Busy beaver expert prepares downtown Martinez dam for winter storm

A beaver expert from Vermont was removing debris from the beaver dam in downtown Martinez this morning in preparation for a winter storm expected to hit the Bay Area early Thursday.

Skip Lisle, a Vermonter known for his expertise in installing so-called “beaver deceivers,” was in Alhambra Creek today working on the dam, Martinez City Councilman Mark Ross said.

Weather experts have predicted that some parts of the Bay Area could be drenched by up to 2 inches of rain by the end of Thursday and nearly 4 inches by Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

Ross, who sits on the city's beaver subcommittee, said the public works department would be keeping a close eye on the water level in the creek when the rain begins.

“Our co-habitation plan is fully in swing now,” Ross said.

The creek, which is the primary drainage channel for a 17-mile watershed upstream from the dam, used to overflow and flood downtown Martinez every other year on average until the city completed its 9.5 million flood control project.

In November the city council discussed killing the beloved rodents after a hydraulics study determined that the dam was negating most of the flood control efforts.

Public outcry prompted the city to first work to get a permit to relocate the beavers and then to come up with ways to keep the beavers in the creek.

Public works crews installed a cable and two boat anchors in the dam so that if emergency measures become necessary, the dam can be yanked out quickly, according to Ross.

Lisle is planning to install a beaver deceiver that will allow water to flow through the dam without the beavers noticing. The device is designed to prevent the busy rodents from thinking they need to patch their dam.

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