Ahoy From ‘The Beaver State’ (Now 150 Years Old)

Via scout prime at First Draft, Attaturk, and Gawker, John McCain tweets that the #5 pork item in the stimulus bill is “$650,000 for beaver management in North Carolina and Mississippi”.

Huh. He said “beaver.”

Funny that he should bring that up, considering the GOP’s great efforts in creating Our Nation’s Greatest Urban Wetland (aka New Orleans). Because, y’know, one of the things beavers (and their cousin the nutria) do is dig holes. They dig holes in things like earthen levees which can weaken the levees in flood conditions.

Then, of course, they do build dams (PDF):

Beaver populations have increased in recent years due to a poor fur market and the fact that they have few natural predators. Beaver management in the Southeast consists mainly of controlling beaver densities. In Mississippi, beaver damage is estimated at $3 to $5 million annually. Beaver population monitoring and management is the foundation for all other operations on the Delta National Forest. Without it, unacceptable economic and ecological losses occur.

In 1994, over 14,000 acres (or nearly one-fourth) of the Delta National Forest were under beaver-impounded water. This happened during a time of year when natural floods do not occur. Trees flooded during the growing season suffered a loss of growth. Even species adapted to periodic high water can die if their root systems remain under water for one or more growing seasons. Timber growth loss was estimated at over 5 million board feet annually. Over 4,000 acres of bottomland hardwood forest died due to the inundation. Uncontrolled beaver populations plagued the forest to the point that flooding spread onto adjacent private lands. Campers had to contend with muddy conditions in campsites, on trails and forest roads.

Beaver management began on the Delta National Forest in 1995 when the beaver population was at a higher than normal level. Management includes removing dams, clearing culverts, constructing and maintaining beaver exclusion devices, and trapping and killing beavers.

Republicans probably wouldn’t have a problem with “beaver management” if they were shooting beavers from planes.