A group of animal rights advocates laid a foundation of rocks, brush and logs Wednesday in an area of the Haskell/Baker Wetlands recently cleared by Douglas County Public Works.
The group hopes beavers will use the foundation to rebuild dams before the water level drops because of the summer weather.
“We are trying to encourage the beavers to rebuild this year rather than next year,” said Mike Caron, executive director of Save the Wakarusa Wetlands.
Caron said laying a rock base and plenty of logs would give beavers the “opportunity to get a dam built soon enough to catch the last of the spring rain.”
Crews removed a beaver dam from a culvert underneath 31st Street on May 21. This caused water levels to drop significantly in the northern half of the wetlands.
“Without that, this thing would dry up like a mud-flat all summer long,” Caron said.
He believes the dam was removed because the land underneath 31st Street “has about 12 inches of sand under it and was never intended for the traffic that’s on here.”
Keith Browning, Douglas County’s director of Public Works, has said the high water levels caused by the beaver dam could have created problems for 31st Street. He said he was concerned about the water seeping into the road’s sub-base, which would have caused large-scale pavement failures on the road.
The land is partly owned by Haskell Indian Nations University and Baker University. Students lined 31st Street to protest after the county removed the dam, but Caron and his group of 15 volunteers is determined to help the beavers in the wetlands.
“Here we have this wonderful treasure, and we have to do everything we can to protect it,” said volunteer Judy Carmen.
Douglas County officials said they’re not looking for a confrontation with the protesters, but they’ll make sure the water can still flow through that part of the wetlands.