Willard Bay State Park in Utah was spared the worst of a 27,000-gallon Chevron oil spill last week thanks to a large dam built and maintained by a group of six beavers. The oil spilled from a pipeline running from Utah to Washington state and was blocked from spreading into the park's marshes and wetlands by the dam.
The six beavers have been rescued and put up at an animal refuge, but sadly three of them suffered chemical burns from the spill and face a difficult road to recovery.
This story hits home for me because of an ongoing controversy over a plan to ship tar sands oil through a pipeline that runs from my home in Portland, Maine, up to Montreal, Canada. The pipeline runs near Sebago Lake, a beautiful lake that provides most of southern Maine's drinking water. Tar sands oil is more corrosive than conventional oil and would more rapidly degrade the pipeline, greatly increasing the chances of a spill like the one that happened in Utah. But the next time a spill happens, the beavers probably won't be there to save us.
More about beavers on MNN:
- Master builders: The beavers show us how it's done
- Beavers are exceptional foresters
- August animals: beavers