February 4, 2023

Rocky Branch Greenway Beaver Dam

Rocky Branch Greenway Beaver Dam

Since 2023

In North Carolina, US


This chronolog combines 373 photos from 116 contributors. Learn more

About this site

In October 2022, one or more North American beavers (Castor canadensis) migrated up Rocky Branch from Walnut Creek. They established a dam across the creek at the site of an earlier stream restoration project. 

Rocky Branch is a first-order headwater stream of the Neuse River basin.  The 3.0 square kilometer basin above the beaver dam drains much of the main campus of NC State University between Hillsborough Street and Western Boulevard. The catchment responds quickly to precipitation events because of its small size and the high percentage of impervious surfaces (e.g., roads, parking lots, and buildings) across the NC State campus. As a result, the stream's discharge increases quickly when it rains. Heavy rain events often partially breach the beaver dam, decreasing the upstream pond level. After such events, the mostly nocturnal activities of the beaver(s) are readily apparent the following day as they work to repair the dam. 

However, on February 4, 2024, exactly one year after the establishment of this Chronology station, faculty and students from the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering installed a pond-leveling device called a “beaver deceiver.” The outlet pipe is visible in Chronolog photographs starting on February 4. It will be interesting to see how the beavers respond to this modification of the pond that they established.

The U.S. Geological Survey has a real-time stream monitoring station about 200 feet downstream from the Beaver Dam that records stream stage, discharge, and precipitation and is available at the following URL. https://waterdata.usgs.gov/monitoring-location/0208735012/#parameterCode=00060&period=P7D. 

In addition, the U.S. Geological Survey also maintains two real-time groundwater monitoring wells about 200 feet upstream from the beaver dam, adjacent to the Greenway Path. The depth from the ground surface to the water table is available at the following URLs. https://waterdata.usgs.gov/monitoring-location/354649078400701/#parameterCode=72019&period=P7D&showMedian=false, and https://waterdata.usgs.gov/monitoring-location/354649078400702/#parameterCode=72019&period=P30D&showMedian=false. 

The Chronolog station is maintained by faculty and students in NC State University's Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences. We are studying beavers in urban streams around the greater Raleigh area. We are interested in the physical and biological changes in urban streams following the establishment of beaver dams and their potential to improve the physical, hydrologic, and biological function of human-modified and impaired Piedmont streams. 

Thank you for reading about this Chronolog site and contributing your photographic observations. We encourage repeat visits to see how this reach of Rocky Branch changes after rain events and with the seasons. 

Please contact Karl Wegmann, Associate Professor of Geology and Geomorphology at NC State University, at  kwwegman@ncsu.edu with questions or comments.

About North Carolina State University

Dept. of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences at NC State.


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