Beavers appear unfazed by construction

October 16, 2008 3:45:31 PM PDT
Despite construction to shore up the bank of Alhambra Creek near where a family of beavers has built its lodge in downtown Martinez, six seemingly unfazed beavers came out of their burrows Wednesday night to feast on apples.

Jon Ridler with the beaver advocacy group "Worth a Dam" said today the beavers seemed perfectly happy and quite hungry.

On Tuesday construction workers dug a trench along the bank between Escobar Street and Marina Vista and then Wednesday morning they began driving giant steel pilings into the ground near the Escobar Street bridge, which is where the eight beavers have built their lodge.

Construction workers were seen standing on top of the beaver lodge while they guided the pilings into place.

The Martinez City Council, which passed an emergency resolution earlier this month to authorize the construction, promised that they would take every precaution they could to ensure the safety of the beavers.

The construction crew agreed to drive the pilings in slowly so the beavers would have enough time to move out of the way, and the city hired Skip Lisle, a beaver biologist from Vermont, to monitor the work.

"We've got to be careful and thoughtful, but these beavers can handle a lot of commotion," Lisle said.

According to Worth a Dam, one adult, one yearling and all four kits were accounted for Wednesday night. It's possible that the remaining two beavers, one adult and one yearling, could be trapped somewhere, but Ridler said he didn't think it was likely.

Lisle and the Worth a Dam members began feeding the beavers earlier this week in an effort to keep them from abandoning their home and moving to a quieter stretch of creek.

The construction, meanwhile, will be put on hold later today because a shipment of steel pilings needed to complete the job hasn't arrived yet, Jeff Taylor, the city's building inspector, said.

Taylor said crews were hoping to receive the shipment Friday, but there was no guaranteed delivery date.

Crews plan to eventually drive about 170 feet of steel into the creek bank between Escobar Street and Marina Vista to prevent erosion and hopefully to prevent a lawsuit from nearby property owners.

In addition to monitoring the construction, Lisle updated a group of high school students from the Environmental Studies Academy, an alternative program for at-risk students, on the status of the beavers.

The class has been following the beaver saga from the beginning, including attending city council meetings, beaver subcommittee meetings and talking to Worth a Dam founder Heidi Perryman, said Rona Zollinger, the program's founder and teache


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