CalTrans Pilot

The CalTrans pilot is in and has been working flawlessly since June. For the moment, we’re not releasing the location, just in case folks might harass the beaver—the pond is really close to the road. Here’s a picture of the site looking downstream. P1040172

CalTrans built an absolutely gorgeous park here, while replacing a dangerous intersection with a modern grade separation, on/off ramps, oversized culverts, erosion control structures, and everything you’d want. This photo is looking upstream from a little above the dam.

P1040217Waterfowl are abundant here, as well as red-legged frogs, western pond turtles, and tiger salamander habitat. There are lots of raccoon and deer tracks, as well as evidence of dog-walkers, horse-riders and strolling families.

It’s no surprise that beavers moved in—at the end of this low-gradient reach, there’s a choke point with trees growing in it where a bunch of debris has washed down and gotten trapped. All the little guy had to do is add some mud, and instant dam.

P1040208Earlier this year, Kate Lundquist from OAEC and I visited CalTrans District 5 and gave a quick presentation about beavers. Lucky for us, there was a project that had this problem beaver, as well as a rockstar CalTrans team, and we got to install a pond leveler here.

The device uses a 12″ pipe and a circular cage, installed with hand tools and no vehicles in the wetted channel.

Mike Callahan of Beaver Solutions has installed well over a thousand similar devices in Massachusetts, with a reported success rate of 87% in this study that Heidi at Worth a Dam has been kind enough to host.

P1040227This next photo is looking upstream at the device, 24 hours after 1/2″ of rain fell—right back to  base water level: dry roadbed, happy engineers, happy beavers.

I’ve got build photos somewhere, and will add them shortly.

Check out the before/after sequence from my site report below, that’s all for now, and here’s to natures wetland engineers!CalTrans Pilot Report


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