Ottawa Sun Shines above the rest

   Posted by heidi08 On December - 19 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

CaptureGive it up for the Ottawa Sun, who is the ONLY paper on the entire planet to put the methane emissions nonsense in context. Just look at this:

 Beavers make a comeback, study finds

“We found global beaver numbers have grown dramatically on the three continents they currently inhabit, North America, Eurasia and South America, to a population of over 10 million,” researcher Colin Whitfield said.

 But could all these beavers be bad for the environment? Beaver activities contribute some 800 million kg of methane to the atmosphere each year. That’s 200 times more than they produced in 1900.

Fear not, Whitfield said.

“The magnitude of this methane source is lower than many other natural sources and unlikely to be a dominant climate-change driver,” Whitfield said.

 Plus, he said, the beavers’ handiwork provides habitat for birds and other creatures, fostering increased biodiversity.

About friggin time is all I can say, Colin.

Now I’m off to the mountains where I hope I’ll have internet but if the site’s dark tomorrow you’ll know why. Wish me snow.

Burocrat Beaver Believers

   Posted by heidi08 On December - 18 - 20141 COMMENT

wb'Yesterday’s important feel started with the airport security we had to go through to reach our towering destination. Riley lead us to the 15th floor conference room, where I set up the presentation, some books and our brochures and water-saver stickers. Members trickled in from three doors at corners of the room, starting with two young environmental scientists who had come just for the talk, a woman from the SF EPA who wanted to catch it, the woman who reviewed all the huge water grants for the northern rivers, the woman next to me who handled all the mercury work for the streams,  a man who worked with Napa flood control and new all about their beavers, and a woman who was especially interested in species predation at the pond and wondered whether all the wildlife we drew meant the fish were unprotected because of the beaver dams. There were about 20 in all and they took up the entire table and were a rapt audience, bursting at the seams with questions that I could barely contain to get through my material.

800px-Skip_Lisle_Preparing_to_install_flow_device_on_Alhambra_CreekI knew things were going our way though, when the fellow involved with Napa Flood Control interrupted after the part about Skip installing a flow device that has controlled pond height since 2008 and said “how much did it cost?” I answered at that time there were no experts trained in this on the west coast, no  DVD’s or books to teach us how to do it, so we had to pay to bring in an expert from Vermont which was costly. But that materials cost us around 500 dollars. He loudly scoffed, that’s NOTHING! and clearly meant, why doesn’t every city do this? Which I took as a very good sign so early in the presentation.

threeThere was laughter in the right places and awwws where we’ve come to expect them. And more questions when the whole thing was over. One question in particular about my child psychology background and did that play out in our work at the festival. Whose clever idea was the Keystone Charm Bracelet for instance? (beam)  The mood was very appreciative and the talk well-received. They spoke among themselves that they needed to add beaver policy to their new stream plan for the area, so that when beavers arrived they would already have policy in place.Ca depredation permits There was special interest in the depredation map and what it could tell us about population in general. Someone suggested if growth rate could be analyzed so that the time of their expansion into San Francisco could be predicted. Afterwards Riley said privately it was the best presentation they had had all year, but more importantly she could see the folks she knew to be skeptics at the beginning were smiling beaver believers at the end. She said it was exactly what she hoped for.

It was a very successful day. Jon stalwartly carried materials and shuttled the car back and forth in downtown Oakland. He defended us in the downpour, and gallantly gave me champagne at the end of the day. He said it felt like the most important talk I had given yet.

News in the broader beaver world seems impervious to our success: a mountain of articles saying beavers (and ground squirrels, seriously?) cause global warming, another tail bounty offered in North Carolina, and a New Jersey man on the water who wants the city to pay to wrap his trees because all that nature is ruining his view. But lets not get bogged down in these relatively unimportant stories. And less focus instead on success at spreading the beaver gospel to particularly powerful ears.

Great footage this morning from beaver friends in Holland. If you don’t think beaver lives are dangerous just watch this narrow escape.


   Posted by heidi08 On December - 17 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

wb'I’m off this morning to the state building to talk to the SF waterboard about beavers. Do I feel ready? I reworked the address to include our historic prevalence papers like Riley asked. I made new slides to talk about the research on beavers and water. I practiced everything until I was able to get it down to 43 minutes. (I was told 45 with 15 minutes for questions, so I assume 43  with pauses for laughter or disbelief should be about right.) Jon will be handling the driving and carrying things up for me. So that’s it. I can’t get any more ready than I am now. And having driven home in a TORRENT yesterday with all the visibility of the inside of a cow, allow me to use the metaphor that floats to mind:

It’s sink or swim now.

There were 40 gleeful articles about beavers and greenhouse gases in the last 24 hours but we knew it was coming. Those researchers sure have a lot to answer for. Since you might need to argue with someone about it in the next day or so, I’ll give you Eli Asarian’s (Riverbend Sciences) sage thoughts on the matter.

Yes, its generally true that wetlands generate methane due to low oxygen conditions in their sediments. They also sequester carbon (build peat soils), which should partially offset the climate effect of the methane. Methane (CH4) lasts only a few years in the atmosphere, whereas CO2 lasts decades. So methane emissions are important in the short-term because they will affect how fast we reach runaway climate “tipping points” (for example, melting artic permafrost), but in the long-term, the more long-lived molecules such as CO2 and nitrous oxides will have a much greater effect on climate decades and centuries forward. It is also important to keep the historical condition in perspective: many centuries ago, we had a lot more wetland area and a lot less fossil fuel burning than we have today, so it seems a somewhat unfair to say we shouldn’t restore wetlands because of their climate effect.

- Eli

 So there. I’m off to the salt mines. Wish beavers luck.

You otter see this…

   Posted by heidi08 On December - 16 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

Our beaver-watching friends in Napa are keeping a close eye on the pond to see what the rain does to the beavers. I got this yesterday from Rusty.

I was checking on the Beaver Pond today around 2 p.m. and was excited to see what at first I thought were two beavers. Turned out to be two river otters which wasn’t so bad,

otter Rusty

River otter fishing Napa beaver pond.: Photo Rusty Cohn 12-14

I told him our mantra and suggested he send it to the paper.

Beaver ponds increase invertebrates
More Bugs mean more fish
More Fish mean more otters and mink

I also told him to make an otter spotter report since he caught this video:

This morning our retired librarian friend from Georgia sent me new research for the “Blame the Beaver Campaign”. This one about Methan Emmissions.

Beaver-mediated methane emission: The effects of population growth in Eurasia and the Americas


Globally, greenhouse gas budgets are dominated by natural sources, and aquatic ecosystems are a prominent source of methane (CH4) to the atmosphere. Beaver (Castor canadensis and Castor fiber) populations have experienced human-driven change, and CH4 emissions associated with their habitat remain uncertain. This study reports the effect of near extinction and recovery of beavers globally on aquatic CH4 emissions and habitat. Resurgence of native beaver populations and their introduction in other regions accounts for emission of 0.18–0.80 Tg CH4 year−1 (year 2000). This flux is approximately 200 times larger than emissions from the same systems (ponds and flowing waters that became ponds) circa 1900. Beaver population recovery was estimated to have led to the creation of 9500–42 000 km2 of ponded water, and increased riparian interface length of >200 000 km. Continued range expansion and population growth in South America and Europe could further increase CH4 emissions.

Did you catch that? By recovering after we killed them earlier, the rebounding population of beavers are making dams and creating wetlands that emit CH4. Methane is the most prevalent Green house gas.  Greenhouse gases cause global warning Because lord knows its not the cows, or the landfills or the cars or the power companies that are causing global warming.

It’s the beavers!

Above and Beyond

   Posted by heidi08 On December - 15 - 20141 COMMENT

Lake Elmo beavers: Cute, yes, but something of a nuisance


It might look like the middle of the wilderness, but this beaver was photographed after a recent snowfall on the west side of Lake Elmo in the Heights. Photographer John Warner has been taking pictures of this beaver and two others this fall.

  Three or four beavers—one or two adults and two kits—have built themselves a home on the shores of Lake Elmo in the Heights.

Their bank den is on the west side of the 64-acre reservoir, near the boat launch and right alongside a culvert that feeds the lake with water from the Billings Bench Water Association canal. A bank den is similar to a lodge but incorporates the bank surface into the structure.

Only three beavers at a time have been spotted so far, but Dave Pauli, with the Humane Society of the United States, said beavers mate for life, so there is most likely another adult in the den.

Terri Walters, who manages Lake Elmo State Park, of which the reservoir is part, for the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said the beavers apparently migrated to Lake Elmo from the nearby irrigation canal sometime this fall.

 The beavers have already felled two small cottonwood trees, a willow and a Russian olive, and they have been working their way through a willow stump thick with dozens of shoots, including a few large ones. They have stacked the top of their lodge with branches, which they will feed on throughout the winter.

 Walters said she had to wrap 10 other trees with wire so they beavers wouldn’t gnaw on them.


Don’t tell me you actually had to take such extreme measures to fend off these marauders! Actually wrapping trees? That’s like having to put your car in the garage or your wallet in your pocket! I mean it’s not quite as bad as wearing a condom or keeping a receipt, but my God, how much can one woman take?

beaver and kits in snow

An adult beaver and two kits swim in open water. John Warner

Pauli also said he’d like to work with FWP on a plan that would allow the beavers to stay at the lake. The adults could be spayed and neutered, and the kits could be as well if they stayed on. Lake Elmo State Park is often visited by groups of schoolchildren, Pauli said, so it would be good learning experience to have a family of beavers living where they are so easily accessible.

The article was going along pretty much like I expected but this was a coffee-spitter. HSUS Dave Pauli thinks the beavers should be neutered? You do realize that kits disperse and move away on their own, right? I mean here in Martinez we’ve had 20 born in 7 years and our population is still 6. I hope you don’t think that beavers can get neutered as easily as cats. Males and females have internal sex organs, and they might not survive the stress of capture even if it were possible.

What a very scary thought. It might well mean that sadly, sometimes the Human Society of the United States has absolutely no idea what its talking about. I always thought of them as smarter  and better than me. Like Jane Goodall,  Gandhi or Mother Theresa.

But even more importantly, let me just say that John Warner’s remarkable photographs of this beaver family are among the most beautiful images I have ever seen. And that’s saying something. Why not use these urban beavers and remarkable visuals to promote the first ever beaver festival in Billings Montana? It would teach locals how and why to work with the animals, and improve water, hunting, and fishing in the area.

beaver reaching snow

A beaver stands on its hind legs to get at snow-covered branches. John Warner

Now this came yesterday from our friend Lee Ann Carver, the wildlife photographer in Canada. You will of course appreciate what happens on the twelfth day of Christmas, but the fifth is pretty clever too. Pass this along to your friends. See it you can spot Grey Owl and if we can top 1000 views by tomorrow.

Oh and a sad correction from our retired librarian friend in Georgia, who pointed out that beavers might not actually get to heaven after all. Dam it.

Pope Francis turns out not to have made pets in heaven comment

From the Profane to the Sacred

   Posted by heidi08 On December - 14 - 2014Comments Off

What a dam nuisance beavers can be

EVERY DAY, George Darden digs a small ditch to drain water off a dirt road that goes to the back of the farm in Pungo. And every night, beavers dam the ditch to block the water from running off.

The Dardens also see stumps of trees, gnawed off by the beavers, and of course, they see the dam that the beavers build every night across the Dardens’ ditch. That’s because beavers build dams in response to the sound of running water.

The Dardens can’t win for losing. “Busy as a beaver” is no lie.

Ahh the patient Dardens and their exceedingly rare, rebuilding beavers. That almost never always happens! I really shouldn’t complain. This is a fairly gentle article for Virginia, and I’m not entirely hopeless about these beavers or the Dardens for that matter.

Pete Akers, district biologist with the department, said the beaver population has rebounded successfully in Virginia because the animals are no longer being trapped for their fur. Beavers are in just about every watershed in the state, and as the young grow up, they move out and go up or down stream.

 ”We like having them here,” Akers said. “They are great for the wetlands and the ecosystem, but they can be a nuisance to landowners.

 ”Beavers are very industrious creatures,” he added.

 The Dardens have some choices. They can have the beavers trapped, which does not appeal to them. Other options include a device called a Clemson pond leveler – a pipe that would drain water off the road in a way that the beavers can’t hear the water running.

 The beavers will be keeping the Dardens busy, too.

Whenever we see biologists from the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries talking about the benefits of beavers we are very, very happy. Even if their solutions are outdated, they aren’t wrong, and that’s progress in my book. I will contact Mr. Akers about updated developments and make sure he has resources for new  remedies from Mike and Skip.  I will try and find the Dardens too, because I already like them and want to help.

Rusty Cohn who has been photographing the Napa beavers received a nice response from the community website Next Door where he is posting about them. He gave me permission to pass it along:

Rusty, I just want to thank you for introducing me to the beaver and keeping all of us informed on his activities. I enjoyed your photos and info so much, I shared it with my 7 year old granddaughter who’s a 2nd grader at Mt. George and when she had to do a presentation on a Napa Treasure, she chose your beaver, did research on the species, copied a couple of your photos (I hope that’s ok) for her board and did her presentation this morning. She was so excited to have something so unique to share. Thanks again.

Hurray for your 2nd grader and hurray for Rusty for making this known! Imagine if this were the story all across the Bay Area, or all across California or all across the Nation. Local people watching and protecting their own beaver family and children reaping the benefit as their urban stream becomes an exciting wilderness. I believe Enos Mills liked the idea so much he included in his final chapter of In Beaver World: The original conservationists.
mills beavers childrenWouldn’t this look great on the side of a truck? Consider this is an early Christmas present for Mike Callahan, who should really make a donation to Worth A Dam because self-perpetuating slogans are worth a peck of money.  He won’t use it, but mark my words, someone in the next six months will steal it. You saw it here first.

new and improvedAnd since its the season we got the tree and the manger up yesterday, complete with a new tiny baby beaver in the crib. Thanks Erika!


I know this is a non-denominational site but we need to celebrate the occasion because to my way of thinking pope Francis just ruled that beavers go to heaven.

460370578-vhWzPd-1_614-largeDuring a recent public appearance, Francis comforted a boy whose dog had died, noting, “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.”

 Theologians say Francis – who took his papal name from the patron saint of animals, St. Francis of Assisi – was only speaking conversationally. But the remark is being seen by some as a reversal of conservative Catholic theology that states because they are soulless, animals can’t go to heaven.

beaver angel

Beavers Across the land

   Posted by heidi08 On December - 13 - 2014Comments Off

Danvers SwampWalk under water

The problem is not with the walkway sinking into the muck, said George Saluto, a former Conservation Commission member who was the driving force behind the SwampWalk.

Instead, beaver activity, a surge of rainfall and a stretch of boardwalk built slightly lower than the rest of the lumber pathway has led to its being submerged

Two families of beavers have been building dams and blocking culverts and outflows, raising the level of the swamp, Saluto said. The southern section of the walkway was built, he added, when the area was not getting a lot of rain.

 “We are off on a new adventure,” Saluto said. “We are simply responding to a very productive — two very productive — families of beavers.

Well, there you have it. Yet another beaver bemoaning story out of Danvers MA, who brought us so many greatest hits this year, like the beaver they trapped but weren’t allowed to remove, and the huge developer who wanted everything but the beavers.

Now beavers (and rain and snow) are raising the water level and flooding parts of their swamp path. I guess they have two lodges so they’re sure its two families, although that would be very, very remarkable. Research tells us that different families need their own territory of at least 2 miles, but if the habitat’s very very rich, like those beavers in the far reaches of Canada who built the dam visible from space, they will share.

Gee, do you think this is extraordinary habitat? Or do you think they possibly got it wrong?

It took 10 years to plan, three years to build, and the collaboration of two towns. The walkway allows visitors to walk into the middle of the swamp, providing views of plants, birds, turtles and beaver dams that can’t be seen from the rail trail. There’s an observation deck with seating, too. A grand opening was held in May 2013.

When volunteers first started the northern section of the SwampWalk in 2010, the rainfall in March, April and May was 20 inches, Saluto said. Before the group started the southern section in 2012, the rainfall in February, March and April was 7 inches.

In the past three months, however — even before this week’s rainfall — Danvers received 13 inches of rain, Saluto said, 6 more than when the southern walkway was constructed. The southern section was built slightly lower than the northern section.

Instead of trying to install beaver deceivers, devices that allow water to flow through beaver dams and keep beavers at bay, the SwampWalk team has decided to raise the walkway’s elevation.

Well that’s interesting. I mean why protect the culverts when you have the money to rebuild the entire walkway? Why fix a flat when you can afford a whole new car? I would ask what they plan to do when the water level rises higher still, maybe because of the next 13 inches of rain or the beaver dam that blocks the culvert, but I won’t bother. I know what they’ll do. They’ll say “We tried a 6000 solution to save the beavers but that didn’t work, so we’re going to have to kill them.” Let’s mark our calendars. I think it will happen sometime in April 2015.

Got any spare change? They end the article with a request for donations.

Now we head west a bit across the United States for a story about beaver from Illinois, the state where the 84 year old man was hit in the head with a log after blowing up a beaver dam. IL  has never been a hot bed of progressive beaver understanding. I believe I once said of them

“Remember this is Illinois where a cynical person might say you could fit all their beaver appreciation and knowledge into a teaspoon and still have room leftover to sweeten your coffee”

So it’s nice to read at least a benevolent article about beaver from the state.

Trail leads to adventure

Not long ago, I was set for a nice long hike in a nearby park to work off stresses. I had my binoculars, camera, and a little snack to enjoy along the way.

At the trailhead is a small creek that runs underneath a rock outcropping. No sooner had I entered the trail, when I observed a newly-constructed beaver dam on the creek. I paused to take a look at it. This led to following a few of the “beaver runs” away from the stream to the trees they gnawed.

 I thought to myself that I should take a few pictures of the beaver dam, runs, and gnawed trees to go into the Lowell Park Nature Center. We have a beaver lodge there for children to explore. I thought I might construct a photo montage of beaver activity.

The article goes on to describe his watching deer and woodpeckers. What do you wanna bet that the next time he visits that beaver pond he’ll see more wildlife? If it’s still there he will.