Beaver Solidarity

   Posted by heidi08 On August - 20 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

damitallIn Kingston Ontario, just across the border from New York, city Council member Lisa Osanic just made HISTORY by presenting arguments for no longer killing beavers but using flow devices instead in the entire city. She submitted a petition with 1000 signatures. No I’m not kidding.

Beaver Petition

Residents want Kingston to protect one of Canada’s national symbols.

Coun. Lisa Osanic presented a 1,000-name petition that urges the city to stop killing beavers, citing the practice as cruel and unnecessary. The industrious creatures are known for their dam-building abilities. The city currently hires a trapper to exterminate beavers through the use of underwater traps.

However, Coun. Osanic says there are other humane, non-lethal devices that can be used. She pointed to the City of London and Ontario’s use of flow devices to prevent beaver dam flooding. Coun. Osanic says an expert from Boston taught London city officials how the device works, and she wants local officials to be taught as well.

It was years ago that residents from Cornwall brought Mike Callahan out to install a flow device to save some beavers. This summer a petition was started to do the same in Kingston. This just goes to show the kind of RIPPLE effect that those earlier actions had. Hurray for everyone involved, and Hurray most of all to our newest beaver friend Counselor Lisa Osanic!


eclipseI heard this weekend from Kent Woodruff (USFS retired) who was in Oregon looking to connect with Suzanne Fouty (Also USFS not yet retired). Turns out now they’ll be taking a camping trip in the back woods to watch the eclipse together with friends! How beavery is that? Here in Martinez we don’t get a total but we’re still excited. This is a great resource if you want to see what to expect where you are. I don’t think the beavers have ever seen a total eclipse before but I’m assuming they’ll sleep through it. If you are looking for truly remarkable ways to record the experience or maybe keep your child curious, here’s what our good friend Jack Laws suggests.

Owls and Champions

   Posted by heidi08 On August - 19 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

Jon met a stranger on his hike in Franklin hills yesterday and they had friendly dogs so they chatted for a while. The two men talked about the trail, and talked about nature, and eventually got to the subject of Alhambra Creeks. The man brought up the beavers, which he had never seen. He thought he had heard that they had some kind of ‘Champion’ that lived in town, but he didn’t know who? Someone Perryman?

Heh heh heh. Beaver champion! I like it. Sometimes I feel like a champion. But definitely not the first or the foremost. One of the most famous beaver champions of all times  is Grey Owl, (or Archie Bellamy). Who in addition to standing up for beavers made all of Canada feel foolish by convincing them he was was Apache, which he clearly was not. They haven’t recovered from the injury quite yet, but if you ask me they have no one to blame but themselves.

One look at the long frame and roman nose should have been enough to dispel any myths!

Grey Owl’s Cabin

On Ajawaan Lake in Canada’s Prince Albert National Park, a conservationist who called himself Grey Owl lived in a cabin with beavers from 1931 to 1938. He faked a First Nations identity; the former trapper was actually an Englishman named Archie Belaney, though these details didn’t emerge until after his death.  

After working as a fur trapper, wilderness guide, and forest ranger, he eventually dove into the world of conservation. His third wife (he’d already had two overlapping, failed marriages by the age of 37), a Mohawk Iroquois woman named Anahereo, helped convince him to make the switch from trapping beavers to advocating on their behalf.

Anahereo had accompanied him one day as he set up a trap to catch a mother beaver. The cries of the kits (baby beavers), which supposedly resembled the wails of a human child, caused her to beg him to release the mother. Though Grey Owl failed to heed to her requests because the pelt would earn them much-needed income, he did go back and locate the abandoned kits the next day. He and his wife raised them in their cabin.

Grey Owl went on to write several books about nature conservation, focused largely around a central theme of the negative effects of the commodification of the natural world. Grey Owl and Anahereo were featured in documentaries about their environmental work and became fairly well known among 20th-century conservationists within the United States and Canada. After Grey Owl died of pneumonia in 1938, the details of his fabricated First Nations identity came to light and tarnished his reputation.

Tarnished reputation! He was a polygamist too, don’t forget to mention that. Of course what he said was true and insightful regardless of his parentage. The truly funny part of this is that Grey Owl, who was arguably the most famous beaver advocate in history, and certainly the only one during the end of the fur trade, lived in Saskatchewan, which is now won of the MOST famous beaver-killing provinces in the world.

Here’s a video I made using his speech in the movie by Richard Attenborough. I’m actually quite proud of how the 90 seconds came together, even slipping a little Beethoven in the background.

But maybe you are more old school, and want to see the real thing (er reel thing). Here’s the original 1936 documentary produced with National Parks Canada. As beaver Champions go, he really set the standard. I am sorry every day my living room doesn’t have a beaver pond in it. I can’t speak for Jon, though.

On a salmon roll!

   Posted by heidi08 On August - 18 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

Don’t look now, but Andy Wallace and Jane Friedhoff are finishing off an Arcade game where two beavers carefully roll a salmon between them in such a way as to protect it from very hungry bears. No really. They call themselves “the upstream team”.

First off, I’d like to introduce you to Salmon Roll: The Upstream Team! Jane and I designed the game, with me taking on most of the programming and Jane handling the production. The amazing Diego E. Garcia is doing all of the art.

In Salmon Roll, two players take control of a beaver on either side of a wooden beam and must work together to guide the rolling salmon resting on the beam to its nest upstream all while avoiding the hungry bears along the way. The game is a collaborative, two-player, super-sized take on the early 80s arcade classic Ice Cold Beer (which itself was inspiration for the recent TumbleSeed). Its levels are designed specifically to utilize the architecture of the space, and players interact with it by using a 5-foot-long, wooden, custom two-player controller.

Here’s a peak at how it works. Oops! Watch out for that bear!

The controller for Salmon Roll is a 5 foot long wooden box held by players at either end and with joysticks sticking out of the sides. The joysticks move up and down, allowing the players to control their beavers, but the construction of the box requires players to hold it up together with their free hand. This ensures that it is impossible for any one person to control both joysticks at the same time: the size of the controller itself makes sure that this is a two-player game. The image of the two beavers holding a plank projected on the wall is mirrored by our players holding the controller in the real world!

Play NYC happens this weekend in NY and is being touted as the city’s first gamers convention where are the exhibits are 100% playable. Large companies and new startups will show off their newest creations.  25 dollars will get you through the door and access to three floors of adventure. But none, I’m sure, as fine as the salmon roll. Which cleverly demonstrates the very important fact that beaver help salmon.

And salmon need all the help they can get.

CaptureNow small world update, I just found out that one of the volunteers taking care of those two lucky beavers at AIWC was formerly one of our own Cheryl Reynold’s volunteers at IBRC! She just reminded us that there is a go fund me campaign for the two furry friends, and I thought you might want to help. Even if you don’t have funds to spare, watch the video just to appreciate how differently colored those two beavers are.  Colors living in harmony.

Capture