Did you happen to see a crew on the side of Goulbourn Forced Road last week and wonder what was happening? City of Ottawa staff invited Michel LeClair, who has been responsible for beaver management in Gatineau Park for 25 years, to provide a workshop on managing the risks to infrastructure posed by beavers and their dams. The workshop was to discuss various methods that can be used to mitigate the impact of beaver dams, using the Kizell wetlands as an example. Several other areas throughout the city are being used as a pilot to evaluate mitigation measures, the impact these measures have on our stormwater system, maintenance costs, and overall effectiveness. You can see some of the work that was being done in the below photo; the idea behind the “beaver deceiver” is to encourage the beavers to build their dams further away from the culverts so that the culvert isn’t blocked.
After the installation was completed, a beaver came by to check out what had been going on in the Kizell wetland. You can see the beaver in the centre of the below photo. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight a few things:
- The cages that you see are to protect the intakes for two drains from blockage by the beavers, and are not traps.
- There has been no draining of the wetland prior to the work; this low water level is a result of the drought conditions we’ve experienced this summer. Once the beavers have built their dam, and as water levels rise to normal levels, the visual impact of the Beaver Deceiver will be minimized.
- The fenced in area will protect the culvert from blockage, and the beavers are expected to rebuild their dams at the base of the fence instead of the mouth of the culvert. This will leave the culvert unobstructed, thereby maintaining flow capacity and protecting the road. Once the beavers rebuild at the base of the fence, it may be possible to remove the exposed, upper portion of the fence to reduce the visual impact and to improve wildlife movement. The black tubing is for two trains to convey normal summer flows through the beaver dam to the opening of the culvert; once the beavers have rebuilt their dam, the outlets will be cut to the desired elevation. The outlets can’t be cut down prior to the beavers rebuilding, otherwise the beavers will try to block those outlets rather than building their dam at the fence.
- This technique has been proven and used successfully many times elsewhere, and has worked particularly well in Gatineau Park. If successful here, the same technique will be considered for use at similar sites throughout the City.