Tuesday, April 22, 2008


We've got beavers in the North Channel. They impede river flow and some consider them a pest but I like 'em. However... in two days they blocked the water enough that I couldn't get the irrigation going. Sunday I walked the channel fighting tamarisk every step of the way to find the dams and of course I forgot my camera. And then yesterday (Monday, April 21) when Dan Moreno from the USDA came out to assess the situation, do you think I had the camera then? Oh, no. But today I remembered. Here are the pictures. It doesn't look as drastic as it did Sunday because the river has risen so much in just 12 hours. We might actually be in for some good flooding.

This is the western most dam. This one we're keeping. With any luck once the high water is over, the beaver will be back and rebuild this dam. I understand that once a beaver finds a place it likes, it comes back come hell or high water. The reason this makes me happy is that the pond this beaver will create is right where the irrigation intake is for the Gardens. If there is a pond then maybe there will be a little more water in August when the channel typically runs dry. OK. Let's pretend that mosquitoes don't exist.

If you stop halfway over the bridge to Watson Island and then look to the east you will see this beaver dam. This one is also a keeper for several reasons. It is easily accessible. It is a great example of how beaver dams filter the crud out of the water. And my favorite, it will form a pond for the irrigation system that goes to the amphitheater.

There is one crafty beaver that has built three dams and this is the one furthest down stream. It doesn't look like much because the water has risen so much. Yesterday those branches you see formed something that looked like a bridge that you could walk safely across the river.

This is the second dam. One thing that beavers do when they build a dam is to use any existing structures, like the rocks that are causing the white water in the center of the picture. It looks like the current may be a little too strong for a dam because even before the water rose this dam didn't reach all the way across the river. Oh yeah. That guy is Rick Gonzales. He is the guy that comes out to your house in the middle of the night when the skunk finds it's way through the dog door and then eats the dog food which then ticks off the dog who then tears it into a zillion little pieces. Be nice to him. If he comes out to your house at least have some cookies for him.

This is the "big" dam. It is the one that is diverting a lot of the water. Even with the water as high as it is now it still looks like a pretty good passage across the river. One thing about beavers that just amazes me is how particular they are. Not only do they cut down trees (in this case tamarisk, go beavers, go!) they lay them out in this neat and tidy way with the branches at one end and the trunk at the other. I'm sure this is an engineering marvel but, holy moley, talk about creating calm out of chaos.

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