Because the beaver isn't just an animal; it's an ecosystem!

The Martinez Beavers

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This busy morning, before we do the stuffing, feed the cat or straighten becky’s hair for the grand family palooza we’re expecting this afternoon, let’s stop and be thankful for this letter to the editor. Even if does appear paired with a photo of a nutria which I will not be reposting here for obvious reasons.

 Reader’s letter: Beavers can prevent flooding

I read with interest about Green Party deputy leader Amelia Womack’s visit to England’s first beaver reintroduction in east Devon this week. The River Otter Beaver Trial is a five-year project, led by Devon Wildlife Trust in partnership with Exeter University, running until 2020.

The trial is monitoring the beavers’ impact on the landscape, other wildlife, water resources, water quality, local communities and infrastructure, and local farms. Initial results reveal strong evidence for the role beavers might play in reducing flooding downstream, even during prolonged wet periods.

The trial is already producing promising results that indicate the role beavers can play in helping to protect our towns and cities from floods, while giving us a richer, more exciting natural world.

Floods are devastating for communities, as we have seen in Stroud – they destroy our homes and belongings, damage our economy and disrupt our daily lives. Without serious action to tackle climate change, the floods we face every winter are only going to get worse.

But just a small number of beavers can have a disproportionate effect on the environment around them, influencing water flow, improving water quality and increasing biodiversity and bringing great benefits to other wildlife.

Successful flood prevention means working with nature starting with our soils and land management which hold huge capacity to absorb intense rainfall, through to allowing more space for rivers and floodplains to behave more naturally, not covering it in concrete. This is about working with the grain of nature and not battling against it.

But there are potential challenges ahead, not least the possible impacts these industrious creatures could have on farmland. The trial is looking at all the possible impacts, and exploring how we can maximise the positive and minimise the negative ones.

I have heard of attempts to get salmon back to Salmon Springs, so why not introduce the beaver to the River Frome? It may well complement the great work that Chris Uttley at Stroud District Council has been doing with Rural Sustainable Drainage in the Stroud Valleys.

Tracey Fletcher: Ruscombe Stroud

Nice work Tracey! You covered all the basics and then some! If only every letter about beavers was equally well prepared I could retire and move to Florida. I’m sorry about the photo of the nutria and I wish that I could promise that once beaver re-acquaints itself with beaver they’ll know better and these kinds of mistakes won’t happen, but America is living proof that’s not true. It still happens all the time, to our small papers, or nonprofit cousins, and even our scientists from NOAA or the Forest Service!

But the letter was EXCELLENT!

We at Worth A Dam wish you a fine feast with family and friends today. Mine will have a new baby on scene (born a month early, like me!) from my niece and four generations of Perryman’s  arguing over who gets the drumstick. I am thankful my sister is hosting it and I don’t have to, Also thankful that we have beavers in Martinez again (even if we can’t see them), that we have will have another festival in a new park, and that Amy Gallaher Hall will be donating her talented chalk art. I am also grateful for the shiny new website (thanks Scott Artis) that I am nearly starting to get the hang of, and that I heard this week from author Ben Goldfarb that he has just completed his first draft of the wonderful new beaver book and is planning on a much better title.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We are bringing stuffed cherry tomatoes. How about you?


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The other day I was contacted by an ecologist in Wyoming who was interested in the beavers and climate change movie project by Sarah Koenisberg. He wanted to see it completed so it could be released in a couple of venues he was interested in. He was considering ways to make that happen and wanted my opinion since I was in the film. I agreed that it should be done and encouraged him to move funds in that direction. Them I poked about to look up the work he was referring to. My search brought me to this article from the Wyoming Wetland Society out of Jackson Hole whose primary interest is in Trumpeter Swan restoration, But of course that makes them very good friends of the beaver on whose lodges the swans love to nest. I’m not sure I reviewed back in 2014 back when it  this out because I don’t always catch blog posts, but I know it will interest you too.

The Rancher Who Wished for a Beaver

“They’re really beneficial, to get the shrubs in, get the water up.”

Beaver DreamsIClyde Woolery, a rancher near Kinnear, Wyoming, wishes he had more beavers. n 2011, he called the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and asked if they could live trap a beaver and transplant it to his ranch.

Bill Long, the program director of Wyoming Wetlands Society, says that beavers can establish new wetlands and make existing wetlands work better. “Cleaner, colder water comes out of beaver dams,” he says. “They’re a keystone species.” Beaver dams raise the water table and increase water quality by slowing down the flow and filtering the water, Long says. That helps establish willows and other shrubs, which are good habitat and browsing for animals including livestock.

After all, “it’s been said many times before, they’re nature’s engineer.” He says wetlands benefit ecosystem health and even boost biodiversity. “They’re doing good things. Whether it be for cutthroat trout or for cattle, they’re good for the system.”

When a landowner has a problem beaver, Long’s group live traps it and moves it to public land, usually national forests. Wyoming Wetlands Society has been moving dozens of beavers each year since 2004. Game and Fish reacts to isolated phone calls, also moving troublesome beavers to public and sometimes private lands.

And, meanwhile, ranchers like Clyde Woolery wish for a beaver. In a state looking for ways to store water in an arid landscape, beavers could help. A program for landowners to request beavers could be one step toward healthier wetlands for people, livestock, fish, and ecosystems.

Woolery believes he’s not alone in his dreams of bringing beavers back to his ranch. If Game and Fish streamlined a way for landowners to get on a beaver request list, Woolery thinks there would be demand. He says Game and Fish agreed to bring him a beaver once he could get willow established closer to his creek. “The coyotes get them, if they have to go too far for willow,” Woolery explains. He’s on beaver hold until then.

I”m pretty excited about anyone whom appreciates the value beavers add to the land, and I hope Clive gets his beaver and tells all his friends how important they are.  I wish it the article was clearer about the idea of moving family units instead of individual beaver being more successful. Also in Wyoming I’m sure you have to give beavers some kind of safe cover initially so they don’t get eaten! Let’s hope they had lots and lots of meaningful conversations with the Methow folks, shall we?

In the meantime we can all support the idea that this fine film will one day get finished and be presented at the wetlands conference next year. I for one would LOVE to see the finished product. I can’t embed the trailer here, but go to Sarah’s site to watch the trailer if you need your memory jogged.


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Inch by inch, the website is getting closer. Now the lime green is gone and I am starting to feel safer. We also have handy new share buttons that should link to the very post you’re reading, so try them out will you?

In the meantime we can feel sorry for Kentucky who is as surprised that trapping beavers didn’t solve the flooding problem as they are every year to learn that abistinence-only education doesn’t work.

Who would have guessed?

Beavers, and the dam problems, are back

Less than four months after beavers created a blockage in a Richmond neighborhood’s retention facility, flooding homeowners’ yards, a resident in the neighborhood says the creatures are back.

The area the creatures are inhabiting now is about 500 yards from the retention basin in the Banyan community, homeowner Cory Mayer said.

Behind Mayer’s house is a dam believed to have been built by the beavers. The pond is growing. Also, trees in that area show signs of beavers having gnawed on them. The creatures have even brought some of the trees down. Dams have caused some flooding in a neighbor’s yard.

Richmond city manager Richard Thomas said he hired someone who trapped and relocated the guilty beavers. Most likely, the creatures there now are not the same ones responsible for the flooding, wildlife biologist Tom Edwards said.

Edwards, who works with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, said it’s more likely new beavers have moved in. In areas beavers like — those that include water and trees — it is hard to keep them out.

Sure it’s hard getting new results when you’re trying the same thing over and over again, but we’re Kentucky and we keep trying. It’s difficult work, sure, and sometimes folk get discouraged, but after years of trying we;ve nearly perfected the art of learning very little from experience.

Those finding beavers on their property can’t do much about it. If the beavers there are moved, it’s likely new ones will move in. The only resort is to keep moving them out every time they move in. Though it would be nearly impossible to keep the beavers away, people can defend their trees by wrapping metal fencing material around the trunks. As for the dams beavers build, the only thing to do is remove the beavers and knock out the dam. And keep doing it as the beavers keep returning.

 “It’s a constant process,” Edwards said.
 
But KY is NOTHING if not consistent. They’ll just rip out that dam again and trap a few beavers and then everyone, including the reporter will act surprised when this all happens again in four months. Sound like a plan?
 
Of course they could install a flow device and control that water once and for all. The beavers would not cause a problem and could stick around using their own territorial beavers to keep others away. It would even save them money and bring in some new wildlife to boot.
 
Do you think that’s likely to happen? Me either.

Time for some cheerful news from our friends the Devon beavers with a headline I’ve truly never seen before!

Celebrations as River Otter beaver numbers grow

The Devon Wildlife Trust [DWT] says the reintroduction project is going from ‘strength to strength’ and estimates there are 27 animals living along the river, rising from nine when it launched its beaver trial two years ago.

DWT’s Stephen Hussey said: “The beavers are doing well, they are not fast breeders and each pairing will have one litter a year and usually two or four kits.

“It is suggesting there is a lot of room for the beavers and we are a long way from beaver maximum numbers on the river, what is happening is the beavers are spreading along to different territories.”

The charity is now halfway through its project after it was granted a five year licence to study the creature to 2020.

The trial is led in partnership with landowners Clinton Devon Estates and also working with Exeter University, who is co-ordinating research into the impacts the beavers have on the local environment.

 Be still my heart. Not only is this article actually the first I’ve ever read expressing appropriate joy at beaver numbers increasing, it is also nearly the first I’ve seen truthfully admitting that their numbers grow slowly.

Someday all this will be behind us and there will be healthy beaver populations in England and Wales and Scotland. I wonder who will surprise and delight us with positive beaver news then?


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Wales is inviting public comment before it makes a decision about whether or not to reintroduce beavers. I wonder what people will say? Ooh! I know! Call on me!

Opinions sought over beaver reintroduction in Wales

Members of the public will be asked to have their say on plans to reintroduce beavers into the Welsh countryside. Depending on the level of response and issues raised, a final decision could come before the end of the year.

Supporters of the plan believe they will bring environmental and economic benefits, but others remain unconvinced. Beavers were once native to Britain but were hunted to extinction for their fur in the Middle Ages.

The animal has been reintroduced into and in recent years and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is currently considering an application for a licence to release ten pairs of beavers into the River Cowyn in Carmarthenshire.

The application has been submitted by Wildlife Trusts Wales and the Carmarthenshire-based Bevis Trust, which has three families of beavers penned on its land ready to be released.

Bevis Trust founder Nick Fox believes the experience of beaver reintroduction elsewhere proves that the animals will bring big benefits to the Welsh countryside.

He told Radio Wales’ programme: “Beavers have a key role to play in the ecosystem. They build dams in the slower-flowing small rivers – not in big rivers – and those dams act as natural filters for pollutants and sediment.”

Alicia Leow-Dyke, who oversees the Welsh Beaver Project for Wildlife Trusts Wales, argued beavers would help improve biodiversity.

“Many studies have shown that where you have beavers you have a much richer biodiversity, you have a mosaic of different habitats – and that’s possibly something we have lost in the United Kingdom,” she added.

Dam straight they do! Of course Wales should reintroduce beavers, although I’m going to predict that it won’t matter if you decide to or not, because they will find you all on their own.

This moss guy worries me. I get worried when lies are repeated over and over again without any change. Usually the liar gets called out and reshapes his lie a little. ‘I know beavers don’t eat moss but I’m worries about the wildlife that depends on it” or some such alteration.   This is blatant unrefined lying over several months. I call it gansta’.

That is a concern for botanist Ray Woods, who has visited the River Otter in Devon where under licence.

“I asked the question, “What are they eating” and they just said, “Sorry Ray, we don’t know”. What’s been the impact on all these masses of mosses and liverworts and lichens that are absolutely bang full of useful pharmaceuticals?”

I’ve said before and I’ll say again, there is NO EARTHLY WAY that Ray ever asked anyone involved with the beavers in Devon what they eat and got the response “We don’t know!” for an answer. Unless he asked a gas station attendant or a delivery man.The beavers in Devon are some of the best observed, best studied, best researched any where in the world. There is no way they have not counted every blade of grass or sapling the beavers have nibbled.

I hate to get all biblical on you but I can’t resist Luke 12:24

Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?

It just so happens, Ray, that beavers are WAY more responsible than ravens. They both reap and sow, in a manner of speaking. In fact sometimes. In fact beavers are sometimes called “Willow farmers” because as streams get wetter and more complex willow or aspen appears in more places.

More beavers means more trees.
And more trees means MORE lichens and mosses.
Not less.

Sheesh! Get a new lie, will you?


Bob Kobres of Georgia wrote yesterday that he misses the left margin and he disliked the loading diamonds. I don’t have power over margins but VOILA! The diamonds are gone! And about those share buttons, if you click on the post they appear at the bottom of the page. OR if you use the share buttons at the top they will post this very column.

And check out the ID hint menu. It’s fun. We’re finding our way in the new world.


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I spent yesterday moving the digital furniture and making the drop down menus look the way I wanted them to. Please humor me by going to look at them and telling me what needs fixing. Rusty of Napa wrote  a couple suggestions about including photos so that they could be clicked on to make them bigger – and suggested adding some social sharing buttons.  Of course they were working but just no stopped, but the picture thing works right?

Meanwhile Scott says he’ll get rid of the lime green next week, and Bruce updated the domain name for another year, so brace yourself: you’ll be stuck with me that long at least!

In honor of this auspicious occasion, Upstate New York was kind enough to publish this very amusing article. It starts out pleasantly enough but has one of the very best beaver mistakes I’ve read in recent years. Enjoy!

Sandra Scott Travels: Witness The Prowess Of Beaver Engineering

Last week I asked: Where can you see a beaver dam in the making? Near the Amboy 4-H Environmental Education Center.

John and I decided it was a great time to check out a beaver dam we had heard about. Beaver dams are an amazing feat of engineering. We didn’t see any beavers, but I think it was because there was a family with young children just leaving the area. Walk quietly if you go and you may be luckily enough to see the beavers.

They carry the mud to build the dam on their tummy.

Ahhh there it is! Imagine if you will, the series of misunderstandings necessary to convince oneself that beavers carry mud on their tummies! If this was a west coast article I’d be inclined to say they had seen sea otters breaking shells on a rock on their tummies, but that surely never happened in New York?

Nope, there’s simply no accounting for this. And since the author never actually saw a beaver we can assume that this “fact” was given to her by the naturalist, or seen in a display. I might have to right them and ask about it, but for now I’m just going to amuse myself with the notion of a round bodied beaver floating on his back carrying mud on his tummy towards the  dam. Maybe paddling with his tail?

Heh heh.

Speaking of unbelievable things, 25 years ago today my dissertation committee officially gathered  in a small windowless room for the last time to approve my research, making me an official Ph.D. Unlike the oral defense, this was a peaceful,  mostly bloodless gathering, and no scalps were taken. The head of the committee was a brilliant, awkward man who bobbed when he spoke like we were all at sea. The technical wizard who helped with data analysis was busily recalculating my figures on his watch (beep beep) while we spoke, and the other member had just given birth and was breast feeding quietly. In between their comments and questions, tiny sounds of pleasure would come from the infant and brighten the room. “Ah!” 

And then, after 9 years of college it was finally finished, and I had a doctorate. Who knew I be using what’s left of that education to save beavers?