Board awards contract for beaver control after Northwoods drainage improvements

The Oakland Board of Mayor and Aldermen has unanimously awarded a contract for beaver control after drainage improvements are completed on the Northwoods Branch.
Board members took the action during their Dec. 18, 2014 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman John Troncone and seconded by Alderman Kelly Rector.
The board received and opened bids on Dec. 17, 2014 for a contract that includes drainage improvements in the vicinity of the Northwoods Estates subdivision.
Mayor Chris Goodman is authorized to execute a three-year agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services to control “animal damage” on private property for a total fee of $7,500. The funding will be provided through the 2012 Community Development Block Grant program.
During discussion at the board’s Nov. 20, 2014 meeting, Town Engineer Ken King recalled that, in June and July 2009 and May 2010, Oakland experienced “heavy storms.”
He noted that at least seven residences were flooded on Black Ankle Drive in the Northwoods Estates subdivision. So, Oakland and Fayette County jointly conducted a flood study of Black Ankle Creek.
The study, which was completed in September 2010, presented three recommendations:
(1) Replace the culvert at Highway 194 and Black Ankle Creek.
(2) Reduce the water level in the retention basin.
(3) Enlarge the channel that the retention basin flows into.
King recalled that, two months after the study was published, Community Development Partners in Nashville notified him that $1 million was available through disaster funds. So, after preparing engineering reports and cost estimates, he submitted an application in late 2010.
He noted that, in 2011, the Tennessee Department of Transportation “apparently agreed” that the culvert is too small and replaced it with a bridge.
While noting that the $1 million was awarded in 2012, King said $150,000 was recently added to that. With those funds, culverts will be installed to lower the water in the retention basin, and the channel will be made three times larger.
But because that is called “waters of the state,” Oakland had to obtain a special Aquatic Resources Alteration Permit, which requires the town to plant saplings, trees and “live staking” in the Northwoods Branch.
Recalling that he met with a woman in Nashville, King said they “really got on each other’s nerves,” because she wanted that area to remain a wildlife habitat. But he had more sympathy for the residents of Northwoods.
So, after “much wrangling,” he said, the woman granted the permit.
But for three years after the project is completed, annual monitoring is required for “qualitative habitat assessment,” a Tennessee “hydrologic determination” and vegetation monitoring.
Because beavers active in the Northwoods Branch are capable of destroy the saplings, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation requires a 75-percent “survival rate” of the saplings for three years.
During discussion at the Dec. 18, 2014 meeting, King said the “experts” have to ensure that the stream has returned to being “more of a natural stream,” so the “critters” can grow properly in it.
He reiterated that this is not his “design,” but a “mandate” from the state.
“I wouldn’t be digging a channel and planting trees in it,” he acknowledged. “I want the water to flow.”
In response to a question by Alderman Billy Ray Morris, Town Attorney Richard Myers said he had examined the contract, which appears to be “pretty linked up” with the assessment of the Aquatic Permit.
“If the state’s requiring trees,” Myers noted, “and if there’s a conclusion that beavers are going to impact the trees, we’ve got to do something about the beavers.”
But Morris said it seems like it would be only “common sense” to install some “concrete pilings” instead of planting trees.
“You’re going to put trees, and then you’re going to start feeding the beavers,” he said. “If you put concrete in, you won’t be feeding the beavers.”
But King said “some concrete” will be poured for what the state calls “grade-control structures.”
“We had five in there, and the lady said, ‘You’re only putting in three,’” he recalled. “So, she’s not going to let me pour anymore concrete.”