Sometimes Nature Wins

   Posted by heidi08 On May - 1 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

Sometimes I think about our tiny creek and dainty little dam and how disproportionately worried Martinez got when the beavers came. Even before the flow device the dam was never that big. I remember kicking the street-side mudded edge out with our feet in the morning because we didn’t want the city to be upset that it was growing. What would it have ultimately looked like if Skip had never come? Would Castro Street be under water? Would the creek Monkey? Would the county recorders office? You really get an idea of how much they can change things when you see things like this.

Ridgefield: Beavers are building; People get problems

“It’s an ongoing battle with the residents of Ridgefield versus the beavers,” said Beth Peyser, Ridgefield’s inland wetlands agent and conservation inspector.

“We have a lot of beaver activity and questions in Ridgefield,” she said. “Any homeowner that has a watercourse or water body could have a resident beaver. They kind of come and go.”

Beavers’ work can create flooding problems.

“The flooding happens directly above the beaver dam — when the beaver backs up the water, there’s a pond,” Peyser said.

“Flooding is always a concern when water is backed up by beavers. The term ‘busy as a beaver’ — they say that for a reason. Once you knock it down, a beaver’s going to rebuild it twice as fast and twice as sturdy.”

The town has sometimes gotten creative in responding to the beavers’ ceaseless dam-building, according to Marconi.

Picture1“I know in other parts of town we break them down quite a bit, and we put in what’s called a ‘beaver deceiver’ with a pipe — PVC pipe — and as the water backs up it flows into the pipe,” Maconi said. The pipe drains water away and limits the amount of flooding.

Jeff Yates, a Wiltonian who is director of volunteer operations for Trout Unlimited in the area, appreciates the beavers’ work.

“Ecologically, beaver dams are great for rivers and any kind of natural river system, because they help distribute the nutrients from soil and sediments across the floodplains, and cause new growth,” Yates said.

“All the sediments get slowed down when they hit beaver ponds because the water slows. … It’ll rebuild and regenerate the soil in the floodplain.”

Not bad for Connecticut in terms of accepting the things they can’t change. Beavers build things that save water, and if we rip them out they build again. And apparently some of them even know why it matters. Its all good for the fish, says Trout Unlimited. That’s about as good as we can hope for in that neck of the woods. I’m saving this article in my ‘good news’ hope chest.

Rusty of Napatopia has been enjoying better and better luck at the pond. Yesterday he saw three beavers at once, and one brave soul stayed to eat the new grass and allowed excellent photos. Thanks for sharing!

Rusty grass

Beaver in the grass: Rusty Cohn

One last sweet before I leave you. And its from Barbara of Marin via her friend JFG. It makes me very happy, and I’m pleased to think that it definitely proves that Nature is more powerful than Science. At least some of the time.

Large Hadron Collider on paws after creature chews through wiring

The world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator has been brought to its knees by a beech marten, a member of the weasel family, that chewed through wiring connected to a 66,000-volt transformer.

The Large Hadron Collider on the outskirts of Geneva was designed to recreate in miniature fireballs similar to the conditions that prevailed at the birth of the universe, but operations of the machine, which occupies a 17-mile tunnel beneath Switzerland, have been placed on hold pending repairs to the unit.

The collider, which discovered the Higgs boson in July 2012, is expected to be out of action for a week while the connections to the transformer are replaced. Any remains of the intruder are likely to be removed at the same time.

In an in-house report on the incident, managers at Cern, the European nuclear physics laboratory that runs the LHC, described the incident at the transformer unit as being caused by a “fouine” – a beech marten native to the region. The report concluded it was “not the best week for the LHC”.


This just in: Swamps teaming with life! Who knew?

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 30 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

Apart from everyone who’d ever been outside, ever, I mean. Still it’s nice to read some appreciation even if no one understand who to thank.

Dave Wolf: Wetlands are a draw for various wildlife

When I was a young man, we called them swamps.  It’s where cottontails often headed when being chased by our beagles. Years later when I moved to Potter County, they continued to be referred to as swamps. However, when I worked with the Planning Commission on zoning projects, the word “wetlands” came into play.

More new words followed, such as flood zones and flood insurance, after a few horrendous hurricanes. Today, planners struggle to keep buildings off of those old swamps. Both commercial and private housing developments are brought before planners, and unfortunately those swamps are filled in with rock and dirt.

As we learn more about wetlands, we realize they are extremely beneficial to both man and wildlife. Wetlands act as a sponge, and filter out all those impurities that would flow into our streams, rivers, bays and beyond.

But wildlife thrives in what we would consider harsh environments. I had my best day of photography in years when I visited a nearby “swamp.” In four hours, I photographed a female mallard and her ducklings, Canada geese parents and their young, a half dozen wood duck pairs, green and blue winged teal, and a good number of great egrets.

I was smiling from ear to ear, thinking, what else could I possibly see? I missed getting a good shot of a muskrat that swam by, but I spotted something in the reeds across from me. I was totally shocked to see one huge beaver! To make matters better, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a young beaver swimming toward me. Now, I was nearly trembling.

Now you can guess exactly what I was thinking when I saw this photo, and it starts with an ‘m’ and ends with a ‘t’. I wrote Dave this morning about my thoughts and he wrote back ASSURING me that it was a beaver, and when I pressed said that he got a look at the tail.  I remain censorious. My doubts can be summed up with three points.

  1. face looks little like and pinched like a muskrat
  2. fur is sooo dark and wet. Beaver fur is better groomed and almost always dryer,
  3. The bottom of this animal rides low in water.

Also this article is from Harrisburg PA and it is wayyyy to early for that region to have young beaver.  It is wayy to early for US to have a young beaver, but what do I know? We are still VERY HAPPY that he takes joy in a wetland and appreciates the wildlife it holds. For those of you wanting a refresher course on telling beaver and muskrat apart, here’s the beginners and the advanced course.

Here’s something very exciting jon photographed yesterday morning. This is far down stream, almost to the train bridge. I’m absolutely certain its not a muskrat making this:


New website and old complaints

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 29 - 20161 COMMENT

From the ridiculous to the sublime. Let’s start the day with the appropriate mocking of Mr.  Settlemeyer of Bladen County North Carolina. And believe me, his complaint is a doozy.

Carver’s Creek running over with beavers

Settlemeyer said when he first saw beavers on his land back in the 1970’s he thought the critters were kind of cool. “The first time I saw a beaver I said, ‘Oh man this is wonderful, we got beavers!’” Settlemeyer said.

But that opinion quickly changed when he said the rodents took over. In fact, Settlemeyer said if he were to guess he’d say there are about 200 of them on his property. “It’s good for the ducks, good for the turtles, but it’s not good for your timber,” Settlemeyer said.

He said some of his roads have been washed away because beaver dams prevent water from flowing the way it naturally would. He said there is little he can do to stop them.

“Back before 9/11 we could go buy dynamite. We dynamited the beavers. We’ve got heavy equipment and dug the dams out, we’ve trapped, we’ve shot them, but they’re so prolific we’re not gaining any ground,” Settlemeyer said. “It’s an aggravating problem. They’re like fire ants and coyotes, they’re here to stay. I don’t know what kind of alternative we have.”

He said almost every stream in the Carver’s Creek community has a beaver dam in it and it’s causing big changes to the ecology of the area.

Just for clarification, Bladen county is in the lower right corner of the state with 874 sq miles of land and 13 sq miles of water. Even assuming his property runs that entire length of the creek, and allowing 7 beavers to a colony, he is alleging he has  a beaver family every .15 miles of water, which, if it were true, would deserve a federally funded research project and a documentary. It is far more likely that he found 10 dams on is land and just calculated in his folksy way that there were about 20 beavers to a dam, don’t you think?

Love the part where he blames 9/11 for keeping him from blowing them up though. I guess they’re right, every great tragedy still has a silver lining.

On to the sublime. Let’s welcome our friends at Sierra Wildlife Coalition to the beaver website neighborhood! They just launched a very lovely new sight with excellent info and Sheri Hartstein’s fantastic photos. Take them for a test drive and enjoy the view. Click below to visit their site and help them establish some links, but don’t get so dazzled you forget who sent you there. (Remember to notice who is listed as the FIRST resource on their contact page.) Ahem.




The good kind of ‘Waterboard’ Part II

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 28 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

waterboardsYesterday was slightly more familiar because I had been to the intimidating downtown state building once before.  Jon did an awesome job of helping me get there and get set up. The new group was dedicated and very interested in the topic. They asked all the right questions and laughed in all the right places. One waterboard member asked me how to relocate beavers to create stream heterogenity in Marin, and I of course told her that was an EXCELLENT goal but at the moment relocation was still illegal in California. One woman said she lived in Concord and wondered what she could do to protect and advocate for any dispersers who showed up there.

Afterwards Tahsa Sturgis, the water control engineer who had invited me, said that the feedback after I left was that this was the best presentation they had in a decade, which made us feel pretty worth a dam, I can tell you!

Onward and onward. How’s the mural coming, you say? Not so wonderfully, but I did find out that the assistant city manager talked the city attorney into a more simple contract on our behalf. Which was VERY nice of him. Apparently being simple and straightforward is very complicated for her and the de-obfuscations are taking her  a while.

Soon, they assure me.

In the meantime we can have fun with a disperser in Colorado who apparently evaded the police and even ESCAPED their cage! I’m thinking this just needs soundtrack and a co star and its a movie. Click on the link for inspiration then come right for the unbelievable tale.

Mission Impossible Theme Song –

Roving beaver near GJHS causes police logjam

Grand Junction police officers spent nearly an hour Wednesday morning in hot pursuit of a beaver.

The roving rodent was spotted in the road near North Seventh Street and Kennedy Avenue — just east of Grand Junction High School — just before 5 a.m., said Heidi Davidson, spokeswoman for the Grand Junction Police Department.

“Said beaver was headed northbound, and was reported to be obeying all traffic laws, but did not yield to officers,” Davidson wrote in an email.

A “beaver catcher” responded to the scene and helped capture the animal — but detention didn’t end the drama, Davidson wrote.

“A courtesy transport for the beaver was arranged, but the beaver was able to escape the cage in the back of the car and had to be recaptured en route,” she wrote. “Ultimately, the beaver was released, without injury, back to the river.”

What kind of cage can a beaver possibly escape you are asking? Was it made of wood? And who was this mysterious beaver catcher? Inquiring minds demand to know. I’m glad the beaver made it to water, and the police got an exciting opportunity to work off all those donuts.

Jack LawsNow here’s a grand interview with beaver friend John Muir Laws. Who talks about the value of sketching in learning to see and remember the world. It seems like ages ago he came to sketch our beavers for Bay Nature, but I remember it as a magical night when I really felt we had ‘arrived’. He enjoyed himself so much the next night he brought his mom, who was in a wheelchair. We watched our ADA beavers joyfully and then went to dinner at Lemongrass Bistro altogether. Ahh, memories!

Hang in there, baby!

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 27 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

We regret to inform you that yesterday’s mural beginning was a false alarm. We were informed midday that Mario could not come and start because the FINAL-final-final contract by the city attorney was still being completed and wouldn’t be back from Napa until the afternoon. Silly me, I was thinking that the ninety one pages we had signed already would suffice to paint 75 square feet of concrete, but obviously I don’t understand how government works.  I’ll let you know what happens today but in the mean time beaver supporters will just have to hang in there a little longer. This should help.

hang in there babyIn the mean time there is AWESOME news from just 300 miles away from that beaver-black-hole, Saskatchewan. Red Deer County in Alberta is holding a “living with beaver” workshop.

Workshop helps Albertans to live with beavers

Red Deer County is co-hosting a workshop at the Kevisville Community Hall on May 4 from 1:30 to 7:00 p.m. The day will include a light supper along with a short visit to a nearby pond leveler (a pipe system to drain water from a dam).

“It’s open to anybody in the county (and nearby counties) who’s interested in beavers and the impact that we both have on each other,” said Aimee Delaney, conservation assistant for Red Deer County.

Participants will learn about the role and impact of beavers in watersheds, techniques and technology used to manage and co-exist with beavers, beaver management choices and how those choices influence the broader landscape, research and case studies from other parts of North America on beaver management and reintroduction, as well as other important information.

I want people to (know) that we are able to live with them. We just need to properly understand how,” said Delaney. “By learning what the beavers are trying to accomplish and what we’re trying to accomplish, and how those interact is a good way to start,” she added.

How much do you love Aimee? I am guessing that she is or was a Glynnis Hood student at the University of Alberta student and the pond leveler they are visiting was built by Glynnis’ research project. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have this story now, combating those horrific tail images from their neighbors.

In the mean time, TWC released the final flyer with active links and I’m off to Oakland today to preach the beaver gospel. Oh, and Robin sent a grand article on the suit against APHIS, which is using the same strategy that famous appellate beaver case used. I wrote the lawyer this morning and he was very interested to see what unfolded.

Busy as a you know what!

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 26 - 2016Comments Off on Busy as a you know what!

We are FINALLY paintbrush-ready on the mural project. Mario will come today to start priming, but tomorrow there are supposed to be thunderstorms so more delays are imminent. I’m just happy the city was able to finish all the contracts, waivers and ryders necessary to undertake the dangerous painting of a two foot wall of concrete. Hurray for beavers not giving up!

about timeThe timing works out well enough because on Wednesday I’m back to the SF Waterboard to talk more about urban beavers! New folks heard my talk was so good they wanted it too so I’ll be with strangers on a different floor than last time. I think I’m ready, but it’s a little harrowing going to that tall building and through security on yet another rainy day!

waterboardsAnd it never rains but it pours, because I just got the event flyer for Portland, which looks amazing. The final PDF will have working links and go out soon. But I thought you deserved a preview. In between events I’ll be talking to Kiwanis and watching our Mural unfold. And then it’s time to start getting ready for the festival! Isn’t that exciting?

portland flyer

Willful Ignorance rally

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 25 - 2016Comments Off on Willful Ignorance rally

You know that talk, you’ve been putting off with your co-worker or best friend. It needs to happen but the subject is likely to hurt both of you so you’ve been avoiding it. Meanwhile the pressure is building and building around you, and it’s getting harder to avoid comment.

Well, the ‘Saskatchewan derby’ is that talk.

Saskatchewan is considered a ‘prairie province’ in the middle of Canada. It is the size of Texas with the population if Rhode Island, and it is blessed with nearly as much fresh water as Michigan. It also has the beaver IQ of a three-legged pit bull with an eye infection. And this been going on for more years than I can count.

exploding beaverSaskatchewan is the source of sole dark passage in Jari Osborne’s famous beaver documentary. Long ago its outrageous allegations about the ‘exploding beaver population’ inspired one of my favorite early graphics. While Alberta and Ontario have been making real strides in progressive beaver management, it remains as mentally challenged as it can possibly be.   You know those articles you read in National Geographic about tiny tribes in the middle of the amazon that have never seen any part of civilization and don’t know how forks work? Well, every evolutionary stride in beaver management has entirely passed them by. They have only a single tool in their tattered collective box.

And it always looks like a hammer.

Saskatchewan beaver derby sparks fierce debate

It’s the first year for the derby, which runs until May 10. The competition offers cash prizes to hunters or trappers who kill the largest beaver or who come up with the most combined weight in beaver carcasses in 40 days.

The Saskatchewan Trappers Association says the derby helps eliminate bad hunting practices and teaches others how to utilize the entire animal carcass and fur.

It says at this time of year beavers are often killed and left in the field to rot.

“The main thing is that we don’t want to see these animals left in the field of decay and rot without using the entire fur resource,” said spokesman Ken Gartner.

Really? I’m pretty sure that main thing Saskatchewan wants to see is fewer beavers. But if the STA wants to say this ethnic cleansing is to teach hunters to use the entire animal carcass, go ahead.  That’s really the best you could come up with? Not preserving a way of life, or allowing other generations to learn from their fathers about trapping or reducing giardisis in the water or some such bullshit? I’m reminded of a favorite Leslie Knope quote.

Fur-bearer defenders suggests you write a letter to Herb Cox, Minister of Environment (regardless of where you live at I haven’t yet because I’ve been overwhelmed by the enormity of this level of ignorance. I can’t understand why the entire country isn’t humiliated by recurring national and international discussions of these problem-solving black holes and photos like these blasted all over the internet.