It’s what I DO, man…

   Posted by heidi08 On March - 31 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Oh! Looks like our beavers approve of the watershed stewards hard work! Jon wrapped half the new stakes on friday, and they were quick to take a nibble. They’re all protected now!


The whole thing gave me an idea…now I just need some funky beaver folks to record this.  (Ahem).  Free beaver t-shirt for the artist(s) that give this wings! Pass it on. Hit play for some mood music while you read.


When the beaver starts a’chewing
There’s a thing you should be doing
If you want to save your treeline
Better go and make a beeline
For the wire
Get a plier
It’s not dire
I’m no liar
Do the tree-wrap, rap
Do the tree-wrap, rap
 In the yard and in the garden
Wrap it up and beg their pardon
Not too tight, the tree will widen
And it the wire it will tighten
Wire thicken
Not for chicken
Paint with sandy
Comes in handy
Do the tree-wrap, rap
Do the tree-wrap, rap
Save your maple and your aspen
Here’s the point that needed graspen’
Come protect the plants that need you
And the fruit trees that will feed you
I’m not crazy
Don’t be lazy
Stop your trappin’
And start wrappin
Do the tree-wrap, rap
Do the tree-wrap, rap!

Don’t blame me. You knew it had to be done.

Oh, and I know we’re all relieved to know there’s at least ONE stupid person in Sweden. The article is kind enough to say he wasn’t hurt. But mark my words, it will be everywhere as a life threatening attack tomorrow…

Beaver bites bus passenger in Sweden

Pentti Savola, 58, was among a group of early morning commuters waiting to get a bus to work when the animal came up to him and bit his leg last week.

 ”It was lightning fast. I never thought that an animal that looks so clumsy could be so crafty,” she told Swedish news site

 He said that he may have stressed the animal out when he tried to take a photo of it with his mobile.

 But after his own stressful experience, he said he wanted to tell his story to warn children that they should not pet beavers without knowing more about the animals.


Beavers & Water, Beavers & Water, Repeat as necessary.

   Posted by heidi08 On March - 30 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Beautiful letter from Robin in NapaCapture

Remember the importance of beavers in ecosystem

In speaking of water conservation, don’t forget our natural hydro-engineer, the beaver. Beaver dams create wetlands that provide habitat for mammals, fish, frogs, waterfowl and songbirds. These ponds lessen erosion, improve water quality and recharge aquifers. Research has shown they benefit salmon and trout, and are actually vital to restoring wild coho populations. The ponds not only help fishermen, but by raising water tables help ranchers and farmers.

 The importance of beavers in the ecosystem was understood nearly 100 years ago, when they had been fur trapped out of existence in California, and Fish & Game commenced a lengthy reintroduction program. Today, many hundreds are taken by depredation permit each year, though coexistence is attainable. In Napa and Sonoma, beavers are routinely killed along creeks in Carneros. Perhaps it is time this drought-ridden state relearned an old lesson.

 Robin Ellison

Great letter Robin! She even flushed out a beaver-phobe who commented that beaver droppings cause life threatening illnesses. Robin hit all the right points, and she didn’t let a boohoo drought article pass without mentioning the water-savers. I’m thrilled to think that we’ve played any kind of roll in inspiring the folks in Napa to carry the beaver torch. And to be honest, I’m reminded of how the beaver world used to treat me. Like a pleasantly surprising wildcard that cost them nothing and just added to the conversation.  The first beaver conference was a fairytale. People treated me like a lucky penny and I had zero shoes to fill. There’s something to be said for anonymity were nobody expects anything from you.

(I would enjoy it now while you can.)

Speaking of which, our friends in Scotland held their first-ever beaver conference this weekend. They brought out Mike Callahan to talk flow devices, and the event was well attended. Here’s a photo:


How about an encore? Okay, I just came across Samantha Clark’s article again, which was picked up by a water blog and run under this fitting  headline:Capture

Can Beavers Save California? 

Californians are crossing their fingers for more rain after three punishing years of drought have left streams, rivers and wetland parched.

 One animal has the potential to restore these dry landscapes.

 With their industrial buck teeth and flat tails, beavers and their dams offer a defense against drought, a solution to reversing the effects of climate change. The rodents are known as ecosystem engineers. And they once populated most of California (and the Bay Area) until fur traders nearly wiped them out in the 19th century.

 “This state has lost more of its wetlands than all other states, and beavers can rebuild those wetlands,” said Rick Lanman of the Institute for Historical Ecology in Los Altos. “Knowing that it is native should help guide restoration efforts.”

 Beaver dams bestow benefits to the environment that we humans can’t easily copy. They turn land into a sponge for water. Their gnawing and nesting promotes richer soil and slows down water, improving imperiled fish habitat. Their dams raise water tables, nourishing shrubbery alongside streams that stabilize eroding banks and add habitat for birds and deer. They also help the endangered California Red-legged frog.

 Ahh I love that article. If you missed the original, go read it now. There are even some late-breaking quotes from Heidi Perryman about those crazy Martinez beavers. Sadly there is NO mention of a flow device to control flooding or how we managed to coexist with beavers in an urban creek. The paragraph at the end is about how destructive beavers are. But it’s a good article if you just don’t read the last part. And it’s nice to see it living on at the Pure Water Gazette.

Finally a great retelling of osage myth from Ted Stillwell in Missouri

The Beaver and the Crow

I was talking to a longtime friend, who is Osage Indian, recently and was telling him about a pet crow I spent the summer with when I was about 8 out on the farm. For some reason he couldn’t fly, but Crow and I became great friends and had a lot of fun together. My friend frowned and said, “Be leery of crows, as they are mischief makers. Then he related an old Indian legend to me, which I would like to share.

 Beaver had his home in a clear, fresh, spring water lake. The waters were cool and deep – just right for Beaver, and Beaver was happy. Because he was happy, he was content and had no other wish than to have his snug round house upon the lake forever.

 Crow also lived in the land of the clear, fresh water lake. Crow was a jealous person and it made him very angry to see Beaver so content. Crow was a mischief maker and where there was peace, Crow came to bring trouble. And so, Beaver attracted his notice and became a mark for his displeasure.

Go read the rest of their fun story here and take time to enjoy some older beaver wisdom. I have to go now and watch my hummingbirds. They are going to fledge any minute!


Out & About with Trout

   Posted by heidi08 On March - 29 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

So I’ve been getting ready for the trout talk, and trying to pull things together.Niles2 I stumbled across this ominous paper and was feeling a little anxious. They had a 10-foot dam they ripped out and counted lots of trout afterwards. It was published in 2013 and concluded that this was a great way to help trout. At least in the short term, which (as we know) is all anyone ever thinks about.

I immediately turned to the very wise Rickipedia who reviews research for a living and asked his thoughts. He helped me understand the following:
NilesLokteffRick directed me to the more respected paper by Lokteff, Roper and Wheaton. It was completed on a much broader scale and concluded pretty much the opposite. Both papers were published the same year, and neither one mentions the other.

What is particularly interesting in this paper, which looked at many dams over 4 years, is that natives like cutthroat and brook  did better with beaver dams than non native ones (brown). And that little fish crossed dams less often than bigger fish. (Size matters after all).

Lokteff1All of which sounds pretty good for beavers, and I’m not surprised to see Joe Wheaton’s name among the authors. Apparently you can’t just rip out a beaver dam, count the trout, and call it research. Who knew? Anyway, it renewed my focus for the talk, and inspired me to make this, which I like VERY much. Thanks Amelia!

Trout & Beaver

A Tree Grows in Martinez

   Posted by heidi08 On March - 28 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Continuing with our charmed beaver news cycle…

Farmers should welcome nature’s architect

The wetlands that result when beavers build dams contribute to higher water tables, which boost crop and forage production

“People are actually recognizing that beavers have some real attributes,” said Fitch.

“For example, they are a climate change adaptation tool, allowing us to start to adapt to the rigours of both floods and droughts. I suspect one of the other reasons is that they’ve just dropped below the radar.”

Cows and Fish has found that in addition to supporting greater biodiversity, beavers dams and the wetlands they’re part of can contribute positively to agriculture through higher water tables that result in greater crop and forage production.

 “This becomes pragmatic good business, managing those riparian areas, because of their inherent productivity,” said Fitch.

 “These are the deepest, richest soils within a ranching or farming unit. They’re sub-irrigated, and so these produce the most forage.”

“Especially during drought conditions, because these are reservoirs, and if there’s enough beavers at a landscape scale to provide the storage volumes, they can help us work our way through the ravages of drought.”

Another great beaver article! Cows and Fish is doing amazing beaver work in Alberta. They are really changing the landscape of attitude toward beaver. But you can see it’s still a hard sell. The article takes a break from proclaiming their value to write about the BOGUS research that says beavers are contributing to climate change. Sheesh.

In a study published last year, University of Saskatchewan researcher Colin Whitfield found that the footprint of beavers is growing across the three continents they inhabit.

 It also found that plant matter collected in these shallow ponds contributes 200 times more greenhouse gases and methane from beaver ponds than in 1900.”

ohhhhh puleezee…….

Yesterday’s tree planting was a grand success, Ann Riley decided to join the watershed interns and lend a hand  as did our own Lory, Cheryl and Jon. Channel 7 news showed up to film the start of the day and some RCD members at lunch at the creek monkey decided to pitch in. The story was on at 6 last night, which was very and a pleasant change from the latest Martinez appearances.  50 stakes were planted in the block between Marina Vista and Escobar. Jon wrapped 12 of them and will do more soon.

Good work all! And special thanks to Riley for making it happen. Hopefully the odds will be in our favor. Willow is very powerful, but tell mother nature to rain soon, will you?

You otter see this…

   Posted by heidi08 On March - 27 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Thank goodness. No amazing news for beavers today. Finally we can catch our breath and have some fun. Enjoy! Tomorrow they’ll be updates about this afternoon’s tree planting by California Conservation Core interns. Until then, you get the very best beaver fluff pieces.


VIOLENCE between beaver and otter gangs is spiralling out of control.

 Beavers have been reintroduced to river environments, prompting a deadly backlash from heavily armed otters.

 Naturalist Emma Bradford said: “We knew the otters were violent but did not anticipate that the beavers had their own gangs like Dam U 2 Hell Crew, Beevs and Buck Tooth Massive.

 “The otters had been moving a lot of crack and meth up and down the River Frome, but the beavers built dams in key areas and demanded a ‘tax’ to let them through.”

 Gunplay ensued, with nine voles, a moorhen and an environmentalist doing a study on breeding patterns among those caught in the crossfire.

Bradford added: “I would stay away from the riverbanks even if you really want a picnic.”

 However beaver M-Phibious said: “We got nothing but love. Just chewing some logs, that’s all.

 “But if otters come to us then shit could get really real.”

 Hahahahahaha. News trying to be wittingly comic really shouldn’t be encouraged in any way (M-Phibious!) but this made me giggle. Otters lead such charmed lives, rolling about  being cute and posing for photos. Hardly anyone wants to kill them and they never get accused of flooding roads or plugging culverts.

Intrepid beaver reporter that I am, I took some time to look around for footage to go with this story. This is perfect.

Beavers, water, & the learning curve.

   Posted by heidi08 On March - 26 - 2015Comments Off

Another red-letter day for beavers. They’ve been  happening so often I’m going to start calling them red beaver days! The first from NBC.


Beavers Are Great for the Environment. As Neighbors, Not So Much

The dam-building rodents are getting a boost across the West, thanks to their signature water-blocking homes that, it turns out, can have a positive effect on the local environment, and have gained the critters support from local tribes and wildlife biologists. Their dams hold back water flow in elevated regions, propping up groundwater supplies in areas hit by drought and reduced snowpack. They provide habitats for salmon. And while there are other, less natural ways to achieve the same effects, there’s one big advantage to beavers: They work for free.

 A team led by Kent Woodruff, a U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologist, has spent eight years refining beaver relocation in Washington’s Methow Valley. The goal: Make sure that the beavers being brought together are compatible. Think of it as a for beavers.

The target areas are mostly public lands at higher elevations — exactly the areas that supply much of the water for humans across the West. “We’re desperate for water storage,” said Woodruff, and “that’s easily enhanced by beavers.”

Okay, first the good Heidi. I absolutely LOVE when beaver benefits get highlighted in a major NBC story. Kent has done great work in the Methow and I’m thrilled to see that project get the flagship recognition it deserves.  Now the not so good Heidi. More beaver stories saying  we care about water so we’re moving beavers into the mountains instead of killing them? Really? Hmm. Mighty white of you.

Will someone please tell Miguel the reporter that ‘good neighbors’ are like good marriages. They don’t just happen but are made every day by people who care. Like the people in Martinez for example.  And maybe next time you should make a report about that.


Onto more good press for the Beaver Believer documentary. This time Sarah’s on PRI.

Beavers are being looked at as little climate change fighting machines

Sarah Konigsberg is documenting the efforts of six people across the US who are working to bring the big-tailed and bucktoothed beavers back to lakes and rivers across the country.

Like beavers themselves, the human subjects of Kongisberg’s documentary, The Beaver Believers, are climate change activists.

“The Beaver Believers” features the stories of people who share the common passion of restoring the beaver in the West by trapping and relocating the animals to habitats that could use a beaver’s touch.

Beaver dams change the landscape of the waterbed. Whole ecosystems with rich, biodiverse habitats and species build up in the area around a beaver dam, Kongisberg explains.

Streams are slowed and deepened, which allows the water bodies to grow and widen. The dams hold back sediment, raising the water levels for vegetation growth. The slowed water seeps into the ground and recharges aquifers.

“It basically creates a much more varied habitat for many, many more animals to live on,” she says.

The grand filmmaker  actually made a stop last night to refilm some urban beavers and their guardians in Martinez.  She was staying nearby in Pt. Reyes and thought the earlier footage she got when her crew came to the festival two years ago just wasn’t good enough. She’s been excited by the response and thinking the film would be ready for music and final touches this summer. I, for one, can’t wait.

Click on the headline above to hear the interview.


What news stories will there be about beavers tomorrow? I wonder. It’s a little harrowing trying to keep up. That’s the very best kind of harrowed, I admit. But we need a treat this morning, and Cheryl just posted this to my timeline on facebook, so I thought I’d share. Brace yourselves, this is alarmingly cute.


Western Arkansas Wild Rescue Alliance


Almost making the point

   Posted by heidi08 On March - 25 - 2015Comments Off

CaptureBeaver Trapping Leaves Environmental Damage Legacy

CaptureA Beaver trifecta from Oregon Public radio. This one informed by Stan Petrowski who, along with Leonard & Lois Housston,  organizes the state of the beaver conferences. It’s a fine 2 minutes to think about, but honestly my favorite part is the title. Because it doesn’t say ‘historic’. And it turns out to be just as true today.


Speaking of trapping, Robin-the-intrepid received records on her FOIA inquiry from USDA for beaver depredation over the last 10 years. Remember, USDA executes about a third of the depredation permits overall. Unlike  other private trappers, they are required to report method and take. And unlike CDFG their records are pretty meticulous. It took them almost no time to send her this.

WS beaver killed by yearRobin points out that the list was compiled March 3 so the 2015 numbers are just for January and February. She wonders ironically if USDA will kill the most beavers of all during the very year of California’s worst drought. And that seems like a good question to me.

Speaking of drought, have you seen the beautiful new web campaign the Nature Conservancy just launched about water?  I wish I could embed it but you are just going to have to click on it to see for yourself. Honestly, it’s gorgeous. And must have cost a mint.

It prompts what may be an age-old question: Is the Nature Conservancy just made of money? And whether they are or aren’t, why don’t they do more for beavers? There are places on the east coast where they’re trapping them to save trees.

I took the liberty of fixing one of their ads. I’m sure they’ll appreciate the improvement.

If water is life