Dammed: Beavers return to block culverts, halt water flow
The watershed board also funded an outing with the Prairie Ecology Bus for Worthington High School students.
WORTHINGTON — Beavers and high school students were both on the docket for Tuesday’s meeting of the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District Board of Managers, as its members continued focusing on improving water quality in the area.
Water leaving Lake Ocheda flows south into the Ocheyedan River to get to Lake Bella, and all winter water was flowing past the beaver lodges there, keeping the animals happy, explained Watershed Administrator Dan Livdahl.
Then stoplogs were put into the dam late last month, halting the water flow until it builds to a higher level.
“No water is coming out of Lake Ocheda yet, so the beaver downstream are going a little crazy,” Livdahl said. “And when they have a good dam building situation, they can build very significant dams in those culverts overnight.”
He’s been going out to the site daily to check, because if the beavers are allowed to build for any length of time, they can plug the culverts badly enough that it’s hard to clean them out.
Several people do trap beaver in that area, but it’s been a running battle for the watershed district.
“It seems as soon as we trap them, another group moves in, so you have a very short break,” Livdahl said. “That seems to be a fine place for beaver to want to live.”
The board also approved spending $700 for a group of Worthington High School students in the TRIO Upward Bound program to go on a Prairie Ecology Bus outing.
The Southwest Minnesota State University’s Upward Bound program serves students in Worthington High School as well as Marshall and Yellow Medicine East high schools, and its mission is to increase college entrance and completion rates and inspire students to become community leaders and contributors, according to its website.
The program assists students who are underrepresented in postsecondary education and offers them academic and cultural experiences as well as tutoring and enrichment opportunities.
Paul Langseth, who works with Worthington students as part of the TRIO program, requested the money from the watershed board to fund a Saturday enrichment session for about 60 students, half from Worthington and half from Marshall.
The watershed money would pay for the Prairie Ecology Bus portion of the program, but students will also be creating “seed bombs” with prairie grasses during another part of their outing, Langseth said.
“Most of the students… this will be a new experience for them,” he said. “If we don’t expose the students to our ecology and our resources, they’re not going to learn about it.”
Langseth noted that at least one student from the program had gone to college to study ecology in the past.
“I love the thought of giving those kids a chance,” said Rolf Mahlberg, president of the board.
In other news Tuesday, the watershed board:
- Appointed Hyunmyeong Goo, Worthington assistant city engineer, to its advisory board.
- Received an update on the pond at Prairie View, where a sand filter is working to remove sediment from the water before it reaches the lake, leaving the water “extraordinarily” clear, according to Livdahl. The water is moving through slowly due to a lack of pressure, but it is moving through.
- Considered moving checking accounts to a local bank in order to support the community, and discussed how best to make the transition.