2018-07-12 / Front Page

Beavers taking over park; dam must go

By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff


THE TRAIL to the Midway Bridge in Veronica Valley County Park is now marked with a warning that the bridge is underwater and impassable. THE TRAIL to the Midway Bridge in Veronica Valley County Park is now marked with a warning that the bridge is underwater and impassable. Which should go first, the beavers or the dam?

The Leelanau County Board of Commissioners was called upon to decide that question this week and it appears they have an answer.

The beavers, it seems, have been too elusive, determined and clever to be trapped or removed — so far, at least.

But the dam they built, as well as a beaver lodge that experts describe as “ginormous,” must go, commissioners agree.

The beaver dam is blocking the flow of Mebert Creek in 92-acre Veronica Valley County park and has flooded several acres of land in the vicinity of “Shipwreck Pond.” The flood has also inundated “Midway Bridge” and cut off the popular 1.3-mile “Red Trail” circling the park in Bingham Township.


MIDWAY BRIDGE in Veronica Valley County Park remains underwater because of the activity of beavers who have built a dam on Mebert Creek and a structure experts describe as a “ginormous” beaver lodge. MIDWAY BRIDGE in Veronica Valley County Park remains underwater because of the activity of beavers who have built a dam on Mebert Creek and a structure experts describe as a “ginormous” beaver lodge. The beaver-related flooding in Veronica Valley County Park should not be confused with flooding that occurred earlier this year in and around a “Kids Fish Pond” near County Road 641 (S. Lake Leelanau Drive). That resulted from a blocked drainage ditch that the Leelanau County Road Commission has fixed.

Beavers occupying a central portion of the park east of Maple Valley Road have been more problematic. District No. 4 commissioner Casey Noonan, who is also chair of the county Parks & Recreation Commission, reported that attempts earlier this year to remove the beavers had been unsuccessful.

“The beaver lodge is very inaccessible and is now in about 10 feet of water in the creek,” Noonan explained. “You can’t even get a trap in there. Believe me, we tried.”


BEAVER HABITAT in Veronica Valley County Park has been expanding. BEAVER HABITAT in Veronica Valley County Park has been expanding. Commission vice chairman Dave Barrons explained that the lodge itself is hard to spot, and its location requires that anyone venturing near enough to see it be equipped with waders.

Noonan was asked whether “live traps” would eventually be used to remove the beavers so they could be relocated.

“Unfortunately not,” Noonan replied.

“They’re tasty!” quipped District No. 1 Commissioner Tony Ansorge, whose comment was met by groans from some fellow commissioners.

No one, apparently, has spotted more than one beaver at a time around the beaver lodge. But a biologist from the Natural Resources Department of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians who was called upon to inspect the site earlier this year opined that an entire family of beavers is likely living there.

At its executive committee meeting this week, the County Board reviewed a contract proposal presented by the Parks & Recreation Commission that calls upon the “Youth Works Conservation Corps” administered by Child & Family Services of Northwestern Michigan to remove the beaver dam and lodge.

The leader of the Conservation Corps program, Leelanau County resident Bill Watson, said he’s visited the site and the beaver lodge. He’s the person whose description included the adjective, “ginormous.”

Within a couple of weeks, Watson said, he will lead a four-person team of young people into the beaver habitat over a three-day period to remove the dam and lodge. The price quoted for the job was $1,950. The County Board is expected to formally approve the expenditure at its regular monthly meeting next week.

The County Board’s vote on the issue this week was 6-1 with District No. 3 Commissioner and County Board Chairman Will Bunek opposed.

Bunek said he believed removing the dam and lodge was “putting the cart before the horse.” The beavers must go first, he asserted.

“They’ll just start rebuilding the dam as soon as it’s removed,” Bunek opined.

Noonan noted that the contract calls on Youth Corps workers to cut up many of the logs and branches used in building the beaver dam and lodge so beavers won’t be able to rebuild with materials already at hand.

Also, more attempts will be made to “remove” the elusive beavers themselves, Noonan added.

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From sitting 30 miles away

From sitting 30 miles away this was an interesting read. My opinion is that until the beavers are removed / eliminated this will be a perpetual problem. Bunek is correct in that removing the dams will likely be rebuilt or possibly relocated. Also beavers will bring in NEW material as they do not recycle old material. Good luck!