So last night the beavers got a pretty special visitor in the Who’s Who of environmental education. John Muir Laws (‘Jack’) drove out from San Francisco for a special beaver viewing and introduction. He brought his sketch pad and board and sat under the willow trees on the bank to draw the beavers as they swam about obligingly. Jack is a firm believer that seeing and drawing nature is the best way to truly understand it, and he dismisses the commonly held belief that artistic ability is a ‘gift’ rather than a pursuit.
He heard the ‘epic tail’ of the beavers salvation and the story of the exciting sheetpile vista that greeted him. Then he was treated to a tour and the remarkable sighting of GQ strolling over the beaver dam in all his attractive prowess. While he settled to watch the constantly unfolding story of three kits navigating the waters on their own, families with wide-eyed children poured down to watch Jack shared his excitement with them by passing along his expensive binoculars for a closer look. Jacks illustrations are the last word of Bay Nature Magazine and his drawings of our beavers will appear in the October issue.
Every now and then as he worked and watched he would pause and then exclaim “this is SO COOL!!!” a doxology with which certainly none there would object. Jack was invited to see the beavers by some friendly docents at the Audubon Canyon Ranch who had attended my talk at “Close to Home”. He asked my thoughts about what to emphasize and I stressed two things: the impact of the beavers on the habitat (green herons and pond turtles provided backup for that argument) and the impact of the beavers on the community (for which the hushed bright faces of appreciative children provided ample proof.)
All night he remarked on seeing beavers in Tahoe and Montana or Wisconsin but never seeing them like THIS. He enjoyed my observation that these were ADA accessible beavers, which of course they are, but I pointed out the flow device and stressed that any city who is willing to use creative tools could have local beavers of its very own. At the end of the evening he agreed that this was truly a special wildlife viewing opportunity saying that “Everyone in the Bay Area should come here, watch these amazing animals, buy a burrito and visit this town!” – which I’m sure the Chamber of Commerce would love. He also remarked that this was an essential opportunity for teaching stewardship, since people don’t learn to love nature because of what they saw on the discovery channel: they love first what is in their own backyard.
For their part the beavers were in top form and brimming with artistic merit. Just look at the photo Cheryl took last night.
Beaver Kit: Cheryl Reynolds
Before you go, your help is desprately needed by the poor city of Martinez which can’t possibly think what to name the park where 2000 people have attended the beaver festival over the last three years. Gosh, maybe you have a suggestion? Unless we’re calling it “Sheetpile Vista Plaza” or “Drinking-in-the-daytime Park” I can really only think of ONE name that makes sense, and it starts with a ‘B’. But why don’t you write and let them know yours?