The Impact of the Beaver



Hi, I’m Nichole Fox and I’m with Give A Dam. And we are here today at the Huck Finn Pond in Durango, Colorado. And I’m here to highlight a well made Beaver Deceiver and Castor Master that was installed over 20 years ago. It’s still functional, the fish hatchery maintains it. And I wanted to highlight it because this is a well made one. And I want people to know how long lasting these are, how effective, how cost effective and how much headache is saved by installing, you know, one of these, well, with somebody who is a professional at it. I’m here with Ryan Votta from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. He is the assistant manager at the fish hatchery. I wanted to highlight the reason why, you know, beavers are so essential in the world that we live in today. They help in four major ways. One, is they help with their wetlands, provide immense habitat for birds, amphibians, fish. And as well, their wetlands slow down the water, which allows for sedimentation and silt to be taken out of the creeks and the rivers. As well, that slowing down of the water allows for the water table to be recharged. And in the west we’re facing major drought. And lastly, they help with fire resilience. Emily Fairfax is a scientist, and she studied hot forest fires all over the west. And what she discovered is, where there is forest fire that goes over a wetland, a beaver created wetland, those wetlands get to only 115 degrees. What that means, is that anything in and around that wetland is able to survive above and below where the creek is, just a creek with no wetland, the temperatures get over 200 degrees, everything is annihilated. So if we put this in historical perspective, what this means, there were beaver and their wetlands before the 1800s when beaver were trapped out, there were their wetlands every quarter to half a mile on most streams in America, even in the west. Now they are every stretch, every 50 miles of stream. I wanted to be able to highlight this coexistence measure because it’s essential in the world that we live in. And moving forward, we need this creature, this animal, to be the hero that it is.

So we’re here at the Durango Fish Hatchery right in the center of Durango, Colorado. And this is our settling pond or our effluent pond. And what that means, Nichole, is that all of the water from the fish hatchery gets directed into this pond, and then it has time to settle out before it’s discharged into the nearby Animas River. And with that being said, with the proximity of the Animas River, as Nichole mentioned, we do have beavers that time to time are traveling along the Animas, and then they come over the bank in front of us here, and they come into the pond and they’re like, wow, what a great spot to live. So one of the things that we had done, was have this Beaver Deceiver installed so we could kind of coexist with the beavers, offer the beavers a place to live, and at the same time not have it interrupt the functions of the hatchery. So right here in front of us, we have the lower half of the pond, and this is the outlet section. So this is where the water actually makes its way into the Animas. You can see we have a little caged area here, and typically during low water months, when the Animas is low, the water can naturally gravity feed out into the Animas, and we have it slightly caged off there. The only issue with that section is, the beavers instinctively hear that flowing water, and what they want to do, is they want to block it up. You know, they want to stop that flowing water to create a bigger pond for them to live in. So the cool thing about the Beaver Deceiver, is there’s a submerged part here. So it’s a long corrugated pipe, and it comes into a rebar caged area, and it’s all submerged under the water, beneath the water line of the pond. And what that does, is it allows the water to travel through that cage, through the corrugated pipe and into the river. And there’s really no chance for the beavers to be able to plug that up and dam it up.

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