Beavers are dam smart!  

Beaver lodge and dam

They provide many ecological benefits such as wetland habitat creation, drought prevention and carbon storage. However, sometimes they build dams in areas that make them unpopular neighbors. 

Their dams provide beavers with protection against predators. The dams create deeper water which allows beavers to dig underwater entrances to their secret lair called a lodge. Lodges are dome shaped structures built out of mud and branches that have two underwater entrances for a beaver’s safe entrance or exit when in danger. 

Several dams located within Port habitat sites have created flooding concerns for neighboring properties and have drowned native vegetation at the site. I spent the summer trying to resolve the flooding by “notching” the dams. Notching removes parts of the dam to let water flow through. This method works to relieve flooding but the sound of running water triggers beavers to work tirelessly to repair the dam.

Inspecting the beaver dam

Notching was not a long-term solution because the beavers rebuilt the dams faster than we could take them apart and beavers don’t re-use their dam materials! They cut down new trees to repair leaks. After about 30 notching efforts I admitted defeat. Beavers: 1. Me: 0. 

The beavers had won our first battle of wits, but I was not ready to concede the war. I couldn’t outsmart them alone, so I teamed up with Beavers Northwest, a non-profit agency that helps alleviate flooding and property damage without harming beavers.  

We deceived the beavers using a pond leveler which is basically a pipe that spans the dam. The pipe allows water to flow through the dam, but the outflow is far enough away from the dam that it doesn’t trigger the repair instinct. A cage is placed around the inlet of the pipe upstream of the dam to keep beavers from plugging it with mud and sticks.

The pond leveler appears to be a win-win!  The beavers feel safe in their pond, and I am happy to report that water is flowing again.  

The pond leveler is a win-win