Grand Rapids crew clears dam obstruction on Sturgeon River

Though industrious beavers built an impressive dam alongside a man-made one on the Sturgeon River in Side Lake, Minn., it had to go. On March 19, the Grand Rapids crew waded out into the river to dig out the beaver dam with pitchforks. They tossed debris to crew members on land who loaded it into trucks to be hauled away and burned. A series of concrete pylons left over from an old bridge had provided an ideal structure for the beaver dam that grew steadily over several years, slowing water flow to a trickle and creating mud flats on the downriver side.

Crew Leader Willie Storm remarked how satisfying it was to see the instant effect of their work. “There was a 4-inch drop in the water level at the top within minutes,” he said. Even though it was one of the first projects of the season, he credited his crew with great teamwork, finishing the planned day-long project before lunch. Crew members included Amanda Mauel, Katie Petzel and Derrick Lederle.