The sight of American beavers in several Metroparks is an exciting development for nature lovers. For park managers, North America's largest rodent can also pose challenges calling for creative solutions.
A beaver dam at Side Cut has repeatedly blocked the outlet for Siegert Lake, causing the lake water to be unusually high, flooding portions of the Red Trail and a nearby parking lot.
For park operations, dealing with the animals requires balance. Bob Heckman said staff have occasionally punched holes in the dam to relieve the water, or even removed the dam to relieve up to 4 feet of backed-up water. Each time, the beavers quickly rebuilt it.
The park district's Natural Resources staff and Construction Crew then got involved to craft a more permanent solution.
In March, the staff installed a control device to maintain the outflow of water beneath the beaver dam. The solution allows the lake to drain out of earshot of the beavers, which react to the sound of rushing water and instinctively get to work building a dam to block it.
Jim Cassidy, a park supervisor who oversees the Construction Crew, explains what was installed and how it works in the video, below.
So far, so good. The lake is draining, and the beaver can continue to maintain their dam.
The distribution of American beaver is considered low in this part of Ohio, but their numbers have been increasing steadily for more than 30 years statewide, particularly in eastern Ohio.
At Side Cut, there is evidence of them at nearby Silver Lake and a smaller pond. Tim Gallaher, natural resources manager, said beaver have also been seen at Farnsworth, Providence and Swan Creek, and may reside at Wildwood. In recent years, they have been active at Evergreen Lake in Oak Openings.
Another sign of beaver are the felled trees with stripped bark near the dam.