Washout: The Destructive Power of a Burst Beaver Dam
Sometime in early July, a beaver dam burst in the Petawawa Research Forest. The resulting torrent of water destroyed several smaller beaver dams downstream and washed out two minor roads before washing out Clouthier Road, the main access road to the Petawawa Research Forest.
2008 July 18
It was a wet day last Friday (July 18), so rather than paddle in the rain, I chose to go for a drive in the rain and ended up at the Visitor Centre of the Petawawa Research Forest. We had noticed a few days earlier that Clouthier Road was closed, and a sign on the barrier indicated a washout. Curious, I investigated on foot, and found that a large piece of the road had been washed away. I am familiar with the innocuous little creek that was obviously responsible, and followed it upstream to determine the cause. It seemed most likely that a beaver dam had let go. I found that "Forestry" Roads R8 and R9 had been washed out and that the beaver pond east of Meridian Road and south of R1 had drained, but there was no sign of any flood damage upstream of that pond. Because it was raining, I didn't take that many photos, but Diana and I returned on Sunday to document the destruction more completely.
A satellite image of the area appears at the bottom of this page.
[Subsequent to publishing this page, I have been provided with a set of photos of the road during the washout taken by Renata Boulanger of Chalk River. The photos have been appended below.]
We were very impressed by the destructive power of this torrent of water. If one little beaver dam can do this, just imagine the scene when the glaciers retreated, and ice dams failed, and Glacial Great Lakes dropped a hundred feet or more.
We don't know whether the failed dam was being maintained and if not, what had happened to the beavers. Beavers were certainly active and making a mess around that pond a year or so ago.
Photos of the Washout in Progress by Renata Boulanger
The following photos of the washout in progress were taken by Renata Boulanger and provided by Marvin Dupuis. Thank you Renata and Marvin. (These photos were taken on the morning of 2008 July 08 from the west side of the washout and in all cases the water is flowing from right to left.)