Man's sarcastic response to official letter regarding natural dam built by beavers

May 22, 2018
07:44 A.M.
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Stephen Tvedten devised a smart and humorous way of responding to the claims by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality that he was involved in an unauthorized activity.

Advertisement reported that the homeowner received a letter which stated that he was constructing and maintaining dams on his property.

Stephen Tvedten’s neighbors noticed flooding on his property, tracing it back to a dam on his stream. When the neighbor complained, the department decided to write a letter to the owner of the property.

The letter was dated December 17, 1997, and was addressed to one Mr. DeVries. A local DEQ official clearly said one had to obtain a permit to build and maintain dams.

It ordered Tvedten to ‘cease and desist’ or that the case would be referred for ‘elevated enforcement action.’


However, it was the property owner’s response that caught everyone’s attention. Firstly, the ‘dam letter’ clarified that Mr. Ryan DeVries was not the legal owner of the property.


Tvedten then went on to notify the department that the ‘debris dam’ he had been ordered to remove, as it was without permission from the state of Michigan, was actually built by beavers.

He used the same legal language to convey his message in the most humorous manner. 

He said that a few beavers were in the process of constructing and maintaining ‘two wood debris’ dams. He also opined that though he had not authorized them on the project, the beavers could be offended if the agency calls their  skillful use of natural building materials ‘debris.’


Tvedten challenges the authorities to attempt a similar ‘dam project any dam time and/or any dam place you choose.’ 

He was also sure that they could never match the beavers’ ‘dam skills, their dam resourcefulness, their dam ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam determination and/or their dam work ethic,’ he wrote.

Clearly stating that he was not causing any interference with their work, he added that if the authorities were to hurt the dam beavers, they had to understand that he was sending a copy of their letter and his response to PETA.


He closed his letter saying that the Spring Pond Beavers had rights to build their ‘dam unauthorized dams’ as long as ‘the sky is blue, the grass is green, and water flows downstream.’

It took the funny letter and some wrangling to finally get the agency to drop the issue. As for the beavers, they are still ignorant that they came close to being fined or for being referred to elevated enforcement action.