OXFORD — The 13, 3-inch Eastern brook trout swimming at the bottom of the bucket provided all the proof he needed.
Eight months ago Glenn E. Krevosky of EBT Environmental Consultants Inc. knelt beside a stone-faced, groundwater-fed incubator he built off Prince Street, and placed 400 Eastern brook trout eggs into a gravel nest.
Mr. Krevosky said he was fortunate that the one obstacle he didn’t have to face was the work of beavers in creating impoundments that would slow the stream flow, raise the water temperature and reduce clarity.
”The stream temperature is constant and the reduced flow is to be expected during the summer months. A stream temperature that doesn’t spike from the heat of summer storm road runoff, and a steady flow across a gravel and cobble stream bottom are essential for trout,” he said.
He explained that in addition to temperature and sediment concerns from storm runoff, Barber’s Hollow Brook water quality for coldwater fish species had become compromised by beaver dams and invasive aquatic plant species.
Thank goodness Mr. K. was able to hatch those fish without all those pesky beaver dams around. Now the fry will have plenty of fin-room to swim around in – certainly there won’t be as many of those award multi-legged BUGS taking up their space.
One wonders what the precious fish will eat?
But never mind. Mr. K. is committed to his beaverless streams and his factless theories. He’s so committed that I’ve written him two other times in the past six years. The first was in 2009 when he was famously referenced as an expert in the great case of the “invasive purple loosestrife” – for which he blamed (who else) beavers.
Trouble is, no one really wants to eat it, it’s hard to pull up, it survives horrific conditions, and it ruins things for the shoreline critters. There’s some effort to introduce a beetle that is controlling it naturally (how could that possibly go wrong?) but in the mean time, guess who the great state of Massachusetts has decided to blame?
Remember, this is a state that outlawed cruel traps in 1996, and has been whining about it since the moment the bill was signed. Massachusetts bemoans the change and says that their population has increased by 60,000 beavers since the law was passed.
Are you following me? Because there are more beavers, there are more wetlands, and (insert horror music here) more pernicious purple loosestrife!
Goodness I have been in this beaver biz a long time. I can’t believe I recognized him right away. I wonder if Mr. Krevosky knows about me? Or if I have any kind of starring role in his nightmares? Well, he abandoned the loosestrife meme fairly quickly, and marched boldly into water temperature by 2013. I actually wrote one of my favorite columns EVER about it.
Do you remember that story, back in fourth of fifth grade, you heard at a sleepover with friends? Two of the friends you had known since 2nd grade but one girl was someone else’s friend, or neighbor, or cousin and she was rumored to have slightly more street cred on account of her parents were divorced, or her mother had died, or her brother was in jail. And when the last pizza had been eaten and all the lights were out and you were huddled in sleeping bags on the living room rug or the back yard, she started with that spooky story in that absolutely chilling and unforgettable voice:
“Who stole my golden arm?”
And of course, even at 10, you knew the story was impossible and that ghosts weren’t real and that even if they were people don’t ever make arms out of solid gold, and you might have mumbled so all the way through at intervals but once Elvira leaped from the grave and shouted “YOU GOT IT!” and that terrifying story was over you couldn’t wait to think about who you were going to tell it to next. All the other kids must have too because pretty soon the story was all over school and was starting to get little adjustments, like the woman had been murdered for her golden arm, or it was actually a golden leg. It was a self-reproducing meme that was perpetuating itself like a virus through the primary grades. And even today, just saying the words has a kind of ring to it, and you can remember something of that chill. And it doesn’t matter whether its true, because its not that kind of story.
Which brings us naturally to the topic of beaver dams, water temperature and fish.
I like writing about beavers best when I can figure out a way to make the topic seem absolutely relevant to your life. Then after a nice populist intro I can throw in the science I need to back it up and wrap the whole thing up with a bow. That column I buttressed with Michael Pollock’s breathtaking graphs on stream temperature and hyporheic exchange at beaver dams. I guess Mr. K. never read it. Or read it with his eyes closed.
I’m reminded of the quote at the end of Rick Lanman’s emails.“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.” - Thomas Paine
Just remember, the arc of ecology is long, but it bends towards beavers.