Sandra Scott Travels: Witness The Prowess Of Beaver Engineering

A beaver on display

A beaver on display

Last week I asked: Where can you see a beaver dam in the making?

Near the Amboy 4-H Environmental Education Center.

A beaver on display
A beaver on display

The full moon in November is called the Beaver Moon.

It was so named by colonists and Algonquin tribes because it was the time of the year when people would set traps for beaver ensuring they had enough furs to last through the winter.

Beavers in our area were almost hunted to extinction because the pelt could be made into felt that was then made into top hats that were the must-have hat for the elite because it was waterproof.

The beaver are making a comeback.

John and I decided it was a great time to check out a beaver dam we had heard about.

A beaver's handiwork
A beaver’s handiwork

Beaver dams are an amazing feat of engineering.

However, on May 7, 2017, the beaver dam near the Amboy 4-H Environment Education Center gave way.

Beavers built their dams where the water was too low to their liking thus causing water to be held back making the pond water deeper.

In this case, the wind and rain were too much causing the dam to give way creating severe flooding to the surrounding area which undercut some of the roads.

The roads were closed for a couple of days.

With the dam gone the beavers had to start all over again.

Amboy Nature Center
Amboy Nature Center

There is a parking area on County Route 183 near the 4-H center giving easy access to the trail to the new beaver dam.

It is short easy walk.

Along the way, we could see evidence of where the old dam was and a place where it looked like they started a new dam but decided they didn’t like the location, so built it at the edge of the pond.

It meant that the dam had to be wide to block off the water.

There is a viewing tower midway.

It is easy to see the dam.

naturalist Pat Carney
Naturalist Pat Carney

We didn’t see any beavers, but I think it was because there was a family with young children just leaving the area.

Walk quietly if you go and you may be luckily enough to see the beavers.

They carry the mud to build the dam on their tummy.

Along the way, we could see stumps where the beavers had chewed down the trees needed to build their new home.

It was easy to be impressed with their work and understand where “busy as a beaver” comes from.

Down the road a short distance is the Amboy Nature Center.

Luckily, the naturalist Pat Carney was there preparing for a program so we were able to get in the center where there are several displays.

The center has trails perfect for hiking, x-country skiing, and snow shoeing along with a variety of programs.

Camp Zerbe
Camp Zerbe

Just a short distance away we stopped at Camp Zerbe which is owned by Oswego County as part of its Youth Bureau, division of Parks and Recreation.

At one time it belonged to the Boys’ Club of Syracuse and is named for Frederick K. Zerbe, a former superintendent of the Syracuse Boys’ Club.

There is a modest environmental center, several trails, one of which leads down to a dock on the small pond.

Zerbe nature walk
Zerbe nature walk

While in the area it is easy to include a visit to the Salmon River Fish Hatchery.

The displays are fascinating.

Each year they produce millions of fish which are released so there is no excuse for a fisherman to go home without something to show for their effort.

Travel Trivia Tease™: Where can you get into the Christmas spirit?

Look for the answer next week.

Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience. We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Let the fun continue!

1 Comment

  1. They carry the mud on their tummy? Surely you know better than this. Beavers don’t swim on their backs. You’re confusing them with sea otters. If they carried mud on their tummies underwater it would dissolve. I’d be happy to show you hours of video of them carrying mud tucked under their necks above their pays in the water and out of it.

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