Busy beavers blamed for some Helena flooding - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

Busy beavers blamed for some Helena flooding

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Helena neighborhood flooding in early May Helena neighborhood flooding in early May

reporting by BLISS ZECHMAN, KFBB

HELENA - For the last few weeks, Ten Mile Creek has been flooding, partly because of a large beaver dam that was forcing water out of the stream channel.

This week, the county dismantled the beaver dam and saw waters quickly subside. The once drowned-out RV park in Helena has remained dry since the county took down the dam early Tuesday morning.

It was welcome news to residents dealing with flooded homes.

"[The beavers] will make it through. They're not going to pack up and move another state," said Chris Warren, a Helena Valley resident.

But Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials said it's important to know how destroying a habitat can affect the surrounding ecosystem.

Beavers are not endangered, and beaver hunting is legal in Montana. FWP officials say beavers do actually serve important purposes in nature.

They provide an important ecological benefit in natural system. The problem is, our systems are not completely natural," said Greg Lemon, Spokesperson for FWP.  

Dams provide rearing habitats for small fish and they help promote wetland species. This natural process produces colder and cleaner water, which can benefit the stream miles down the line. However, problems occur when humans interfere.

There's infrastructure in place, there's houses and streams and roads...that beaver dams can cause conflict with," said Lemon.  

Luckily for the critters, there's truth in the saying "busy as a beaver". Beavers work quickly in pairs. A two-foot high, 10-foot long dam takes the nocturnal rodents an average of two nights to build.

While that's good news for the beaver, their speedy working could spell trouble for floodplains in the future.

"People go through that process to move the dam or remove the dam and sometimes the beavers come back," said Lemon.  

Officials say it looks like the beavers on Ten Mile Creek have found new living arrangements.

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