CANTON — Standing barefoot on the beach at Lake Anasagunticook on Saturday morning after a rainstorm, Molly Elliott was in her element three hours into raking woody debris from the sandy shore.

For the past seven years, she and her husband, Gus, have been cleaning the beach and roadside. They live in the house opposite the northwest end of the beach across Route 140.

“We wake up every day and smile when we see this (lake),” Molly Elliott said. “It’s beautiful. It doesn’t get any better. We love it here.”

A spring drought and beavers damming the Sparrow Brook inlet reduced the level of the nearly 2-mile-long lake in Canton and Hartford by two feet. But four straight days of rain this past week and a prolonged shower Friday night into Saturday morning nearly restored its level.

“It’s probably come up a couple of feet,” Elliott said.

Pointing to a sandbar, she said that when the lake level dropped, one could walk right to it without getting wet. On Saturday, she said the water would be up to her knees if she walked to the sandbar.

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“Them stinking beavers, they were a nightmare,” she said.

She said her husband cleaned out the mess that a family of beavers living farther inland made at the lake inlet.

Dave Bowen, chairman of the Friends of Lake Anasagunticook, said Tuesday that a Maine Department of Transportation crew fixed beaver dams Monday at the inlet, enabling rainwater in the watershed to reach the lake. They also erected a protective fence at the culvert to prevent beavers from damming the culvert again.

“I’m glad they did it, because it was really making a mess,” Elliott said. “It’s because they were trying to dam it up so much. Those beavers were busy. They’re not kidding when they say, ‘Busy as a beaver.’ It really is a true statement how busy they are.”

She said beavers are living near opposite ends of the lake, but she didn’t know whether they’re from the same family.

“One of them is probably 35, 40 pounds,” she said. “He’s a big beaver.”

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Elliott said the Sparrow Brook beavers created a big dam, lodge and pool on the brook a ways from the lake and inlet swamp. She said the beaver pool is probably three to four feet deep. “They’ve built quite a neighborhood up there.”

Molly, whose maiden name was Kimball, used to swim at the lake as a child. She works for NAPA Auto Parts in Wilton. Her husband, who works for his brother, Alan Elliott, at Twin Rivers Lumber in Dixfield, created benches from logs for the beach. Last year, he repaired rock steps leading to the beach from Route 140 and added wooden hand rails.

“He got the boom truck and he fixed all the steps, because they were so bad,” Molly Elliott said. They also redid another set of steps to the beach. She and her husband clean the beach and roadside every day.

“It’s our donation to the town,” she said. “We’re lucky. It’s a beautiful place and a nice town. It really is.”

Besides beavers, Molly Elliott said her other peeve is people who bring their dogs to the beach and let them run unleashed and leave waste in the sand.

“I get it why they do that, but there really is a huge liability with the dogs,” she said. “The Water District put up a really nice sign saying, ‘No dogs on the beach.’ Gus and I will come down here and that sign is there for a reason, but some dog owners, my goodness.”

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The Elliotts have four dogs and don’t allow them on the beach. She said people with dogs who want to take them swimming on hot days should instead take them to the new public boat launch at the lake’s outlet into Whitney Brook.

“It has a beautiful yard where they can play and they can swim,” she said. “It’s the same water. It’s a great place where the dogs can play and you don’t have to worry about kids swimming. There’s no better place to take your dog. Big fields for the dogs to run in and you can sit down on the benches. Just please keep them off the beach.”

Cleaning the beach is getting easier as attitudes change. Additionally, the Planning Board is crafting an ordinance for police to enforce.

“We’ve cleaned everything from hypodermic needles to dog poop; you name it and we’ve cleaned it up on this beach,” Elliott said. “I think last year from the bottles that were collected along the road was over $50 in just bottles. We donated it to the snowmobile club.”

The couple is thankful that since they’ve been cleaning the beach and roadside, attitudes have changed and the litter and dog waste isn’t as bad as in the past.

“It’s improved so tremendously,” she said. “People are so much better about ‘Carry In, Carry Out.’ But, you know, if we got money for every cigarette butt we’ve picked up, we’d probably have our house paid for.”

They used to fill one 30-pound garbage bag with trash every week. “Now, we’re lucky if we get a Wal-Mart bag full.”

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