"Life is like that of a beaver:
it's one dam thing after another."
I've seen the following mass e-mail before. It's circulating again, but if you've never read it before, it's a hoot. And it's "true", with the following qualifiers: the original correspondence was written in 1997, and in Michigan, not Pennsylvania. People change the dates and years and locations, but the 'content' is listed on SNOPES.COM as being a true story.
Basically, Ryan DeVries had at least one neighbor that, shall we say, was a thorn in his side. Or vice versa. Heavy rains cause flooding on the neighbor's property, prompting said neighbor's letter to the proper state authorities that DeVries was accountable for proper maintenance on his property. His neglect led to the flooding, supposedly. With that stage now set, I present the initial official state response to DeVries 5 months after the complaint, along with DeVries' witty retort.....enjoy!
File No.97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec 20; Lycoming County
Dear Mr. DeVries:
It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality
that there has been recent unauthorized activity on the above referenced
parcel of property. You have been certified as the legal landowner
and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity:
Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet
stream of Spring Pond.
A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity.. A
review of the Department's files shows that no permits have been issued
Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in
violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource
and , Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994,
being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Pennsylvania Compiled Laws,
The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially
failed during a recent rain event, causing debris and flooding at
downstream locations.. We find that dams of this nature are inherently
hazardous and cannot be permitted. The Department therefore orders you
to cease and desist all activities at this location, and to restore the
stream to a free-flow condition by removing all wood and brush forming
the dams from the stream channel. All restoration work shall be
completed no later than January 31, 2010.
Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so
that a follow-up site inspection may be scheduled by our staff. Failure
to comply with this request or any further unauthorized activity on the
site may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement
We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter.
Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any
David L. Price
District Representative and Water Management Division.
...and the official response back from DeVries.....
Re: DEQ File
No.. 97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20; Lycoming County
Your certified letter dated 11/17/09 has been handed to me. I am the
legal landowner but not the Contractor at 2088 Dagget Lane , Trout Run,
A couple of beavers are in the (State unauthorized) process of
constructing and maintaining two wood 'debris' dams across the outlet
stream of my Spring Pond. While I did not pay for, authorize, nor
supervise their dam project, I think they would be highly offended that
you call their skillful use of natures building materials 'debris.'
I would like to challenge your department to attempt to emulate their
dam project any time and/or any place you choose. I believe I can safely
state there is no way you could ever match their dam skills, their dam
resourcefulness, their dam ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam
determination and/or their dam work ethic.
(beaver pics originally attached here)
These are the beavers/contractors you are seeking. As to your request,
I do not think the beavers are aware that they must first fill out a dam
permit prior to the start of this type of dam activity.
My first dam question to you is:
(1) Are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers, or
(2) do you require all beavers throughout this State to conform to said
If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, through
the Freedom of Information Act, I request completed copies of all those
other applicable permits that have been issued. (Perhaps we
will see if there really is a dam violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes
and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act,
Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to
324.30113 of the Pennsylvania Compiled Laws, annotated.)
I have several dam concerns. My first dam concern is, aren't the
beavers entitled to legal representation? The Spring Pond Beavers are
financially destitute and are unable to pay for said representation --
so the State will have to provide them with a dam lawyer.
The Department's dam concern that either one or both of the dams failed
during a recent rain event, causing flooding, is proof that this is a
natural occurrence, which the Department is required to protect. In
other words, we should leave the Spring Pond Beavers alone rather than
harassing them and calling them dam names.
If you want the damed stream 'restored' to a dam free-flow condition
please contact the beavers -- but if you are going to arrest them, they
obviously did not pay any attention to your dam letter, they being
unable to read English.
In my humble opinion, the Spring Pond Beavers have a right to build
their unauthorized dams as long as the sky is blue, the grass is green
and water flows downstream. They have more dam rights than I do to live
and enjoy Spring Pond. If the and
Environmental Protection lives up to its name, it should protect the
natural resources (Beavers) and the environment (Beavers' Dams).
So, as far as the beavers and I are concerned, this dam case can be
referred for more elevated enforcement action right now. Why wait until
1/31/2010? The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice by then and
there will be no way for you or your dam staff to contact/harass them.
In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention to a real
environmental quality, health, problem in the area It is the bears!
Bears are actually defecating in our woods. I definitely believe you
should be persecuting the defecating bears and leave the beavers alone.
If you are going to investigate the beaver dam, watch your dam step! The
bears are not careful where they dump!
Being unable to comply with your dam request, and being unable to
contact you on your dam answering machine, I am sending this response to
your dam office.
RYAN DEVRIES & THE DAM BEAVERS