Moose-Wilson Road to Close for Project at Beaver Pond

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Date: September 19, 2012
Contact: Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3431

A beaver dam modification project will require a temporary closure of the Moose-Wilson Road in Grand Teton National Park from 2 p.m. Monday, September 24 to 8 a.m. Tuesday, September 25. The closure will span between the Death Canyon Road junction and Teton Park Road in Moose. During this closure, through travel will not be possible and motorists are advised to plan for an alternate route through Jackson, Wyoming. Visitors can still reach the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve and Death Canyon trailhead from the Granite Canyon entrance station. 

Over the past several months, a family of beavers built a sizeable dam and lodge in a wetlands area along the Moose-Wilson Road just north of the Death Canyon Road. The beavers expanded their dam and created a substantial pond that threatens to completely flood the road and cause structural damage. In an effort to lower the water level in the pond and reduce flooding, park employees will modify a previously installed flow device that allows for water to gently pass through the dam. 

In early August, park staff placed a system of perforated pipes in the beaver pond to create a gentle flow of water through the dam. The intention was to slightly lower the pond's depth enough to resolve the flooding and limit impacts to the road. However, the resourceful beavers simply packed this flow device with mud and blocked its capacity to effectively lower the water level. After consulting with other parties that have used such flow devices, park employees plan to use longer pipes so that water enters the device much further away from the dam. This step will hopefully lessen the beavers' natural reaction to the sound and feel of flowing water and halt their urge to again block the pipes with mud. 

The size of equipment needed to install longer pipes into the pond, and improve the devices already in place, will require a temporary closure of the narrow Moose-Wilson Road. The closure will remain in effect throughout the night to allow beavers a chance to adjust to the disturbance of their dam and pond. Beavers are most active at night, and after the modification work is completed, they may travel back and forth across the road to collect shrubs and bushes in order to repair the minor breach of their dam. The overnight road closure should protect the beavers from passing vehicles and prevent a potential collision. 

Park resource and maintenance staff hope that this habitat mitigation project will allow beavers to continue their use of the lush wetland area and better protect the Moose-Wilson Road from flooding and probable damage from frost heaves as winter temperatures freeze the saturated road bed. 

Every effort will made to protect the beaver family and ensure their continued occupancy and use of this wetlands area along the Moose-Wilson Road. Signs will be placed to educate passers-by about the flow devices and their installation for flood control. This project attempts to balance protection of park resources (natural and developed) with current opportunities for wildlife viewing.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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