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Another useful invention from Otter Tail County's Highway Department: The Otter Claw beaver dam cleaner

The Otter Claw was developed by the highway maintenance team to clean out culverts in a way that saves time and enhances worker safety.

Brody Brakken, one of the maintenance workers who developed the Otter Claw, stands by his innovation.
Brody Brakken, one of the maintenance workers who developed the Otter Claw, stands by his innovation.
Contributed / Otter Tail County
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OTTER TAIL COUNTY — The Otter Tail County Highway Department recently presented an in-house innovation, the Otter Claw, created by the highway maintenance team to clean out culverts in a way that saves time and enhances worker safety.

The department's culvert cleaning crew had a problem: cleaning beaver dams from clogged culverts took many hours, was labor intensive, and dirty once the beaver dam was broken up. So, the crew went to work to solve the problem.

Brody Bakken and Dennis Bosek with the highway maintenance team developed the Otter Claw. According to Bakken, the original design worked well but the devise could not turn 360 degrees. The team needed a hydraulic swivel head, so they submitted a grant to the University of Minnesota Local Operational Research Assistance Program and received funding to purchase the hydraulic swivel. Now, the Otter Claw is complete.

“What once took over two hours of shoveling by hand now takes about 10 minutes with the Otter Claw,” said Brody Bakken. “The claw and cleaner can extend to 15 feet, which allows for removing debris in less time, and the operator can use the Otter Claw to clear large amounts of debris safely away from the culvert.”

The department has won several state and national Build a Better Mousetrap Competition awards. Last year, the "Sticky Stomp" earned a national honorable mention in the competition. The highway department plans to submit the Otter Claw this year.

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“These employees have gone above and beyond to design the Otter Claw,” said Maintenance Supervisor Cristi Field. “We are extremely proud of them. One idea sparks another; we support that innovation.”

Related Topics: OTTER TAIL COUNTY
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