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Dam Bureaucrats!

May 8, 2015

By Paul Homewood 




Henry P sends me this amusing piece of correspondence!


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, you won’t stop once you start. WOW Love this man.



This is an actual letter:

State of Pennsylvania’s letter to Mr. DeVries:

SUBJECT: DEQ … File No.97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec 20; Lycoming 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 Pennsylvania 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 brush forming the dams from the stream channel. All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 2015.

    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 and Water Management Division.


And Mr DeVries’ reply?



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

Dear Mr. Price,

    Your certified letter dated 8/13/14 has been handed to me. I am the legal landowner but not the Contractor at 2088 Dagget Lane , Trout Run, Pennsylvania ..

    A couple of beavers are in the 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 natures 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.








    These are the beavers/contractors you are seeking. 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 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Pennsylvania Compiled Laws, annotated.)

    I have several dam concerns. My first dam 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 dam 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 harassing them and calling them dam names.

    If you want the damed 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, they 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 rights 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 1/31/2015? The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice by then and there will be no way for you or your dam staff to contact/harass them.

    In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention to 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 dam 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.









It appears that this story has been doing the rounds on the internet since it was written in 1998. At some stage, the location has moved from Michigan to Pennsylvania.

However, it appears to be genuine, as it was reported by the Wall Street Journal at the time.


There is also an interesting article by Russ Harding,Director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality at the time, in the Michigan news outlet, Michigan Capitol Confidential.

In this article, published in 2010, Harding comments:

Most, but not all, of the state’s environmental regulators have a guilty-until-proven-innocent approach to enforcing the state’s many complicated environmental laws.


He is quite scathing.

  1. May 8, 2015 10:14 am

    I wonder if we cannot use the beavers to generate [hydro] electricity?

  2. May 8, 2015 10:32 am

    Unbelievable, but all too typical of today’s bureaucrats.

    • Evan HIghlander permalink
      May 9, 2015 2:24 pm

      Indeed! DARE I say it? City Boy v. country boy (no sexist tones intended – where I come from, – in the country, we are ALL Boys )

  3. May 8, 2015 10:38 am


    The best way to treat ‘Jobsworths’.

    • Farmer Ted. permalink
      May 8, 2015 10:18 pm

      The problem is the “Jobsworth” gets paid by us to read it.

  4. May 8, 2015 10:53 am

    So the damming of the stream
    Was not down to man?
    Mother Nature was to blame,
    Not on the environmentalists’ plan!

    Mother Nature is still laughing:

  5. johnmarshall permalink
    May 8, 2015 10:57 am

    The letter is a wonderful example of bureaucratic stupidity. Do these idiots not do natural history/biology at school?

    Wonderful reply.

    • Stephen Richards permalink
      May 8, 2015 11:36 am

      No they didn’t look before they leapt. It’s called bureaucratic arrogance

    • Evan HIghlander permalink
      May 9, 2015 2:27 pm

      Well, I think they DID it, – they way they “do” everything in schools nowadays, but didn’t LEARN it and so can’t APPLY it – from my experiences after decades on the Planet

  6. May 8, 2015 11:12 am

    taxpayer cost of writing that original letter : more than 1 hour
    when they could have just picked up the phone

    BTW the guy should have sent in a FreeDam of Information request

    • Odin2 permalink
      May 8, 2015 12:14 pm

      Can’t the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Quality recognize a beaver dam when they see one? And we put people like that in charge of protecting our environment. Jeesh……….

      • Evan HIghlander permalink
        May 9, 2015 2:32 pm

        Environment? DO these fowk really know and understand what the Dam ENvironment really is? – It is like as what we were taught in Physics: – Everytime you take a measurement you will alter the environment ( eg Temp & Voltage / Current, etc ) and when we use modern remote technology to monitor / read temp, how can we 100% guarantee that what we read off the scale is 100% accurate / correct …….

  7. May 8, 2015 11:13 am

    Reblogged this on Tallbloke's Talkshop and commented:
    Is this in the dam level?

  8. May 8, 2015 11:22 am

    Reblogged this on

  9. roobeedoo2 permalink
    May 8, 2015 11:23 am

    Dam, that’s funny! PMSLoL could not be truer …

  10. May 8, 2015 11:29 am

    Water’s been rising since 1997, when the letter was first published.

  11. May 8, 2015 11:49 am

    Reblogged this on CraigM350 and commented:
    Priceless 😀

  12. RCase permalink
    May 8, 2015 12:30 pm

    This is an oldie but a goodie. While all of this story is true, it originally took place in Michigan, and not Pa. See:

  13. Bill Illis permalink
    May 8, 2015 12:37 pm

    The story goes back to 1997 and is from Michigan.

  14. May 8, 2015 12:45 pm

    This letter id quite old. I read it first maybe 6-7 years ago? Still priceless and illustrates the lack of imagination and cookie-cutter attitude essential to bureaucrats, as well as their lack humor.

  15. May 8, 2015 4:48 pm

    Interesting to see how the story went around and gets changed a bit, here and there;
    It was the first time I read it, the other day.

    • Evan HIghlander permalink
      May 9, 2015 2:33 pm

      Aye! … and still raises plenty fresh comment!

  16. Jeff permalink
    May 8, 2015 6:35 pm

    Man or beast, The entrenched bureaucrats are threatened by a hardworking soul that is not dependent upon government scraps.

  17. mwhite permalink
    May 8, 2015 6:36 pm

    Please keep us updated……..

    • mwhite permalink
      May 8, 2015 6:37 pm

      Would love to know how the bureaucrats responded to the reply?

  18. emsnews permalink
    May 9, 2015 1:28 am

    Here on Greenhollow Rd, NY, we had a dam beaver family that built a series of dams from the top of the Rensselaer plateau to Rt 22 on Plank Road.

    These five dams became bigger and bigger and soon the water spread over Plank Road and then one morning when I was driving my son to school, the beavers chewed up and brought down a huge tree that smashed into the road, totally blocking it.

    The beavers were reported to the Authorities and were removed and their dams destroyed. We were all amused but sad. On the other hand, you wouldn’t want one of these animals to drop a tree on you, right?

    Beavers are fun to watch and of all animals, the most human.

  19. JWood-the-other permalink
    May 9, 2015 3:12 am

    Check Snopes for the rest of the story.

  20. john in cheshire permalink
    May 9, 2015 9:24 am

    One question that was perhaps overlooked, what brought this to the bureaucrat’s attention? Does Mr DeVries perhaps have a malicious neighbour downstream of his property?

Comments are closed.

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