Beaver Dams and the Birth of a Pond
I was rather surprised on May 22 to find a small pond blocking a hiking trail near Dumfries, Va., that I've used for many years. It was easy to see that the pond was formed by a beaver dam. I knew the dam was recently formed because the pond wasn't there when I walked the trail earlier in the month. I took a few photos of the dam and filed them on my computer. The following weekend, after two heavy rainfalls (2.43" of rain fell at National Airport) and localized flash flooding, I returned to see if the dam had washed away, grown larger, or was the same size as before.
Keep reading for more photos and to find out how the dam fared...
Beaver dams are quite strong and resilient to flooding. If a leak occurs in the dam, the beavers will quickly make a patch and rebuild the compromised section. Over time, the dam is further strengthened by vegetation that becomes rooted in the structure of the dam.
Only after the beavers abandon the pond (or are removed) does a beaver dam usually undergo a major failure or leak. It was interesting to see how the dam had grown about six inches in a week's time, despite two heavy rain events. I plan to return over the summer to chart the progress.
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