Ramble On

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Beaver Dam No More

Before I took my country walk on Sunday morning, there were a few little chores that needed to be taken care of – the winter storms of the last two weeks or so had knocked down some branches, and the water flow had caused one of the corrugated black pipes to pull off of a down spout and roll down hill. While I was taking care of these little things, I was impressed with the low background roar of Beaver Run, which like the other streams in the area, was swollen from the night’s rain and the ongoing snow melt.
When I came around to the brick terrace at the front of the house, I saw that the beaver dam that we have enjoyed for the last year and a half has finally come down. A human may have helped this – in fact I am pretty sure that’s what happened – but I’ve been worried for a while that a good storm could cause problems down in the hollow since the dam was constructed so close to the road. I decided to go down into the hollow for a closer look.

From what’s left, it’s easy to see that the pond that formed here may have been as much as 8 feet deep in the areas where the main currents flowed. The dam was strongest at one area where a large fallen tree formed its base – this is the tree that looks like it was pulled out to break the dam. It’s interesting to look at the “cross section” view of the dam and see how much earth was part of the structure in addition to the branches and tree trunks.
The dam extends for more than thirty feet over into a wash area of the hollow. Even here, there is a ridge of dirt about a foot high topped with sticks and branches, ending with this evergreen that one of the beavers had worked on but stopped. In the background, there’s another tree that has come down, either from the weakening of the soil or because the beavers worked on it, or both.
Looking upstream, the beaver hut was near the large fallen log that lay across the main channel of the stream. I’ve seen pileated wood peckers working over this log on some mornings. The water backed up well up the stream, widening it pretty much as far as can be seen in this photograph.
I was worried that with so much of the dam gone, that a lot of the sticks and branches might have flowed down to block the culvert where it goes under the road – this was always my big worry, as that is where I figured a blockage could produce a wash out. Sally and Dan have told us about that happening before – they’ve had to park in a nearby neighborhood and hike in to their house.
Overall, I’m sorry to see the pond go. It was a nice view to have, looking down there and having Tanner’s Ridge reflected in the water. Then there was all the wildlife – the beavers, ducks, geese, deer, and even a bear once – that we could watch come and go. Late on Sunday, in the fading light of early winter’s dusk, I looked down and saw a blue heron stalking along the water’s edge – so the wildlife’s not gone, and the views aren’t. They’re just different now.

1 comment:

Jim said...

Note: I added the "beaver dam" label, so past posts on the progress of the dam can easily be found.