So quiet you could hear a piano drop…

   Posted by heidi08 On July - 21 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

I’m not going to lie to you, yesterday was exhausting. Some days are. I’ve learned to expect a certain amount of wear and tear pre-beaver festival. But this? Well, no one is ready for  the sky to fall, no matter how braced they appear to be.

It started when the solar company I had been uselessly disappointed in for raising the price 150% from what we had been paying for 5 years, suddenly sent me a friendly email that the price would be LOWERED meaning we would save nearly 300 dollars. And it just got weirder from there.

Capturepin the beaverNext, the email  acquaintance from Oregon who had been writing me to ask for advice about public education about beavers because he had been hired by the Parks and Rec department of West Linn to do just that, suddenly announced that he was coming to the festival to learn from the best. He showed some adorable photos from the activities he had tried last week including our paper bag puppets. And shared a brilliant game he had invented called “Pin the beaver on the Keystone!” And then said and that he was developing a new website called “BEAVER AMBASSADORS” to boot. Here’s what the main page says about us.

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You should go check out the site and explore its growing delights. I honestly don’t know what is more surprising. That someone gets paid by his city to basically do what we do every day for free, OR that someone thinks our site is a valuable resource!

Shortly thereafter, a buddy of Bruce Thompson from Wyoming, who is the program coordinator for “Wyoming Untrapped” asked if we had any educational posters we might be willing to share so they could do more beaver education on their site. I sent her our recent poster and she was stunned by how helpful and beautiful it was. She’s going to use it with credit from us and the artist.BeaverPosterFinal_revised_smaller

Then the brochures were ready to be picked up, then I met with a good friend who was donating beautiful things for the festival auction, then I was called by the Times who wants to do a big spread on the festival the week before, and then I went to bed and slept like I had outrun a giant snowball for days.

I get soo uneasy when wonderful things happen.

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Beavers: The smartest thing in Fur Pants!

   Posted by heidi08 On July - 20 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

One of the stories that’s been hovering around my inbox is a new BBC production in the making called Wild Alaska. It is going to feature the animals you’d expect and some beavers, but I was delighted to see this pre-runner released this morning on a channel called “It’s okay to be smart”. Ha! Now I know everyone is busy but this is really worth your time and your friend’s time, and your bosses time. Settle in for a few minutes and watch it and then share it with EVERYONE you know.

From a website called Zhil Speed.

 

Ná leathnaigh do bhrat muna féidir leat á chosaint.

   Posted by heidi08 On July - 19 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

Which is an old Gaelic proverb that means something like “don’t unfurl your flag if you aren’t able to defend it” OR don’t pretend that you are good for the environment and wetlands if you can’t back it up with the research. Fortunately for us, the beavers of Scotland are all they claimed to be, and the headlines are sweeping the nation. Literally.

CaptureEager beavers experts at recreating wildlife-rich wetlands, study reveals

The extraordinary ability of eager beavers to engineer degraded land into wildlife-rich wetlands has been revealed by a new study in Scotland.

Scientists studied the work of a group of four re-introduced beavers over a decade and found their water engineering prowess created almost 200m of dams, 500m of canals and an acre of ponds. The result was a landscape “almost unrecognisable” from the original pasture that was drained over 200 years ago, with the number of plant species up by nearly 50% and richly varied habitats established across the 30 acre site.

The researchers say their new work provides solid evidence that beavers can be a low-cost option in restoring wetlands, an important and biodiverse habitat that has lost two-thirds of its worldwide extent since 1900.

“Wetlands also serve to store water and improve its quality – they are the ‘kidneys of the landscape’,” said Professor Nigel Willby, at Stirling University and one of the study team. Earlier research by the team showed how beaver dams can slow water flows, reducing downstream flood risk and water pollution.

Beavers build their elaborate waterworks to create pools in which they can shelter from their traditional predators, bears, wolves and wolverines. The new research, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, regularly surveyed the site near Blairgowrie in Tayside where two beavers were released in 2002 and began to breed in 2006. Beavers live 10-15 years in the wild and the average number of beavers present during the study was four.

“After 12 years of habitat engineering by beaver, the study site was almost unrecognisable from its initial state,” the scientists concluded: “The reintroduction of such species may yet prove to be the missing ingredient in successful and sustainable long-term restoration of wetland landscapes.”

Alan Law, another member of the team from Stirling University, said: “We know lots about the benefits of beavers in natural settings, but until now we did not know the full extent of what they can achieve in present-day landscapes where restoration is most needed.”

He said wetland restoration usually involves ditch blocking and mowing or grazing to maintain diversity: “Beavers offer an innovative, more hands-off, solution to the problem of wetland loss. Seeing what beavers can do for our wetlands and countryside highlights the diverse landscape we have been missing for the last 400 years.”

“I think as long as beavers have plenty of space to form a decent number of territories, there are enormous potential benefits,” said Wliby. “Sometimes the negative views of farmers can dominate.”

Lovely to see so many good things about beavers in an area that is doing it’s very best to bring them back. Alan must be the most fully discussed researcher in Scotland, although I’m guessing he gets a few mean looks at the Annual Angler’s dinner. I love how we get to learn this all again, because they’re learning it for the first time. When you teach, you learn twice they say. (Although it does make me chuckle a little to open 100 headlines in one morning saying basically “this just in! Beavers make dams which improve biodiversity!” No kidding? Next you’ll be telling me that  water is wet!)

Still it’s great news, and it might help the Beauly beavers a little too.

Take a moment to send your most positive thoughts to our good friend Beth Pratt-Bergstrom had to be evacuated from her hillside Mariposa home because it is in the fire path at the moment. Her husband and pets are hanging out at the shelter. We at Worth A Dam and the entire wildlife community wish you cooling rains, no wind,  and very hardworking firefighters.

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