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Beavers cause havoc in Lebanon

By EKATERINE TCHELIDZE

Chronicle Staff Writer

LEBANON — The town has been putting up with consistent violations of some long-time residents, who have been clogging up the drainage pipe on Bush Hill Road for years.

Between repeatedly cleaning the culvert and blocking it off with a metal gate, nothing seems to have stopped the culprits.

Unfortunately, the town can’t even fine the violators for their misconduct.

That’s because the scofflaws are beavers.

“They’ve been here forever,” said Lebanon highway foreman and tree warden Jay Tuttle, pointing at a beaver dam raising up from the water.

Tuttle said there are two or three generations of beavers, who consistently dam the drainage pipes there.

The water then spills over the road, causing potential danger to motorists.

Tuttle said he has been told the male beaver is the size of a small bear.

Whether that is true or not remains to be seen, but the dam-building mammal is massive.

“They are huge,” said Lebanon First Selectman Betsy Petrie. “And they can do a lot of damage. When you see pictures on TV of beaver dams and beaver houses, it’s all true. I never thought it was true in my life until I saw it.”

Petrie said the original thought was to trap the beavers and bring them elsewhere.

The problem is they come back.

“So we have to do something to prevent (the damage) or else I will be calling people out for overtime all the time and, ideally, you don’t want to do that,” Petrie said.

The DPW has been fixing the culvert consistently multiple times a year, but now Tuttle is trying to solve the problem permanently.

With approval from the Lebanon Inland Wetlands Commission, Tuttle and other DPW employees are building concrete structures around the culvert — called a weir — that will become a spillway for the water that goes through the pipe.

That way, beavers won’t have access to the actual pipe and their dam won’t be damaged either.

Essentially, the town is taking action to keep the water from overflowing onto the road rather than damaging anything the beavers are doing.

“What I’m trying to do is to prevent us from doing anything ever again with this,” Tuttle said.

The unnamed pond where the beavers live is about 2 acres, Lebanon Town Planner Philip Chester said, but the water level in the pond is elevated because of beaver dams on it.

Sean Byam, a town DPW employee who is working on building the weir, said beavers built their hut first, then they dam it up, which raises the water level up to hide the entrance to the structure.

To get into the hut, they have to swim under the water.

That way, predators can’t get to them, Byam said.

The pipe is not the only damage the beavers have caused — trees in the area also have been “vandalized.”

“See those trees right there?” Byam said, pointing at a number of tress across from the pond. “Somebody wasn’t chopping them with an ax. That’s beavers.”

Tuttle said the DPW will be working on Bush Hill Road all week and the work should be done by the end of this week.

Then, the structure will, hopefully, save the culvert from further damage for years to come.

 

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