Construction begins in Alhambra Creek

October 15, 2008 6:41:16 PM PDT
In Martinez, will the beavers stay or will they go? That's the big question downtown Tuesday where a very loud project has begun to shore up a creek where that family of eight beavers has taken up residence.

This was a day for the Martinez beavers, to run for cover. Thanks in part to the threat of a lawsuit by a local business owner. The City of Martinez hired a crew to shore up the creek wall, using giant metal plates, near the lodge where the beavers live.

"It's the burrowing and the holes and the prospect of their being a bank failure and a wall failure, a collapse into the creek, which would cause flooding in the downtown," said Mark Ross, the Martinez Vice-Mayor.

Just how big those holes are and what caused them, is a topic of much debate.

"That's a fantasy we all like to share," said Linda Meza.

Meza represents "Worth a Dam," the local group trying to preserve the beaver habitat.

"There's no proof that the beavers have burrowed beneath the retaining wall. That's not true," said Meza.

Nonetheless, the ten-day project is underway, at an estimated cost of $300,000. It's money, city leaders say, is coming from a lawsuit settlement with Texaco, involving an oil spill several years ago. The money was set aside for environmental projects. It won't cover the tens of thousands the city has spent on legal fees involving the beavers. That will come out of the general fund.

Even if this work does drive away the beavers, the expert hired by the city believes, they'll be back.

Skip Lisle is the Vermont expert in charge with protecting the beavers' interests, while all this commotion goes on above them.

"They're right in this area. They're in their chambers and they're holding tight," said Lisle.

Lisle thinks the beavers may move out temporarily, but he doesn't expect them to permanently abandon their Martinez home.


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