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Old 10-10-2018, 09:03 PM   #1
forest dweller
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DEC policy on beavers pretty much destroying trails to major destinations?

DEC policy on beavers pretty much destroying trails to major destinations?

Just got back from a 5 day trip, which was supposed to be a combination of a canoe trip up to campsite 23 on the Oswegatchie River (where it intersects with trail down to the Five Ponds and beyond) and a single overnight backpack down to Sand Lake and then back...only to backpack about 2/3 of a mile and find a big pond, and a major "wetlands" "down-dam", caused by beavers, which sane people would not cross or go through the required hell to find a way around.

We turned around and paddled up to High Falls instead but my "Voice of Reason" copilot / partner that did not want to get our rear ends kicked finding a way across the beaver created monstrosity also didn't want to portage around High Falls and go further up the Oswegatchie River!

These things, along with the first 3 days of ugly clouds and shower activity, made what could have been an exceptional Adirondack backcountry experience an average sort of bittersweet one. I DON'T LIKE to fail at doing the intended trip...especially when plan B doesn't work out either.

WHY aren't beaver ponds drained, dams destroyed or trails re-routed so that mere mortal backpackers can still get to their intended destination?

I'm willing to volunteer if it's a lack of DEC manpower due to NY being cheap!

Last edited by forest dweller; 10-10-2018 at 09:37 PM..
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:20 PM   #2
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DEC policy on beavers pretty much destroying trails to major destinations?

WHY aren't beaver ponds drained or trails re-routed so that mere mortal backpackers can still get to their intended destination?

I'm willing to volunteer if it's a lack of DEC manpower due to NY being cheap!
I suspect the answer is the phrase "busy as a beaver." I read on a trapping site that If you remove a beaver dam and not the beaver, the dam will be rebuilt in less than a day. And supposedly they are smart and more difficult to trap than you'd think. I think some trails are re-routed temporarily when possible. I've hit a few flagged detours caused by beaver floods before. Not sure if they were official DEC reroutes, or what, but...
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:35 PM   #3
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Hey, its the wilderness. We are only visitors. I say deal with it. Don't drain the naturally created wetlands. Over the years I have had many of my intended backcountry trips modified significantly from time to time by beaver activity. Always an adventure leading me to exercise skills and an opportunity to enhance my skills plus making memories and experience I would not otherwise have planned to have.

I have heard that leaky or damaged dams are quickly repaired so rapidly because beavers are programmed to respond to the sound of trickling water. "Got to Repair that hole".
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Old 10-11-2018, 01:15 AM   #4
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The beavers were here long before we were.

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I have heard that leaky or damaged dams are quickly repaired so rapidly because beavers are programmed to respond to the sound of trickling water. "Got to Repair that hole".
I read about an experiment where they put equipment in the middle of a field, that played the sound of running water. Nearby beavers gathered round & started building around it to block the "water". Can't remember where I saw it, but it struck me as fascinating.
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Old 10-11-2018, 07:23 PM   #5
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I just read an account of beaver reacting to the sound of running water in Lucy Cooke's book The Truth About Animals. Actually didn't read it but listened to it on Audible during many long drives to the trailheads. Recommended! Sort of a mythbusters for zoology.

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The beavers were here long before we were.
I read about an experiment where they put equipment in the middle of a field, that played the sound of running water. Nearby beavers gathered round & started building around it to block the "water". Can't remember where I saw it, but it struck me as fascinating.
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:38 PM   #6
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Understood, but then why not a trail re-route?
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Old 10-10-2018, 11:19 PM   #7
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Understood, but then why not a trail re-route?
No resources. The "resources" are all busy destroying perfectly good trails in the High Peaks, in the name of "wilderness."

I experienced the same thing on the NP in 2007. Several areas were flooded, and obviously had been for some time. There were informally flagged "go around" trails created by hikers; I doubt any state "resources" had been through in years.
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Old 10-11-2018, 05:44 AM   #8
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Although beaver have a place in the ecosystem, they can be and are very destructive to the ecosystem as well. Regulated trapping is the only way to control the expanding population. Even the Nature Conservency is rethinking their anti- beaver trapping policy on Tug Hill.

Given the current global fur market conditions, beaver pelt prices are very low, resulting in less trapping pressure. So be prepared for more hiking trail, roadway, and forestland to be flooded.

However, castor gland prices are at a all time high, it may come to the point where the castor is worth more than the pelt.
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Old 10-11-2018, 03:15 PM   #9
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Although beaver have a place in the ecosystem, they can be and are very destructive to the ecosystem as well. Regulated trapping is the only way to control the expanding population. Even the Nature Conservency is rethinking their anti- beaver trapping policy on Tug Hill.
My parents both grew up on Tug Hill in the earlier part of the 20th century. My father, growing up as an experienced woodsman, said there were no beavers around at the time, as they had all been previously trapped out. Look at the most current versions of the USGS topo maps of the area (circa 1943). It is all upland with many interconnected small stream beds. But go there now and you run into nothing but flooded ponds and marshes where the map says is dry land. Many woods trails made by my father that I still remember hiking and hunting with him are now frequently impossible to travel without getting wet (or swimming). I've been on SAR incidents in the area that were made quite difficult for rangers to efficiently plan and for searchers to effectively cover due to beaver activity.
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Old 10-11-2018, 03:47 PM   #10
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My parents both grew up on Tug Hill in the earlier part of the 20th century. My father, growing up as an experienced woodsman, said there were no beavers around at the time, as they had all been previously trapped out. Look at the most current versions of the USGS topo maps of the area (circa 1943). It is all upland with many interconnected small stream beds. But go there now and you run into nothing but flooded ponds and marshes where the map says is dry land. Many woods trails made by my father that I still remember hiking and hunting with him are now frequently impossible to travel without getting wet (or swimming). I've been on SAR incidents in the area that were made quite difficult for rangers to efficiently plan and for searchers to effectively cover due to beaver activity.
I belong to a club on the hill. As long as Beaver prices were depressed, there were new dams all over the place. As a trout fisherman, I love them for about the first five years they are in, the fish grow fat and sassy on all the baitfish that can grow in the shallows. Once they start to silt in, the oxygen demand rises in the summer, and the trout are gone. The duck hunters still like them for jump shooting puddlers if the season and the weather coincide. When the price of the fur goes up, no new ones for quite a while. But the old ones hang on for a long time, some of the ponds are over thirty years old. The vly that forms after the dam is gone can be very attractive, but can also be a quicksand ridden bog to try to navigate.

The histories I've read for the 'Dacks say they were nearly gone until 8 were released, maybe at Nehasne, and they have spread from there.
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Old 10-11-2018, 08:02 PM   #11
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My parents both grew up on Tug Hill in the earlier part of the 20th century. My father, growing up as an experienced woodsman, said there were no beavers around at the time, as they had all been previously trapped out. Look at the most current versions of the USGS topo maps of the area (circa 1943). It is all upland with many interconnected small stream beds. But go there now and you run into nothing but flooded ponds and marshes where the map says is dry land. Many woods trails made by my father that I still remember hiking and hunting with him are now frequently impossible to travel without getting wet (or swimming). I've been on SAR incidents in the area that were made quite difficult for rangers to efficiently plan and for searchers to effectively cover due to beaver activity.
Yes, during the 1950ís Tug Hill was almost beaver free. Thatís why you could drink from most brooks , streams, and rivers there. Also, those water ways teemed with native brook trout. Thanks to the proliferation of beaver, itís not the same today.

Donít expect beaver fur prices to increase much any time soon. The fur market is dependent on foreign economies, such as Russia, China, Korea, Greece, Ukraine, Italy, etc.. Another reason for low price on beaver pelts, they are one of the most costly to dress/tan.
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Old 10-11-2018, 08:14 PM   #12
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Yes, during the 1950’s Tug Hill was almost beaver free. That’s why you could drink from most brooks , streams, and rivers there. Also, those water ways teemed with native brook trout. Thanks to the proliferation of beaver, it’s not the same today.
My dad had a series of drinking glasses (usually mason jars) hanging on branches at various cool water "springs" on the back country trails of his that we hiked. AFAIK neither he nor I ever got sick from it, not when I was around anyway, though he was aware of and mentioned knowledge of "beaver fever".
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Old 10-11-2018, 09:30 PM   #13
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DEC policy on beavers pretty much destroying trails to major destinations?

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Originally Posted by Tug Hill View Post
Yes, during the 1950ís Tug Hill was almost beaver free. Thatís why you could drink from most brooks , streams, and rivers there. Also, those water ways teemed with native brook trout. Thanks to the proliferation of beaver, itís not the same today.



Donít expect beaver fur prices to increase much any time soon. The fur market is dependent on foreign economies, such as Russia, China, Korea, Greece, Ukraine, Italy, etc.. Another reason for low price on beaver pelts, they are one of the most costly to dress/tan.


Maybe we could convince China that powdered Beaver tail works better than Rhino horn.

Last edited by JohnnyVirgil; 10-12-2018 at 06:27 AM..
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Old 10-11-2018, 10:21 PM   #14
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Maybe we could convince China that powered Beaver tail works better than Rhino horn.
Actually there is a limited market for beaver tail leather. They make great wallets. I have one and it has lasted way longer than a cowhide wallet.
Fur harvesters auction, in North Bay , Ontario used to sell them.

The # 1 grade castor gland if handled properly is worth upwards to $70 per lb..

But on topic, the DEC usually is very cooperative when it comes to problem/nuisance beaver, and will issues permits to take care of any problem.
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Old 10-11-2018, 09:10 AM   #15
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Yes, beavers are very busy and will often react to a breached dam by rebuilding it even higher that it was before. The only permanent solution is to either find some higher ground and reroute the trail, or build a higher bridge. At one point there were three layers of bridges at the outlet of the Washbowl as the beavers built the dam ever higher. The beavers even figured out where the underground outlet was and blocked that off.
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Old 10-11-2018, 01:40 PM   #16
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It’s wilderness and maybe we need to adjust our attitude when the "going gets tougher"...
Some of my most memorable trips have been where plans changed due to conditions and we had to get out the map and compass and figure out a new plan with new goals.
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Old 10-11-2018, 02:10 PM   #17
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Well it's my opinion that the DEC needs to be more active in rerouting trails. Some people don't want to kill themselves to get where they wanted to go, or fail to get where they intended to go.
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Old 10-11-2018, 02:23 PM   #18
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How much preparation did you do for this EPIC trip? A cursory look at a guidebook description of this area or a map of this area would let you know that it is virtually all wetlands, aside from being wilderness. As others have said, the beavers were there first, a large part of why there are such extensive and persistent wetlands in the area. Maybe the solution is to build a nice solid road back there that facilitates removal of all obstructions! Because they will have to do it almost constantly, and it is not the kind of place where they can run out in the morning to remove the dam or relocate the trail and then head back for additional work in the afternoon!

I used to maintain a USGS gagehouse in the Rochester area. One feature of a USGS installation is a stable control, a constant reference for the level of the water being measured in the pool where the gage is situated. This installation had a riffle at the end of the pool and bank beavers in the area took up residence and built a dam on the riffle to raise the water level in the pool, totally unacceptable for the USGS purposes. After attempting to get the beavers relocated (no one would take them, they all had problems of their own), and not being able to get permission from one of the riparian owners to allow a licensed trapper to take them out in season, the regional Wildlife Biologist for DEC wrote me a permit to remove the dam, as often as necessary to stabilize the control. He told me that once ice up hit and the pool surface froze over, they would desist, and they would likely either move or drown during spring runoff. Over the next two weeks (it was late fall, so ice up was not long in coming), I removed the dam 13 times, finally giving up until the pool ice formed. The beavers do not give up, and they use more mud, and lace the sticks tighter on every successive reconstruction. People who illegally remove beaver dams up there generally use dynamite, and if the pond is still housing an active colony, the dam usually still gets rebuilt.
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Old 10-11-2018, 02:49 PM   #19
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I was left wondering what the DEC does for beaver pond activity after going waist deep in one trying to get to the Lapland LT from the Black Mtn trail in the Lake George WF this past Monday. The first section of bridge looked to be off its piers and floating, and while attempting to check it from a submerged log I slipped off.

I wouldn't want the dam destroyed or anything, as noted we were trodding on their space, but was actually wondering if I should report it to the region forester or ranger so that they could note the need for bridge work there. I think the beavers have made the dam higher somewhat recently, as there were no notes about it on All Trails, etc., just saw one entry in the trail register that my spouse missed. The pond wasn't even on the DEC map as a wetland, and it was actually a pretty good sized pond of maybe an acre or two.

Suggestions on reporting?

I "only" lost two iPhones in the process! Time for some waterproof cases...

Last edited by webby459; 10-11-2018 at 03:12 PM..
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Old 10-11-2018, 03:14 PM   #20
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You could try reporting it, they might flag a trail around since there is a "resource" back there. Or add it to a list for eventual action. IF the dam was that close to the bridge, why didn't you just walk the dam (carefully, of course)?

A friend and I were scouting brook trout streams in the Northern Tug Hill one spring. We decided to head to Sear's Pond, and took the most direct route, which is a partially paved road that crosses some of the headwaters of North Sandy Creek and the Deer River. We got about 5 miles down the road, and saw a town line sign, followed about 100 feet later by a "Road Closed due to Flooding" sign, at which point we could see about 1/4 mile of beaver flow being crossed by a ATVer standing up in his hip boots. My friend told me I could drive it "No Problem", but with visions of a stalled out truck and a twenty mile tow truck trip in the three digit cost column in my mind, I backed up and turned around. Some intermunicipal cooperation could have moved that sign back to the junction where we started and saved us a lot of trouble!
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