Posted by heidi08 On July - 1 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

Our friends at Occidental Arts and Ecology Center just released their new ‘beaver guide’. It’s well done and beautifully presented. You can download your free copy here, or pick up a hard copy for 10.00.  It’s definitely worth checking out!


Sometimes I see glossy productions like this and feel guilty that Worth A Dam hasn’t done more of lasting value that you can hold in your hands. But then I remember than maintaining a beaver website for a decade and literally flooding the internet with information ain’t nothing. And then there’s that other thing we do. The part that makes me laugh is at the end where they list ‘what can you do to help’. I especially like the last one.

CaptureHeh heh heh. Been there. Done that. Literally have the tee shirt.

compare faceSpeaking of new releases, Love Nature just released a beaver video for Canada Day with a photo of a nutria, so I made them this helpful graphic. Unfortunately the video can’t be embedded, but click on the link if you’re curious.  I expected better from a country with a beaver on their money! (I bet no one has nutria on their money.)

WATCH: Historic footage of magical animals returning to the English countryside

The endearing youngster with its lavish coat was filmed swimming in Devon’s River Otter, marking an important milestone to bring the rare creature back to the countryside. 

Beavers were hunted to extinction in Britain 400 years ago but conservationists are striving to see them return to quiet waterways and play a positive role in natural cycles. 

In CS Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, a family of beavers help save the lives of four children transported to the magical world of Narnia. 

Footage captured by wildlife expert Chris Townend shows how the endearing creatures are themselves being nurtured through an reintroduction project to establish them back as native British mammals. 

His delightful clips show a nursing mother and her cute kit, one of the triplets she has recently produced.

Triplets! So exciting. I want beaver triplets! You know when I first posted the beaver kit news article on the english facebook beaver group they asked me to take it down, because they were worried about the media bringing foot traffic. I said, okay but um, cats outta the bag? Use this moment to educate people about how to behave around wildlife? But they were sure the story was in a tiny paper and would die down.

I think they forgot that baby beavers have been missing from the english countryside for 4oo years and are going to make news.  The video first shows mom grooming and then the kit hurling himself indelicately underwater.

It’s July First! And end of Map day! Who hoo, after rearranging and squeezing I’m finally done arranging the festival map, and any one else who comes just has to tag along at the edge and deal with being unlisted. We are about as big as we can be anyway. See for yourself.
map2016Oh and Suzi Eszterhas is donating an archival quality matted print to the auction. And guess what which one she is choosing?

suzi auction


   Posted by heidi08 On June - 30 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

listYesterday started lovely enough, with the usual sunrise and lighter morning air. But our hearts were quickly alarmed by a THUMP at 8:00. Followed by many regular sounding bangs like the hammer of Hephaestus on the anvil of doom. We recognized the sound of the pile drive from the horrible sheetpile drama lo these many years ago, and rushed to its source.

The crane was erected on the other side of the train bridge about 300 feet from where the beavers are living. After a little researching and checking with the city engineer I realized it was for the new bridge they’re building to the inter-modal facility down stream.  They are looking to make traffic easier on all those soccer moms who drive chrissy to the game. Here’s a map of what they’re doing, the blue dot is the beaver home.

beavers livingImmediately I started to panic. Apparently this phase of the work anchoring the pilings will take two weeks. Jon already said the dam was looking unkempt last week. What must that sound like when you’re right next door underground? Maybe this would drive them away, maybe they had already left. Jesus, I thought I was done worrying about beavers!

Yes our other beavers stayed through a much tougher time but they had four small youngsters to worry about packing along. Even if current mom was already pregnant it was certainly easier to travel with them all ‘on board’ so to speak.

Would they be gone already?

Jon and I had been watching the tide and saw that today was an ideal time to visit. So we braved the smoky predawn and headed downstream. There was a fire last night in the hills behind Rankin park and they were still guarding the embers when we drove down. I was ready for a doomed site with a broken dam and empty waters, and possibly scorched earth. Instead I saw this almost as soon as we arrived.

darkA beaver! Munching in that lovely untroubled way they have.  A train whistle blasted and I thought the hammer of the pile driver might not be much worse. The beaver swam back and forth across the pond, and got in a little tussle with a raccoon that was crossing the dam. Then made a broad show of sitting possessively in the middle to indicate who was in charge.

I always forget how hardy and resilient beavers are! They put my pale courage entirely to shame. I think of that little disperser nursing a drip into a pond on the Guadalupe River and realize they are not afraid to commit. Even when the sky looks dark.

We didn’t just see one beaver this morning. We saw two. Here the smaller male is swimming up to see what the female (on the left) is eating and find out if she feels like sharing. Spoiler Alert: She does NOT.

How many times had I stood by the creek thinking the lyrics to our national anthem applied to beavers? A hundred? A hundred hundred?

Gave proof thru the night, that our beaver was still there.

I’m sure they’ll be more banging this morning, and I’m sure I’ll keep worrying whether they will finally have such big headaches and move out in a huff. But TODAY my heart is beaver-blessed and I only can think of this over and over.

More to smile about this morning from our old friend Skip Lisle and the great state of Vermont. This is such a well written article I’m tempted to post the whole thing. Go read it all, and sit grab the popcorn tor this cheerful beaver battle.

Stowe officials, residents argue about beaver trapping

Beavers be dammed, Stowe can agree, but there’s conflict over the best way to vanquish the varmints.Beavers build dams to ensure a supply of deep water, but those dams can change the flow of water through an ecosystem and, if they collapse, threaten public and private properties.

Galdenzi said trapping beavers leaves room for more beavers to take their places and can actually result in higher beaver reproduction rates, making the problem worse, not better.

“I want the select board to consider pursuing nonlethal means” of control, Galdenzi said.

Instead of traps, Protect Our Wildlife advocates use of Beaver Deceivers, trapezoidal devices that create a screen over culverts, allowing water to flow through even if beavers try to build a dam there.

Beaver Deceiver inventor Skip Lisle of Grafton says his device is a specialized kind of flow device.

“You’re basically controlling damming behavior by sneaking water away from beavers,” Lisle explained. “You’re controlling water levels with a combination of fences that keep beavers out and water in. It makes their presence irrelevant.”

Lisle says on average, it costs $2,500 per culvert for him to install a flow device.

“It’s a very good investment,” he said. “It can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean and maintain a culvert without one. It’s the greatest investment I can imagine.”

“Trapping is not a long-term solution,” Aberth said. “More beavers will move in. Humane solutions make more sense.”

Whooohooohoo! Stowe steps up to beaver central! I could listen to these folks argue all day.

Oh and I’m posting this ‘just cuz’. Lots of people did an amazing job on the fire last night. But I’m going to wager the carquinez strait helped the most.

Beaver kits in Devon: And all’s right with the world.

   Posted by heidi08 On June - 29 - 2016ADD COMMENTS
Morning ‘s at seven;
The hill-side ‘s dew-pearl’d;
The lark ‘s on the wing;
The snail ‘s on the thorn;
God ‘s in His heaven—
All ‘s right with the world!

Robert Browning

This adorable video shows a baby beaver born as part of the England’s first wild breeding programme for 500 years. The emergence of the young has been heralded by wildlife experts as proof the project to reintroduce the mammals into the wild is working.

The trio of kits have been born on the River Otter and joined the group of beavers who were returned to the wild last year.  It is not know when they were born but they were caught on camera by wildlife enthusiast Chris Townend, who described the mum and kit as looking healthy and happy.

Chris, 44, of Budleigh Salterton, Devon, runs wildlife watching company Wise Birding Holidays.

He said: “I live locally and keep an eye out on the river knowing they might be breeding this year. It is great news they are producing young. Last year beavers further north of the river produced three kits but this is the first one from this group at my end of the river.  It was great to see. The whole project and trial has been brilliant and it was lovely to see they are doing well and adding to the population. Beavers are very positive to have around for the habitat. I have only seen one kit myself but I do know that three have been sighted in recent days. “

The spokesman added: “We understand that many will now want to see the kits for themselves. But like all new parents, the beavers will need a bit space and peace at this time.

“So we ask that visitors take care not to disturb them. This means remaining on public footpaths, keeping a respectful distance from them, and keeping dogs under close control especially when near the river.”

Ahhh the delightful new kits of summer! God bless Devon for reminding us why we love beavers, and god bless this ADORABLE footage which lovingly shows the kit diving in what is almost an accidental tail slap! I LOVE the awkwardness of kits as they gamely take on the unwieldy waterways of the wide world. Don’t you?

Speaking of unwieldy I was told at the 11th hour monday that our artist who does the beaver charms wouldn’t be helping us this year, after planning the project with me for a year and naming him in the grant. I usually call him every month just to check how things are coming along, and this time he STUNNED me with “I can’t do it“.

No Ecosystem Engineer bracelet? That we got a 1000 dollar grant for? And you’re telling me at the end of June? No children’s activity? And here I had just gone through all the steps to assign charms and educate helpers and print signs! We had a contract. He didn’t even call ME to say my God I’m sorry but….he just waited for me to call him and then dropped the bombshell.

I will say in my defense that I cried not at all and swore very little. I took about a minute to decide an alternative and boldly called Mark Poulin who did our buttons last year. I told him about the project and about the panic. I apologized for the late notice but thought he might be able to help somehow. Last year I saw a video showing how those 1 inch pins could be attached to a silicon wrist band to make a bracelet. Maybe we could use that idea to pull something together?

Mark said he was very busy and his designer was only coming on thursdays and he would ask her if it might be possible and call me on friday. He didn’t sound hopeful and I feared the worst. But yesterday he said he had called her that night and they had brainstormed together all the animals on wheels. He sent me this. We have some changes and additions to tweak but I was in heaven and so unbelievably grateful.

Is that cute or is that CUTE???  This man knows cute. My god that’s so cute I almost want to be a three year old boy so I can fucabooselly appreciate it! He put the salmon and frog and dragonfly on wheels to. I’m so incurably greedy I was still hoping we could get a  caboose too, so that we could have a whole train, to get the idea across.
Well, crisis averted. Beautifully averted. We can make this an even alongfortheridebetter activity, we won’t need to link them together, just let kids attach them themselves to the band. Which means we won’t need a million volunteers. And we won’t need the extra space for the linking station. And Mark added one adorable one just because I apparently can’t type the ‘b’ for bird without writing ‘beaver’ instead. We’re doing these as magnets! I LOVE the way he’s holding on.

We already have 100 silicon bracelets that were given to us by a crew team in vallejo, so we just need another 100 and we’ll be good to go. After you attach the pin to the band it should look something like this:


Friends of the Salmon

   Posted by heidi08 On June - 28 - 20162 COMMENTS

Yesterday was sneak peek into how a deeply intelligent and committed organization functions. The folk are SARSAS were among the brightest and most ecologically attuned folk I had ever addressed. Many of them were steadfast beaver fans and mentioned to me that the ‘woman who had come last time seemed a little misinformed’.  (Ya think?) Jack Sanchez the president who was the brightest and most eager of the bunch, had a million ideas and contacts and wanted to introduce me to all of them. But the single best part about yesterday was when he started out the day by saying:

“I was reading my favorite book this morning, Moby Dick, and came across a favorite quote that reminded me of how folk feel about beavers”

“Ignorance is the parent of fear”

No kidding.

Apparently he used to be an English teacher and Melville is his go-to reread. Of course I told him I had just finished listening to the Big Read of every chapter, and told him how fun it was to hear those word read by folks like Tilda Swinton and David Attenborough. Also how the chapters on faulty representation in art or history reminded me so much about beavers. He very much agreed and was excited to listen on his own.

Small World with beavers in it!

Since they got to hear from Mary Tappel last month I started out by saying our talks would be fairly different. And then mentioned her obliquely a couple times in the story, like saying a ‘beaver expert’ whom you know came to Martinez and said ‘flow devices never work’ but ours worked for a decade. Ahh that was fun.

But the VERY best part was when I got to the end and talked about reviewing the depredation permits and how one county had issued 7 times more than any other. As soon as they saw the map they were murmuring with annoyance. After the talk they arranged for me to come address the county supervisors and the AG commission and record something that could go to every class room. Jack has already picked the day that I should come back next year.

If a single thing has a chance of opening the eyes of placer county, it was in that room yesterday.

Onto some nice beaver news, first a beautiful column from Tom Venesky in Ohio who wrote a trapping column about beavers a few years back  called ‘Stepping it up for beavers’ and defending their role as ecosystem engineers that I regard as one of the useful things ever written about beaver benefits. This column is about canoeing a beaver swap, and it’s just nice to read. Especially as they combine two of my favorite things ever: watching beavers and being in a canoe.

Outdoors with Tom Venesky: The silent swamp

 From my seat in the canoe I watched in amazement.

I was exploring a beaver pond and ventured into the flooded trees, a section the beavers had recently dammed around their lodge. The water was too shallow for even the canoe, but open trails through the floating weeds hinted at beaver trails leading to the lodge, and I knew they would provide deeper travel lanes.

As I neared the edge of the swamp, I spotted an object parting the still water on the surface.

It was an enormous beaver with a head like a concrete block. I was mesmerized at the stealth in which it maneuvered through the tangle of brush, trees and weeds. The beaver was only several yards away and it was aware of my presence as it glided away from the edge of the swamp toward it’s lodge. The beaver swam in silence, parting the thick aquatic vegetation with ease, deftly curling its body to dive under a limb and, for a brief moment, climbing out of the water to cross a log.

Despite all of the obstacles and it’s enormous size, the beaver didn’t make a sound as it moved. It barely stirred the surface and, even though I was nearby, never slapped it’s tail. The beaver never disrupted the solitude of the swamp.

After watching for a few moments, I lost the beaver as it ventured farther into the swamp and closer to the safety of it’s lodge. After watching the beaver expertly swim through the swamp, I went back to my “clumsy” routine of pushing the canoe with an oar and moving face-slapping limbs out of the way.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIsn’t that lovely? Go read his fine description of beaver habitat in full. You know the first beaver I ever saw was from a canoe. I might not have the balance for it any more, but I still have lots of these mornings tucked inside me to remember. Nothing like coffee with the dawn in a canoe.

Another nice plug for the Methow project in Washington, who gets a summer intern worth writing about!

Summer Jobs: Two Students Study, Protect Beavers and Whales

Rising sophomore Satya Kent received a Strong/Gault Social Advancement grant to work for the Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation, which is working to restore habitat for fish and wildlife in eastern Washington state. One of its projects is to establish new beaver colonies at high elevations to help alleviate drought conditions in the Methow River watershed, an area of about 2,000 square miles that drains the North Cascade mountains.

Beaver wetlands can be helpful to the surrounding area because they filter sediments and pollutants from streams, and spread rivers across floodplains, allowing water to percolate into aquifers. Beaver-made wetlands also provide rearing grounds for young fish, limit flooding, and keep small creeks flowing year-round.

It’s a nice article about the good work Methow has been doing since 2008. Good luck Satya! Have a wonderful summer! Many years ago a student working for Methow gave  me this footage as a thankyou for loaning him equipment to present at the conference. It remains some of my favorite.

Beaver revolutionary

   Posted by heidi08 On June - 27 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

Up at the crack of not-dawn this morning because we’re off to Auburn today to give a beaver talk to our salmon friends at SARSAS. Last month they had speaker Mary Tappel come and lie at them, so my job ia to be the “great undoing”,

In the mean time my niece tipped us off yesterday about the fact that our founding father Benjamin Franklin had designed a 6 dollar bill with a beaver on it and we had to go hunting for it immediately. Apparently the tree was the encroaching English and the beaver was the noble persevering Americans!

Just in time for Independence day.

AmeribeaverIn case you want to listen yourself, beaver at 2.40.

Of course we had to act on this news right away!


Missing Pieces

   Posted by heidi08 On June - 26 - 20162 COMMENTS

What do you think? Will people be able to guess what is missing from this picture?

It’s June 26 and our festival map is almost complete. We asked that people register by the end of the month, so what do you think the odds are that some last minute stragglers will want to add in the next four days? We left one open just in case.  I like that Mario’s booth will be right next to his mural, so he can present his artwork naturally. Theoretically the promo has been slotted and approved to air on the city channel, so keep an eye out and let me know if you see it!map2016

“The beaver ate my homework”

   Posted by heidi08 On June - 25 - 2016Comments Off on “The beaver ate my homework”

And on the day the phase ‘flimsy excuse’ were reinvented,  we stood in awe and watched.

No solution for beaver activity

MOUNTAIN HOUSE — As activity by a family of Mountain House beavers increases along the banks of the community creek, local officials say the animals are not yet in jeopardy of being exterminated.

According to Doug Louie, superintendent of operations and maintenance, it’s going to be two to three years before officials can take any type of action regarding the beavers.

“We understand beavers will always be there,” he said Tuesday, days after residents began posting photos of a few beaver-damaged trees in the Altamont Village area of the Mountain House Creek.

The response to the beavers on a Mountain House community Facebook page appears to be split between those who like them and those who want them removed. Other residents are questioning why community officials can’t protect trees with wire cages.

“There are nearly 1,000 trees on the creek,” Louie said. “It cost $50 to $60 per cage. We have to be careful how we proceed. First we have to get the (state) permits to put cages near the lower creek area.”

facepalm50 or 60 dollars a TREE? Are you kidding me? What are you wrapping these trees with, gold wire?  Jon and I puzzled over this and concluded that what’s actually happening is that he’s unsure how tall beavers are and thinks he has to wrap the entire 40 foot tree.

And  in what dystopian universe do you need STATE PERMITS to wrap trees?  I could like that beaver controlled universe were you need permission to protect your property from beavers. But it’s about as true as when your son says he had to watch cartoons for the English assignment, or the apartment couldn’t refund your deposit because you had stepped on the carpet.

Later when I complained about this obviously bogus bogusity on the facebook page an ‘anonymous citizen’ with a fake profile posted back that people were too focused on these beavers and didn’t care about things like park benches. When someone called them out on their fake profile they slinked away and were silent.

Later Caitlin explained that he wouldn’t permit them to sand paint trees because the EPA hadn’t approved it.


Let’s face it, Mountain House has decided to lie and make excuses and drag their unaccountably large feet until the problem is so dire they can justify killing these beavers. Caitlin has been unwaiveringly polite and accommodating. Now Louie is asking her to meet with him alone without those unmannerly loudmouths who call him out on his BS.

(It makes me remember the days when Dave Scola asked that I would come to the meeting alone because he didn’t feel comfortable when Jon scowled at him.)

These public works trolls are used to working without an audience and hate criticism of any kind. They are used to elegantly sucking up to a single power source, and can’t stand having more than one patron to keep happy.

Well, I called Mr. Louie’s bluff: wrote him privately and posted on the MH public page that Worth A Dam would come teach how we’ve been wrapping trees according to our public works requirements for a decade, film the training for future teaching and even give then a scholarship to wrap the first ten.

He’s been pretty quiet since then.