Martinez creates Beaver-deceiver for dam

January 2, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
In Martinez, experts are finishing preparing a creek for the massive rain. They installed a piping system in Alhambra Creek to keep the beloved beavers there from adding to their dam and contributing to the flooding risk.

Historically, the Alhambra Creek in Martinez used to overflow and flood the downtown area every other year. But not much since the flood control project was completed seven years ago. With the coming storms, this time the beavers' dam is the main concern. But efforts are well underway to stop any flooding and save the beavers.

"It's great to have them here, and I hope the storm doesn't wash them away," said John Ollila, Martinez resident.

"We're hoping not actually, were hoping that all of this will take care of them, so that we don't lose them. Because it's nice having them here -- it's really nice," said Diane Ollila, Martinez resident.

This family of beavers has graced the downtown Alhambra Creek area for about a year and a half now, but they've created a lot of worry for the city of Martinez. After much public outcry, city officials have worked hard to keep the beavers and their habitat intact. But in preparation for the approaching storm systems, the city hired a beaver expert from Vermont to install a beaver deceiver device. After city crews cleared several feet of the beavers' dam connected to large plastic pipes inserted through the beavers' dam with the goal of diverting water away.

"If we hold the water line down at a low level, then the beavers, then they won't be adding debris to the dam and the beaver dam won't grow vertically, and so when a big flood comes, as it may tomorrow, the water will flow over the top of the dam as it's expected to," said Skip Lisle, beaver expert.

"We're anxious to see how it works. It looks like it'll work. Pretty simple design and as you can see its coming a long nicely, so the water level is down the profile of the dam is down, and it's just up to the weather," said Mark Ross, Martinez City councilman.

The beaver-deceiver contraption is costing between $5,000 to $10,000 dollars; a cost the city says is well worth it to save the beavers' habitat and the town from flooding.