St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Notes from the Russ the Rambler
The battle on Orr Creek has been underway for the last few months. Orr Lake drains through a three foot diameter culvert on 285th Street with the brook joining Wolf Creek a mile to the south. A beaver dammed the culvert and raised the lake 2 feet. The township road crew cleaned it out. The beaver plugs it each night and the town crew opens it the next day. The road crew fears the road will wash out and the beaver is just doing what beavers do. I fear this young beaver will lose; his father was killed in action last spring. The town crew is armed and recently I have heard shotgun blasts at dusk as the battle heightens. Orr Lake was dammed and raised last fall before it froze over. There was a winter kill of many carp showing up this spring.
Twenty years ago or so Orr Lake was overrun with big carp chewing the lake weeds to pea soup each year to the detriment of the native northerns, bass and pan fish. There was a major winter kill of just the carp then. After the carp were gone, the lake turned crystal clear with lots of underwater plants and good fish habitat. Some of the carp had returned over the years, but last year they froze out again. Carp are more sensitive to low oxygen levels than native fish, so this freeze out was again just the carp and a few small panfish. My theory is that when the beaver raise the lake for the summer and winter and flood the 30 feet of cattails surrounding the shore, the winter’s oxygen supply diminishes from the decaying shoreline vegetation enough to kill the carp only. Those of us on the lake like the deeper and clearer water and are rooting for the beaver. This beaver is in trouble because he failed to do the 3000 pages of paperwork, pay the thousands of dollars fees and lawyers, and spend the five years of zoning, DNR, County, and Township hearings required to change the lake level. Carp'e Die'm is our motto this month.