FERGUS FALLS, Minn. — Dislodging beaver dams from clogged culverts has always been dirty, laborious work for the Otter Tail County Highway Department.
With a grant from the University of Minnesota Local Operational Research Assistance, or OPERA, the Department of Highways team invented the “Otter Claw,” a long-armed device that attaches to a compact loader to help eliminate the mud and debris from narrow culverts.
“What used to take more than two hours of shoveling by hand now takes about 10 minutes with the Otter Claw,” said Brody Bakken, a county highway maintenance worker. “The claw and cleaner can reach up to 15 feet, allowing debris to be removed in less time and the operator can use the Otter claw to safely remove large amounts of debris from the culvert. “
Otter Claw was developed by Bakken and Dennis Bosek. The original design could not rotate 360 degrees and the team needed a hydraulic swivel head. So she turned to OPERA for the funds.
The new machine was recently showcased as an in-house innovation at the annual Minnesota Local Tech Support Program Demonstration Day.
“These employees went above and beyond to design the Otter Claw,” said Cristi Field, maintenance supervisor with the county highway department.