The Town of Diamond Valley is working on clearing a beaver dam that's blocking a culvert in town.

A post on their Facebook page provided some information on the work and included assurance that no beavers would be harmed in the process.

Civic Operations Manager Craig Beaton says the work will include repair work on a pathway that was damaged by the overflow.

"That culvert is responsible for maintaining a controlled water level on the south side of the trail. By blocking the culvert, naturally, it pushed water up and over the lowest point of the trail and it washed that portion of the trail out. Because it started releasing water, the beavers built a little dam there to block the water from further escaping. So, we wanted to clear the culvert to bring the water level back to its intended level so that we can repair the damage to the water crossing, the land bridge we've got in place."

While it's fairly common to use lethal means to deal with beaver populations, Diamond Valley has been employing this conservationist approach for some time now.

They've been working with Western Sky Land Trust (WSLT) on developing a natural area park named Gray Park and have been working hard to preserve the natural wetlands. That includes a channel of the Sheep River running through the site that's occupied by beavers.

Biologist Chris Manderson, who's been contracting with WSLT on the Gray Park project, says much of the natural area's character can be contributed directly to the local beaver population.

"There's a certain amount of back flooding into that natural area, and that's what makes it so diverse and so sensitive, the beavers have helped provide habitat for a whole range of species of birds, amphibians, plants, and things like that... You want to find that balance that keeps the beavers on the landscape doing the things that beavers do, providing water and other things that some people call ecosystem services. On the other hand, beavers do flood areas and they do cut down trees. Sometimes, particularly in urban or suburban areas where there may be less predator pressure on them, you may see a bit of overachievement, I guess you could call it."

Luckily, there are a few common practices for maintaining the water level in the area while ensuring it's still hospitable.

Last fall, the WSLT held a volunteer event to wrap nearly 200 trees with wire to prevent them from being felled by beavers.

"All that does is it prevents them from cutting those particular trees down. The balance there is you don't want to wrap every tree because they do depend on them for food. The balance we tend to go for is to protect the nice big ones that provide the canopy and all those nice things, but there's tonnes of younger ones coming up in the understory. Younger trees, balsam, trembling asp, willows, things like that, so we give them a bit for that so that they can still meet their needs for food and dam building."

They've also been making use of pond levelers, also known as "beaver deceivers."

It's essentially a pipe that sits on the intended water level and is intended to prevent beavers from building in that area. Their effectiveness can vary, as they need to be in just the right place, and they do require maintenance.

As far as this culvert clearing project, Beaton made sure to emphasize the non-lethal means the Public Works Team is employing.

"We aren't destroying any habitats, we're not removing any beavers, all the critters will continue to live happily ever after," he chuckled.