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I have a brand new beaver dam!

 
Dan Boone
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I am so ridiculously happy tonight you would not believe! Yes, this is the world's dumbest little beaver dam, built by the world's most juvenile and optimistic beaver. I will TOTALLY take it:





Tonight I went out to the back corner of the property to look for oyster mushrooms. Instead, I found a beaver dam.

Here's the back story. Good news! Fresh beaver sign in my ravine. (Please oh please let them stay!) In that thread I wrote:

Dan Boone wrote:A year ago I wrote in this thread:

I live in central Oklahoma on 40 acres of land that belongs to my inlaws. Nobody has loved this land since before World War II, although there's been constant activity in the form of a grazing lease and a couple of ancient but still producing oil wells.

...

I've also slowly come to realize just how much of the poor condition of this land can be attributed to half a century of cattle grazing by a lessee with no interest at all in soil conservation. The land is crisscrossed by deep notched ravines with bottoms scoured clean, all of which are fed by an endless series of erosion channels leading down from the former pasture. These ravines have isolated pools of water in them year round, but are flowing streams only seasonally (and not at all in at least one drought year since I've been here.) The sad thing is, I'm told they were all year-round creeks as recently as the 1970s, in shallow beds that were closer to four feet deep than the current 20+ feet.

...

There's only one willow tree on the whole property, which I now plan to make the ancestor of an entire battalion of willows in the service of bank stabilization and erosion control. (My fantasy is that if I plant enough willows from cuttings, maybe some day the beaver will come back, build dams, and turn my dead ravines into beautiful pools. There's beaver sign on this land -- cut stumps -- but none of it's newer than ten years old.)


Since I wrote that I haven't made any progress propagating willows, but I have explored the difficult-to-access ravine areas more thoroughly. A lot of the forest near the ravine is mature, but there are more areas than I realized with plenty of smaller trees and saplings.

Late last summer I came upon one beaver stump near the property that was fresh enough that the chips were still visible by in on the ground. But the chips and the cut were weathered and grey, several months old at least.

This spring we've had a lot of rain and the ravines have been in flood several times. When the water was high I observed what looked from a distance like a freshly-cut Osage Orange sapling on the far bank, chewed down, cut up, and bark-stripped in classic beaver fashion. But I was on the wrong side of the water to get a close look, and it would have been a long wet hike to confirm, so I didn't.

Then today I was on county road that crosses the stream that's in our ravine. The place where the road crosses is about 50 feet upstream from our property boundary, and it's a culverted ford where the road surface serves as a shallow spillway when the water level is up, as it has been lately. Right in the middle of the road, left by the steam water, I found this fresh-cut beaver food stick:



You have no idea how happy this makes me! Confirmed beaver in our stream, right now this week. I don't know what a happy-beaver dance would look like (perhaps some sort of manic jig?) but if I knew, I would have been dancing right there in the road.



That dumb little dam I found tonight is less than 24 inches high. It won't survive the first rain event, I don't think. I imagine it's built by one juvenile beaver. But you know what? There's a pond behind it that extends more than 200 feet up the ravine. And if you look closely at my blurry photo, there's a black mark at the far end of the dam. That's water, soaking upwards into dry soil. That's my dumb little beaver dam already rehydrating the landscape.

It's wintertime. I hope there are two beavers, busily making a whole family of beavers. That dam won't survive the spring flood, but i want them to build it back six times as high.

I have felt for some time that given the available resources (not many), beavers were our only hope of rejuvenating the deeply-notched ravines that cross the middle of our property. I don't care how many trees they eat -- we weren't using those trees anyway.

We have a beaver dam! My glee is probably out of proportion, but it's just as real for all that. We have a beaver dam!

I am going to be so bummed if the coyotes eat this guy...
 
Dillon Nichols
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Awesome! I remembering reading your original post and thinking 'sure, maybe in a decade...'

Even if the first one one doesn't make a go of it, he came from somewhere, and as long as there is a supply of dumb(er, charmingly optimistic, I mean!) juvenile beaver in striking distance sooner or later some should stick!

I don't suppose there are any practical measures you could take to assist establishment that wouldn't be disruptive? Nothing comes to mind, but I'm not familiar with your area, or coyotes, or beavers...


Fingers crossed, looking forward to updates on your swarms of new beavers!
 
Mike Cantrell
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Congratulations, Dan! Seriously happy for you!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Wow! So amazing! Come on little beaver!
 
Dan Boone
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Thanks everybody for sharing my enthusiasm. This is the through-the-looking-glass permies mirror-world for sure; just about every land owner around here would be saying "Oh crap, we got infested with beavers on the back corner of the 40, now which barn did I put Grandpa's traps in?"

Dillon Nichols wrote:
I don't suppose there are any practical measures you could take to assist establishment that wouldn't be disruptive? Nothing comes to mind, but I'm not familiar with your area, or coyotes, or beavers...


I have been madly Googling for resources on active/supportive management of young beaver colonies in the process of establishment, and so far I have found nothing. Virtually everything there is for managing conflicts with beavers. I can find a few best management practices for really-long-term habitat improvement for them, but just about nothing covering short-term support of a developing colony. (An established colony typically doesn't need support, they do fine if protected from human predators.)

There must be other people with fragile beaver populations they want to support. I figure I'm going to dig deep into the research on this (there's probably a lot of old paper resources not online, from various wildlife agencies) and set up a web page and/or a thread here on permies.

Off the top of my head, protecting these beavers from well-meaning hillbillies who think the critters are "just vermin" is probably my biggest problem. This is at the interior corner of the property where four 40-acre parcels come together; there's no immediate road access and the adjacent properties are uninhabited (except by cows in one case). But there are some electric lines on an easement that gives relatively decent foot (and possibly ATV) access. Probably the most useful thing I can do to protect this colony is to get out there and put up some better signage of the "posted: no trespassing" "no hunting" "keep out" "smile: you are on camera" varieties.

One really nice thing is that if this dam is enlarged or raised, the resulting pond will not threaten much in the way of human-used areas where the flooding would be noticed. There is one gravel ford a ways upstream where a gated oil-access road crosses the ravine, and that oil operator is hillbilly to the deep bones; there's some risk their drivers might opportunistically shoot a beaver that was inconveniencing them. But trespassing to commit a wildlife violation would be pretty stupid even for them, especially when they could just drop in a culvert and three dumptruck loads of crush rock and get back to work.

We do have a lot of coyotes, but I'm not going to war with them; I have enough shooty neighbors who do that, and anyway the deer around here need something to keep them on their pointy little hoof-toes. Once the beavers get established with a good pond and den they should be able to deal with coyotes anyway.

The question that interests me is whether beaver will use (for food or construction) sticks they don't cut themselves. Right now this beaver (or beavers) has built a tall slide to get up out of the deeply-notched ravine and cut trees up on the flat. That's where he's most vulnerable to predation. I am wondering if I sneak out there and cut saplings with my lopper and pitch them into the head of his pond (around the corner from his dam and slide to minimize the disturbance) whether he will use them for food and further construction, minimizing his time up on the relatively-dangerous forest floor.

It's not something I'm gonna just do -- there has to be research on this. Which trees to cut, how long to cut the sticks, how many to cut at once to minimize waste, how likely this activity is to cause the beaver to abandon the site, a dozen factors I haven't even thought of yet -- the knowledge is out there, I just have to find it.

I'm also toying with the idea of setting up a GoFundMe to buy some game cameras. I'll bet people would enjoy watching this beaver colony get going!
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Yippeee! That's awesome!

resources on active/supportive management of young beaver colonies in the process of establishment


The Town of Hinton, Alberta has a beaver pond network within the town boundary that has a awesome interpretive boardwalk and trail project around it that is super popular for walkers and bird watchers. It's a super cool place. It is called Beaver Boardwalk

The question that interests me is whether beaver will use (for food or construction) sticks they don't cut themselves.


Anyway; what they do to keep the beavers happy is supply them with fresh cuttings of birch, poplar, willows, and other beaver yummies. The beavers would eventually strip an area clean of all it's food sources and then move on, leaving the area water and nutrient rich. The Beaver Boardwalk is a very mature beaver system, and so it's not about managing young beaver colonies, but that is the basic method.

*One Thing to Note: Beavers will range quite to find resources, as you noticed, and they will kill and eat your fruit trees, and other trees that you might like. What the Hinton people do around the beaver boardwalk is to put chicken wire around the base of the trees that they want to keep the beavers from falling.

I have personal experience with this. I was hired to clear an area on a property near the river in my area, and took most of the brushy shorter trees and put them on the river bank, jammed in the willows and whatnot where I saw some erosion. A had another job to do before I finished the job, and when I went back to finish the job and to add more to my impromptu bank stabilization about a week later, it was all gone (three truck loads of it!), except for some tell tale foot prints in the clayey silt!

I mentioned one book to you about re-establishing beaver populations, in Tyler's Brush Dam thread: Three Against the Wilderness. Here's another: Pilgrims of the Wild, by Grey Owl. He raised beavers from babies in Canada, and re-established beavers in certain areas.

Ducks Unlimited might be another resource.

Whatever it is that the beavers eat in your area... that is what you need to establish.

Cottonwood and willow, the osage orange you mentioned...

At least with the first two you can plant fresh cuttings; I do not know about Osage. Go find some in a wetland somewhere nearby, and stick em in the ground around and right in the edges of those perennial water holes. Get a truckload if you can, and drop it near that new pond.

If the beavers are building dams, then they want to be around. It's a super awesomely good sign!

Probably the most useful thing I can do to protect this colony is to get out there and put up some better signage of the "posted: no trespassing" "no hunting" "keep out" "smile: you are on camera" varieties.


Maybe another sign near the dam and subsequent future dams is "Experimental Beaver Habitat Restoration in Progress: Do Not Disturb"

the resulting pond will not threaten much in the way of human-used areas where the flooding would be noticed


That is definitely in the favor of having this project become a longer term thing.

We do have a lot of coyotes, but I'm not going to war with them


From that first book I mentioned, Collier writes about the coyotes being a pretty annoying predator for his young colony. Collier did basically go to war on them, but Coyotes are too crafty of a guerrilla; I would stick with your plan to not wage war (coyotes are too damn important); but it might lose you your beaver(s).

It's not something I'm gonna just do -- there has to be research on this. Which trees to cut, how long to cut the sticks, how many to cut at once to minimize waste, how likely this activity is to cause the beaver to abandon the site, a dozen factors I haven't even thought of yet -- the knowledge is out there, I just have to find it.


Just do it. The beavers wont abandon it; they are as tenacious as rats. If you work during the day, you especially wont bug them, since they like to work at night. In my experience of hanging out in beaver habitat (which is most of my childhood!) most beaver dams are built with branches and trees and sticks 6 to 20 feet long. Beavers will fall all kinds of trees of various sizes (some really big) and they will do so in a somewhat crazy and reckless way and cut lots that they do not need, and do not use. They are a bit wasteful in this regard, but... that's the way it is, and something you gotta accept when you become beaver stewards.

I'm also toying with the idea of setting up a GoFundMe to buy some game cameras. I'll bet people would enjoy watching this beaver colony get going!


That's a great idea. Might be a potential micro residual income stream if you do good job and market it well!
 
Dan Boone
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Roberto, I've actually read that "Three Against The Wilderness" book, but unfortunately it was when I was about nine years old, so I don't remember it very well. Need to hunt down another copy!

Thanks for all the helpful suggestions.

Roberto pokachinni wrote:
Maybe another sign near the dam and subsequent future dams is "Experimental Beaver Habitat Restoration in Progress: Do Not Disturb"


I like it!

Roberto pokachinni wrote:
Just do it. The beavers wont abandon it; they are as tenacious as rats. If you work during the day, you especially wont bug them, since they like to work at night. In my experience of hanging out in beaver habitat (which is most of my childhood!) most beaver dams are built with branches and trees and sticks 6 to 20 feet long.


Interesting. I grew up in beaver country too, but it was also fur-trapping country, and all the dams I was around as a kid were deteriorating ones where the beavers had long been trapped out. They mostly seemed to have been built with shorter sticks, but I never tried tearing into a dam.

You're probably right, though; if I want to manage these beavers in a supportive way I'm probably just going to have to go for it, carefully and with diligent observation of results. The whole "I need to science the shit out of this" is an intellectual reflex of mine that doesn't tend to work very well out here on the permie fringes where folks are trying things exactly backwards from the "dynamite those dams!" conventional management practices.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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I edited (added) to the above post while you were posting.

I'm super excited for you.

I wish I could just send some beavers to you. I work for the railroad and there are regular problems where the beavers are jamming up culverts and flooding areas that are destabilizing the rail bed (potentially causing a derailment) and so there is someone who is paid to either tear the dam up, or blow it up or traps/shoots the beavers.

Near my property there are beaver dams that are over 10 feet tall. There are trees growing in the dams.

I personally do not want the beavers to come to my place, because not only do they take down way more trees then they need, but my whole field and house site is potential flood zone/creek zone. As much as I would love to have them around... I would have to get rid of them if they started damming on my land. If this was the case I would try to get them relocated, especially if I knew of an area that needed their support. In the meantime, I will be making my own ponds... it seems counter intuitive.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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The whole "I need to science the shit out of this" is an intellectual reflex of mine that doesn't tend to work very well
possibly not, but it's a wise starting point to get some facts in your head first!
 
Dan Boone
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:I personally do not want the beavers to come to my place, because not only do they take down way more trees then they need, but my whole field and house site is potential flood zone/creek zone. As much as I would love to have them around... I would have to get rid of them if they started damming on my land.


I think this must be intensely connected to how much land a person has, and what the land uses are.

We have enough acreage that they could build an extensive network of ponds and canals without ever getting within striking distance of our house or any of my active plantings. Yes, they could take down quite a few nominally valuable trees; but we lack the tools and vehicles to harvest any of that timber ourselves, and it's not enough to interest a commercial logger. We've already decided that the hydrological benefits of having beaver on the land more than outweigh the value of the trees they will destroy. If the colony takes off there are a few large hardwoods that I'll put protection around, but otherwise they are welcome to restore the watertable and turn that overgrown and very dry forest patch into a beaver marsh. In the abstract, I'll feel a pang at the loss of some of the trees in that vicinity; but the true economic loss will be very minimal and the resulting aquatic ecosystem will offer a lot more of the ecosystem values that we want and need.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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I think this must be intensely connected to how much land a person has, and what the land uses are.


definitely... it is just something to consider.

the resulting aquatic ecosystem will offer a lot more of the ecosystem values that we want and need.


Awesome.

In the case of my place, my whole gardening and building site is on an alluvial fan that was likely at least partially built and maintained by beavers in the past. The small creek that is on my land was moved to the side of the meadow from closer to the middle, and it occasionally runs over the bank near it's diversion and comes down the old creek area. The top of the meadow (where it was diverted) is such that the stream could easily be diverted to almost any tangent on my meadow below it. Beavers could and would create a pond network all over the meadow in no time. It would be really amazing to see, and to watch the ecosystem change, and to watch the nutrients build, but I can't let it happen on this piece.

I'm super glad for you that the beavers not only came, but that they are in a place that works for you. You will be amazed at the way the landscape is transformed.
 
Dan Boone
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I have been beating the bushes at the back corner of the property. It cost me some blood, but I now have a much better idea where the rear property line is. (The fence fell down decades ago, but I was able to find some fence posts and the one back corner I'd never located previously.)

The good news is, the new beaver pond is much more firmly on this property than I thought. The end of the dam is anchored in a bend in the ravine that approaches the property line, so the dam is only maybe 20 feet from the line. But the upstream pond angles back onto our property and there's quite a lot more of our property back in there than I had realized. It will take a substantial (and not easy) trespass by anybody but the one adjacent property owner to even discover the dam.

I'll have some better pictures when I get time to upload them. It's a really puny dam, but the ravine floor is on such flat bedrock that the pond stretches upstream much further than I'd realized, several hundred feet in fact.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Cool to do that exploration of the property. I'm not sure where my North East corner is or where my North property line is exactly myself. Awesome that the pond and dam are firmly on your property.

The thing about beavers is that they are seldom happy with one dam. Which direction they decide to go on the creek from the existing dam is up in the air. They may choose to expand on this one, making it longer and taller. Or they may choose to go a few hundred meters downstream or upstream to do it again. So, at some point they could be heading to build more dams on your property or they could head in the other direction and make the next one on the next property. One thing that you could do, maybe is to dump a lot of dam building material in the direction that you would rather they build. I'm not sure if it would work, but I think it would be worth a try.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Dan, an old freind of my wife was involved in a relocation project in South Western Wyoming years ago.

Here is some folks who might be able to answer some questions for you/us ?

http://wyomingwetlandssociety.org/beaver.php

And a ton of work in the references section on this page.

http://fieldguide.mt.gov/speciesDetail.aspx?elcode=AMAFE01010
 
Dan Boone
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Miles, that references section is impressive. Thank you!
 
Dan Boone
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A few more pictures from today. Dubious winter light and a cell phone camera means they aren't too awesome, but the dam shows a little better.
beaver-dam-set2-01-800.jpg
[Thumbnail for beaver-dam-set2-01-800.jpg]
beaver-dam-set2-02-800.jpg
[Thumbnail for beaver-dam-set2-02-800.jpg]
beaver-dam-set2-03-800.jpg
[Thumbnail for beaver-dam-set2-03-800.jpg]
 
Dan Boone
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And now for some shots to show the impressive scale of the pond that has filled in above that little dam. Basically I walked as far upstream as I could go before I lost sight of the dam (it doesn't really show on the camera-phone photo) and took a photo looking downstream toward the dam. Then I turned 45 degrees without moving my feet and shot the second photo of the pond extending upstream around the curve and out of sight.

beaver-dam-set2-04-800.jpg
[Thumbnail for beaver-dam-set2-04-800.jpg]
beaver-dam-set2-05-800.jpg
[Thumbnail for beaver-dam-set2-05-800.jpg]
 
Dan Boone
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And just for fun, a rough approximation (yellow line) on a detail/crop from that last photo, showing an approximation of our property line with the pond extending past it to the west. However much pond length is shown in the two photos above, there's about five times that much stream bed distance from our property line to the one ford where somebody might notice beaver flooding as I mentioned in a previous post.

beaver-dam-set2-05-border-detail-800.jpg
[Thumbnail for beaver-dam-set2-05-border-detail-800.jpg]
 
Miles Flansburg
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Wow that should give the beaver access to lots of trees. Have you seen the beaver yet?
 
Dan Boone
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I have not seen the beaver yet. However without some trail cutting, I can't currently approach the pond without making quite a bit of noise in the brush.

The beaver does have access to a lot of trees, but they are far from choice species from what I can read about beaver preferences. The dominant overstory is large oaks, with a few huge hackberries and pecans mixed in. Understory is a scrubby mix of invasives (Eastern Red Cedar, Chinese Privet) plus smaller oaks, hackberries, pecans, wild plum, winged elm, honey locust, osage orange, and some large vine stems that I haven't identified, some up to a couple of inches across. There are no willows, alders, or cottonwoods very nearby, although I am aware of locations off the property not very far away that have willows and cottonwoods.

This beaver appears to be cutting the Chinese Privet preferentially (you go boy!) perhaps because it has smooth tender bark not unlike willow bark. Oddly he has cut quite a few Eastern Red Cedar as well.
 
Dan Boone
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Ooh, this is what I'm reading next:

The Beaver Restoration Guidebook

beaver-restoration.jpg
[Thumbnail for beaver-restoration.jpg]
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Print and laminate that book cover for a sign by your dams!
 
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If you could somehow get a live webcam view of the beavers at work, that would be so cool!

There are a number of these live cams viewing different kinds of animals. Often they are down for maintenance so not always actually "live":

http://explore.org/live-cams/player/puffin-loafing-ledge-cam

http://explore.org/live-cams/player/brown-bear-salmon-cam-brooks-falls

http://www.eagles.org/Cams/FloridaNest-Cam1.html
 
Roberto pokachinni
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So, Dan, from your original post:
It won't survive the first rain event, I don't think.


This is not likely to discourage the beaver. They (or he, or she) will be there to deal with it! The phrase "busy as a beaver" came from somewhere...

One thing that you could do, during the middle of the day (so as not to freak out the mainly nocturnal working beaver), is to add a bunch of stone and heavy wood and soil to support the beaver's efforts... Build the dam with the beaver as permacultural partner. Wouldn't that be cool?

The Collier's and a hired hand built some massive dams on their system, that were able to withhold some serious water. And they just used spruce logs and dirt. It was later that a regional game warden guy, having heard about their pond building efforts (and natural explosion of ecosystem restoration that took place as a result with no extra effort), came to check them out, and before leaving said something like "you sure could use some help maintaining those dams", and years later sent them a mating pair of beavers.

You could build that dam way higher and way stronger, if you wanted, in a day of effort. If you build it with spillway potential, so it can't have catastrophic failure, the beaver, if he wants to be there, will maintain it. Once the dam is up to the size that really is strong enough to deal with a storm surge, then you let the beaver deal with it full time.

Just a thought.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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A friend of mine has a night camera with flash set up with a motion detector trigger and he has caught a cougar on the edge of his cow field in a cool shot. He was trying to figure out what was getting his calves.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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BTW Great pics. Nice to see the other views of it. So exciting. Beavers are one of my favorite critters.
 
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Roberto pokachinni
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Bill had some interesting pictures of helping build dams here...


That's a cool thread Miles. That's sort of what I had in mind, and those hydraulic driven stakes would really be effective. It would be more so, and longer lasting, if those dams were interplanted with live whips of various willow species. If this was done densely then any debris that came down would be trapped by the constantly growing and suckering willows. Without the hydraulic tech, and in the case of Dan's creek, I would just get busy building a strong tall gambion, or a dam with heavy material and let the beavers deal with maintaining it, and add cottonwood and willow, and possibly poplar if it's locally available, to the streambanks and dam area.
 
Dan Boone
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So we had a 6.9 inch rain event on Saturday, on the front end of three days of winter weather. The rain put (judging by the fresh scour lines) high velocity flow about eight feet deep through the ravine where this beaver dam is. I finally got out there today to evaluate how well the beaver dam held up.

Good news: although the water is still flowing over it, the dam appears to still be there, at least in substantial part. One end may be partially washed out, and what's left of the dam may have been lowered. But I am impressed!

Bad news: there's no obvious sign of beaver activity since the storm -- no new cutting (that I can see) on the banks, no new construction, and no fresh tracks or slide disturbance. On the other hand, there's no fresh deer sign, either, and they were all over the banks of the beaver pond before the storm. Given the wild weather we've had, all the wildlife may still be holed up.

Interesting observation: at the current water level, there's a new level sandy beach all down one side of the beaver pond. I'm not sure if this is sediment that settled in the pond before the storm, or (since visually the water still looks higher behind what's left of the dam than it was while the dam was in place, given the current higher flow regime) whether it's a bed of sediment that settled during the high flow event due to the slowing effect of the submerged dam. Either way, I'm impressed by the creation of a beach on what was bare bedrock before the beaver showed up.

beaver-dam-after-storm-01.jpg
[Thumbnail for beaver-dam-after-storm-01.jpg]
What remains of the dam
beaver-dam-after-storm-02.jpg
[Thumbnail for beaver-dam-after-storm-02.jpg]
another angle on the dam, plus the new beach
 
allen lumley
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Dan : I think it will all come down to how much Beaver browse there is on your property, In addition to the damage to the dam there is the certain loss

of a great deal of lost young green branches He/She had stuck into the bottom of the creak to be a larder that was available 24/7 without having to get

out of the water and onto dry land ! If there is still enough browse there I think that your beaver will stay and re-build !

Perhaps you can find one or more local Arborist(s) who are cutting cotton wood. You want green branches and the Arborist wants to not have to chip them

up - This could turn into a 3-way win-win-win ! Good Luck! Big AL
 
Dan Boone
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allen lumley wrote:Dan : I think it will all come down to how much Beaver browse there is on your property, In addition to the damage to the dam there is the certain loss of a great deal of lost young green branches He/She had stuck into the bottom of the creak to be a larder that was available 24/7 without having to get out of the water and onto dry land !


This may or may not be the case, I'm not sure. A lot of my reading suggests that the "larder on the bottom of the pond" is a behavior of northern beavers, from places where the pond gets a wintertime ice cover. There are suggestions in the literature that southern beavers don't store (or don't store anywhere near as much) browse on the pond bottom.

allen lumley wrote:
If there is still enough browse there I think that your beaver will stay and re-build !


Overall browse is very much an issue at this location, which is fundamentally a hardwood forest with a broken canopy depending on precisely which of the oldest trees in the vicinity have died or been blown down. However, right now the things the beaver is eating (mostly invasive privet that grows like willow did back where I come from, and young hardwood saplings) remain in good supply.

allen lumley wrote:
Perhaps you can find one or more local Arborist(s) who are cutting cotton wood. You want green branches and the Arborist wants to not have to chip them up


Given that browse shortage is not an immediate problem, this is one of the ideas I am taking under advisement and research. All authorities agree that beavers are fairly indifferent to disturbance, but I only have the one, and as an individual "he" may more disturbance-prone than the norm, so I am being careful. And so far, I have been unable to find much in the way of research or anecdotes to suggest that wild (not in captivity) beaver who are offered human-cut browse will (a) respond calmly to the disturbance or (b) actually eat the offered food.

If I were to develop good reason to think offering food to this beaver might work, I've got a lot of what he's currently eating located near the dam but farther than beavers will usually travel for food. But despite much urging in this thread, I'm not inclined to just "go for it" and try the experiment without any specific reason (data or anecdotes) to think it will work and the potential downside (disturbed beaver moving on) is so high. I know the usual permie impulse is to just experiment and observe the results, but I don't have an endless supply of beaver to play with.
 
allen lumley
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Dan : My grandfather born over a century ago liked to tell the story of his father announcing that as a special treat after church the whole family was going on a rather long

car trip to travel to where anyone could see both a Beaver Dam and a Beaver House and both of them in full view from the roadside !


At that time they were being Re-introduced into the Adirondacs and were Protected. Now they are once again considered pests. When Beaver dams are removed, it is a

general practice to add an oil soaked rag to the top of the spoil material from the dam '' To keep them pesky rodents from reusing the same material to rebuild the dam''

( No I don't do that !) Anyway they are nocturnal mostly so I would not be afraid to make '' him'' a small offering near the dam site!

I would however, make sure that all domestic dogs are kept away ! This is good for the Beavers nerves and will prevent a horrible Vets bill to sew the dog back up or a

drowned dog !

I expect my friendly but casual attitude is related to always having them around, you be your own best judge of how to be helpful without being confrontational .

The #1 idea is to never hear it's warning which is a load crack as it slaps its tail against the surface of the water . Best ! Big AL

 
Roberto pokachinni
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there's a new level sandy beach all down one side of the beaver pond.


I found it really amazing to see the volume of aggregate and organic material that was built up behind my own gambions (built in this spring, and observed after the snow run off). When the water does recede,(which is almost completely in your creek, right?-or is it very small perennially?) you will really see the benefit that this little dam has provided. It will be awesome. The cool thing too is noticing how much moisture is retained in the sediment, and in the area, after the water level has had a chance to infiltrate/saturate the landscape. The pebbles and sand and organics will hold moistness for a long time.

Whether you decide to build anything to add to the beaver's work or not at this time, is up to you, of course. I probably would, but... It would be interesting just to observe the patterns that this little natural event has changed. If the beaver doesn't show up for a while, then perhaps it might be more conducive to go in and do some work.
 
richard valley
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Greetings, We had beavers in this river, the Upper Truckee, they made large ponds. It was great swimming and the fish got big there. The Forestry did away with the beaver. It was thought they damaged the land, I think, it was explained that all beaver came from two pair that were planted in the Sierra Range in 1942 or 43. Well beaver were here before any one was here and where did they get the two pair to plant them.

Well, good for you having the beaver come round to your place.

have a good one.
 
Heidi Perryan
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Dan, I just came across this post and had to ask if your beaver dam survived? I am very interested in the role beavers can play in restoring water storage and generally helping fish and wildlife. I started a group called Worth A Dam to educate folks about beaver benefits. That restoration guide's cover photo is ours and was taken of our beavers. Helping beaver dams survive big odds isn't a silly idea and has been done at the watershed scale by NOAA because in our damaged incised creeks beaver dams have a heard time. Here is a recently published article that uses posts to reinforce dams http://jcwc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Pollock-et-al-2014-BioScience-1.pdf and here is video showing why its done. http://www.opb.org/television/programs/ofg/segment/beaver-assisted-restoration/ The state of the beaver conference meets every other year in Oregon and we would LOVE to hear from beaver advocates in Oklahoma. Beavers could make a HUGE difference to drought conditions but not if folks don't stop killing them all as 'vermin'. Please check out the resources on our website at martinezbeavers.org or ask if you are looking for specific resources.

I can't tell you how thrilled I was to find your post. Thank you for making my day!

Heidi Perryman
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Dan Boone
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Hi, Heidi!  I am sorry to report that the beaver who built that dam never came back to rebuild it after the six-inch rain event.  However, there was active sign this summer in another part of the same stream not too far from this property, and I remain hopeful for another try by some more beaver soon. 

Thanks for your links, too!  Lots of good information in them, although I was dismayed to learn that beavers rarely succeed at building stable dams in incised channels narrower than 30-50 meters.  My channels are substantially narrower than that -- just 20 to 30 feet maximum -- and engineering BDAs durable enough for the high-velocity flows we get is probably beyond my current resources.  It's especially difficult since these channels are cut all the way down to a hard sandstone bedrock, making it difficult to anchor anything without digging deeply into the channel walls.
 
Marco Banks
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It's nice to see this thread resurrected.  I love how beavers have become such an important strategic partner in environmental restoration.  I continue to read of more and more states and parks that are intentionally relocated beavers into their space so that they can re-establish their populations.  As a keystone species, they are the greatest hydrological engineers on the planet.

Dan, I'm wondering if you could start a cottonwood and willow nursery, and begin to build a population of those trees on your property?  Willows propagate pretty easily, simply by a putting short stick into water until roots sprout, or if the soil is moist, sticking it directly into the ground.  In one afternoon, you could cut a thousand willow whips, and the next day, plant them all.  In 2 years, you'd have quite a stand of willow --- their favorite food.  Cottonwood might take a bit more effort, but a simple nursery could be established with plastic tree bags, a homemade potting mix, and a couple of seeds per bag.  In one day, you could plant a thousand of them.  Transplanting them would take some time, but perhaps there is a local Boy Scout troop that is looking for a cool environmental restoration project. 

In fact, the whole thing would make a great Eagle Scout project, including building the start of a dam.  Driving posts into the stream bed and laying logs horizontally against those posts would be the start of something good for an enterprising young beaver looking to start their own space.  The beaver assisted restoration video above shows how to do it, and it doesn't look like rocket science.  You could locate this dam starter in the location that you desire, not depend upon the little critters to pick their own site.  They may or may not choose to adopt it, but it's worth a shot.
 
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Marco is right!  and his suggestion about starting willow plantings is a fantastic one.  Nothing will call them faster. Marco did you know about the proposal to reintroduce beavers to LA this year for water storage? http://laist.com/2015/11/02/beavers_la_river.phpIt didn't win but it got a lot of discussion! Dan there is hope for your incised streams because research has shown that even when beaver dams blow out and fail they repair stream incision over time.http://bioscience.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/03/23/biosci.biu036.full And beavers don't mind the work. I suspect his leaving had more to do with not finding company than the failure of the dam. Our dams blow out many times a year and the beavers just pick up the pieces and start over. The spot where he built is the most likely place for a beaver to start over, so if you can't manage posts, maybe a big trunk or a big rock? That narrow part of the stream is likely to be the place another beaver tries and a little something to anchor their dam too would help!

Trees and materials to build will help the most though.

heidi
 
Joshua Parke
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There is a video about reintroducing beavers, that I imagine I saw on this site somewhere.  I don't recall the title, and I had it saved on my other computer, which has become a paper weight.  In the video, there was a man using a small cd player with speakers that played a cd of a flowing stream.  He would set the player out in the evening on a section of the dam he wanted the beavers to work on, and would let it play through the night.  In the morning he would find the dam built up in the area.  They hear the trickling stream through the night, and busily get to work plugging the leak.
 
Joshua Parke
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Here's a link to the topic with the video I was mentioning above.  "In that topic, I posted a link to it on youtube, because the first one doesn't work for me."  Using Beavers to Build and Maintain Ponds
 
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