Officials say beaver control funds needed

Published 8:00 pm Friday, August 24, 2012

A lack of federal funding for beaver control has one Lincoln County official frustrated.

     When appropriating funding for the 2012-13 fiscal year, the U.S. Congress was unable to get through a funding package that included financial support for the beaver control program for counties.

     District Three Supervisor Nolan Williamson said the county clearly needs the funding.

     “This is about preservation of roads and bridges and safety in the community,” he said. “I don’t know why it was handled like it was. In order for me to do my job for the people in my district, that is one thing you can’t cut out.”

     Lincoln County Administrator David Fields said the lack of federal funding leaves the county with only $7,500 that they put up.

     “Grants from the federal government covered the rest of the funding,” he said. “But now the way I understand it is the rest of the funding isn’t there, so once our $7,500 is spent, if we want any more work done we’ll have to pay more.”

     Fields said he did not know exactly how much the supervisors spent on beaver work as in the past anything over the $7,500 was billed to either the USDA or U.S. Forest Service.

     “I don’t know what the potential could be if we ran over the $7,500 that went into it,” he said. “It’s hard to know right now because we never had to pay for it. “We’ll have to let it go and see how much they use and what that amount would be.”

     Williamson said beavers have been a constant problem in the county and, when not held in check, can cost taxpayers a great deal of money.

     “We just took out a beaver dam under a bridge recently,” he said. “Had we not fixed it and we got a heavy rain it would have cost us around $100,000 to fix it. We don’t get too much money for our bridges, so if that happens often we can’t do much.”

     It wasn’t long ago when Williamson had to repair a bridge that beavers destroyed and cost Lincoln County a great deal of money.

     “Just last year on River Road, I had to pull $45,000 out of my bridge fund to keep the road open after a beaver dam resulted in it collapsing,” he said. “I could have kept it closed, but you don’t do that, especially with several elderly people living there that need medical care. Why re-route them?”

     The area has not received much rain in recent months, which is not good for farmers and those trying to raise crops, but Williamson pointed out it has been good for the area’s roads and bridges.

     “I hate it because we need the rain, but we’ve been fortunate in a way,” he said. “Beavers had built a dam near Lazy Trail recently and that backed up the stream even without rain. That’s just one of many instances.”

     While he didn’t have an exact count, Williamson said he knows it takes money to keep beavers in check.

     “If the beaver man doesn’t get paid, he’s not coming,” said Williamson. “It’s a big mess. It’s a good program that was not handled right, like many other things. I just think there’s things they can cut out and things they shouldn’t.”

     It remains uncertain if funding will return next year for the program.