Back when I was at a brain-storm session at the State of the Beaver conference (well, a brain-storm session with beer) folks were chatting about how good Washington was at handling beavers, Snohomish County in particular. A man I didn’t recognize said it was because of “that guy who used to be a great installer at public works” . He snapped his fingers but couldn’t remember his name. The table of 30 couldn’t think of it either, but I of course knew.
“Jake Jacobsen?” I asked helpfully and everyone was relieved to finally remember.
Michael Pollock, who was at the center of the table and the dominate brain storming at the minute, turned my way appreciatively saying with surprise “Heidiiiiiiiii!” in a long tone that seemed to mean “It always surprises me what she remembers”…which felt like a compliment at the time but truthfully none was needed because I could never forget Jake’s name. He was one of three voices that I wrote practically every week during our beaver crisis. At the time he was the Watershed Steward for Snohomish County, then Stillaquamish County, and he frequently installed flow devices.
I talked to him about our dam, about beaver digging, about population worries, about city council meetings, about how to get along with public works. I remember reading his answers over and over again and trying to memorize his advice. I wondered at the legislation that had made the position of “Watershed Steward” a reality and assigned someone to watch over every stream in the state.
Jake retired a couple years ago, but he still agreed to be listed on our consultants page. This year at the conference I met one of the two men who were assigned to replace him, and we had a very friendly lunch with Mike Callahan on the day of our presentations. Suffice to say Jake’s work will definitely be carried on.
Which means it came as a surprise to read this article:
It’s called the Beaver Deceiver, and it has nothing to do with any trick plays that Oregon might run against Oregon State during football season. Instead, it’s an in-water flow device made of wire and wood that prevents beavers from building dams that block culverts and potentially damage property.
Kitsap County’s newest Beaver Deceiver was installed recently in the Grovers Creek watershed in north Kitsap County after some industrious resident beavers continually blocked a culvert and created a nearly two-acre pond that threatened to wash out trails and a logging road that is heavily used by hikers, bikers and by Olympic Property Group.
Now there used to be money for Jake to do this work, but it looks like that dried up or wisdom was slow getting to Kitsap County three doors away. Kitsappians made every effort to be stupid first before volunteers set them straight.
The situation was expensive as well as destructive and dangerous. The cost to replace the original culvert with the larger pipe was $10,500. Additionally, the new culvert had to be unplugged three times at a cost of $500.
OPG contracted with Absolute Nuisance Wildlife to trap and relocate the persistent critters, but to no avail. The state’s Department of Fish & Wildlife has restricted the release of beavers in alternate sites at this time due to high beaver populations in the state. So relocation of the beavers wasn’t an option.
Enter the Beaver Deceiver. After crews removed a 10-foot plug from the culvert, a group of community volunteers led by Evan Stoll quickly stepped in to install the Beaver Deceiver. The trapezoid-shaped fence structure prevents the beavers from building a dam directly in the culvert.
Evan! Nice work! I went trolling for background and came across this Evan Stoll who is a board member of the North Kitsap Trails Association. Call me crazy, but this sounds like a man who would know how to help install a beaver deceiver, and maybe was a friend of Jake’s along the way. I’ll see if I can send word.
Beaver Festival Washington? I bet there are some talented retirees with lots of time on their hands…ahem…