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07.01.2008 0

An Eager-Beaver Walk Down Memory Lane

  • On: 07/20/2008 14:15:48
  • In: Uncategorized
  • It’s such an old story that some might think it apocryphal. But, it’s not. It’s absolutely true. And it has come to serve as a symbol of why Big Government’s unblemished record of blemished behavior has plunged its approval ratings to an all-time low.

    So, stop me if you’re heard this before … No, on second thought, don’t. Because as Santayana wrote, “Those who don’t learn the lessons of history are forced to repeat its mistakes.”

    And he might have added as a corollary: “… which only get worse as they are allowed to fester and flourish.” Which is why Americans for Limited Government was created in the first place.

    In December of 1997, the Green Gestapo of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality decided to tar and feather one Ryan DeVries, whom, they claimed, had allowed a willful gang of errant beavers to build an “unauthorized” and “inherently hazardous” dam (their words) on his property.

    Herewith, in all of its officious piety is the actual letter, as verified true by both and

    Mr. Ryan DeVries
    2088 Dagget
    Pierson, MI 49339
    SUBJECT: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20;

    Site Location: Montcalm County

    Dear Mr. DeVries:

    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 activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by removing all wood and bruh forming the dams from the stream channel. All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 2002.

    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
    District Representative
    Land and Water Management Division

    And herewith, for all who — like the venerated H.L. Mencken — enjoy nothing more than “pricking the bubbles of the inordinately pompous,” is the response to the above letter. You will notice that it was written not by Mr. DeVries, but by one Stephen Tevdten, the actual owner of the dam land (yet another trivial fact the Green Gestapo couldn’t get straight):

    Dear Mr. Price,

    Re: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20;
    Montcalm County

    Reference your certified letter dated 12/17/2000 has been referred to me to respond to. First of all, Mr. Ryan De Vries 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, authorize, nor supervise their dam project, I think they would be highly offended that you call their skillful use of natural building materials “debris.” I would like to challenge your department to attempt to emulate their dam project any time and/or any place you choose. I believe I can safely state there is no way you could ever match their dam skills, their dam resourcefulness, their dam ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam determination and/or their dam work ethic.

    As to your request, I do not think the beavers are aware that they must first fill out a dam permit prior to the start of this type of dam activity. My first dam question to you is: (1) Are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers? or, (2) do you require all beavers throughout this State to conform to said dam request?

    If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, through the Freedom of Information Act I request completed copies of all those other applicable beaver dam permits that have been issued. 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 324.3010,1 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, annotated. I have several concerns. My first concern is aren’t the beavers entitled to legal representation?

    The Spring Pond Beavers are financially destitute and are unable to pay for said representation – so the State will have to provide them with a lawyer.

    The Department’s dam concern that either one or both of the dams failed during a recent rain event causing flooding is proof that this is a natural occurrence, which the Department is required to protect. In other words, we should leave the Spring Pond Beavers alone rather than harass them and call their dam names. If you want the stream “restored” to a dam free-flow condition – please contact the beavers – but if you are going to arrest them they obviously did not pay any attention to
    your dam letter (being unable to read English).

    In my humble opinion, the Spring Pond Beavers have a right to build their unauthorized dams as long as the sky is blue, the grass is green and water flows downstream. They have more dam right than I do to live and enjoy Spring Pond. If the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection lives up to its name, it should protect the natural resources (Beavers) and the environment (Beavers’ Dams).

    So, as far as the beavers and I are concerned, this dam case can be referred for more elevated enforcement action right now. Why wait until 1/31/2002 The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice then, and there will be no 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 in the area. It is the bears. Bears are actually defecating in our woods. I definitely believe you should be persecuting the defecating bears and leave the 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 answering machine, I am sending this response to your office via another government organization – the USPS. Maybe, someday, it will get there.

    Stephen L. Tvedten
    The University of Texas at: Austin
    Office Community Relations/Accounting unit
    P.O. Box 7367
    Austin, TX 78713

    ALG News is pleased to report that after some wrangling, the state of Michigan was finally forced to drop the bogus charges against Mr. DeVries, Mr. Tvedten, and the offending beavers. And they even went so far as to admit that they had never inspected the dam in the first place, adding, “It probably would have been a good idea to do the inspection before we sent the letter.”

    Yes, it probably would have been a “good idea.” Just like today it would be a good idea today for bureaucrats everywhere to “do an inspection” before they trigger the veritable avalanche of misguided missives they inflict on unsuspecting and innocent citizens nationwide.

    But, as the Sage of Baltimore, Henry Louis Mencken, once observed, “It is the invariable habit of bureaucracies, at all times and everywhere, to assume…that every citizen is a criminal. Their one apparent purpose, pursued with a relentless and furious diligence, is to convert the assumption into a fact. They hunt endlessly for proofs, and, when proofs are lacking, for mere suspicions. The moment they become aware of a definite citizen, John Doe, seeking what is his right under the law, they begin searching feverishly for an excuse for withholding it from him.”

    And that is a dam shame – repeated ad infinitum each and every time we fail to learn the lessons of history.

    ALG Perspective:
    The above incident would be merely mildly amusing were it not so indicative of the errant, arrant nature of the pervasive bureaucracies that now infect the body politic at all levels. And the situation is only getting worse. The fact is: the politicians built the bureaucracy – one onerous agency at a time – and only they can tear it down … if and when the increasingly criminalized public orders the demolition to begin in earnest.

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