Foyer > Where I live > Etch-A-Sketch

Nature’s  Etch-A-Sketch

For the first couple of months without the pond we worked off and on fixing the beaver dam. We trucked a ladder out there to put across the stream as a bridge and then hauled some big timbers out and put them across. We put in fence posts, hauled tree limbs and entire trees.  One big rainstorm followed another and each one undid our efforts.
One day, before we left for work and school my son and I were contemplating the project from the yard. In the early morning light the little waterfall that had formed on one of the streams glittered and the sound of running water filled the air. The two streams were carving new beds, moving around nearly every week.
“It’s like nature’s Etch-A-Sketch” he said.

A week or so later, another big storm brought so much water down, another piece of beaver dam fell into the break. Nature had won.

Lillian Shen, a naturalist who lives in town, posted about the beaver dam cycle on our town email list. She said, in part:
“We humans think of ponds as permanent landscape features. The draining of a beaver pond that we are accustomed to enjoying often prompts us to try and restore the pond immediately.  It is difficult for us to appreciate that the disappearance of these ponds is part of a natural cycle –one that contributes greatly to the diversity of flora and fauna.”

“The resulting mudflat is treeless, sunny and rich in sediment, and is an important niche for plants that only thrive in  such locations. Many plants in this category are imperiled in Vermont. The mudflat quickly becomes a sedge meadow, an increasingly uncommon habitat needed for the continued survival of at least 20 bird species that are in special need of conservation in Vermont, including bittern, night heron, night hawk and sedge wren.  The meadow is gradually re-colonized by alders, willows and poplars.  These thickets of young trees are important habitat for birds that require early succession forest such as the declining woodcock, the long-eared owl and various warblers. In absence of human intervention beavers will return in 20-30 years when the trees are mature and the cycle starts again.”

So I think nature must know what she is doing. I’m looking forward to making a little sitting place out by the waterfall next summer. I miss the pond very much.

But then, I’m not the one with the Etch-A-Sketch.

Foyer > Where I live > Etch-A-Sketch