What’s going on at Hand Hollow?

Questions about the beaver dam at Hand Hollow Conservation Area (Route 9)

Was this done deliberately?
Nope! This is part of a natural cycle of beaver activity.

But it looks like the pond was man made?
Yep! The original pond was made with an earthen dam with a concrete weir to control the water level. The weir was removed some time ago, and the beavers have been maintaining dams there as part of the larger wetlands complex for several decades.

What happened?
The lower beaver dam, closest to Route 9, blew out (breached) during a storm in October 2019. This happened in November 2018, and sometime in late 2013 or early 2014, too.

What if they don’t rebuild it?
That’s OK, too! It might not be rebuilt this year, but beavers are industrious little critters, and they will rebuild the dam there eventually.

OK, but what will happen to the pond if they don’t rebuild it soon?
It really depends on how long they leave it alone. If the dam isn’t rebuilt for a few years, the area will populate with grasses and other meadow species, becoming a wet meadow. If it’s left alone for longer, species such as alders, willows, and red maples will begin growing. These are some of the beaver’s preferred food sources, and their presence will bring cause the beavers to rebuild the dam so they can safely harvest those resources.

Wow! I’m fascinated. Do you have any resources you would recommend so I can learn more about beavers?
Of course! Here is some information put together by the Beaver Institute over in Massachusetts.

I’m really impressed. Is there anything I can do to help?
Absolutely! There are a few things you can do to help. You can donate and become a member at CLC to help ensure the long term management and conservation of places like the Hand Hollow Conservation Area. You can sign up for our email list and keep an eye out for educational events and walks at places like Hand Hollow where you can learn from staff and local experts about the ecology of Columbia County. You can invite others to do the same. And you can spread your new found love of beavers by educating your friends, family, and neighbors about their benefits to biodiversity, ground water infiltration, and climate change.