Beavers relocated to protect Highway 9 |

Beavers relocated to protect Highway 9

JANE STEBBINSsummit daily news
Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk Numerous beavers make their homes in the wetlands in the town of Blue River, but one group of the energetic animals has built dams in three culverts that run under Highway 9. Wildlife officials plan to relocate them later this month.

BLUE RIVER – One displaced beaver has made life difficult for at least five of its brethren, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the people who live around the wetland it calls home in the town of Blue River.Robin Johnson’s home backs up to the wetlands just north of Calle de Plata in Blue River. It’s from there that her 2-and-a-half-year-old Madelaine watches the beavers that swim and feed and build dams in the willows below.That might now be over.Johnson said she received a phone call from CDOT officials earlier this month notifying her that some of the beavers will have to be relocated because their recent dam and lodge construction has made the water rise, threatening the integrity of Highway 9.

Johnson suspects it’s the work of one hard-working beaver she thinks relocated to that wetland area from an adjoining one last year. She and her daughter have watched as this one industrious animal – presumably a male – has realigned the wetland dams.According to CDOT public information officer Bob Wilson, the six to 10 beavers that live in the area are constructing dams inside the three, 48-inch culverts that run under Highway 9.Eventually, Wilson said, the water could begin rising and eroding away the road. Johnson doesn’t see it that way.”Yes, the water’s risen there, but it hasn’t threatened any houses, and it’s not threatening the road,” she said. “We just don’t want the ecosystem disturbed. We’re concerned it might dry up the wetlands.”

According to U.S. Forest Service community planner Paul Semmer, the Colorado Department of Agriculture relocates animals if they become nuisances or pests. Johnson said CDOT officials counted about 10 beavers in that wetlands; she believes there are closer to three.It’s not an easy decision to relocate beavers, Semmer said. First, traps must be set, and then the animals must be taken to a place where there are no other beavers and that can sustain them. The location has to be far enough away from their original venue, as beavers have a tendency to want to return home, he said.It is not known where or when the beavers will be relocated.Johnson and her husband, Chris, are investigating National Environmental Protection Act regulations that might keep the beavers at home. They got the idea from a friend who was instructed not to interfere with the beaver dams during the construction of his house.

But what applies to private parties might not apply to state agencies, and that has Johnson angry, as well.”We want to know what our rights are,” she said. “What – ‘Oh, it’s CDOT, the great almighty?'”Wilson said beavers often present problems in mountainous areas. CDOT officials maintain the culverts on a regular basis, but if they don’t, it can lead to road repairs.Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or at

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