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Sutherlin camp balances harmony with man, beaver

In an attempt to co-exist with the beavers living on their campgrounds, board members of Camp Selah Ministries in Sutherlin sought help from wildlife biologists of wildlife response innovations and services division of the United States Humane Society.

These biologists spent all day Saturday implementing an innovative device designed to prevent the beaver dams from flooding camp roads.

“People on our boards are very sensitive to nature and didn’t want to exterminate them if there was another way to do it,” said Sallye Hardy, executive director of Camp Selah Ministries. “Beavers are certainly one of God’s precious creatures, but they have proven challenging for Camp Selah. Building their dams, they have caused significant damage to the roads getting into and out of the camp. To our delight, solutions abound, so in an effort to be good stewards of the property and these little fellows, we are partnering with the Humane Society of the United States to reach a “no-kill” solution.”

The board initially considered removing the beavers but decided instead to consult with the Humane Society which conducted a site evaluation and recommended a flow device to prevent flooding and alleviate road damage.

“We are really grateful that there are people who are compassionate and care about animals and their habitat,” Hardy said.

Camp Selah ministries is a 37-acre faith-based camp with a mission to nurture the spirituality of any person, to facilitate the gathering of people and equip them for love and good deeds in Jesus Christ through individual and group experiences such as retreats, camps, opportunities for spiritual direction, seminars, workshop, festivals and electronic conversations.

Its main focus is the nurture and care of children, and they thought it would be good for the children to learn how to embrace the beavers as God’s creation and co-exist with them at the camp instead of removing them or killing them.

“We hope it will be good for the beavers, good for the land, good for the water and good for the children,” Hardy said.

The water flow devices consist of flexible corrugated plastic pipes, sized to the particular job but usually somewhere between eight and 15 inches in diameter.

The device is installed by notching the existing dam and then running and securing the pipe in the gap. The sound and feel of water running through the pipe stimulates the beaver to attempt repairing the dam at the site of the notch, but not at the pipe ends, and thus, the upstream water level is maintained at a depth that meets the camp’s needs.

To ensure beavers or debris don’t block the upstream end of the system, a filtering device also will be installed.

“This is a win-win for Camp Selah and the beavers,” Stephanie Boyles Griffin, senior director of Wildlife Response, Innovations and Services said. “Not only will installing a pipe system solve the camp’s flooding problems, the camp’s efforts to find and implement a humane, non-lethal solution to their beaver management dilemma is now and will continue to be a living testimony of the camp’s primary tool of ministry:  embracing of God’s creation at Camp Selah,” Griffin said.