So that tall guy in the middle is Mike Callahan of Beaver Solutions in Massachusetts. He came out for some fish passage seminars and went to check out some beaver habitat near Napa and then came to Martinez for a tour and dinner. It was one of those meetings that mean so much and still seem so familiar that afterwards you are saddened to remember that he doesn’t live across the street and won’t be coming back any time soon.
I first wrote Mike in October of 2007. In case you didn’t realize that was a long, long time ago. Before Worth A Dam and before Obama and before our beaver mom died. Our contact armed me with information, made me hopeful and sometimes made me smile. It was often the thing that sustained and fortified me for the battle with the city, and gave me direction and a sense of purpose after we won.
So it was entirely fitting to see him reviewing our beaver habitat. Have him scope out Skip’s installation. Spot the new lodge where our beavers are living and drive to our house for dinner. We of course handed over Alaskan Amber and a t-shirt so he would feel at home.
Lory and Cheryl and Jon enjoyed his visit and thought he was an easy-going, affable, force to be reckoned with. We swapped stories about beaver battles, massachusetts law, and flow devices. He had met Sherri and Ted Guzzi of the Sierra wildlife coalition the night before and had made good contacts at the conference.
He talked a little about his ideas for adapting flow devices to make fish passage in very low flow easier. We discussed one way gates and counters that will track the number of fish that use them. The social science side of my brain forced me to suggest that his study should include a control group so that the fish that make it over a flow device with no modifications could be counted too, and he thought that was a good idea.
And now, sitting on this side of the meeting, I notice I am wistful, and feeling like I came to the end of some chapter in my life. Mike was the first glimmer of support that I looked to for our beavers, though he certainly wasn’t the last. The story of the Martinez beavers and the teaching role they had on other communities will continue in ways I can’t even imagine today, but this part of the story is completed. The circle that I never dreamed of starting, that caused me to work harder than I ever had and do things I never had never attempted before, that took me places I could never even dream, that part of the circle has been closed.