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Just above the confluence of Cabin Creek and Roaring Fork on the Cabin Creek side the beavers have been hard at work for many years. Now they're gone.
Beavers have been a part of the Allenspark area since the beginning, of course, and Cabin Creek is supposed to have been named for Kit Carson's cabin, which he built while trapping, mostly for beaver, in our valley in the 1840s.
When I was a boy there were beavers on the Roaring Fork side, too. Indeed, they were so numerous that the wildlife people came to our property in the late 20s and trapped a few to control the population, and left the skinned beaver kittens at my parents' door.
But that beaver clan finally stripped the area and moved out more than 20 years ago. Now it's very difficult to tell where the dams were.
The clan just downstream from Jack Zumwinkel may have been there even longer. There have been some years when they seemed inactive, but the pools and dams have always been there.
So it was a surprise this year to find the dams gone and the former pools filled with willows, alders and cow parsnips and Cabin Creek meandering through several courses as it tries to find the true channel. And not an aspen in sight, which, of course, the beaver needs to build and to eat.
The folks downstream, near the old Robinson Ranch meadow, tell me they detect increased beaver activity, but beavers are supposed to move upstream when they move, so it's difficult to tell what happened, not that it matters much anyway.
The fact remains that one of the great pleasures in life, that of sitting on the rocks above the dams at dusk and watching the beavers come out and become black-nosed arrows on the mirrored surface of the pools, is gone.
We can always go somewhere else, I suppose, but it won't be the same; for those of us who lived in that area, they were our beavers. We seem to feel that way about most of our wildlife: our chipmunks, our hummingbirds, our jays, and so forth. But the number of categories keeps dwindling.
I can remember when we had our coyotes, deer, porcupines, marmots, elk, and before my time you could add bears, (there may still be a few around Glacier View) mountain lions, wolves, eagles and many more.
So now our beavers are gone and they join that long list of animals we can no longer see by just looking out the window or taking a short walk in the evening.
As we continue to enjoy what some folks call "proper and orderly development" of the land around Allenspark I suppose you just have to expect that list to continue to grow. Still, as with all the others, I'm going to miss the beavers.
© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner
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