Posthaste: Government Blames Man Because Beavers Built a Dam

Property Owner Blamed For Crime Committed By BeaversStephen Tvedten knows firsthand that the use of environmental regulations frequently has little to do with the environment. For more information, contact John Carlisle at (202) 507-6398.

In December 1997, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) accused Stephen Tvedten of building dams on his property without a permit. David Price, District Representative of the DEQ’s Land and Water Management Division, wrote in a letter to Tvedten: “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 unauthorized 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 strewn channel.” Tvedten would have been only too happy to oblige the DEQ. The only problem is that he had nothing to do with the dams. Had DEQ officials bothered to check, they would have realized that the dams were constructed by beavers, not by Tvedten.

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