Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Boehm Pond's Very Busy Beaver

Map showing how much larger  Boehm Pond has become

Boehm Pond keeps growing and growing, thanks to some very busy beaver. The Red Trail is almost a shoreline path, and hikers can see the edge of the pond through the trees as they ramble down the path.  The surface area of the pond has perhaps quadrupled in the past few months.

Beaver art
People have strong feelings about beaver, and reaction has been all over the place. For example:

Announcement: "We have some beaver here."
Response #1: "Why do you need to kill them?!" (no one ever said anything about killing them)
Response #2: "Beaver, cool." (exactly)
Response #3: "What are you going to DO about the beaver? They're damaging the trees" (that's OK - it's open space and beaver are just part of the ecosystem). 
Response #4: "I trap beaver if you ever need help" (thanks, hope we don't need that)
The extended beaver pond is full of trees
Yes, sometimes beaver need to be killed if they are causing significant damage to human structures. They can flood out basements, roadways, and septics.  But Boehm Pond is completely surrounded by open space, and so far we don't see any serious problems caused by the beaver. They can be left in peace. There used to be a wooden bridge on the north side of the pond, little used, and that appears to be underwater, or maybe it floated away. That's the extent of the known damage to human structures.

Beaver dam located above a box culvert at Winthrop Woods Road
The beaver are, however, continuing to build their dam bigger and bigger. The dam is located just before a box culvert that takes Boehm Brook under Winthrop Woods Road, and is easy to access if anyone wants to see it. If the beaver were to block the culvert and cause the road to flood, that would be a serious problem. So far that doesn't appear to be a problem, however. 

An alternative to killing beaver is to install a piping system under their dam which drains the pond. This can work in some places, but it's very tricky to do correctly (a professional is needed, and it's not cheap), and the water conditions need to be just right. Otherwise the beaver will hear the water going into the pipe and just build a dam around it. Beaver compulsively build dams in response to the sound of running water, so it's useless to just remove their dam. They'll rebuild immediately. 

Water now covers this spot on the north side of the pond
Beaver have been part of the ecosystem for thousands of years. They create great habitat for fish, heron, wood ducks, muskrat, and other aquatic species.  Nature is dynamic and ever-changing. Enjoy!

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