Scandal And Murder At Spring Pond


INTERNET: http://www.deq.state.mi
RUSSELL J. HARDING, DirectorDecember 17, 1997CERTIFIED

Mr. Ryan DeVries 2088 Dagget Pierson, MI 49339

Dear Mr. DeVries:

SUBJECT: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023-1 T11N, R10W, Sec. 20, Montcalm County

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 show 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 Michigan Compiled Laws annotated. The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially failed during a recent rain event, causing debris dams 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 unauthorized 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 strewn channel. All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 1998. 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 Land and Water Management Division

Dear Mr. Price:
Re: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N, R10W, Sec 20; Montcalm CountyYour certified letter dated 12/17/97 has been handed to me to respond to. You sent out a great deal of carbon copies to a lot of people, but you neglected to include their addresses. You will, therefore, have to send them a copy of my response.First of all, Mr. Ryan DeVries is not the legal landowner and/or contractor at 2088 Dagget, Pierson, Michigan — I am the legal owner and a couple of beavers are in the (State unauthorized) process of constructing and maintaining two wood “debris” dams across the outlet stream of my Spring Pond. While I did not pay for, nor authorize, their dam project, I think they would be highly offended you call their skillful use of natural building materials “debris.” I would like to challenge you to attempt to emulate their dam project any dam time and/or any dam place you choose. I believe I can safely state there is no dam 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.

As to your dam request the beavers first must fill out a dam permit prior to the start of this type of dam activity, my first dam question to you is: are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers or do you require all dam beavers throughout this State to conform to said dam request? If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, please send me completed copies of all those other applicable beaver dam permits. 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 451of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws annotated.

My first concern is — aren’t the dam beavers entitled to dam legal representation? The Spring Pond Beavers are financially destitute and are unable to pay for said dam 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 dam flooding is proof we should leave the dam Spring Pond Beavers alone rather than harassing them and calling them dam names. If you want the dam stream “restored” to a dam free-flow condition — contact the dam beavers — but if you are going to arrest them (they obviously did not pay any dam attention to your dam letter-being unable to read English) — be sure you read them their dam Miranda rights first.

As for me, I am not going to cause more dam flooding or dam debris jams by interfering with these dam builders. If you want to hurt these dambeavers — be aware I am sending a copy of your dam letter and this response to PETA. If your dam Department seriously finds all dams of this nature inherently hazardous and truly will not permit their existence in this damState — I seriously hope you are not selectively enforcing this dam policy, or once again both I and the Spring Pond Beavers will scream prejudice!

In my humble opinion, the Spring Pond Beavers have a right to build their dam unauthorized dams as long as the sky is blue, the grass is green, and water flows downstream. They have more dam right than I to live and enjoy Spring Pond. So, as far as I and the beavers are concerned, this dam case can be referred for more dam elevated enforcement action now. Why wait until 1/31/98? The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice then, and there will be no dam way for you or your dam staff to contact/harass them then. In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention a real environmental quality (health) problem: bears are actually defecating in our woods. I definitely believe you should be persecuting the defecating bears and leave the dam beavers alone. If you are going to investigate the beaver dam, watch your 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.

Stephen L. Tvedten

Origins:   In July 1997, one of Stephen Tvedten’s neighbors noticed flooding on his property and traced it back to a dam on Tvedten’s stream. The neighbor complained to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on28 July 1997, and five months later the agency responded with a letter to the offending land owner. The letter, from David Price, a
local Michigan DEQ official, was blunt: The “construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond” was “unauthorized” because “a permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity.” The letter ordered Stephen Tvedten, the land owner, to “cease and desist” under penalty of “elevated enforcement action.”

Mr. Tvedten responded to the Michigan DEQ’s demand with the now widely-circulated “dam letter,” in which he pointed out that the “debris dams” he had been ordered to remove because they were constructed without permission from the state of Michigan were actually built by beavers. The DEQ later claimed they were fully aware the “debris dams” were beaver dams; the issue, they said, was that the beavers who built them had long since abandoned the dams, but Mr. Tvedten had been continuing to maintain and even build up the dams himself:

The letter concerned an enforcement action directed to a tenant on property surrounding Spring Pond, which is located in Pierson Township, Montcalm County, Michigan. The tenant was observed by the downstream complainant, and has since admitted to the complainant, that he artificially built up, and maintained two abandoned beaver dams on the discharge end of the natural pond. Such an activity falls under the jurisdiction of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1194 PA 451, as amended. It is the Department’s position that in the absence of any threat to public welfare, beaver dams should be left in their natural state, that being either actively maintained or abandoned by beaver.

The Department conducted an on-site inspection of the dams in August of 1997, accompanied by a Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist, the Pierson Township Supervisor and the complainant. The tenant’s actions, and a threat to the welfare of the downstream complainant prompted our correspondence of December 1997, instructing the tenant to cease and desist all illegal activity and to restore the stream to its prior condition. The owner of the property took issue with our action, and responded with his own version of the situation. It was this correspondence that has been circulating in the internet.

Luis Saldivia
Grand Rapids District Supervisor
Land and Water Management Division

For his part, Mr. Tvedten claimed that the dams had been “abandoned” because a neighbor had killed the beavers (then filed a complaint with the state because he was concerned that the untended dams would break apart and enter his property) and that no one but the beavers had ever maintained them. And contemporaneous accounts of the brouhaha quoted a Michigan DEQ spokesman as saying the agency hadn’t performed an inspection before firing off their December 1997 letter to Mr. Tvedten:

Ken Silfven, public information officer at the state Department of Environmental Quality, said that … the account was correct. He hastened to note, however, that the case was prompted by a complaint from a neighbor who was concerned about flooding caused by the dams.

The department dropped its investigation after an inspection by a DEQ employee.

“It probably would have been a good idea to do the inspection before we sent the notice,” Silfven said.

After some wrangling the agency ultimately dropped the issue, but not before Stephen Tvedten found an inventive way of quickly pointing out both how ludicrous and humorous the situation was. In a way dusty legal language never could, such a letter serves to drive home the silliness of Michigan DEQ’s intractable posturing. The beavers are likely still ignorant of how close they came to being fined $10,000 a day for dam living expenses.

Barbara “in Michigan, transforming from guardian of the law to giardia of it just took a touch of beaver fever” Mikkelson

Beaver art found at

I’m Afraid Of Today Mom: Autism Tales

The countdown started 29 days ago just like it has since he learned how to talk.  He was afraid before then too and it was worse to see tears streaming down his cheeks without knowing what was wrong with my youngest son.  He has autism but this was not the kind of thing that happened so many days in a row where we couldn’t connect it with something that was happening in that moment.

We figured out he didn’t like wasps or bees even without words.  He saw a bee or wasp and he would get the look he wore now and his eyes never wandered off of it even if I was holding him and the tiny insect he saw as a killer beast was on the other side of a rolled up car window or screen door.  His teachers said they were sure he had never been stung there.  We would have known if it happened at home–  he was rarely without one of us or his siblings.  When something went wrong, he wasn’t the kind that could brush it off and move on quickly.  But then again, his idea of something going wrong was very different than most.

The music is helping tonight. After so many years, I am sure he will be saying the words– our words, long after me and his daddy have departed from this world. No one knows for sure what happens after here.  I imagine if there is a hell it will be a tour through swamps and cold dark places.  Tricks that make me believe I’m in an airplane then I look out the window and realize where I’m at when I open the little window over the emergency door and push the fat clouds away and see that below my son is all alone.  A little old man in an empty room and a calendar full of red x marks.  He can’t hear me even when I yell to ask him if he’s eaten anything.

I push myself to do more.  It’s the reason I can’t ever give up.  I need to be sure what I told him is true.  If he learns the words and can remember something happy and good, that’s enough.  This truth might be more important for my own comfort than his. My husband and I knew we needed to build up the kind of reserves that Gustavo could carry with him no matter what.  My own stomach would get knots in it as the day neared.  I paced and knew the countdown was nearing.  We’d be sick of popcorn before we hit the 7 day mark if that particular year the neighbor’s kids graduated to Roman candles.  We had mastered synchronize corn popping to see if connecting the loud sounds to something harmless like delicious popcorn would be the magic bullet heralding the 4th of July joined the good countdown league filled with birthdays, Christmas and release dates for summer blockbusters with anything having to do with dinosaurs.

Even though they would thank me for the boxes of sparklers, I knew a freak rainstorm was the only thing that might buy us some time.  Having myself wielded not one but two Roman candles at a time the first year my mom finally gave in, I knew there was no way the neighbor kids would let the chance to hold something so closely resembling a stick of dynamite in their hands that shot colorful bursts of smokey POW POW POW into the sky.

He asks the question and then answers the question himself.

“Mom, what is that?”

“Mom?  Estela?  I said it’s 29 minutes until the TNT goes POW.  What’s that sound?”

“Mom, I’m afraid of today.”

“Gustavo is using the words, the talking, mom.”

“Gustavo, what do mommy and daddy say when it’s 29 days or 29 minutes away? When momma hugs you and Mikey hugs you, what do we say?  What do you know?” he asks himself out loud.  Mikey says, “Gustavo, it’s just fireworks.  You’re safe.”  Vanessa goes in for a big tickle hug and says, “Gustavo is safe.  It’s only a sound.”

He places his hand on the top of the cats head and keeps the puppy at a safe distance from the cat.  The new puppy just joined the family at 42 hours before the TNT comes this year.  The puppy doesn’t have a name yet.  Everyone calls him by the name they are lobbying for.  The usual system of naming is on hold.  Whoever publicly declares they will clean up anything that falls out of either side of the puppy, makes sure he has fresh water and puppy chow gets to name him.  Beta fish, a parrot and flightless duck became Caballeros under the naming promise and it worked surprisingly well until my husband exposed a loophole.  The deal was struck but he kept using the name he wanted for the duck.  He said he wasn’t saying that was the duck’s official name, he was just calling him that but if someone asked what his name was he would use answer with the official name.

Countdown or not, the cat still doesn’t want to be friends with Machete.  If Fluffles could talk, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t use his newly found ability to reinforce the message.  He would have words and the only reference to safe would be a list of what the puppy better not even think about sniffing if he wanted to stay safe.  Fluffles had learned how to open a door using a combination of something resembling The Insanity Workout and gymnastics.  I’m pretty sure he knew how to talk or at least use the keyboard when we somehow started receiving gourmet cat treats, a cat treat of the month club.  Nothing was safe if it got on Fluffles’ bad side.

The little teddy bear looking puppy smells fresh.  The cat hates taking a bath and it’s been a long time since he smelled that way and it’s likely going to be a long while before that changes.  Gustavo puts the puppy down next to his newest tin of Pokemon cards to start rolling up the little rubber mat he uses as a game board to play a game too complex for his momma and daddy to understand.  We only know he is good at it and understands the rules and can beat people who are not trying to let him win because they feel sorry for him.  He is a force to be reckoned with in the world of Pokemon.  His skill and strategy honed every day and people often comment on how well he cares for his collection.  He used his last batch of coins to buy more sheets of a thin plastic sheet with pockets that the cards fit perfectly into.  I pointed out to him that he still had some free spaces in some of the sheets in a few of the binders now full.

“Super rare,” he says as he gently takes the lime green binder from my unschooled hands.  Colors like lime green and hot pink appear to be where he keeps special cards and I sense that if he had ever picked up the bad habit I had mastered at his age, his eyes would have been rolling as he made some comment under his breath with annoyance.

He slipped his earmuffs back over both ears after the binders where returned to his shelf near the bed.  The earmuffs were presented to him on Christmas Day, his poppa bought them last year.  He had the same pair he wore when he was target shooting.  They replaced the orange and blue earplugs that our youngest carried in his pockets as soon as the countdown began.  I was working late and when I got home I found Gustavo curled on the couch with his head rested on his dad who had fallen asleep on the couch too.  They looked like the earmuffs the employees at work had to wear when the audiologist came out to do the hearing tests to see if anyone had a shift or loss of hearing.

My husband stretched out his neck to return my kiss and asked how my day went.  I hadn’t noticed the cat sleeping in the space between them.  He looked like a furry coil, almost like the caterpillars who go into corn overdose and are caught in the tiny pockets where a fresh kernel of corn used to be.  Sometimes they unfurl themselves when you pull back the soft waxy sheets to uncover what will soon become corn on the cob.  Some just keep lying there like the cat–  the corn in their belly doing what turkey does to humans on Thanksgiving.  I brought them a blanket.  He didn’t want Gustavo to wake up and feel afraid.  The countdown was over.  It was time.  I neared the little plush powder blue foot rest near the side by where our teenage boy had his long legs stretched on.  I joined them on the couch and dozed off to the sounds of Noche de Paz.  Silent Night playing in Spanish on repeat for the last 15 minutes.  It had become part of the countdown and seemed to make the minutes crossing into the 4th of July a little easier.  If he was still awake we would have been talking about what tin he would buy next for his Pokemon collection.  The 4th behind us and the Caballero family could sleep.  No winding down period for Mikey or Vanessa.  Gustavo would correct us when we pronounced the names of the strange players that I learned morphed into even stranger shapes with special abilities.  It reminded me of the days the speech therapist would visit our house once a week with toys to help Gustavo learn how to find his voice.  “Moo goes the cow,” we would all say when she pulled the lever on the See N Say.

Noche de Paz was over and he has fallen asleep.  He will wake up a few times and say, “We’re safe.  I’m safe. My mom loves me.  My dad loves me.  I have a brother.  I have a sister.  Gustavo is safe.  We take care of each other.  We are safe.  It will be over soon.  It’s a celebration.  Don’t be afraid, Gustavo.  You are safe my son.”  He will repeat this and insert the cat’s name in one cycle of question and answer.  The dog’s also get the same assurance from Gustavo even though it’s probably not his real name.  He taps me on the shoulder from his sleeping bag on the floor.  He is silent.  It’s our annual living room camp out each 4th of July.  I turn on Noche de Paz one more time.  “The countdown is over.  We’re  safe.  Your’e safe my son.”



The Blasphemy of Frida

Speak not of who I married.

Talented, my own right.


Imitation grand

And flattering

Step back

Forget what Frida would like.

Concern yourself with a story

Be present, time of your life.

True that we’ll never know

A result awakened by fight.

Small wonder that insanity


Punished, so much

Imprisoned but able to fly

Critics and plain old apathy

Missed the life surrounding

Her full brows or

A failure demanded cropped hair,

Death, contemplating self-worth

Drew the interest of few

They’ve come to see

The laldy

Strange one with nothing but time,

No future. So say

What is needed to please them

At best, live out final days

Thinking self important spectators490-254

Took interest and gave time of the day

Life sat still, pay attention

Even monkeys no one could tame

Countless skulls now painted in tribute

By those lacking history or name

Commercial, never motivation

Let Frida rest

You now remain

Stake claim, move beyond


She would have wanted this way

A time when so common

Her daughters were known for their name

Generations from nowFrida_Kahlo_(self_portrait)

Her dream, dear

Was not a moment of fame

It was legacy born of a day when

Frida remembers your name


Estela Caballero

Escrito para mi hija, sobrinas, hermanas, mama, primas, abuelas amigas y las que todavia no nacen.

If you want to know more, I’ve succeeded!

The bio and chisme sobre

Many Said

Many said this before I thought it

In same or different words

With conviction, told in a language

Lost some time ago

Many said it’s fate

Don’t try, dear

Too hard,

At the end of the day

Something called your destiny

Will come to tell you the way

Many said

But as always, to listen

I’ve yet to learn

Much less obey

The hopeless truth of many

Was never meant to trade

Choice or intentional living


Send it away

Take hold of what your day is

Yes, illusion of control

But so the idea

We are feathers

Tossed among the stones

Where all we can wish for

Are calm winds

Safe landing place

For me

Pick me up

Don’t spare me

A chance to surf and sail

I may be a feather

Uplift me

Or strew against rocks

Either way

A piece of me

Transformed see

Once a great beast carried away

I am one of many

Rooted in strong wings

Of change


Follow Me To 10

Open Letter & Warning Of The Borg,

I resisted the borg for a long time.  Confession: I have been spending a lot otoo muchf time on Twitter.  I know, I’m shameless.  Only the strong willed should visit me there @esteladewa

I have seen some of you there but you exhibit such self control– Jedi like control I lack.

Miss you guys!  I am starting Twitter-hab tomorrow and will return to normalcy (my normal which we know is still nutty) soon. Here is a quick update of what happened while I was in the Twitterverse.

I had a serious talk with myself and did a self check:  

If I am spending too much time editing my selfies I:

1.  Need to stop because then people won’t recognize me in real life.

2.  May need to continue so people don’t recognize me in real life.

3.  Need to get different color liquid foundation make up so my face is the same color as my neck.

4.  Need to be a little concerned that I am taking selfies at all.

I also:

1.  Told my husband that typing in bed at night was good for our marriage.  If my keyboard clicking didn’t wake him up at night he would have to admit I was perfect and it’s hard to be married to someone perfect.  I was only thinking about him and his own mental well being.

2.  One of my sons graduated from high school and proudly announced he was “…taking time off” before starting college classes.  I was at a loss for words– so was he when I asked what exactly he was taking time off from.  The “breaker” can be seen here on his dad’s shoulders.

Esos Si Son

3.  I cried and said they were tears of joy when they saw me. 

4.  I cried for a lot of reasons when they didn’t see me.

5.  I went overboard with the pictures.

6.  Then I contemplated what the world would be like if people in the past had lived, died and measured their worth or pursuit of passion by likes or followers.

A world without Green Eggs & Ham....
A world without Green Eggs & Ham….
You mean we don’t have to just be beautiful or strong? Smart or liked? Talented or pretty? A world where strong is lady-like!
Not all super heroes are that obvious.  Some look like people you know.
Not all super heroes are that obvious. Some look like people you know.  Chespirito <3

7.  I discovered some new people that I am happy live today and don’t appear to live or die or measure their worth or pursuit of passion by likes or followers.  I invite you to get to know them.

AnotherPola Lopez
Artist: Pola Lopez
Apache & Carserbo Venezuelan Hip-Hop Artistas that use music to make you move and take on police corruption at the same time.
Apache & Carserbo
Venezuelan Hip-Hop Artistas that use music to make you move and take on police corruption at the same time.
Kinto Sol: Brothers With A Message Worth Listening To
Kinto Sol: Brothers With A Message Worth Listening To

Featured Image -- 7081

8.  I got mad.

These things don't happen right.....
These things don’t happen right…..
download (8)
Los Desaparecidos de Argentina. These things don’t happen right?
Missing Women of Juarez Mexico
Missing Women of Juarez Mexico
A Serial Killer and People in The Neighborhood Knew Little To Nothing Over How Many Years...
A Serial Killer and People in The Neighborhood Knew Little To Nothing Over How Many Years…

9.  Then I fell asleep hoping some of it was a bad dream.

10.  I woke up.  I realized one person can make a difference.  We have to for the ones that can’t anymore.




No Day

The day. Captured by Estela Caballero
The day.
Captured by Estela Caballero

Find solace and look out the window

You’re right to ignore the sky

Your brightest star has shifted

See in the wings standing by

A call to light the vacant

From ancient till today

Grains of sands if put in perspective

Great diamonds to those who remain

Time, he is relative

Said to be misunderstood

I’ll tell you a secret my sister

Keep watch there in the shadows

Soon arm and arm in the woods

Reveals what never was secret

Time never misunderstood.

At the heart,

The truth of the matter

In depths

In the green of the woods

Embrace relatively sweetly,

Time is not

And it never was.

Even with pure intentions

Had she presented

As it really was,

Unmovable bendable constant

It’s none

And as often is

Truth, she does us no good.

It’s why when we sleep we falter,

Strange unbelievable worlds.

At wake

He comes to catch you

And a flood of wonders occurs.

How can we know of such things?

Unfamiliar feels so natural.

Thoughts command

Great armies.

I fly in a whirlwind of stars.

Tell me again my brother,

What you saw that day.

The one imprinted tomorrow,

The one when I begged you to stay

It wasn’t a time for smiling.

Laughing and tears, I’m afraid.

As you passed through the door

To the hallway,

Your eyes said we’d meet yesterday.

Tomorrow has yet to happen,

At least what I see on this plane.

Existence, line of sight

Muddied with longing,

How soon ends this sweet

unending day.


An Invitation

As always, thank you for visiting my blog.  For those of you who follow, besos y abrazos!  That means xoxox <3 Aaah a truly universal communication…I hope!

I am inspired everyday by the beauty and creativity of so many of your works and words.  Here’s an invitation I hope you each accept.

Tell me you life in a picture.  As you can see, I didn’t post one yet.  This is hard.  I can’t wait to see who joins me in searching.  Feel free to use words when you post.  It’s not a challenge.  It’s about what many of us came here to do.  Blog and expand our horizons.  Connect and hope in some small way we made a difference at the end of it all.




From the day a child is born until they can run, one thing is for sure if you are born into my family–  some part of your wardrobe will be crochet.  Somewhere along the line these young (in some cases, not so young) bucks failed to see it was time.  I found these in the rabbit hole.  Enjoy!


Anyone that knows me, knows I’m not a nail person.  I was 5 layers deep in an internet search down the rabbit hole and found these.  I love the artistry!

If you happen to be one of those beautiful souls that is a nail person, I’d love to see some of your favorites.  These pictures made me want to try it at least once.  I’ll post pictures of before and after soon.




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