Beavers, Dammit

Out toward the swamp Out behind our house is the remnant of a large (10-20 acre) beaver pond, where the beavers drowned a serious spruce forest between 1960 and 1980, give or take a couple years on each end. They had left fairly recently when I bought the land in 1986 and there was still standing water under the vegetation for 11 months a year.

Over the last 20 years it has been slowly drying out. There are now 2-3 inch diameter birch trees scattered about and pines were starting to show up too. We’d been looking forward to all of that pasture when it got just a little dryer. This year, for the first time in all these years, it didn’t. There’s visble water all along the edge, with trees growing straight out of it. It’s been a very wet year, so we hoped that was the problem. But it’s now the end of July and the water’s still there. The amphibians are back, too. Now that this year’s crop has had time to grow, we have more frogs and salamanders than we’ve had for five years. For some reason, we also have twice the snakes we’ve ever had. Perhaps they’re flood refugees.

The beavers are back. So Monday night we took a walk. Yup, the beavers are back. I know I’m supposed to value wetlands. I hear about biodiversity. Umm, fewer sheep, horses and cattle and more leeches and mosquitos are not quite the biodiversity I’m after. Is there a way we could bribe them to make a real pond rather than a swamp? Something deep enough for bass say?

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