Beaver problems vex area officials

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, April 5, 2012

Everyone’s seen the cute, furry creatures on TV that swim in lakes and ponds and build little houses for themselves in or near the water.

     But beavers are not always as cute as they may seem, as the houses they build also act as dams that inhibit water flow and clog up drains and culverts.

     This is of particular concern to District Three Supervisor Nolan Williamson, who’s seen first hand the damage beavers can do.

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     State District 91 Rep. Bob Evans, D-Monticello, said he is familiar with what beavers are capable of.

      “I grew up in the county and I know what kind of damage beavers can do,” said Evans. “It can be severe.”

     Bobby Moak, a Democratic representative from District 53, agrees that beavers can be a problem.

     “I know we do have a beaver control program that we always put money in because beavers causes landowners problems and wash out bridges,” said Moak.

     But possible budget cuts could affect the funding for beaver control programs, something Williamson says would only worsen the beaver problem.

     “We used to have one or two beaver control people in every county, but now we have one for six counties,” said Williamson. “It’s a problem.”

     Williamson knows of several areas in his district alone where beavers are causing problems.

     Where Boone Creek meets Legacy Road, a beaver dam is currently clogging up the culvert that goes under the road, making water back up.

     “If we don’t flush it out, it’ll cost us about $2,800 to dig up the culvert and replace it,” said Williamson.

     On Mount Olive Road, beaver dams have been torn down a few times this year already, which tie up resources from the county, but they’re back, according to Williamson.

     Williamson expressed particular concern about the beaver dam clogging up half of the underpass on Pricedale Road.

     “I’m worried if we get a good deal of rain one day it could wash out the road,” Williamson said. “Replacing the road and the box culvert under it would cost around $250,000.”

     What Williamson fears could happen on Pricedale Road has already occurred on River Road, where last spring the combination of a deluge of rain and a clogged culvert due to beavers washed out the road and cost $42,000 to replace.

     “We just have to make sure we get help, because counties can’t afford beaver control on their own,” said Williamson.

     That help normally comes from the state with money from the federal government. But this year the Mississippi Legislature is continuing to tighten its belt.

     While saving money may sound like a great thing, the programs that are cut could lead to severe consequences.

     Moak said it isn’t normally clear where the funding for programs will end up, but beaver control is normally safe.

     “Beaver control money is always up in the air before the end of the session where we know what we’re going to have,” said Moak. “I think we’ve always funded it except for in a few cases.”

     Evans said in this legislative session money has mainly gone to big projects.

     “Most of the money appropriated this year, that’s “new” money has been for big corporations,” said Evans.

     Evans speculated that some members of the Appropriations committee may not see beaver control as important as some other issue. He added it doesn’t take a person with an accounting background to understand that using some money to fund beaver control would save money in the long run.

     “For me, if any bill comes through the House to assist in this program, you don’t have to be a CPA to tell that a little money spent through a beaver control program is much less than fixing bridges or roadways,” said Evans.

     Evans says Republican leadership will be to blame if beaver control does not get funded.

      “The way the situation is now in the Legislature now, it’s difficult to get any money through,” said Evans. “The way the makeup is now, if anyone wants this program to keep going, the Republican leadership is the one making decisions on which programs survive and which ones die.”

     Moak agreed the funding is at the center, but puts more blame on the federal government.

     “It’s all about funding,” Moak said. “It’s the federal government that puts money forward, the state always puts some, but it’s one of those things that takes a back seat when you just don’t have the funds.”

     Williamson reiterated the importance of doing something to protect the roads, bridges and private property in Lincoln County and elsewhere.

     “It’s very important to do something about the beaver problem,” he said. “The people we have are good, but it’s just too much ground for them to cover.”