Fishing beaver ponds

   Posted by heidi08 On August - 19 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

Ed Engle: Beaver pond cutthroats in the high country

I arrived  at the trailhead into the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness Area as early as I could because I knew it was about a three-mile hike to the beaver ponds that I wanted to fish.

Cutthroat trout themselves are always a draw. I knew most of them would be small, probably 6 inches long or less, but you never know, and besides big trout aren’t the reason I hike into the high country to fish. If I wanted to catch big fish, I’d head to a tailwater or one of Colorado’s trophy trout lakes.

Along the way, I remembered other dry fly tips for fishing beaver ponds such as, “Just leave the fly sit and let the trout find it, and if that doesn’t get their attention, give the fly a little twitch.” Or better yet, if nothing happens when you twitch the fly, try retrieving it very slowly so that it causes a rippling wake on the water’s surface.

That’s the way I caught my largest cutthroat of the day — a chunky 10-incher.at the trailhead into the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness Area as early as I could because I knew it was about a three-mile hike to the beaver ponds that I wanted to fish.

That was the first of many cutthroats.

But wait – I thought that beaver dams raised the temperatures and ruined things for trout? And that recent master’s thesis got published saying beavers destroy conditions for native fish and bring invasives? And in PEI watershed folk were ripping dams out to protect cuttthroat? How could this crazy outdoor reporter ever get things so wrong? Doesn’t he realize how much damage beavers do to fish? What does he know about fishing the high country anyway?

Ed Engle Fly Fishing

FLY FISHING PRESENTATIONS

 Ed has a wide variety of fly fishing PowerPoint programs designed especially to meet the needs of your fly fishing club, organization, corporate group or fly shop. Programs range from technical fly fishing topics to more general interest themes suitable for banquets and fund raising events. See the descriptions of Ed’s programs below.

  • OFFBEAT TACTICS THAT CATCH TROUT
  • CATCHING DIFFICULT TROUT
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  • A WESTERN FLY FISHER’S LIFE

Oh.

Mni hands make light work.

   Posted by heidi08 On August - 18 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

When Suffering From Drought, Being Inspired by Nature Can Lead to a Solution

That’s why a group from the tribe is looking to the beaver (yes, the animal) to get things flowing again. They call themselves Mni which means “water,” and they’re working to rehydrate the land and their lives.

Fifteen years of on-and-off drought has left the soil in the region very dry, so now, when it experiences steady rainfall, the ground is too dry to absorb the water. The rainwater runs off the land and into the creeks along the Mississippi River causing flooding but no quenching replenishment of the land.

The Mni’s plan? To build thousands of beaver-like dams in creeks and gullies all over the reservation, which will slow the rainwater long enough so that it can be absorbed into the ground. Beavers have been the ones controlling the water flow for centuries, so Mni is looking to the experts.

This is so close to being good news. A tribe that imitates what beavers do naturally to keep water on the land. A tribe that knows not allowing water to soak into dry land means creating land that is unable to hold the precious water when it finally comes. Just keep in mind that it uses humans to build these dams, and not any actual beavers.

Don’t be silly, not even the Lakota tribes will tolerate actual beavers.

I’m reminded of a passage from Terry Tempest Williams in her book ‘Finding beauty in a broken world.”

In 1950, government agents proposed to get rid of prairie dogs on some parts of the Navajo Reservation [in Arizona] in order to protect the roots of sparse desert grasses and thereby maintain some marginal grazing for sheep.

The Navajo elders objected, insisting, “If you kill all the prairie dogs, there will be no one to cry for the rain.”

The amused officials assured the Navajo that there was no correlation between rain and prairie dogs and carried out their plan.  The outcome was surprising only to the federal officials.  The desert [on the affected parts of the reservation] became a virtual wasteland.  Without the ground-turning process of the burrowing animals, the soil became solidly packed, unable to accept rain.  Hard pan.  The result: fierce runoff whenever it rained.  What little vegetation remained was carried away by flash floods and a legacy of erosion.

I suppose next the tribe will be digging holes like prairie dogs?

sticker

 

 

History Preserved

   Posted by heidi08 On August - 17 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

There is no beaver news today, honestly. But today is an important day, so I thought I’d share with you that it’s the day Don Perryman’s Ohlone collection is given to the Martinez Museum. Museum director Andrea Blachman and member Cathy Ivers are driving to my parents home in volcano to make the transfer. My father willed it to the museum before he died and was eager to have this collection shown to the public.

My dad, who never graduated from highschool, served as a merchant marine because he was too young for the army during WWII, later pursued his GED and an AA degree in night school. He worked his way from an oiler to the top of management at general office in steam generation for PGE. In his spare time, as a shift work operator with 6 children he managed to become an amateur archeologist, researching, spotting and excavating Ohlone (he called Costanoan) sites around the Bay Area before the asphalt was poured over every piece of once tribal land.

One of these sites was the Fernandez Ranch in Franklin Canyon (unincorporated Martinez) which is where much of the collection was found. He was shadowed at the dig by UCB archeology students who later wrote up the findings in Archeological Survey No 49, papers 75 & 74 published in 1960.

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My father was meticulous and would tag and record every item, even if they just got placed in a shoebox later. Although he had stopped digging by the time I was born, he taught me how to recognize midden piles from Ohlone sites, and spot the glint of obsidian in the soil. Parts of his collection have hung before in the museum, and even in city hall when I was in Kindergarten. He was very proud of his work, and loved to talk to you about it, explain what it was used for or tell you how it was found. His primary resource was the beloved red massive tome of Kroeber’s Handbook of the California Indians, and it seemed fitting to me that this was the first place I looked for data on the historic prevalence of beavers and sits on my bookshelf now.

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I grew up surrounded by arrowheads, ear pugs, charm stones and mortars. They are among my earliest memories and seem like the borders of my childhood. My father died in February of 2013, and it is a solemn and fullsome feeling to pack them up this morning. I know he would want it to happen and delighted that more people would see the treasures, but I think I’m glad he doesn’t have to be here when it does.

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Apparently Perrymans will make a difference in Martinez for years to come.

Father daughter dinner

View from Beaver Mountain

   Posted by heidi08 On August - 16 - 2014ADD COMMENTS
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Sentinel photo by BRADLEY KREITZER
The Beavertown Beaver rides a motorcycle in the Beavertown Centennial Parade during Hillbilly Fever Days Thursday evening in Beavertown. Beavertown Borough is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

Mind you, this Pennsylvania Beavertown mascot looks nothing like a beaver, but I suppose it looks exactly like the kind of beaver who would ride a motorcycle.  And besides, I’m in the mood for a parade. A lot of very good things about beavers have been happening, and last night it was making me feel a little dizzy. So let’s celebrate!

Tale 1:

Let’s start close to home. We found out about the beavers in Rodeo from the environmental scientist of Phillips 66, who’s property they’re on. She wanted to talk to us about flow devices so they could keep the beavers there. No, I’m not kidding. Jon went out and saw the site and gave her Mike’s DVD. And she went to work persuading her employers to go for it. This was a while ago.

Recently, her efforts were successful and she got the go ahead to install. I introduced her to Kevin Swift from OAEC who trained with Mike Callahan. Things were all in place but the county commissioners of Rodeo got cold feet and told her that Phillips 66 needed to add a rider covering the city in case something went wrong. I asked around and everyone said that was unheard of, and that liability insurance for the installer was all that was needed. Things looked kind of stuck, then I met Fran.

She approached me at the beaver festival and said she wanted to help the beavers in Rodeo where she lived and had been watching them. What could she do? I told her what I knew and introduced her to the woman I’d been working with. She said she knew the commissioners well, and would get on the job of persuading them otherwise. She was a big fan of the community-based pressure Martinez used and she had many tricks up her sleeve.

With two strong allies for these beavers (who could be Martinez progeny!) I am very, very hopeful for Rodeo.

Tale 2:

Our VP who works in Cordelia at International Bird Rescue has been keeping her eye on a beaver who has been flooding a road near Suisun. She has heard that a Cal Trans biologist  has been unplugging his dam so that he won’t need to be trapped, and she’s wanted to connect with him. Recently a very happy accident fixed that problem. I’ll let her tell you about it.

Timing is everything, especially when there is an unexpected schedule change that led me to finding this injured Golden Eagle. it also gave me the chance to meet the Cal Trans biologist I’ve been trying to find for months because of a local beaver issue in the same area. He was also the one to help free the bird from the barbed wire fence. 

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So Cheryl can help the nice biologist find out what he needs to know to keep that beaver from flooding the road. Which means one less dead beaver, and since Caltrans is a big organization and can’t have too many biologists, this might mean less dead beavers all over California.

Tale 3:

You met Rusty and Hank at the beaver festival. They are among the heroes looking out for the beavers in Napa. Well the other day at the dam, Rusty met a gentleman he thought he recognized, so when he got home he googled him. He was pretty certain he was the former mayor of Napa coming to watch the beavers.

(And let me interject and ask you to guess how many times the current mayor of Martnez has come to watch the beavers? I’ll give you a hint, it’s a round number. Just sayin’.)

The next night he met him again and was told he was right. Not only was he the prior mayor he is a sitting county commissioner.  He thought the beavers were incredible to watch, noticed the amazing wildlife, asked for more information about beavers, said he had planned to come to our festival, and knew the developer of the land next to the creek and would ask that access stay open to the public when the hotel was built. Rusty gave him info about beavers, told him about our website, and then gave him the records of the three depredation permits pulled in Napa county. Which the commissioner said he’d look into.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You know how it is. You plug along from day to day trying to make a tiny difference in the lives of beavers, and wondering if what you do matters at all. And then one day you wake up and look around and you are surrounded by an army of foot soldiers doing the  same thing. You aren’t the only one anymore, there is a steadily advancing troop of beaver advocates spreading out from Martinez like an water seeping through a towel.

And suddenly everything looks a lot easier.

beaver army

 

In Texas?

   Posted by heidi08 On August - 15 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

Beavers trapped, relocated from Keller neighborhood

The beavers had dammed up a creek in the northwest Keller subdivision of Marshall Ridge, and for about six months, when it has rained, the creek overflows into yards and sidewalks.

 So a manager of the development, whose website promotes wildlife, saying Marshall Ridge is home to a “number of animals native to the area,” contacted Plano-based A Wildlife Pro DFW to trap and move the beavers to a human-free environment.

  ‘Animals have feelings’

 Fink said she checks the traps twice a day. Beavers typically work more at night and once they are captured, Evans will move the animal the next morning.

 “The traps you want to use for them are big enough for a person to fit in,” Evans said. “You have to have some room for them to move around and fit comfortably so they’re not struggling as hard to get out and hurt themselves.”

I don’t mean to be state-ist or whatever, but this actually surprised me coming from Texas which isn’t exactly known for it’s beaver compassion. Beavers  have feelings? And it’s better to relocate than trap? But these took the prize for the most unexpected paragraphs of 2014.

 Prudi Koeninger, president of DFW Wildlife Coalition, a nonprofit whose mission “is to reduce … the incidence of orphaned or euthanized native wildlife” in DFW, said capturing and moving isn’t always the best option for beavers.

 “Most of the time you don’t get the whole family, so they’re separated,” Koeninger said. “Beavers become independent at age 2, and before that the whole family takes care of the babies. Animals have feelings, family and commitments just as humans do, and there’s emotion if they lose a member of that family.”

 Koeninger said one option for coexisting with beavers is to create a “beaver deceiver,” a device that uses PVC pipes to route water underneath dams in whatever direction the community needs.

 “What beavers respond to is the trickling of water,” she said. “If you create a pathway underneath where there’s no trickling, you can get it flowing the way you want and the beaver will have no reason to keep working on the dam.”

 Some wildlife companies also offer a kind of color-matching “tree paint” mixed with sand that deters beavers from eating the bark and prevents trees being torn down. surprised-child-skippy-jon

Remember that DFW is Dallas Fort Worth wildlife rescue, the director of whom I had a long phone conversation in June when beavers were unwelcome in Irving. Which just goes to show you should always take time to try even when the odds of success seem bleak. The Irving beavers couldn’t be protected, but DFW really listened to info about beavers and co-existence. Which made them great communicators to the reporter of this article who actually did a stellar job.

Maybe next time the beavers can stay?

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And on our less-humane-than-Texas end of the spectrum you might check out this proud announcement of the new orphan arrived at Turtle Bay in our own state of California.

Capture

The weird part of this is, with the depredation permits we just got, I can see that if this kit is 7 weeks old in Redding that probably means the warrant that killed his parents looked like this:

Shasta Redding Crop/Landscape/Garden Damage (Landscape trees) # allowed = 2trapped by Bob Hassel permit issued by Pete Figura 6/23/2014.

You might want to save this somewhere in case he ever asks about his mom or Dad when he grows up.

Catching a tiger by the tail

   Posted by heidi08 On August - 14 - 20142 COMMENTS

Ranchers’ Friend and Farmers’ Foe: Reshaping Nature with Beaver Reintroduction in California

Steven M. Fountain

The twentieth-century project to restore animals to their former ranges often relied on the common support of sportsmen’s groups, wildlife managers, and biologists. Beavers were common but controversial subjects of early reintroduction programs throughout the North American West. In California,rapidly expanding industrial agriculture created a particularly intense conflict over the fate of remaining beaver habitat. Advocates turned to higher elevation ranch lands to relocate problem beavers, emphasizing the economic benefits of raising water tables and reclaiming the potential resource repositories of the foothills and mountains. These habitat extensions were a novel means of commoditizing an animal whose status shifted from harmful to beneficial depending on location and situation.

Reading the title and the abstract don’t you feel almost hopeful? Finally an intelligent article that discusses beaver relocation in California and their potential value! But reading through you see that he based his review on where beavers belong entirely on Grinell and Tappe’s 1930 report. Which as you know, says beaver weren’t in the Sierras because the mountains were too pointy.

Unsuitable riparian vegetation, rocky banks, and steep fast-flowing streams combined to keep beaver largely confined to the lowlands that have been their range for millennia.

Never mind about the beaver in the Rocky’s. And never mind about beavers loving Aspen. Oh, and never mind about that paper published in 2012 by Lanman et al, because he mentions in a footnote:

Richard B. Lanman, Heidi Perryman, Brock Dolman, and Charles D. James, “The Historic Range of Beaver in the Sierra Nevada: A Review of the Evidence,” California Fish and Game 98, no. 2 (2012): 65–80, also misreads several historical documents.

We misread? Who knew? Obviously we did it wrong, (as in we wore our THINKING caps rather than our FAITH caps). Sheesh. The author has slightly more interest in the carbon dated beaver dam, but he’s willing to ignore the fossil record too.

Far more convincing is Charles D. James and Richard B. Lanman, “Novel Physical Evidence That Beaver Historically Were Native to the Sierra Nevada,” California Fish and Game 98, no. 2 (2012): 129–32, which discusses pre–Gold Rush beaver dam remains on upper Feather River tributaries.

Never you mind about carbon half-lives. He has a point to make. In fact it’s so unimportant to his thesis he doesn’t even bother discussing it in his precious paper. Our work issn’t important enough to challenge or actually point out problems. He won’t bother to argue. Dismissing it only requires a footnote.

The outrage of having our years of work marginalized to a footnote got all our attention, but I am happiest that it got Dr. Lanman’s because he put on his most medical-researchy  tone and went straight for the author. I can’t think of a single better person to politely challenge his ruthlessly irresponsible bullshit.

I’m easy to insult but it’s probably not every day that Rick gets accused of ‘misreading’. I’ll keep you posted on what happens.   This is the picture that springs to mind.

I guess this means we are officially at the second part of Gandhi’s stages of opposition. I hope I packed enough trail mix.

First they ignore you.
Then they laugh at you.
Then they fight with you.
Then you win.

Beavers: The cure for what ails you.

   Posted by heidi08 On August - 13 - 2014Comments Off

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At-Risk Columbia Spotted Frogs: Factors Influencing Conservation

Robert S. Arkle USGS

USGS researchers, including scientist Robert Arkle, examined existing data on spotted frog occurrence, abundance and habitat to understand factors influencing habitat quality, habitat connectivity and climate suitability in the Great Basin. Preliminary results suggest that the area of the Great Basin with suitable climates for spotted frogs has already decreased over the past 100 years and will continue to decrease substantially over the next 100 years. Genetic research suggests connectivity between adjacent occupied sites is currently low, while sub-populations are isolated from one another.

USGS research suggests that management tools, such as beaver reintroduction, grazing management and non-native trout control efforts may promote conservation of the Columbia spotted frog in the Great Basin.

So NOAA, USFS, and USGS think beaver reintroduction is a good idea to increase habitat for threatened aquatic species. While USDA and CDFG merrily continue to kill them, ignoring the trickle down effect that eliminating each beaver dam will have on a rapidly drying planet. How long does it take for such simple wisdom to pass through government bureaucracy?

Let’s just say I wouldn’t want to be a columbia spotted frog.

stickerWord this morning is that Utah is truly having another beaver festival, and they’re paying for me to come talk about our beavers in Martinez. It’s in Cedar City and I’ll tell you more details when I know them. The event is organized, of course, by the Mary Obrien and the Grand Canyon Trust where practically all good news about beavers originate. Considering Mary was the inspiring voice in the wilderness a million years ago when this all started, and now she wants me to come speak, I’m pretty honored.

Mary O'brien