Not Just Another Beaver Pond Leveler
The beaver pond leveler depicted in Figure 1 was developed as a nonlethal inexpensive means to resolve extensive flooding damage caused by beavers where landowners can tolerate their presence.
The leveler is designed to minimize current flow and the sound of flowing water. These two features are the most important stimuli that beaver respond to when building or repairing dams. When properly installed, these devices will help reduce land flooding, plugged road culverts, and water-control structures on ponds and small marshes.
The design is limited to stream flows of about 10 cubic feet per second (cfs) or less. Streams subject to periodic flash flooding or exceeding 10cfs are not suited for this style of leveler. The cost of this leveler is about $65 for materials and 8 hours in labor for construction and installation.
New York Law requires that landowners first obtain permission from the NYS DEC to disturb beaver dams. Please remember to do so if you plan on installing this or any other pond leveler.
Beaver pond levelers are basically a wire fence cylinder installed through a beaver dam, road culvert or stand pipe that beaver are plugging. They can be made of fence with mesh size less than 4"x 4". The NJA design works best with 1"x 2" galvanized fence reinforced with 3/4" flexible plastic tubing. To build a 16'x 20.5" leveler you will need the following materials and tools.
3 - 6' Sections 1"x 2"x 6' Galvanized Wire Fence
4 - 64" Sections 3/4" PVC Flexible Plastic Pipe
2 - 63" Sections 3/4" PVC Flexible Plastic Pipe
6 - 3/4" Plastic Couplings
3 - 9' Steel Fence Posts
100 - Hog Rings
25'- #12 Galvanized Wire
Hog, Ring Pliers (Optional)
Side Cutting Pliers
Post Maul or Fence Post Driver
Figure 3. Construct two (2) - 6´ wire cylinders
approximately 21" in diameter by overlapping the
cut end 7" and fastening with hog rings or twisted wire.
Construct one (1) - 6´ wire cylinder approximately
20.5´, in diameter by overlapping the cut end 8".
It is a rather simple matter to build this type of beaver pond leveler. One person alone with all materials and tools available can construct a 16´x 20.5" leveler in about 2 hours. Figures 3 through 7 depict the steps for completing construction of a beaver pond leveler.
Figure 4. Construct four (4) - 3/4" pvc hoops
20.5"- in diameter by joining the ends of the
four (4) -64" pieces of flexible plastic pipe.
Construct two (2) - 3/4" pvc hoops approximately
20" in diameter with the two (2) 63" pieces of
(Click to enlarge)
Figure 5. Place two (2) - 20.5" pvc hoops
inside each of the two (2) 21" diameter wire
cylinders about 20" from the ends. Do the
same for the one (1) 20.5" diameter wire
cylinder by placing the remaining two (2) -20"
pvc hoops inside about 20" from the ends.
Secure all six (6) pvc hoops with wire.
(Click to enlarge)
Figure 7. Slide the 20.5" diameter wire cylinder
about 6" into one open end of each of the
two (2) - 21" diameter wire cylinders. Hog ring
or wire all three (3) cylinders together where they
overlap. You should now have a single 16, wire
cylinder of about 20.5" diameter with one end
At this point you are ready to transport to the beaver dam site. You can either join the three (3) wire cylinders together to create one, or you can transport them separately and connect them at the beaver dam location.
Dig out the beaver dam by hand to a depth of 12 - 18". A pulaski ax or heavy potato fork make the best tools for this task. Dams should be disturbed first on the downstream side so that water pressure can be used to help push out the loosened debris. Place the leveler into this breach. The closed end should be on the upstream side of the dam. The downstream end of the leveler should protrude about 3' or less from the edge of the dam. The upstream end should protrude about 10 - 12' upstream of the dam.
Drive in two (2) steel fence posts at the locations depicted in Figure 8. Drive the third post in at the upstream end of the leveler. Secure the pond leveler to the fence posts with wire. The leveler should now be suspended in the deep water upstream of the dam. The beaver will most likely repair the breach in the dam on their own. However, if you prefer a neater looking job, you can backfill to the leveler at this time.
A complete installation at one site takes about 2 - 3 hours, depending on the size and construction of the dam. One person can usually install this type of leveler, but the job is easier and faster with two.
Most of the existing beaver pond levelers in use today require periodic maintenance. To keep this leveler operating at optimal efficiency you should inspect it at least every two months during the ice free period in New York. Clean away collected debris along the length of the upstream end at this time. Following spring break up you should also inspect the installation and make appropriate repairs or replacement. Because of rusting problems, this particular leveler will only last about 3 - 4 years in place. After this time a new leveler will need to be installed.
At left is an adaption of this pond leveler design to solve a problem with beaver at a road culvert.