Thursday, December 11, 2014

Beaver Dams are Tough

Ever since realizing we would be going into winter with the water level in the pond at the highest level it has ever been, I've been monitoring it closely and chatting with the experts on FaceBook's Beaver Management Forum. Consensus is that thanks to millions of years of evolution, the beavers know how to make tough dams. Instances of dam failure are few and in the vast majority of cases, failures are due to human intervention or extremely unusual situations such as a tree falling on the dam.

After three days of rain, water is running over the dam in a few places, but the feeling is that the dam is tough and the flow will ebb as the water level drops.

It's a good think I don't believe in omens because as I was composing my last post to the beaver forum,  I was flipping through the channels and just happened to stop on this...

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Another Dam Problem

By now you are familiar with our ongoing chess game with the beavers, who want to dam our culverts. While we've reached somewhat of a balance, the game goes on.

During the summer and spring, heavy rains and fast run off spur the beavers into action, and minor work is needed to keep the culverts clear.  It's like shuffling pawns.  By the end of this summer, I had them in check and was feeling pretty good about things.  However, when I took my walk this morning, I found that while I had the beavers in check, Mother Nature stepped in to make their next move for them.

As each winter approaches I look forward to break from the chess game, because the pond freezes, snows covers it, and the beavers are less active.  We both need the rest, because we know that it's always the calm before the storm.  When the spring rains, the melting, and the run-off find their way to the pond, the water level rises, the dam leaks, the beavers react, and the chess game begins once again.

This morning as I walked along the pond, I noticed that most of last week's six inches of snow had melted and found it's way into the pond, BEFORE it froze. This means we may be starting the winter with a pond level that is considerably higher than it has ever been. 

That gave me cause for concern, in terms of spring thaw.  The pond level should go down some in the next week or so as it always does after a rain. Still, I wanted to do something in case it didn't or in case Mother Nature decided to get nasty.

During the summer, debris collected in the culvert pipes.  This kept the flow from upper pond to lower pond slow enough so that the beavers don't get all worked up about it.  I just let it stay there, figuring I would clear it in the spring as is my normal routine, but after seeing the level of the pond, I though that removing the debris could be serve as a mini-safety valve. It would drop the level of the water in the culvert basin by about six inches and in a small way,  help the movement of water from upper to lower pond.  It won't really do a lot, but whatever it does is better than doing nothing.

Now, if Mother Nature removes herself from our chess game, perhaps we can achieve a stalemate next year.  Time will tell.