I was at work on Friday, Jan 7, 2022, when I received a call from someone I’ve never met. He wanted me to know about a facebook post where a young man was seeking help to get his Suburban unstuck from a beaver dam. Apparently, he was stuck on the beaver dam for @10 hours, and was able to get unstuck by 2am on Friday.
I immediately wondered which dam he found himself stuck on. I checked out the facebook post , and I had a pretty good idea which beaver complex he was talking about, although not the particular dam in the complex. So I headed over there and took some photos.
Since I visit this area frequently, I happen to know the history of this particular dam. Here are some photos prior to the rains falling in December. Unfortunately I didn’t get the dam, but I got the pond and a view of how high the water was on the bank. It was about thigh-deep on me in the center of this pond.
The first photo of this dam I could find was on October 2021. Here it is, the beginnings of the dam.
I later checked on the dams after the rains in December. This photo was taken on December 29, 2021, after the rains and before the Suburban. I was impressed that the dam was holding up, even with all that water rushing past.
Unfortunately, the Suburaban increased the damage greatly, so the beavers will have to spend their time rebuilding the dam, rather than spending their time on making new dams, holding in more water to replenish aquifers, creating more firebreaks. Instead, they have to spend their energy re-creating this dam.
And that is the down side to destroying beaver dams. It may not seem like a big deal to an OHV driver. You might think, now is the time when dams sometimes wash out anyway, so might as well drive over them and get a thrill. When in actuality, the dams are still creating habitat, still storing water, still allowing water to sink into our deeper aquifers, still providing fire breaks, still filtering out pollutants. Once a dam is removed the beavers have to spend their time fixing it, when they could be expanding their own range, creating more habitat, more fire breaks, more filtration systems, more area affecting our aquifers, more firebreaks, more of a Riparian Serengeti’s, as I’ve heard this area called before.
If you happen to be wondering where the law sits on this discussion, we’ve looked that up for you, too.
California State Law states: “No person shall operate, nor shall an owner permit the operation of, an off-highway motor vehicle in a manner likely to cause malicious or unnecessary damage to the land, wildlife, wildlife habitat or vegetative resources.”
So, if you happen to be an OHV driver, I want to ask, “What are the river, and the beavers doing for you? What do you love about the beaver habitat? How can we support it so that it will still exist for all of us? We all love the river. ”