Beavers becoming nuisance to Burlington-area residents

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 26, 2004

BURLINGTON - Busy beavers are wrecking havoc on their human neighbors.

A colony of the animals have built a dam - approximately 20 by 6 feet - in a waterway, blocking storm drain pipes that carry water to the Ohio River.

Stagnant water is almost level with the dam's top and has overflowed the waterway in several places.

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During heavy rains, six residents' yards and surrounding roadway located at Private Drive 1336 and Township Road 1336 floods.

Resident S.J. Trent said his yard has been flooded several times this year and he is hoping it does not rain any time soon.

"It has been so bad, we've had to leave and go stay with my wife's mother in West Virginia," Trent said, "We do not want to move, but we're going to have to if this is not handled."

Trent is also deeply troubled about deep waters and the dangers of stagnant water such as mosquitoes and snakes.

"Neighborhood kids ride bikes and play there. This is sewer water … right here in our backyard,"

Trent said.

District Manager of Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife Jim Marshall said the department does not have authority to remove the dam - only the property owner has that authority - but they do have jurisdiction over wildlife.

Martha Payton has lived in the area since 1996. She said dam removal could be a "quick fix" because high waters have plagued her several times because the storm drain pipe was too small to begin with. Once, her car was totaled due to high waters.

"It has been a problem before (the beaver dam). I've had to wade through waist-deep water to get to a phone," she said.

A Township Road 1336 mother said neighborhood children cannot help but gravitate to the "creek" and meadow to ride their bikes and catch frogs.

According to the Ohio Township Trustees source book, revisions in 1981 deemed that authority over storm drainage ditches were given back to counties, but does allow for trustees to clean ditches on roads.

Fayette Township trustees Terry Wise and Perry Brock expressed concern by visiting the site and said they are ready to take action, but their hands are tied until they contact the property owner so a backhoe can be brought in to remove the dam.

"We just cannot start working on private property without consent. We have to go through the proper channels. We're willing to help, but we also want the county to stand up and take their responsibility too," Brock said.

Wise agreed.

"We need to get the water opened up–it's stagnating," he said. "The County is supposed to maintain all storm drains according to the Ohio Revised Code."

Brock read

a section of Ohio Revised Code 6151.14 that states "The board of county commissioners may remove from a river, watercourse or creek, within the county, drift, timber, piling, or other obstruction deposited by nature at a single location that obstructs to any extent the free flow of the water or endangers a county or township road. The expenses of the removal may be paid from county funds."

Trent spent two days trying to contact county, local and federal agencies about the dam.

"Everybody keeps passing the buck onto someone else. I called the county commissioners office, the health department, DNR, the game department, 911, the fire department. Does anybody call me back? They put me on hold, put me on answering machines and pass me on to someone else. This is frustrating because I've called some of these places back two and three times," Trent said.