that promote wildlife, habitat and natural resource conservation. CREOi is a generous sponsor of Beavers Northwest and the research and conservation efforts that we are undertaking. Zoe Hayes is the 2015 CREOi Conservation Fellow.

Jason Schilling is a wildlife biologist for Tulalip Tribes and co-manages the Sky Beaver Project. The Tribes’ involvement with this project stems from a desire to restore degraded stream and riparian habitats and the associated species (deer, elk, salmon, etc.) on which their culture depends. Jason holds an MS in Wildlife Science from Oregon State University. While in Oregon, he worked on various spotted owl population demography projects and studied their survival and habitat use in relation to forest practices. Since joining Tulalip in 2010, he has become involved with research and management of elk and deer and has initiated an avian monitoring program in the Snohomish River delta to support large scale restoration activities. Jason enjoys gardening, fishing, skiing, and playing the guitar. His passion for the mountains led him to the Cascades and Pacific Northwest from Ohio and has inspired numerous climbing expeditions to the Indian Himalaya, Patagonia, and Alaska.

Co-founder Mike Rustay is an ecologist who has worked toward salmon recovery in Puget Sound and the Pacific Northwest since 1997. In addition to years of experience collecting, analyzing and reporting salmon habitat and watershed data for the purpose of furthering salmon recovery, he has assessed and addressed beaver conflicts for most of the last 15 years. Working with private landowners, homeowner associations and agency personnel, he has installed and maintained numerous beaver devices to protect property and public infrastructure from flooding under a range of challenging conditions. Mike firmly believes that promoting beavers on the landscape is an important step to restoring the natural processes necessary to improve hydrology, and recover salmon stocks in the Northwest. He has a  BS in Environmental Science and Regional Planning from Washington State University and a certificate in Geographic Information Systems from University of Washington.



Sharing Information

Helping landowners 

improving watersheds

Beaver Conservation & education 

Jake has 18 years of experience working in natural resource management, including salmon habitat protection and recovery, and water quality improvement. In 1998, he established a successful Beaverworks Management Program within Snohomish County Public Works. By the time he retired (2010), he had installed over 90 flow devices around the county, and provided technical advice to multiple agencies. He also conducted beaver browse control experiments, and measured browse impacts at restoration sites. In addition, he gave frequent workshops to natural resource professionals and public works staff throughout the northwest on methods and techniques for successful beaverworks management, and was a quest speaker to homeowner’s associations and in public meetings. Previous employers include NOAA Fisheries, Adopt-A-Stream Foundation, and Snohomish County. Former Certified Fisheries Professional, American Fisheries Society. BS  Environmental Studies, WWU, Bellingham, WA - 1993                          

He now spends his time fishing as much as he can.

Abby Hook, Board President

Jen Vanderhoof, Board Secretary

We are currently recruiting for a student board member. This is a vacant position for a college student pursuing a degree in ecology, environmental science, conservation, or natural resource management. If you or someone you know may be interested, please contact Ben Dittbrenner or any board member.

More Information

Contact: desirae.belcher@gmail.com

Resume & research page:

Olivia McGrath is a research assistant for the Sky Beaver Project. She graduated from Ursinus College in May 2015 with a B.S. in Environmental Studies and a minor in biology. During her time at Ursinus, Olivia traveled to Zanzibar, Tanzania to study Marine Ecology and Natural Resource Management. She has a profound interest in the conservation of both marine and aquatic ecosystems. Her goal as a scientist is to understand an ecosystem, species, or process of change in order to help preserve it during the current times of habitat loss and climate change. She loves to hike, SCUBA dive, climb, and explore the Pacific Northwest!

Desirae Belcher, Research Associate

Elyssa Kerr, Project Manager

Jennifer (Jen) Vanderhoof graduated with a degree in Wildlife Biology from Kansas State University in 1992 and has been working as a biologist in some form ever since. For the past 15 years, she's been at King County working as an Ecologist in the Department of Natural Resources and Parks' Science Section. Previous employers have been the City of Seattle, where she was a biologist on the Cedar River Watershed, The Nature Conservancy of Georgia, where she worked on Red-cockaded Woodpecker projects, Oregon State University working on Spotted Owl projects in southwest Oregon, and as a fisheries observer for three winters in Alaska. Jen's current work at the County includes wide-ranging topics from wildlife-related policy work to climate change topics, from leading the volunteer Salmon Watcher Program to PM for a shoreline restoration project, from land-use analysis to all-things beaver. In her free time, she is underwater as much as possible, and she has a (very) small business that features her underwater photography/art. She also occasionally blogs about her underwater exploits and escapades at seajen.com. She travels a lot for diving, and her most recent trip was South Africa to dive with all sorts of very charming and beautiful sharks.

More Information

Contact: malves@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov 

Resume & research page: