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I am not usually a fan of government-funded programs but when the Conservation Resource Enhancement Program (CREP) began about 20 years ago, I was an early adopter. This program removed cattle from streams and provided alternate sources of water. It was well funded, with significant private funds from Ducks Unlimited.
One of the waterways on our property is a perennial stream with a 3-acre pond and an island. Over the years, beavers have come and gone with minimal activity. Once their habitat was protected, they became more active and more destructive — and there were more of them.
Over time, they clogged the outflow pipe from the pond and barricaded the spillway, causing water to run over and erode the dam. They have flooded mature trees and cut down others planted as part of the CREP program. Most heartbreaking, they have destroyed the dogwood and flowering cherry trees planted on the island.
Recently, in an article in the Rappahannock News [“Coexisting with castor canadensis,” May 13, 2021], it was reported that the Virginia Department of Transportation estimated beaver damage in 2008 cost an average of $29,000 per incident.
On the other hand, in the same article, Rappahannock resident Bill Fletcher was reported as seeing benefits of beaver activity returning to his property this year, including re-emerging springs. It was also reported he would like to see a government-funded program to pay to build manmade beaver dams that would attract beavers on the streams of Virginia farms.
I know Bill Fletcher has good intentions, so I make this offer: He can take as many beavers as he wants from our farm, free of charge. It is a violation of the law in Virginia to relocate beavers, but trust me, I’ll never tell.
The write lives in Viewtown