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

The Martinez Beavers

What’s Wrong With Bakersfield?


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Banging Head on Computer Keyboard, Street sign style gif

I give up.

In 2007 the city of Bakersfield was upset about beavers felling trees on a bike path. The city was determined to exterminate, then residents and the media (including CNN) and even the OSU beavers got involved and they relented. It was roughly the same time as our Martinez drama so I was very interested in the story and the parallel.

In 2008 I read an article about a problem of beavers felling trees on a bike path in Bakersfield. I wrote  the mayor and the city engineer about solutions. I sent them a copy of the recently finished beaver subcommittee report. I gave them Mark Ross’s contact info and my home phone number. I contacted the media and had a letter printed in the local paper outlining solutions and the price of non-solutions. The editor of the paper responded to my letter word for word in his editorial.

In 2009 I read an article about beavers felling trees on a bike path in Bakersfield. This time I wrote the department of public works, the parks department, the mayor and city council, the city manager,  and the paper. I sent them instructions for sand painting trees and showed them photos of how we had done it in Martinez. I connected with a resident who was interested in helping them do it.

The media filmed them ‘wrapping trees’ like this.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In 2010 I read an article about beavers felling trees on a bike path in Bakersfield. I was so stunned and furious I wrote them sarcastically asking if they were going to try wrapping the trees with ‘saran wrap and hello kitty‘ dolls next.

In 2011 I don’t thing I even bothered to write.

Now it’s 2012. A new year with new possibilities. Beaver understanding has grown by leaps and bounds all across the state and across the entire country. Beaver benefits were discussed in National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, the Globe and Mail, National Public Radio and the Wall Street Journal. And guess what Monday’s headline was at Bakersfield.com?

Tree-hungry bike path beaver up to old tricks

The bike path beaver has struck again.

Of course, it’s doubtful the beaver (or beavers) that recently felled eight city trees by Truxtun Lake is the same that earned notoriety and a price on its head in 2007 with the ruin it caused. Nevertheless, the alleged hooligan has damaged about a dozen trees along the bike path by the lake, between Mohawk Street and Coffee Road, and the city has had to remove eight of those.

Oh good Lord. You’re kidding me, right? Not again! What is the matter with you, Bakersfield? Paying city staff  with taxpayer dollars to dig out stumps that would quite happily sit in the soil and prevent erosion and coppice for you! Removing dead trees so that no woodducks or obligate nesters move in! Clearly you are robustly immune to information of any kind.  Well, at least you have involved an arborist this time. Race Slayton. Maybe he’ll know what to do.

This time, Slayton said, the plan is to protect the remaining trees and wait for the beaver to move on. City crews have wrapped almost all the remaining trees in orange construction fencing, which has worked in the past to deter beavers. Eventually that will cause this beaver to move on, Slayton said. “It’s very unsightly. That’s the bad part,” he said of the orange fencing. “But it does help — it works.”

I tend to be a very tenacious (some might stay stubborn) woman. I don’t admit defeat easily and hardly ever manage to talk myself into giving up. But Bakersfield has beaten me. Let’s face it. I failed. An arguably charmless sprawling community that once was home to the Yokut tribe on a watery island of reed huts and now just sucks our moisture from the north, has triumphed over my once indomitable spirit. Bakersfield, you win. I humbly admit defeat.

Your determination to be ignorant eclipses even my capacity to teach.

For those of us who know better, and who can manage and enjoy our local beaver population, I will say that Jon repainted our own trees with sand on Thursday, during which time he spotted a new species of a pied billed grebe and i would strongly suggest that if you haven’t seen the new curving secondary dam you really should go check it out. Reed’s obviously got a new plan in mind and its a doozy.

Sad to give up on an entire city, but what can you do? Somethings just aren’t worth pursuing. Sigh. You know who just moved out that way? Scott Artis our burrowing owl friend who restored the website and helped us with the beaver festivals.  He was so bitten by the conservation bug that he left the medical tech field and retrained to become a development director for the Sequoia Riverlands Trust. Hmm. He must be developing all kinds of contacts in the area, maybe even some who care about beavers.  I guess it can’t hurt to try ONE more time.

Maybe I’ll just drop him a note…