A Labor Day tribute to Nature’s Engineers

Yesterday, I visited the Dwaas Kill Nature Preserve to scope out a proposed trail west of Pierce Road, south of the northern property boundary, and north of the Dwaas Kill.  After hiking through the forest, I arrived on the banks of the Dwaas Kill.  Upon my arrival, I could hear what sounded like a mini-waterfall. Being a curious sort, I investigated.

Peering through the thick underbrush along the streambank, I could see the beaver dam further upstream.

Looking upstream along Dwaas Kill at beaver dam

Looking upstream along Dwaas Kill at beaver dam

Here is a closer look. It has been said that beavers are nature’s engineers.

Beaver dam and pathway slide into Dwaas Kill

Beaver dam and pathway slide into Dwaas Kill

Here is the view immediately downstream of the dam.  It appears that this material was previously part of this dam and was washed away during a recent flood.

Debris ~50ft below beaver dam

Debris ~50ft below beaver dam

And here is the view immediately upstream of the dam.

Looking upstream above beaver dam

Looking upstream above beaver dam

Note these debarked branches floating in the stream.

Debarked maple branches

Debarked maple branches

Bark is one of the principal food for beavers. Read more about these interesting mammals.

Not far upstream from the dam, I found a couple of well-worn paths littered with a few freshly cut sprigs of Silky Dogwood.

Silky Dogwood freshly cut by beaver

Silky Dogwood freshly cut by beaver

One of those paths ended with a muddy bank slide into an oxbow which flowed back into the Dwaas Kill. That flooded channel serves as an important passageway for the beaver to safely transport dam-building materials and food. Though I did not see or hear any beaver activity during my visit, there were fresh beaver tracks in the streambank mud. View beaver tracks.

Beaver slide into oxbow off Dwaas Kill now filled due to beaver dam

Beaver slide into oxbow off Dwaas Kill now filled due to beaver dam

On this Labor Day, it seems fitting to pay tribute to these industrious critters. View a brief video about beavers.

Happy trails!

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