The Un-memorial Mural

   Posted by heidi08 On May - 31 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

Okay, you really need to watch this. It took nearly all day to make and I’m kind of proud of the integration of our photos with Mario’s images. The painting process is done, he’s just sealing today, so it’s the right time for an un-memorial to christen the piece.

Mario said the mayor AND Dave Scola came by to congratulate him on how beautiful it is. And I just got an email from Lara on the council saying the same thing. There was a blurb about it in the community focus, and kids have been excited about the frog and the turtle. This was a hard project to complete at almost ever level, first convincing Worth A Dam that it was okay to do something that felt like a memorial, then convincing the city to let us, then wrestling with everyone get the project insured: it was a battle at every step.

But we won. The battle and the war. And now Martinez will have a beaver dam on Alhambra Creek forever.

DSC_6991Well it’s time to celebrate now. How about enjoying the 12th annual beaver pageant in Durham North Carolina. The fun part is, that Worth A Dam’s Lory Bruno will be attending so we have a beaver emissary!

The Beaver Queen Pageant brings puns, fur and fun to an ecological cause

Scarlett O’Beavah takes her reign at the 2010 pageant.

The Beaver Queen Pageant is not a beauty pageant with a twist. Rather, it’s a beauty pageant with a lot of twists. More twists and turns than its longtime beneficiary, Durham’s Ellerbe Creek Watershed.

For starters, its contestants dress up as beavers. In drag.

Still with us? Good. Now note that points are taken off if contestants’ tails aren’t at least partially, um, functional. Engineering is essential.

Contestants assume various alter egos. This year’s winner was a comer named Scarlett O’Beavah. Ostensibly, the lovelies are judged on the quality of their tail, evening wear, stage presence, something called wetland-ready wear and talent—which almost invariably involves pop songs rewritten for the occasion. (One year featured a mysterious contestant known only as Belvis.)

But at this pageant, the judges are gleefully on the take, available to the highest bidder—once, that is, they’ve bought their way into their seats. The more budget-conscious vote-riggers can help fudge the selection process by stuffing the ballot box with the perfectly good votes they’ve paid for. With their own (or other people’s) money.

In the tradition of the other kind of voter-financed elections that have marred North Carolina politics for too long, this exercise in civic representation isn’t merely pay-to-play: It’s strictly cash-and-carry.

Over the past six years, the pageant has substantially raised the visibility of its namesake—the beavers that have now made an unlikely lodge in a wetland behind a Roxboro Road strip mall. “The attention they’ve drawn has cleaned up that natural resource,” notes Duke Park resident Bill Anderson. “I can remember the Cub Scouts coming down to that marsh and pulling out five tons of trash in the early days.

“You go there now, it’s just amazingly clean, when in the old days it was a dump zone.”

But the Beaver Queen Pageant has done more than exhort neighbors to clean up an environmental eyesore. The $15,000 they’ve raised over the past half decade has helped the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association buy the wetlands the beavers call home this past year, as a part of their land trust efforts in acquiring and protecting ecologically significant areas in Durham’s urban environment. Their philanthropy has been “an enormous help in mobilizing the community to steward and maximize the benefits of the Beaver Marsh and our other preserves,” says Diana Tetens, the association’s executive director.

Still, this family-friendly neighborhood party and environmental, philanthropic endeavor started out as something significantly different. Picture an underground, after-hours drag pageant in 2005 led by activist Katherine O’Brien.

HA! This definitely has a more ‘diversity’ than ‘biodiversity’ flavor to it, but I’m thrilled that anyone in North Carolina is saving wetlands or valuing beavers! We loved their last slogan of  ‘Peace. Love. and Beavers’. So we can only assume this year’s will be awesome too. Lory is bringing a flyer of our festival with her to cross pollinate!

Go see the mural today. Snap a photo of yourself with your favorite part and I’ll be happy to share it on the website!


Beaver Memorial Day

   Posted by heidi08 On May - 30 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

Home again, home again, and not a moment too soon! We found Mario putting finishing touches on the mural, my attempts at posting on location upside down and the fantastic news that Hopkinton is FINALLY hiring Mike Callahan! Here let me catch you up to date on everything! I’ll sit on my Portland stories a while to let them percolate.

overthetopApparently Dave Scola and some city folks are stopping by on Wednesday to see the final product. Then it’s just sealing the work for posterity. Love the frog and the dragonfly and the way a beaver dam is forever on Alhambra Creek. I couldn’t be more pleased, but I’m still going to try to push for one little beaver kit. Wish me luck.

I think every city should have a beaver mural, don’t you?  I love that this mural is literally “OVER THE TOP”.

Now you might remember the city of Hopkinton in Massachusetts, which I was forced to learn how to spell when I wrote about them in winter of this year, or in winter of last year, or in spring the year before that. I wrote the council and one brave responder actually talked with Mike for a half an hour in 2015 before a trapper killed 42 beavers this year. Just go to the search bar and type “Hopkinton” to see how many articles come up on the first page alone. They have been such voracious whiners they provoked me into this graphic in December.

Beaver riskWell, change IS possible, get out your nano tools so we can all measure the progress.

Hopkinton looks to trap beavers, install devices

HOPKINTON — In an effort to reduce flooding on properties on Fruit Street and Huckleberry Road, the town is looking to get approvals to trap beavers and install other measures in Whitehall Brook. The Department has filed a notice of intent with the Conservation Commission to approve a beaver management plan developed by a private contractor, Beaver Solutions LLC.

The plans call for trappings, breaching three small beavers dams and installation of two flow devices.

“The town’s goal is not to eradicate the beaver population but to manage it enough so that we can all enjoy our properties safely,” Burke wrote. Mike Callahan, owner of Beaver Solutions in Southampton, surveyed the area by kayak and foot in March.

“Whitehall Brook is a large stream that drains an extensive area including Whitehall Reservoir,” he wrote in his report. “It can have very high flows and if impounded by beaver dams can flood extensive areas since there is a broad floodplain here.” He said beavers have likely lived in the area for a long time. His report details six dams.

“Three active dams raise the water by six inches to a foot each,” he said. “These several small dams all combine to maintain a higher water level abutting the homes on Huckleberry Road. There are also two very large active beaver lodges in this area.”

He said because there is a good food supply, some trappings will likely be needed. He said beaver trapping season is Nov. 1 through April 15, but a permit can be granted from the Board of Health in the off-season.”There are two large beaver dams and multiple smaller ones,” he wrote. “Ironically it is the smaller dams in the vicinity of Huckleberry Road that have generated the most concerns.”

He said for one dam that is flooding an acre of farmland, he recommends the town spend $3,000 for two pipes to lower the water.

Hurray for Mike Callahan and beaver solutions! And hurray for the working mind(s) that made this happen! Of course they are clinging to the trapping idea, because 42 beavers just ISN’T enough for a city of 15,000 and 1.5 square miles of water. (On the day the terms “Slow learner” were redefined, we can simply stand in awe and watch.) Still, progress is incremental. Maybe when they see how these two pipes work for the long term they will stop wasting everyones times with trapping.

learning curve

Looks like this memorial day is full of losses and opportunities. We need this I think.

Beaver social behavior

   Posted by Rusty Cohn On May - 29 - 20161 COMMENT

I have been attempting to get photos of Beavers interacting with each other. In the early evening when there is still light it seems the Beavers like to swim upstream alone and go to an upper pond where there is more brush and they can stay out of sight for the most part. As summer approaches I have noticed a slight change in behavior as grass has grown abundantly along the bank of the main pond close to their lodge. Lately I usually find at least one Beaver happily eating grass and waiting to see if others will join in.

I have noticed two kits seem to come out a little earlier than the others and occasionally eat together along the grassy area on the bank.

Beaver 05-24-2016This is a fairly common scene of two Beavers eating together. (above)

Beaver 1 05-24-2016One of the kits seemed playful and wanted to wrestle.

Beaver 2 05-24-2016

Beaver 3 05-24-2016

Beaver 5 05-24-2016

This seems to be a rare activity to observe as I have only seen such wrestling a couple of times in two years of watching this colony.

The dangers of travel

   Posted by heidi08 On May - 29 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

imageDangerous outcroppings of shark fin rock formations surround us on every side. It’s a wonder we haven’t been eaten alive. Yesterday we saught the relative safety of the towerring redwoods, but we were still sourounded on all sides by TIGERS!

Don’t believe me? Here’s a photo I snapped of one hungry tiger family basking in the sun.

Fortunately only 350 miles separate us from safety.  Wish us luck.



Beaver Tapestry

   Posted by heidi08 On May - 28 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

Yesterday we followed what must have been the old fur route- down the willamette and rogue to the smith river, thru the redwoods and to the coast. Our reward was a massive blue ocean. And actual sunshine! (Although the wind was blowing so hard we thought we we re staying on the moors.) This is my view with coffee this morning.

In addition to our amazing view we were treated to more stunning photos of the mural from Jean and Mario. I love this especially. Don’t you?


Kinder watching the wildlife! Looking at the chew! Enjoying what the beavers created! I’m so happy at how this is going that I’m no longer missing the fish and wildlife grant. (Though they’re still stupid!)



Just in case you’re thinking Mario can only paint beavers, here’s he is working on his Hayward mural.



Progress in Portland!

   Posted by heidi08 On May - 27 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

columnsYesterday we met with the hardworking folks of Clean Water services and water specialists from all over North Oregon to talk about their biggest challenges and their biggest hopes regarding beaver. It was  a pretty amazing meeting to hear these  field operations men and women voluntarily taking time out of their morning to discuss beaver!  (I kept wishing our public works team were there to see how they might be able to think if they tried. )

Then, free and easy with zero more commitments,  we traveled up the other side of Portland, stopped for some very exotic tidbits at World Food, drove across the St. John’s Bridge and headed  for a picnic at Cathedral Park.


The park is awesome and sprawling, with towering columns that make you feel tiny and undetected, framed by the wide slowish Willamette


and tall fluttering trees teaming with birdlife. We soon realized why, since the local Black Cottonwoods were blowing snowdrifts of soft white fluff from their blooming stalks everywhere and a million bush tits were making the softest possible nests for their babies.


Then we came back home just in time to receive some awesome photos from Jean about progress on the mural which now spans the entire bridge, features three beavers, a turtle, an egret, and a lovely green heron based on Rusty’s photo!

Today we pack up for our days at the coast. Thanks Portland! It’s been bea-very exciting!

New Festival Promo

   Posted by Rusty Cohn On May - 26 - 2016Comments Off on New Festival Promo


New festival promo from Sarah!

Martinez Beaver Festival Promo 2016 from Tensegrity Productions on Vimeo.



One evening at the Tulocay Creek Beaver pond in Napa a Beaver seemed entranced with eating the grass and ignored me, and almost appeared to want to do a modeling photo shoot.

beaver 05-04-2016

beaver 1 05-04-2016

beaver 2 05-04-2016

On my way to leave a Muskrat decided to grab a bunch of leaves from the top of the main Beaver Dam. Usually the Muskrats eat grass.

Muskrat 05-20-2016

Muskrat 1 05-20-2016

Muskrat 2 05-20-2016