Mystery of Breached Beaver Dam Revealed


This week’s Woodstock Times revealed the mystery behind the breached beaver dam of Yankeetown Pond. It was a result of an error on a job ordered by Woodstock Highway department: “Superintendent Mike Reynolds said the removal was done in error by a crew that misunderstood his instruction to clear out a diversion channel that had overflowed and flooded the road.”

Anyone who has seen the drastic drop in water level caused by this must be wondering what impact it would have on the pond’s ecosystem. Th article offers some answers from Erik Kiviat, executive director of Hudsonia, an environmental research organization that conducted a biodiversity study on Woodstock in 2011:

Although he is not familiar with recent conditions at the pond, Kiviat speculated on possible effects of a dramatic lowering of the water level. With mud flats or peat flats exposed along the bank, he was concerned about colonization by invasive weeds such as purple loosestrife or pharagmites reeds. ‘Is that bad? Not rnecessarily, unless large areas are densely colonized by phragmites, in particular, which might degrade natural vegetation.’

Another concern is birds, since April through July is breeding season for most species, including the pied-billed grebe, a wetland bird that may or may not be present at the Yankeetown Pond…

However, Kiviat said that in a system that had been stable for some time, he probably would not recommend taking any remedial action. He agreed that the beavers would most likely rebuild the dam if they’re around, but ‘it might not happen right away.’

(Violet Snow, excerpt from Woodstock Times, June 18, 2015)

I posted photos of the breached dam and one consequence of the water-level drop on Instagram a few days ago. While the sight of bare banks is hard to swallow, perhaps this could be a valuable opportunity to study what happens to a circumneutral bog lake like Yankeetown Pond, when the water level drastically drops. I ask, anyone who is able, to document the process that will unfold on our beloved pond, and contribute to this project.

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