The damn Dam - a true story
This is an actual letter sent to a man named Ryan DeVries regarding a pond on his property. It was sent by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Quality, State of Pennsylvania . This guy's response is hilarious, but read The State's letter before you get to the response letter.
State of Michigan 's letter to Mr. DeVries:
State of Michigan
Reply to: Grand Rapids District Office
State Office Building 6th Floor
350 Ottawa NW
Grand Rapids MI 49503-2341
John Engler, Governor
Department Of Environmental Quality
Hollister Building, PO Box 30473, Lansing MI 48909-7973
Russell J. Harding, Director
December 17, 1997
Mr. Ryan DeVries
Pierson, MI 49339
Dear Mr. DeVries:
SUBJECT: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023-1 T11N, R10W, Sec. 20, Montcalm County
It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality that there has been recent unauthorized activity on the above referenced parcel of property. You have been certified as the legal landowner and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity: Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond.
A permit must be issued prior to the
start of this type of activity. A review of the Department's files shows that no
permits have been issued.
Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, annotated.
The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially failed during a recent rain event, causing debris and flooding at downstream locations. We find that dams of this nature are inherently hazardous and cannot be permitted.
The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all unauthorized activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the strewn channel. All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 1998.
Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so that a follow-up site inspection may be scheduled by our staff. Failure to comply with this request or any further unauthorized activity on the site may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement action. We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter.
Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any questions.
David L. Price
Land and Water Management Division
from the actual land owner...
Here is the response
Dear Mr. Price:
Re:DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N, R10W,
Sec 20; Montcalm County Your certified letter dated 12/17/97 has been handed to
me to respond to.
You sent out a great deal of carbon copies to a lot of people, but you neglected to include their addresses. You will, therefore, have to send them a copy of my response.
First of all, Mr. Ryan DeVries is not the legal landowner and/or contractor at 2088 Dagget, Pierson, Michigan -
I am the legal owner and a couple of
beavers are in the (State unauthorized) process of constructing and maintaining
two wood "debris" dams across the outlet stream of my Spring Pond.
While I did not pay for, nor authorize their dam project, I think they would be highly offended you call their skillful use of natural building materials "debris." I would like to challenge you to attempt to emulate their dam project any dam time and/or any dam place you choose.
I believe I can safely state there is no
dam way you could ever match their dam skills, their dam resourcefulness, their
dam ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam determination and/or their dam
As to your dam request the beavers first must fill out a dam permit prior to the start of this type of dam activity, my first dam question to you is, "Are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers or do you require all dam beavers throughout this State to conform to said dam request?" If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, please send me completed copies of all those other applicable beaver dam permits.
Perhaps we will see if there really is a dam violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 24.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws annotated.
My first concern is - aren't the dam
beavers entitled to dam legal representation? The Spring Pond Beavers are
financially destitute and are unable to pay for said dam representation so the
State will have to provide them with a dam lawyer.
The Department's dam concern that either one or both of the dams failed during a recent rain event causing dam flooding is proof we should leave the dam Spring Pond Beavers alone rather than harassing them and calling their dam names.
If you want the dam stream
"restored" to a dam free-flow condition contact the dam beavers but if
you are going to arrest them (they obviously did not pay any dam attention to
your dam letter-being unable to read English) - be sure you read them their dam
Miranda rights first. As for me, I am not going to cause more dam flooding or
dam debris jams by interfering with these dam builders.
If you want to hurt these dam beavers be aware I am sending a copy of your dam letter and this response to PETA. If your dam Department seriously finds all dams of this nature inherently hazardous and truly will not permit their existence in this dam State - I seriously hope you are not selectively enforcing this dam policy - or once again both I and the Spring Pond Beavers will scream prejudice!
In my humble opinion, the Spring Pond Beavers have a right to build their dam unauthorized dams as long as the sky is blue, the grass is green and water flows downstream. They have more dam right than I to live and enjoy Spring Pond. So, as far as the beavers and I are concerned, this dam case can be referred for more dam elevated enforcement action now.
Why wait until 1/31/98? The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice then and there will be no dam way for you or your dam staff to contact/harass them then.
In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention a real environmental quality (health) problem; bears are actually defecating in our woods. I definitely believe you should be persecuting the defecating bears and leave the dam beavers alone. If you are going to investigate the beaver dam, watch your step! (The bears are not careful where they dump!) Being unable to comply with your dam request, and being unable to contact you on your dam answering machine, I am sending this response to your dam office.
Stephen L. Tvedten
Editor's Note: After the Beaver Dam Story which appeared in Wednesday's Hot Topics, (http://www.reagan.com/HotTopics.main/HotMike/document-3.11.1998.3.html) in which a tenant was threatened for having a beaver dam on the property, we contacted the owner of the property, Stephen Tvedten of Marne, MI to get an update. As most people know, bureaucrats have little or no sense of humor. It turns out the Dept. of Environmental Quality Land & Water Management Div. bureaucrats were not amused by Stephen's December 17th letter and sent another letter in which they attempted to press the issue further.
The Tvedtens wrote a letter to their assemblyman, who responded as follows:
February 5, 1998
Dear Mr. Tvedten:
Thank you for forwarding to me copies of correspondence between you and David Price of the Department of Environmental Quality's (DEQ) Grand Rapids Office concerning the beaver dam that is located on property that you own in Pierson, Michigan. I understand that the department initiated an investigation when a neighbor expressed concern that your tenant was maintaining the beaver dam without a permit. Apparently, individuals can maintain beaver dams only with a permit from the department.
Mr. Price has advised me that, upon personally inspecting the property, he determined that the dam has not been maintained either by beavers or humans. As a result, the DEQ has closed its case. You should have been notified of the department's decision by letter dated January 23, 1998.
Again, thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. I would like to hear about other state matters that concern you. To that end, I invite you to join my Citizen Advisor group. Members periodically receive summaries of legislation that may generate a great deal of public interest, and register their opinion regarding the legislation on forms that are provided with the summaries. The group's input has helped me to better represent the constituents of the 89th house district. If you are interested in becoming a citizen advisor, please call my legislative aide, Joyce Rutt, at 1-800-JELLEMA, (1-800-535-5362).
89th House District
By this time, Stephen Tvedten was no longer amused. The State seemed determined to pretend that this ridiculous situation was not really a ridiculous situation and tried to justify their dubious actions involving beaver dams. Below is Stephen's second letter to Mr. David Price
Stephen and Rosalind Tvedten
2530 Hayes Street Marne, MI 49435-9751
If you e-mail Mr. Tvedten please remove the X before the name.
January 29, 1998
David L. Price
Dept. of Environmental Quality
Land & Water Management Div.
Grand Rapids Dist. Office
State Office Building, 6th Floor
350 Ottawa, N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49503-2341
Dear Mr. Price Re: DEQ File #97-59-0023, T11N, R10W, Sec. 20, Pierson Township, Montcalm County
Once again, as you have asked in writing, I will give prompt attention to your 1/23/98 letter that I just received today.
First of all, I specifically (and initially) want to know who called you and supposedly observed and/or has alleged Mr. Ryan DeVries was ever actively and/or "artificially maintaining" these obvious beaver dams? I specifically want to know:
(1) On what days all of this
"activity" supposedly took place?
(2) What equipment and what materials Mr. DeVries was supposedly using to "repair" the beaver dams?
(3) How did these unnamed accusers determine it was Mr. DeVries?
(4) From what distance were they observing all of this "activity" and for how long?
(5) Was Mr. DeVries wearing scuba gear for the underwater repair? and exactly how was he supposedly doing all the other "artificial maintenance work"?
Second, in all of your field inspections, did you ever find even one twig or any other evidence or material on either of the "abandoned" beaver dams that would indicate to you that any human had ever "artificially maintained" these beaver dams? If so, why do you now want to drop this matter? If not, how and/or why did you ever dare to write and/or suggest this ever happened?
Third, how did you determine (in winter) these beaver are no longer active? Did the people who called you again trespass on my land and kill these beavers like they did last time? Last time they broke open the dam, set traps and when the beaver came to repair the dam, the beaver were killed! Would you be kind enough to explain to me why several beaver would work all summer building dams and gathering a winter food supply and then simply abandon all of their work so they could either starve or freeze or be taken by predators? What are you going to do about the illegal trapping of my beavers (past and/or present)?
Fourth, I sincerely believe you should apologize in writing to Mr. DeVries and so should anyone and everyone else who has falsely accused him and/or tried to threaten and/or intimidate him into removing all of the "debris" he, obviously, did not put into the stream! For you to continue to even suggest in your latest letter to me that you still are giving any credibility to these false accusations, that Mr. Ryan DeVries was ever involved in any illegal, artificial or unauthorized activity does not, in my opinion, even begin to close this matter.
Your verbal comments to me on 1/8/98 that this always looked like "abandoned" beaver dams to you, even on your first visit, fills me with wonder and anger; why did you ever accuse Mr. DeVries of personally constructing these "debris" dams and then demand he totally remove these "debris" dams, which you clearly and already knew were constructed by beavers? For you or anyone to continue to suggest my Tenant is still, or was ever, "guilty" of artificially and/or illegally working on these beaver dams is, in my opinion, slanderous! How, if you knew originally these were "abandoned" beaver dams, could you ever demand Mr. DeVries completely remove them? Why not limit him to removing only the "work" he did? It was my understanding that government employees work for the people, who pay their salaries with their taxes, and not the other way around!
Your second field inspection showed "no further damming ability has occurred at the site;" are you really trying to suggest again Mr. DeVries has finally "stopped" his artificial maintaining of these beaver dams?
I would respectfully submit that if this is really what you (or any other people) would like me and/or the Governor and others in this State to believe about Mr. Ryan DeVries, Mr. DeVries should contact a lawyer. It was my understanding one is innocent until proven "guilty", or is one automatically guilty in Michigan as soon as he is accused? Or are you simply trying to CYA at Mr. DeVries expense?
Finally, as you can gather from the tone of this letter, I no longer find this matter at all funny. I want this type of bureaucratic harassment to completely cease. What are you going to do the next time some equine cloaca suggests "someone else" is again engaged in "illegal" and/or "artificial" activity? Threaten them again? Or will you take the time to treat them like human beings and get your facts straight first?
Stephen L. Tvedten
fc: Governor John Engler
Once again, Mr. Price, you have sent "carbon copies" to a lot of other people but have given me no addresses. Please send all the people to which you sent a carbon copy, a copy of my reply and your response also.
Original story link: The Dam
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