The Best of ‘Times’

   Posted by heidi08 On July - 23 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

bay nature ad

 Martinez: Beavers in festival spotlight


MARTINEZ — A segment of Martinez’ wetlands will soon be teeming with life, along with its myriad microorganisms, lush foliage and robust array of fowl and creatures that are already present.

 The public will once again gather Saturday, Aug. 2, to celebrate an ever-expanding family of beavers who play a key role in creating such diversity — from one end of the food chain to the other — at the seventh annual Beaver Festival, featuring live music, wildlife exhibits from throughout the world, children’s activities and tours of the beavers’ environs.

This is a very good article. Not only does the author, Jennifer Shaw get the details right on the festival, she nails them remarkably on BEAVERS in general. The only thing this article is missing is photographs. Maybe they’ll be in the print version? But maybe there wasn’t space with all Jennifer’s awesome words. I’ll add some. Go read the whole thing. (The CC Times has a very bad habit of only keeping the article viewable for a month, so I’m making a backup right now.)

This year, an Amtrak train car of folks will be part of the coterie of beaver fans, as a retired curator of aquatic biology at the Oakland Museum of California — and self-proclaimed “chief creek snooper” at Flow Back in Time — helps to open their respective eyes about the eco-vibrancy of creek life.

straight train

Christopher Richards will lead the group out to Alhambra Creek’s inlet to put into context just how an industrious group of sleek-coated beavers have stabilized creek banks, decreased flooding risks through fostering the growth of the natural riparian vegetation, and assisted in restoring the natural function and hydrology of the stream.

 ”(Beavers) are the productivity, the agriculture for the critters in the creek,” he says, citing the beavers’ habitat as an illustration of how “we can manage, neglect or restore creeks in the urban Bay Area landscape.”

That should get some attention! I hope it gets picked up by a paper on the other side of the tunnel! In the mean time a huge round of applause for Deidre Martin who made the entire thing possible. She brought her children to see the beavers last summer and the furry ingrates didn’t even show up! But she decided then and there to contribute.

Deidre Martin, a San Francisco resident and volunteer natural sciences docent at the Oakland Museum, is among those beaver enthusiasts who will board the Wetlands Express, already championing the sanctity of this native animal.

 ”We need to dispel the notion of beavers as pests … They’re a keystone species. They create habitat for other animals,” she says.

Can I get an Amen? Deidre came to our planning dinner and was a delightful contributor -and that night she got to see the beavers before catching the train home.  A San Francisco resident, Deidre first heard of our beavers from Kate Lundquist of the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, and decided she needed to come see for herself.

Jennifer also talked to Worth A Dam pillars Cheryl and Fro.

“They’re a family unit. They all work together,” says Cheryl Reynolds, a Worth A Dam board member, describing the beavers’ lodge-dwelling digs, vegetarian diet, and their average 35-pound size.

kit and mom

New mom and Kit – Cheryl Reynolds

And, Pleasant Hill resident and artist Frogard Butler will once again facilitate a hands-on, experiential learning opportunity for the younger set.

tailssewn tails

 Young artists will be making leather, textured, crisscross-patterned beaver tails in three sizes — adult, yearling and kit — and decorating them. Some participants have been known to return to the festival, sporting attached beavers tails.”

I love to see how everything comes together. I sure hope this article seeps outside the Record, But shhh this is my very favorite part!

 The Martinez resident quickly segues from cute descriptions to basic science, always lobbying for the beavers that play a key role in creating the overall health of the ecosystem.

 ”The beavers are changing the invertebrate community; they’re forming nooks and crannies; and constantly moving mud,” says Perryman, noting that different insects flourish at different elevations of the terrain, and thus account for an ensuing “fish bloom,” and a greater diversity of birds.

I love segueing from cute to science! And I ADORE being called a beaver lobbyist. Let’s face it. When she’s right, she’s right.

Beaver Countdown

   Posted by heidi08 On July - 22 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

There are an insane number of last minute details to take care of. It’s truly astonishing how many things we have crossed off the list only to see a mountain of details remaining. I feel like a worm that ate through half an apple. I’ll never get out unless I exercise all that effort all over again.

Apparently even the beavers understand what its like because some stopped off at a store in Idaho to pick up a few things.

140721_beaver_winco1Mamma beaver, baby nabbed trying to get inside Eagle WinCo

A mamma beaver and its baby were captured Monday after trying to “shop” inside an Eagle area grocery store. The Ada County Sheriff’s Office says the beaver and its kit tried to repeatedly walk into the WinCo store Monday morning.

 The beavers were first spotted at about 6 a.m. when they were shooed away by customers, the sheriff’s office said. A deputy arrived soon after and tried to get the beaver on its way with a plastic rake.

 No luck. The beaver and its baby weren’t moving.

 Later, however, the Idaho Humane Society arrived and put them in cages. Animals in Distress officials planned to take the beavers up along Highway 21.

 ”There is some wonderful willow and aspen bark where they are going north of Idaho City,” said Toni Hicks, a longtime volunteer with Animals in Distress.

I’m glad the volunteers will find them a nicer place. Obviously someone is trapping family members down the street and these refugees were seeking asylum.  Why else would beavers go to a store? Unless they read that sign that said “Willow Bundle”. Ba-dum-tsss.

Animal Wonders wrote me back yesterday, apologizing for the nutria error and asking permission to thank me with the correction. Another infamous stock footage snafu.They have a long list of projects  to get to before they consider a beaver ecology film, but they were definitely interested.

Hello Dr. Perryman,

 Jessi Knudsen from Animal Wonders forwarded me your corrections for the beaver video we just put up on SciShow.

 Thank you! I made a mistake in trusting the titles of a stock image company we sometimes use, and I greatly appreciate you spotting those mistakes and pointing them out.

 I’ve updated our cover photo to a new one of beavers and I’ve annotated that the pictures you pointed out are nutria, and not beavers. With your permission, I’d like to give you credit for spotting these mistakes for us in our video description and point people to your website. Would that be alright with you?

 Right now, with our schedule, we can’t rerecord the video to add more information about beavers and their positive effects within their ecosystem, but I’ll gladly tell our head writer that there’s interest in an episode about that. He wrote this episode and has a special place in his heart for beavers so I’m sure he’ll be excited to hear that.

 Finally, I wanted to make sure it’s clear Animal Wonders and SciShow are two separate channels. SciShow produced this episode about beavers without input from Jessi or Animal Wonders. Because the two channels have a relationship and try to support each other, SciShow included a shout-out to Animal Wonders because the content was related.

 Obviously, we probably should consult Jessi on our animal content because she has actually helped us avoid mistakes like this in the past in episodes she’s been a guest on.

 Thank you again, Dr. Perryman. One of my favorite aspects of sharing information on YouTube is that we hear from people when our information is not correct. While we try to make sure that is very rare, when it happens, the best we can hope for is that someone will be considerate enough to tell us.

 So thank you,


 Caitlin Hofmeister
SciShow Producer

How nice! You can never tell when people will care about the truth (or when they will be indifferent to it) but this is a nice surprise. If I made all the world a little terrified about mislabeling nutria photos as beavers I would die a very happy girl.

In the meantime I plan on dying a very busy girl. The charms arrived yesterday so there are necklaces to create, display flags for the charm booths to make, and info sheets to finish. Then it’s mounting signs,  planning tables, and making lists of what we can’t possibly forget to pack for the day.

At times like these I like to remember the old riddle that sustained me through graduate school.

“How far can you walk into a deep forest”
“Only halfway. The other half you’re walking out.”





Beaver Beatitudes

   Posted by heidi08 On July - 21 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

Let’s start Monday right with some good news for a change. How about this story from Oregon of a culvert repaired to allow salmon passage. Don’t worry, it gets more interesting.

Easier migration for salmon in east Multnomah County’s Beaver Creek: $500,000 fix for troublesome culverts

A coho salmon nears the end of its life’s journey in the spawning gravel of Eagle Creek, a tributary of the Columbia River in Oregon. Salmon and steelhead trout have trouble reaching their historic spawning grounds in Beaver Creek because of a culvert that makes it difficult for fish to swim or jump upstream. (The Oregonian file photo)

Culverts are box- or pipe-shaped openings that roadbuilders install to allow streams to pass underneath, but often their configuration makes it difficult for fish to swim or jump upstream. Fish ladders built into culverts to help can break over the years.

Metro awarded the county a $579,500 Nature in Neighborhoods grant July 10 to replace a culvert under Cochran Road with a bridge, allowing fish to more easily reach areas upstream from Mt. Hood Community College’s Gresham campus.

Roy Iwai, the county’s water quality manager, said a variety of local government and nonprofit groups are working together to make the creek more hospitable to its 13 species of native fish.

The water upstream from the culverts also includes plenty of natural dams from the creek’s namesake beavers, but those are passable for fish and beaver ponds provide ideal rearing habitat for young coho salmon, Iwai said.

Ohhh Oregon! You are so much smarter than most. We are all inspired to see Mr. Iwai understanding the importance of beavers to salmon. From scientist to city worker, you know that beavers are Worth A Dam. It’s so impressive. California can only hope to get there one day. Well done Beaver State!

Now we’re moving East towards Montana where they are getting a bit smarter as well.

Animal Wonders is a fully licensed and insured educational outreach organization. We provide educational presentations with live exotic animals for schools, summer camps, community events, birthday parties, and other special occasions. We travel to your location with some of our very special animal ambassadors to teach about wildlife, conservation, and a love of nature.

As you may have guessed, I am not a huge fan of slick operations that bring live animals to elementary school auditoriums to teach them an “appreciation of Nature”. I think children (and animals) are better served when  we open our front doors and let them go see for themselves – say by standing on the footbridge and watching the Martinez Beavers. (Of course it helps if folks don’t kill everything that wanders into their town so there’s things to see.) But this video,  SciShow made by Animal Wonders (because the young people like those abbrevs). isn’t bad. In fact it doesn’t have one fact I disagree with.

Just two photos. (See if you can play “Spot the Nutria”.)

Well? Did you find them? I can only hope they bring the right animal for their costly presentations! I wrote them about the mistake and said if they re-edit to include how important beavers are to fish, water and birds, we will give them amazing photos of actual beavers for free! (If you’re still puzzled, look for stiff white whiskers and narrow eyes.)

Last night our kit was up early, and out at the secondary on his own for a while doing very beavery things. Several people got to see him, including visitors from Golden Gate Audubon that missed the Wednesday walk but wanted to see for themselves. Dad beaver even showed up to take the little one past the secondary and down to where he was chewing willow. He swam along side adorably and even rode on his back for moments. Then let Dad go on his own and came back upstream to forage.

We thought how heartening it is to see Dad be so nurturing after at least seven years of kits. Apparently he still feels paternal even after all these years and 20 youngsters.

Oh we also thought it was great to see the new kit embracing prohibition and rejecting the wicked influences of alcohol.

2014 baby

2014 Kit – Heidi Perryman

Thank goodness we got those beavers out!

   Posted by heidi08 On July - 20 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

Trout restoration pays off in Oxford’s Barber’s Hollow Brook

Environmental consultant Glenn E. Krevosky measures the water temperature of Barber’s Hollow Brook near Prince Road in Oxford. (T&G Staff/PAUL KAPTEYN)

OXFORD — The 13, 3-inch Eastern brook trout swimming at the bottom of the bucket provided all the proof he needed.

 Eight months ago Glenn E. Krevosky of EBT Environmental Consultants Inc. knelt beside a stone-faced, groundwater-fed incubator he built off Prince Street, and placed 400 Eastern brook trout eggs into a gravel nest.

 Mr. Krevosky said he was fortunate that the one obstacle he didn’t have to face was the work of beavers in creating impoundments that would slow the stream flow, raise the water temperature and reduce clarity.

 ”The stream temperature is constant and the reduced flow is to be expected during the summer months. A stream temperature that doesn’t spike from the heat of summer storm road runoff, and a steady flow across a gravel and cobble stream bottom are essential for trout,” he said.

 He explained that in addition to temperature and sediment concerns from storm runoff, Barber’s Hollow Brook water quality for coldwater fish species had become compromised by beaver dams and invasive aquatic plant species.

Thank goodness Mr. K. was able to hatch those fish without all those pesky beaver dams around. Now the fry will have plenty of fin-room to swim around in – certainly there won’t be as many of those award multi-legged BUGS taking up their space.

One  wonders what the precious fish will eat?

But never mind. Mr. K. is committed to his beaverless streams and his factless theories. He’s so committed that I’ve written him two other times in the past six years. The first was in 2009 when he was famously referenced as an expert in the great case of the “invasive purple loosestrife” – for which he blamed (who else) beavers.

Trouble is, no one really wants to eat it, it’s hard to pull up, it survives horrific conditions, and it ruins things for the shoreline critters. There’s some effort to introduce a beetle that is controlling it naturally (how could that possibly go wrong?) but in the mean time, guess who the great state of Massachusetts has decided to blame?


Remember, this is a state that outlawed cruel traps in 1996, and has been whining about it since the moment the bill was signed.  Massachusetts bemoans the change and says that their population has increased by 60,000 beavers since the law was passed.

Are you following me? Because there are more beavers, there are more wetlands, and (insert horror music here) more pernicious purple loosestrife!

Goodness I have been in this beaver biz a long time. I can’t believe I recognized him right away. I wonder if Mr. Krevosky knows about me? Or if I have any kind of starring role in his nightmares? Well, he abandoned the loosestrife meme fairly quickly, and marched boldly into water temperature by 2013. I actually wrote one of my favorite  columns EVER about it.

Urban Legends of Beavers

 Do you remember that story, back in fourth of fifth grade, you heard at a sleepover with friends? Two of the friends you had known since 2nd grade but one girl was someone else’s friend, or neighbor, or cousin and she was rumored to have slightly more street cred on account of her parents were divorced, or her mother had died, or her brother was in jail. And when the last pizza had been eaten and all the lights were out and you were huddled in sleeping bags on the living room rug or the back yard, she started with that spooky story in that absolutely chilling and unforgettable voice:

 “Who stole my golden arm?”

 And of course, even at 10, you knew the story was impossible and that ghosts weren’t real and that even if they were people don’t ever make arms out of solid gold, and you might have mumbled so all the way through at intervals but once Elvira leaped from the grave and shouted “YOU GOT IT!” and that terrifying story was over you couldn’t wait to think about who you were going to tell it to next. All the other kids must have too because pretty soon the story was all over school and was starting to get little adjustments, like the woman had been murdered for her golden arm, or it was actually a golden leg. It was a self-reproducing meme that was perpetuating itself like a virus through the primary grades. And even today, just saying the words has a kind of ring to it, and you can remember something of that chill. And it doesn’t matter whether its true, because its not that kind of story.

 Which brings us naturally to the topic of beaver dams, water temperature and fish.

I like writing about beavers best when I can figure out a way to make the topic seem absolutely relevant to your life. Then after a nice populist intro I can throw in the science I need to back it up and wrap the whole thing up with a bow. That column I buttressed with Michael Pollock’s breathtaking graphs on stream temperature and hyporheic exchange at beaver dams. I guess Mr. K. never read it. Or read it with his eyes closed.

I’m reminded of the quote at the end of Rick Lanman’s emails.

“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.”
- Thomas Paine

 Just remember, the arc of ecology is long, but it bends towards beavers.

Asked and Answered

   Posted by heidi08 On July - 19 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

As California Dries Up, Locals Hope for El Niño

A third of California is now clenched by exceptional drought—the most severe category listed by the United States Drought Monitor. Radio ads and highway signs warn residents to conserve water, and this week the state announced $500 fines for water-wasters. But many residents continue to hope for the rain promised by a strong El Niño, says Molly Peterson, environment correspondent for Southern California Public Radio. Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Indiana University’s Shahzeen Attari join her to talk about what states and residents can do to weather the drought in the meantime.


Duck migration study reveals importance of conserving wetlands, researchers find

“We have lost nearly 90 percent of wetland areas in Missouri in the last century and 50 percent of wetlands across the country since the early 1800s,” Kesler said. “This loss has affected migratory bird populations and migration timing and routes. Our research shows the importance of these wetland areas to maintain healthy populations of migratory birds and other species, especially in an age of budget cuts for government programs protecting these few remaining wetland areas. If we don’t maintain these wildlife preserves it will put dozens, if not hundreds, of wildlife species in danger.”

Gosh that’s terrifying. I mean even if we stop watering lawns and flushing all the time, we’re going to need water for our crops and birds and showers, and with climate change it’s only going to get worse. If there only was some kind of easy fix that could take this problem on in every community without costing California millions of dollars. But that’s impossible right?


Goofus and Gallant – Beaver Version

   Posted by heidi08 On July - 18 - 2014Comments Off

Do you remember those days at the dentist reading Highlights as a kid? There was a cartoon describing a boy who did things right, and one who got everything wrong? (Before you ask, there were no girls at all, because we obviously weren’t important enough to have moral development).

I couldn’t help but think of that looking at this mornings beaver news from Canada. Let’s start with Goofus from (where else) Saskatchewan.

Red Willow Run and the need for beaver management

A combination of excess rains and beaver dams letting go led to a large mass of water flowing through the Red Willow Run in the northeast of Moose Mountain Provincial Park territory, which affected not only parkland but farmland and roads further down the run in the R.M. of Wawken.

Weatherald says there used to be trappers in the area who dealt with beaver east of Hwy 9 for the park, but that beaver management in this area hasn’t been a priority lately. The trappers who used to work in this area are mostly too old for the work and younger generations are not picking it up, which seems to be a trend in trapping.

Not only are those poor trappers too old to work. They are obviously  too old to LEARN. Just a thousand miles west they are a a lot smarter about beaver management.

Trying to get along with neighbours

Not far from a spot where a beaver toppled a tree on to a power line, sparking a brush fire last summer, four volunteers work to ensure the industrious rodents can’t chew through another pine.

They’ve spent the morning behind a townhouse complex which abuts Kanaka Creek wrapping trees with wire to protect them from a family of beavers.

“Coexistence is the new strategy,” says Leslie Fox, the executive director of the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals.

 The “Fur Bearer Defenders” were called in after several trees nibbled by the semi-aquatic animals fell on to townhouses.

 Instead of calling a trapper, the strata opted for a more humane approach. “I think trapping’s days are numbered,” said Fox.  “One of the things we’ve noticed with trapping is the conflict it causes in the urban environment.

“What ends up happening is people’s pets get caught. It doesn’t solve the problem and it creates a danger for people who live near [the traps].”

But maybe you’re thinking, sure that’s fine for protecting trees. But what about the real problems beavers cause? Like flooding and blocked culverts?

Mission, like many other municipalities, had a long history of manually breaking apart dams, as well as trapping and killing beavers.

 But since last year, Mission has embraced methods that prevent beavers from building a dam in the first place.

 Besides tree cages and pipes in dams, Mission has also been building wire fences around culvert intakes, to interrupt the beavers’ natural instinct to build where there’s current and the sound of flowing water.

 Dale Vinnish, the public works operations supervisor told Black Press last year, the devices “work awesome.”

 “We don’t have to trap beavers. They moved elsewhere. They’re not causing a problem,” Vinnish said.

 The “beaver deceivers,” at $400-$600 apiece and built in one day, save the District of Mission thousands of dollars, because workers no longer have to pull apart dams.

 Previously, the municipality would break down two to three dams daily, several days a week, in addition to paying for the capturing and killing of about a dozen beavers annually.

And that’t the beaver version of Goofus and Gallant, which if you’re lucky is coming to a country near you soon. For our readers following along at home, which story do you like better? Who do you think is doing better  on the graph below?learning curve


Welcome to the ‘Hood

   Posted by heidi08 On July - 17 - 2014Comments Off

I give up. It’s impossible to prioritize or organize today’s beaver news into  one well-rounded serving. I’m just going to have to lump them together like a very disorganized (but tasty) potluck. Enjoy. Of course I’ll start with what’s most important:

City installs pond system to offset beaver activity

So as part of the city’s Beaver Management Program, two pond leveling devices were installed on July 9 in two beaver dams located near the Augustana Campus by 48th St.

 Two 20 feet long High Density Polyethylene, or HDPE, pipes were installed through the dams to allow water to flow through the ponds. The pipes are placed at a level that will allow water to balance out between the ponds. Each end of the pipe has a cage made from hog fencing to ensure blockage will not occur.

 The devices are the first of their kind to be installed in Camrose.

 “Essentially, it is a piping system that acts like a syphon,” said Glynnis Hood, associate professor in environmental science at the University of Alberta – Augustana Campus, who is spearheading the project.

 “Anytime the water gets above the level of where the pipe is placed in the dam, the syphon system starts to work and keeps the water at a consistent level rather than having the pond flood above its banks,” Hood said.

Hurray for Glynnis and her merry band of [burly] students! Hurray for Camrose and flow devices in Alberta! And Hurray for beavers who will stabilize that stream and improve conditions for fish and birds.

Hood added that her research shows the leveling system will result in significant time and monetary savings because there is less need for ongoing maintenance compared to traditional methods such as a dam removal or beaver trapping.

 Each pond levelling system cost approximately $600 in materials and about $200 for labor.

 Hood said, “It seems like a large initial cost but what we’ve found is that very low maintenance is required thereafter and it makes up for the rental of a backhoe which is about $200 to $300 an hour, not to mention the staffing that goes into it.”

 The new pond leveling system will also allow the ecosystem to thrive as there will be fewer interruptions to the area in the form of dam removals.

 Hood said, “The beavers can stay. They tend to just pack more material on top of the pipe and that actually helps our installation because it protects the pipe even more. These devices are designed to keep the pond intact, albeit at a lower level than beavers probably want them to be.”

Dr. Hood is one of the brightest stars in the beaver firmament. Every time I read about her successful persuasions with science I get a glorious feeling that one day we might actually cross the finish line. In the meantime, we still have some laps to do in our Martinez relay. Audubon enjoyed a very successful field trip last night and we have a festival to plan.

Debossed charms in silverThe brochure is finished (Thanks Amelia!) and the  charms are done (Thanks Mike!). I had a great interview with the CC Times tuesday and we are in Patch today.

Beaver Festival VII Coming Soon to Martinez

The Seventh Annual Beaver Festival in historic downtown Martinez is set for August 2, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Beaver Park, at the corner of Marina Vista and Castro Streets.

Bring the family to this free, unique Bay Area landmark event.

 The Beaver Festival features live music, wildlife exhibits from seven counties, children’s activities and beaver tours.

 Learn how and why every city should co-exist with beavers. The first 100 children earn a Wildbryde charm necklace.

 Everyone will find something special at this one-of-a-kind celebration of local nature and its most famous grassroots civic success story! To learn more about Worth A Dam (, follow this link.

Thanks Patch! Oh and just in case you wondered about DEFRA, England is still woefully stupid, but their feet are getting closer to the fire. The story was on British TV last night and  in Indian newspapers this morning.

But, don’t worry, the English aren’t always foolish. This, for example, was a brilliant decision.

London Celebrates The Monty Python Reunion By Putting A 50-Foot Dead Parrot In Potters Field Park

Go read the article, it’s that fun.

Oh and today just needs this, I can tell.