Holy Cross professor Leila Philip pens book on beavers’ role in US

The beaver eats on the poplar.

WORCESTER – If someone were to name the animal that built America, you would probably think of some type of domesticated animal like a horse or maybe a cow – one as a beast of burden during construction, the other as an important economic animal.

You wouldn’t imagine beavers. But that’s what they are – the animals that literally and economically built America.

“They shaped our country’s environment and started capitalism on this continent,” said Leila Philip, a professor of English at the College of the Holy Cross, who also teaches in the Environmental Studies Program, and author of “Beaverland: How One Weird. Rodent Made America ,” which went on sale earlier this month.

Leila Philip, Holy Cross professor and author of 'Beaverland'.

North America’s watersheds and geology were both affected by beavers for millennia and the demand for beaver pelts created a transatlantic industry. However, the fur trade, which killed millions of animals, “severely damaged the water condition of the continent and weakened the river system – North America was once a beaverland.”

Philip has spent the last six years studying beavers and their influence on our country’s history and how they can help us in the future by mitigating the effects of climate change. In “Beaverland,” he explains why we need beavers, dispels the myths about them and how to use them in natural solutions for climate resilience.


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