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  • Jim Blanchard, ScD

Beaver Dam Dam

On 9 JAN 2018, in the cold of flurries, the LASR-Air drone took off to take pictures of the Camp Snyder Dam... and a beaver dam craftily installed by the carpenters of the night.

Lots of concern for that natural occurrence. Do the beavers get trapped and relocated? Does the exisiting beaver dam get pulled apart? What about the lodge? Can any of this be done without risking other habitat? Should we leave them? How many of the camp's trees have they taken down?

In the picture above, the color coding tells us the elevation of the land. This was measured using a single camera, georeferenced, and then stitched into a composite for web use. Want to learn how to do this, consider taking 1/2 a day and coming out to Camp Snyder for citizen science workshops featuring interactions with scientists and scouts. Subscribe to this blog for announcements.

Looking at the picture it seems that the water will flow through the downpipe/overflow stack (the green "H" in the left center of the red lake). The dark red "hockey stick shape facing left" is the earth dam build by man. Downstream of the dam, the water leaves the downpipe/overflow at the blue level, and flows like a stream to the lower right. If we were working this as part of a scout's orienteering task for a merit badge we would talk in terms of North Up and heading/bearing. So for them the water is flowing Southeast. Even the beavers need to know which way to go. They use the overflow as a source of water and a source of navigation. We know that because we have data and pictures showing this behavior. We also know that each year the pattern will be the same, but a different location along the stream. Beavers behave like people. They work in families to expand and protect a habitat.

All STEM if you ask me. I study beavers in various habitats in the Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey locations where my duties as a Scientist take me. Some days its field work, some days it's math, some days I'm building instruments. In my backyard I have an instrumented beaver habitat with sensors and cameras feeding data into my lab for use in studying how these animals thrive in crowded residential areas. We will be expanding the program for scouts to include the flora and fauna at Camp Snyder. The citizen scientists of the National Capital Area will be critical to a solid program benefiting the scouts and the environment.

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