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Beaver joke not so funny in N.C.


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#1 - I found the title funny, but most importantly I found this article really interesting - especially the statement that they saved nearly $5 million last year in potential flood damage to farms, timber lands, roadways and other infrastructure through its Beaver Management Assistance Program. Who would have thought?


Beaver joke not so funny in N.C.

Supporters of wildlife program say McCain's gag shows he doesn't know the dam issue.

By Barbara Barrett


Posted: Saturday, Mar. 07, 2009

WASHINGTON “How does one manage a beaver?” U.S. Sen. John McCain asked his followers from the Senate floor this week.

McCain's derisive comments – “$650,000 for beaver management in North Carolina and Mississippi,” he typed on his Twitter mini-blog – came as part of his continuing campaign against directed spending, or earmarks, in the federal government.

But he angered workers in North Carolina who say they know full well how to manage beavers: Trap the critters, blow up their dams and let the water flow.

State and federal wildlife officials claim to have saved nearly $5 million last year in potential flood damage to farms, timber lands, roadways and other infrastructure through its Beaver Management Assistance Program – the same one McCain was making fun of in Washington.

“Maybe you should ask him how much he knows about this and why he picked it out for ridicule,” said U.S. Rep. David Price, a Chapel Hill Democrat. “We know why he chose this – because it sounds funny.”

The omnibus spending bill for the current fiscal year contains nearly $8 billion in directed spending, called earmarks. Among them is $208,000 for North Carolina's Beaver Management Assistance Program. Price and former U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, a Republican, requested it last year.

The spending bill already has passed the House and is scheduled be voted on in the Senate next week.

McCain tried to strip all the earmarks out of the spending bill. He failed, but made headlines by sending out quick online messages on the Twitter site, called “tweets,” about a handful of projects.

Deride and defend

Scientific research earmarks routinely come in for ridicule, but each one often has defenders who can detail the projects' purpose and benefits.

On the Senate floor this week, McCain spread his anti-earmark tweets to projects across the country, criticizing pig odor research in Iowa, catfish genetics in Alabama and cricket control in Utah.

Supporters of North Carolina's beaver management program say dams can wreak havoc by flooding culverts and low-lying areas near streams.

“If you're just looking for the funniest thing to criticize, beaver management program might seem interesting to someone just combing through the bill,” said Jake Parker, who lobbies for the state Farm Bureau. “It's a legitimate program that's worth funding.”

In 2001, a freight train derailed in Pitt County after flooding weakened a rail bed near a beaver dam. Chemicals spilled from 30 rail cars, said Jon Heisterberg, state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's APHIS wildlife services' division.

A week ago, Heisterberg took a handful of state legislative staff members to a pair of culverts under Highway 301 in Rocky Mount. There, he said, 5-foot-tall beaver dams threatened to take over the 8-foot-tall culverts.

“It would have clogged all the way if we hadn't taken care of it,” Heisterberg said.

Beavers were reintroduced to North Carolina in 1939, according to state records, and they can have environmental benefits. Their beaver ponds serve as habitat for a variety of other wildlife, and the flooding can create new wetlands to support still more species. But when the flooding spills into timberlands, across crop lands or over roadways and rail beds, the beavers cause trouble, Heisterberg said.

The state legislature launched the beaver management program in 1992. Now, a nine-member advisory panel of state, federal and local officials oversees the program.

Carol Bannerman, a USDA wildlife spokeswoman near Washington, said 26 states around the country have beaver management programs.

Targeting dams

In North Carolina, beavers are caught in humane traps that kill them instantly. The state does not allow them to be moved, Heisterberg said. The dams then are broken apart with hand tools or, if they're inside culverts, destroyed with explosives.

His office determines how much damage its program prevents by figuring up the repair and replacement costs to the Department of Transportation and private landowners.

This past year, 44 of the state's hundred counties paid $4,000 each to join the federal/state partnership on managing beavers. Among them are Johnston, Harnett, Nash and Franklin.

In Washington, the N.C. Farm Bureau has put in the earmark request to Congress for the state's federal share of $208,000, said Parker, the organization's lobbyist.

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My favorite Beaver story happenned right here in DC. A few years back a "vandel" cut down one of the 100 year old Japanese Cherry Trees lineing the tidle basen. The park service was aghast, local news stations covered the story of vandelism. The National Police set up a survalence system after a few days latter a second tree was felled... Then one of the Park ranger took a look at the tree and said it wasn't an ax or a chain saw but beaver teeth which had done the damage. They contracted with a trapper and relocated the beavers from the tidle basen to Anacostia..... Tough inner city beavers I guess....

Anyway the entire story played out over weeks and it was pretty funny wathcing the authorities and nature advocates flip flop on their shock and blame.

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If they want money to "Manage Beavers" then put "Manageing Beavers" to a vote and discuss the merits. Don't add it to the list of thousand of add-ons that have nothing to do with the bill that are attached to...

We need to throw out EVERYONE in our Federal Government. All of them. 100% a blind monkey could make better decisions than the current crop of "leaders"

(Yes, there may be a couple of "good ones" but I would rather start with a fresh clean slate.)

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It is funny, but it's a real problem here in NC. Whether it warrants $200,000 in earmarks might be a fair discussion, but some friends of mine in highschool used to trap beavers. I can't remember who, but someone would pay them $30 for every beaver tail they brought in. I'm not sure if it was sponsored by the NC gov't though....

Funny article and replies :)

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