Rocks swept downhill after a beaver dam collapsed cover a section of Breakneck Road in Acadia National Park. PHOTO COURTESY OF ENOCH ALBERT

Beaver dam collapse causes rockslide

A beaver dam at the north end of this pond in Acadia National Park burst recently, sending torrents of water down a hillside that deposited tons of rocks on Breakneck Road.

ACADIA NAT’L PARK — The collapse of a huge beaver dam was the apparent cause of a rockslide that buried a short section of Breakneck Road under several feet of rubble late last month. 

“Behind that enormous, 6-foot-high dam there must have been several metric tons of water, and when the dam broke it just scoured the hillside,” said Rebecca Cole-Will, Acadia’s chief of resource management, who visited the site Tuesday.
“It was a massive event. There was enough water flowing that it moved giant rocks and cobbles, which all got deposited on the road and even out beyond the road.” 

The beaver dam was a short distance upstream from a waterfall at the side of Breakneck Road. The torrent of water that was released when the dam burst dislodged rocks on both sides of the waterfall. 

“That drainage must have acted like a chute to channel that high volume of water that took out trees as well as moving tons of rock,” Cole-Will said.  

The section of Breakneck Road that runs from Route 3 in Hulls Cove to the gate that marks the Acadia National Park boundary is owned by the town.  

The 3 miles of Breakneck Road from the gate to Eagle Lake Road is a walking and biking path on park property. But the town holds an easement along the entire length of the road, so it seems to be unclear who is responsible for clearing the rocks off the road. 

Regardless of ownership, if it is determined there is something that needs to be fixed, then the park will enter into conversation with the town to determine the best course of action,” Christie Anastasia, the park’s public affairs specialist, said in an email to the Islander on Monday. 

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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