BeaverCorps Spotlight: Dan Aitchison, Hudson Valley Beaver Strategies, LLC

A causeway that sits between two lakes and is used by approximately 400 cars a day in the summer months, had been washed over and washed out due to beavers clogging two culverts. To restore flow to the culvert, block beaver access, and work around the original steel supported culvert pipe, we designed a device similar to a multi-intake pond leveler. We built and installed a pond leveler that ran from the center of the lake to a large floored cage that surrounded and joined the outlet of the pond leveler pipe and the intake of the culvert pipe. No top was installed to allow access in case maintenance was necessary.

“Much of my childhood was spent learning about the natural world through my parents, shadowing local naturalists, studying the forested landscape and observing the wildlife that inhabits our local forests. I started working for Westchester County Parks Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation in 2005 and in 2009 was promoted to the position of Senior Curator of Wildlife. My work with the department has focused on the study of target wildlife species and monitoring their impacts, creating and implementing adaptive management programs and strategies to mitigate human/wildlife conflicts, public education, developing working relationships with local research organizations, and acting as a liaison between the county, state and federal wildlife agencies. Our first work with resolving beaver conflicts began in 2010, as the native species was making a noticeable expansion throughout its ancestral ranges of southern New York. Since then, I have presented about beavers and the ecological services that they provide, consulted for private citizens and municipalities, and designed and installed flow devices for the County of Westchester, local land trusts and land conservancies, the State of New York and private homeowners.

In 2021 I founded Hudson Valley Beaver Strategies LLC to meet the increasing demand to resolve human/beaver conflicts in our region, to preserve beaver created wetlands and habitats, and to further educate the public about the benefits of beavers and the key roles they play in our local ecosystems.

The diameter of the joining cage was wide enough to deter beaver building, but in the case that they did build around the cage, it protected the water transferring between the two pipes. Between the first pond leveler and the adaptation of a multi-intake pond leveler, water levels were restored in the lakes, the causeway was drained and repaired and traffic was able to resume as normal.

I joined BeaverCorps to expand my knowledge of beaver biology and the key roles that beavers contribute to the environment, the recognition that even with my experience resolving human/beaver conflicts and designing and installing flow devices, that there was room to grow and much more to be learned, and to become better connected to other professionals in this field. Becoming connected to a community of open-minded, knowledgeable, driven, innovative, beaver wetland professionals from a variety of backgrounds and locations across the continent has truly helped me to meet those goals and has strengthened the work that I do for Westchester County as a biologist and wildlife manager and for our region through Hudson Valley Beaver Strategies LLC.”

-Dan Aitchison, Certified Beaver Wetland Professional, Member in Good Standing of the Beaver Institute’s International BeaverCorps Association