They’re WILDlife. They Do What They Want.

BeaverPartnering with Wildlife

There was some unauthorized – or perhaps, unscheduled would be a better word – construction on a county creek recently. We learned about it through an email from a county resident:

“I just wanted to send a quick note about a Cross County Trail crossing just south of the Fairfax County Parkway.  There appears to be something that has dammed Pohick Creek and has caused the cement pillars used to cross the creek to become submerged in water and impassable.  I know some of the crossings become submerged in water when the creek is high, but this is different.  All of the other crossings along this section of Pohick Creek are well above water and the creek is otherwise at a pretty low level right now.  I’ve never seen this particular crossing submerged when the creek was otherwise at this low level.  Additionally, the water in this area is quite still.  I could see an area just downstream that looked, perhaps, like a bunch of dead wood that was possibly damming the creek, but I’m not certain. “

The email was forwarded to Area 4 Manager Ed Richardson, who oversees maintenance in parks in that area of the county. Richardson went to see what was going on and found the “bunch of dead wood.” Sure enough, it was a beaver dam that had been built just downstream of the creek’s fair weather crossing. Richardson opened the dam at both ends to give the water a path, hoping that storms would do the rest. Instead, the beaver rebuilt the dam within a couple of days, so a work crew was sent to demolish the structure.

“A final resolution depends on how committed the beaver is to damming the creek here,” Richardson said. “Hopefully it will move on without much fight.”

Senior Natural Resource Specialist Kristen Sinclair explained that the Fairfax County Park Authority follows a Standard Operating Procedure when it comes to wildlife conflict:

“Beavers, in particular, generate about 5-10 complaints each year involving trail flooding or tree damage. Beaver are tolerated whenever possible in our stream valley parks because they are a highly beneficial native mammal in Northern Virginia. Beaver-created habitat provides pollution control and helps mitigate erosion by slowing down streams. Progressive measures considered for resolving wildlife conflicts include tolerance, exclusion, harassment and, lastly, population control. In the case of Pohick Creek, staff must balance the need for public recreation against the beaver’s chosen spot to set up home, for now.“

This beaver may be lodging in the ground. Richardson said he didn’t see a lodge at the dam, but did see large burrow entrances with fresh spoils nearby. Sinclair said beaver sometimes do lodge inside banks.

If this beaver moves elsewhere, the problem’s solved. If the beaver rebuilds in the same spot, we’ll have to monitor it until he learns what we always have to keep in mind – that wildlife and people share the same places in this county. We each have to give a little in order to protect each other and the county’s natural resources.

There’s more information about beavers and wildlife conflict at these links:

 

Author David Ochs is the Manager of Stewardship Communications for the Resource Management Division of the Fairfax County Park Authority.

 

 

 

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About Fairfax County Park Authority

HISTORY: On December 6, 1950, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Park Authority was authorized to make decisions concerning land acquisition, park development and operations in Fairfax County, Virginia. To date, 11 park bond referenda have been approved between 1959 and 2008. Another Park Bond Referendum will be held in November 2012. Today, the Park Authority has 420 parks on approximately 23,168 acres of land. We offer 371 miles of trails, our most popular amenity. FACILITIES: The Park System is the primary public mechanism in Fairfax County for the preservation of environmentally sensitive land and resources, areas of historic significance and the provision of recreational facilities and services including: o Nine indoor RECenters with swimming pools, fitness rooms, gyms and class spaces. Cub Run features an indoor water park and on-site naturalist. o Eight golf courses including Laurel Hill, our newest, upscale course and clubhouse located in Southern Fairfax County o Five nature and visitor centers. Also seven Off-Leash Dog Activity areas o Several lakes including Lake Fairfax, Lake Accotink and Burke Lake, with campgrounds at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax o The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax, Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee as well as an indoor water park at Cub Run RECenter o Clemyjontri Park, a fully accessible playground in Great Falls featuring two acres of family friendly fun and a carousel o An ice skating rink at Mount Vernon RECenter and the Skate Park in Wakefield Park adjacent to Audrey Moore RECenter o Kidwell Farm, a working farm of the 1930s era at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, now with historic carousel o Eight distinctive historic properties available for rent o A working grist mill at Colvin Run in Great Falls and a restored 18th century home at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly o A horticulture center at Green Spring Gardens in Annandale o Natural and cultural resources protected by the Natural Resource Management Plan and Cultural Resource Plans, plus an Invasive Management Area program that targets alien plants and utilizes volunteers in restoring native vegetation throughout our community o Picnic shelters, tennis courts, miniature golf courses, disc golf courses, off-leash dog parks, amphitheaters, a marina, kayaking/canoeing center o Provides 274 athletic fields, including 30 synthetic turf fields, and manages athletic field maintenance services at 500 school athletic fields PARK AUTHORITY BOARD: • A 12-member citizen board, appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, sets policies and priorities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. Visit http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news2/social-hub/ for Fairfax County Government's Comment Policy.

One thought on “They’re WILDlife. They Do What They Want.

  1. Renee

    I wish more people read your blog. When people notify city or park officials of things like this, they usually do NOT intend to complain about animals. They just want to let you know and don’t realize the flooding etc. isn’t random or weather created. Particularly people don’t know that “population control” (killing) may be the very unhappy result. Beavers are awesome and we have a couple behind our home. They fell a few trees but otherwise people like the occasional glimpse of “our beaver.” I’m glad we let them have a few saplings and just wire-wrapped any trees we needed to keep safe.

    At first I worried a bit that the beavers would knock down all the trees in the area. Through research I learned that beavers are selective; they do not like all types of trees. After several years now, we still have plenty of trees even with the beavers here.

    Reply

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