Oh? Well, look at that! Hey, there must be a beaver nearby! We totally missed spotting the lodge, so we backtracked about a hundred yards to look around.
Is that the lodge? It just looks like someone tossed a bunch of cleared brush down the bank. That can't be it, no?
Indeed, everywhere we walked at the newly opened Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park, there were numerous small piles of cut brush scattered about. No wonder we didn't give this pile a second thought. They were still grading the new trails, so I imagine there was plenty of path clearing involved.
Do you think they plan to burn the small piles? We actually saw a couple yard waste fires along the roads from Bass Lake to Ahwahnee in the rain. One fellow had such a high flame, I'm sure he used gasoline. Even fires crews in the Sierra National Forrest were lighting fires. I didn't know burning yard waste was still a common practice due to concerns over air quality. At least with the rain, there wasn't going to be much danger of a wildfire. I'm guessing the area had a strict fire ban this record dry year. Wildfires are hella scary. They're supposedly good for CA ecosystems, but they wreck havoc on the human inhabitants.
So, I checked out the "brush pile". Look at the angled gnaw marks on the twig end. What surprised me was the patted down mud and the whole thing just leaning against the sloping bank. While not reported for this end of Madera County, the CDFW states beavers in the Central Valley are primarily bank dwellers and often don't build lodges and dams. I did not know that. I wonder if this beaver may have caused trouble for humans elsewhere and was relocated to this handy-dandy new park where its activities will be encouraged.
I've seen evidence of beavers here and there over the years from CA to WA up to AK, usually just gnawed stumps. The most I ever saw, including several actual animals, was when I backpacked the Adirondacks in NY. They have crazy busy beavers back there with lodges and dams literally everywhere. I bet our North American landscape would look so much different if beavers hadn't been trapped to near oblivion. As it is, I'm glad to see they're still around. Go, beavers!