Bayou Update Update: The Memory of a River and The Importance of Beavers

Beavers Still Active

New Channel is Old Channel

Sept. 23, 2016

An anonymous reader who lives on Buffalo Bayou wrote in to give us a report on beavers and some history on the new channel cut through a sandy point in Memorial Park.

The channel isn’t new at all, the reader pointed out. During the extended high waters following record rains last spring, the bayou cut across a sandy point on the north bank and settled back into the course it used to take back in the 1930s. This is based on property maps from that era, wrote the reader, who lives on the south bank.

Bayous and streams tend to do that: seek out their historic channels, amazingly even when concrete blocks the way. They have a memory. Houston historian and Buffalo Bayou chronicler Louis Aulbach tells the story of the time during Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 that the bayou broke through a concrete retaining wall in Tranquility Garage underneath the Wortham Center. The bayou may have been seeking out its former natural channel, which was filled in and the bayou rerouted in 1927-28. The Wortham Center now stands on top of the original channel, and the garage beneath it would actually be in the old channel.

Aulbach is the author of the fascinating book Buffalo Bayou: An Echo of Houston’s Wilderness Beginnings.

Read the rest of this story.

Cottonwood bark stripped by beavers on a sandy point in Memorial Park. Note that the bark has been only partially stripped. The tree was eventually brought down by the Memorial Day 2015 high waters. Photo 2014 by anonymous human resident on south bank.

Cottonwood bark stripped by beavers on a sandy point in Memorial Park. Note that the bark has been only partially stripped. The tree was eventually brought down by the Memorial Day 2015 high waters. Photo 2014 by anonymous human resident on south bank.

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