The “Beaver Dam” Correspondence Between the State of Michigan and a Land OwnerTruth!



Summary of eRumor:

The message consists of two letters.  The first is from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to a Mr. Ryan DeVries.  The letter says there are two dams on his property for which there does not seem to be any permit.  The landowner is told to remove the dams and to restore the stream to its free-flowing condition.

The Truth:

Both letters are authentic although slightly different than their originals. Stephen Tvedten says the beavers that built the dams on his property were killed by his neighbor who was then concerned about what would happen to the abandoned dams.  The neighbor lived downstream where any debris from the dams would go if they disintegrated. 

Tvedten says his neighbor told the state authorities that he had seen Tvedten tending to the dams and reported him.  A spokesperson for the state, however, says there was evidence that the dams had human intervention, namely the installation of some 2 x 4’s. 

According to state law, beaver dams cannot be built or maintained except by beavers. On Tvedten’s website, he has a copy of an email sent by the Michigan office to someone inquiring about the beaver dam letter and that says Tvedten had been seen maintaining the dams. 

Tvedten’s response was that they were “dam” liars. 

CLICK HERE to see the original letters.

updated 01/16/14

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Subject: Go Figure

This is a copy of an actual letter sent to Ryan DeVries, from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, State of Michigan. Wait  till you read this guy’s response – but read the entire letter before you get to the response.

 Mr. Ryan DeVries
 2088 Dagget
 Pierson, MI 49339
 SUBJECT: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20;

 Site Location: Montcalm County

 Dear Mr. DeVries:

 It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality that there has been recent unauthorized activity on the above referenced parcel of property. You have been certified as the legal landowner  and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity:

 Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond.

 A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity. A  review of the Department’s files shows that no permits have been issued.

 Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws annotated.

 The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially failed during a recent rain event, causing debris and flooding at downstream locations. We find that dams of this nature are inherently hazardous and cannot be permitted.

 The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the stream channel. All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 2002.

 Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so that a follow-up site inspection may be scheduled by our staff. Failure to comply with this request or any further unauthorized activity on the site may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement action.

 We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter. Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any questions.

 David L. Price
 District Representative
 Land and Water Management Division

 Dear Mr. Price,

 Re: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20;
 Montcalm County

 Reference your certified letter dated 12/17/2000 has been referred to me to respond to. First of all, Mr. Ryan De Vries is not the legal landowner and/or contractor at 2088 Dagget, Pierson, Michigan.

 I am the legal owner and a couple of beavers are in the (State unauthorized) process of constructing and maintaining two wood “debris” dams across the outlet stream of my Spring Pond.

 While I did not pay for, authorize, nor supervise their dam project, I think they would be highly offended that you call their skillful use of natural building materials “debris.” I would like to challenge your department to attempt to emulate their dam project any time and/or any place you choose. I believe I can safely state there is no way you could ever match their dam skills, their dam resourcefulness, their dam ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam determination and/or their dam work ethic.

 As to your request, I do not think the beavers are aware that they must first fill out a dam permit prior to the start of this type of dam
 activity. My first dam question to you is: (1) Are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers? or, (2) do you require all beavers throughout this State to conform to said dam request?

 If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, through the Freedom of Information Act I request completed copies of all those other applicable beaver dam permits that have been issued. Perhaps we will see if there really is a dam violation of P! art 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.3010,1 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, annotated. I have several concerns. My first concern is aren’t the beavers entitled to legal representation?

 The Spring Pond Beavers are financially destitute and are unable to pay for said representation – so the State will have to provide them with a lawyer.

 The Department’s dam concern that either one or both of the dams failed during a recent rain event causing flooding is proof that this is a natural occurrence, which the Department is required to protect. In other words, we should leave the Spring Pond Beavers alone rather than harrass them and call their dam names. If you want the stream “restored” to a dam free-flow condition – please contact the beavers – but if you are going to arrest them they obviously did not pay any attention to your dam letter (being unable to read English).

 In my humble ! opinion, the Spring Pond Beavers have a right to build their unauthorized dams as long as the sky is blue, the grass is green and water flows downstream. They have more dam right than I do to live and enjoy Spring Pond. If the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection lives up to its name, it should protect the natural resources (Beavers) and the environment (Beavers’ Dams).

 So, as far as the beavers and I are concerned, this dam case can be referred for more elevated enforcement action right now. Why wait until 1/31/2002 The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice then, and there will be no way for you or your dam staff to contact/harass them then.

 In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention a real environmental quality (health) problem in the area. It is the bears.
 Bears are actually defecating in our woods. I definitely believe you should be persecuting the defecating bears and leave the beavers alone.

 If you are going to investigate the beaver dam, watch your step! (The bears are not careful where they dump!)

 Being unable to comply with your dam request, and being unable to contact you on your answering machine, I am sending this response to your office via another government organization – the USPS. Maybe, someday, it will get there.

 Stephen L. Tvedten
 The University of Texas at: Austin
 Office Community Relations/Accounting unit
 P.O. Box 7367
 Austin, TX 78713

 O thus be it ever, when free men shall stand; Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation; Blessed with victory and peace, may the heaven’s rescued land; Praise the power that hath made, and preserved us a nation. Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just; And this be our motto,

 “In God is our Trust”; And the Star Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave, O’er the land of the free & the home of the brave. (last verse of the National Anthem)