Beaver (Castor canadensis) inhabited the Conestee area long before the arrival of Europeans in the 18th century. Their numerous dams throughout the Park have inundated much of the former lake bed, creating wetlands which provide habitat for wildlife and filtration to purify the waters of the streams and creeks flowing into the Park. Animals dependent on these wetlands include muskrats, river otters, turtles, frogs, water snakes, fish, dukes, geese, herons, and other birds.
A careful observer can also see other signs of beaver activity near the trails along the wetlands, such as stumps of beaver gnaw marks. the "skeletons" of dead trees in the wetlands indicate that the beaver dams have flooded former bottomland forests, drowning the tree roots and killing the trees.
Beavers live in mud and branch lodges located in or at the edge of their ponds. Lodge entrances are generally under water to provide protection from predators. Some beaver dams in the Park are hundreds of feet long and raise the pond level behind the dam as much as 3 feet. Like the lodges, the dams are constructed of sticks and small trees harvested by the beavers and bound solidly together with mud.
Beaver can grow to a length of approximately 4 feet, including their broad flat tails, and can weigh more than 50 lbs. Mating for life, both parents care for the one to four young (kits) that are born in the spring. They are nocturnal animals, working and feeding at night; therefore, they are rarely seen during the day.