BLOOMINGDALE — The air was a chilly 40 degrees on Monday morning when Alex Santo, up to his knees in water, broke up a beaver dam on the side of state Route 3. He was wearing only waders and a T-shirt, but he said he didn’t mind the cold.
“I’m an outdoors guy,” he said. “It’s fun. I love doing stuff like this.”
Santo works with the state Department of Transportation and on Monday was tasked with removing a beaver dam near the Saranac Lake school bus garage, so water could flow through a culvert under the road. He said if he doesn’t do this, the water could build up and rise over the roadway during the winter.
He said the beavers won’t come back again after he splits the dam in half. Their scent is replaced by the scent of the DOT.
Santo was also setting traps for the beavers.
He lives in Upper Jay and said he grew up trapping and working in the woods. So when the DOT needs someone to go out in the swampy woods and set beaver traps, he jumps at the opportunity.
“I’m out of the shop,” he said. “I’m not greasing a truck, so I’ll take it.”
Santo said sometimes people complain about the DOT breaking up beaver dams, but people would complain more if the road flooded, he added.
“I’ve got thick skin,” he said.