Simple hand-built structures can help streams survive wildfires and drought

Low-tech restoration gains popularity as an effective fix for ailing waterways in the American West

a stream with mountains in the background

Streams like this one in the U.S. West are getting a boost from well- placed stones and beaver dams.

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Wearing waders and work gloves, three dozen employees from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service stood at a small creek amid the dry sagebrush of southeastern Idaho. The group was eager to learn how to repair a stream the old­-fashioned way.