Beaver deceiver installed in Ripton

THE U.S. FOREST Service and Vermont Agency of Transportation teamed up last week to solve a problem developing near the federal agency’s Robert Frost Interpretive Trail in Ripton. They brought in Skip Lisle to install cage-like baffles that stop beavers from damming up a culvert under Route 125. Independent photo/Steve James

RIPTON — Beaver expert Skip Lisle of Grafton last Thursday constructed a flow device at a culvert under Route 125 near the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail in Ripton. The culvert was clogged with debris from beavers building a dam. 

AT THE MAY 11 installation are biologist Meredith Naughton and Walter Donley discussing beavers while Skip Lisle prepares to add more wire to the baffle.
Independent photo/Steve James

Ripton resident Walter Donley, who lives nearby and has beavers living behind his house, approached Lisle to coordinate with the U.S. Forest Service and the Vermont Agency of Transportation to install a device he calls a “beaver deceiver,” at the culvert near the Frost Trail.

Lisle constructed two wire-mesh-covered frames connected by a plastic tube upstream from where the water flows beneath the road. It allows the water to flow and lets beavers pass through, but prevents them from damming the culvert with wood and plant debris that can cause potential flooding and damage to the road. Lisle helped set up a beaver deceiver in Monkton last summer.

EVIDENCE THAT BEAVERS are active in the area.
Independent photo/Steve James

Jeremy Mears, the Middlebury district biologist for the Forest Service, on whose land the bridge sits, was at the site, along with another biologist from his team, Meredith Naughton. Mears said the problem is not uncommon in the area and building such devices can save money in the long run from road damage, while also avoiding killing the beavers. 

SKIP LISLE ASSEMBLING the baffle while neighbor and nature enthusiast Walter Donley holds a cross-piece in place.
Independent photo/Steve James

Donley said beavers are important in combatting climate change.  Ranchers out west, he said, used to shoot beavers; now they’re enlisting beavers on their ranches to help with drought. Both Donley and Mears said the animals help prevent flooding, clean the water and are beneficial for wildlife and plant diversity.

SKIP LISLE DOING the hands-on installation.
Independent photo/Steve James

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