Beavers and Bozo: A Photo Story

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When the Beavers Met Bozo

Beavers are both appreciated and condemned by landowners in the Gallatin watershed. Beavers dams can help regulate stream flow, maintain wetlands, and retain water. But too much beaver activity can cause problems on individual properties.

GGWC Board Member Chris Boyer has long been a happy host to a family of beavers. He calls them “amenity beavers” because they help maintain the wetland. But last summer, the beavers decided to move their dam downstream, right underneath a bridge. Chris wasn’t thrilled by this relocation, and thus engaged in a months-long dispute with the beavers.

Chris outlines the saga for us in the following photographs.


May 2013: After 12 years in the same location, the beaver dam at the confluence of Rocky and Kelly Creeks fails.


August: Upwardly-mobile beavers decide it is time for a change of scenery and secure a building lot in an upscale Bridge Neighborhood, 100 yards downstream.


The beavers’ lead architect convinces them to “work with the landscape” and blend traditional construction techniques with existing structural assets of the new lot.


The local Planning and Zoning Commissioner is upset that the beavers failed to obtain proper building permits.  Under the commissioner’s jurisdiction the structure is removed. (Important to note that materials were stacked by hand onto sling. No machinery entered the creek).


In what is believed to be a reasonable settlement, material is transported to former dam location.


Park & Zoning engineers, at no cost to the beavers, facilitated reconstruction of the preliminary foundation entirely by hand.


One week after the relocation effort, beavers resume construction on the disputed site in clear defiance of regulations.


Local authorities again condemn site.


Enforcement officer Bozo the Clown is sent to the location to prevent further violations.


After several rounds of hotly contested negotiations, the beavers appear to accept settlement and begin to rebuild at original upstream location.


October: In what authorities are calling “suspicious circumstances,” Enforcement Officer Bozo’s body is found floating downstream of the disputed site.


Thus concludes the 2013 installment of “Beavers and Bozo.” What will come in 2014–compliance with local ordinances or further defiance on the part of the beavers? We eagerly await the season premier.