Okay imagine this times a couple thousand, and the following conversation over and over again with children, soccer moms, fishermen, birdwatchers, politicians, and lanky teens, so you will have some idea of what we did yesterday at John Muir’s birthday Earth day celebration.
It was a wonderful, bright, blur of a day. FRO and her daughter worked tirelessly helping children illustrate our newest idea – a giant wind sock that can hang at the beaver festival! Lory and Jean helped get things organized and answer questions. Cheryl tirelessly took photos. Jon managed better than usual with the heavy lifting, and I talked to a fairly uninterrupted stream about why beavers matter. As always it was particularly heartening to be in a community that remembered so much about the story and took such personal responsibility for it. One young woman even remembered having spoken at the November meeting as a child 6 years ago after asking for permission to speak early because of her homework and bedtime. Another teen with a lip ring excitedly explained to his friend about Grey Owl and how he had tried to teach people about beavers way back when. Even better to see the story reach new ears, and really make people think earnestly about whether beaver problems could be solved in new ways. It was exciting to connect with some key players and emphasize what a vital role beavers and their dams play for birds, fish and other wildlife.
The day flew by. It hurdled at such breathtaking speed that I could only tell how long we’d been there by the amount of water I gulped in between spiels, how full the flag was getting with children’s drawings, and where the shade moved to. I was happy to think of Enos Mills (the author of In Beaver World) having dinner at the John Muir house in 1908 on his visit, and maybe even thinking (while he was listening to the great conservationist himself talk about Yosemite or wild places) of the title for his last chapter of his book where he calls beavers “The Original Conservationists” because unlike Hetch Hetchy the dams they make do so much good for the world.
Thanks John Muir, National Park staff, Teddy Roosevelt, JMA, countless musicians and children and parents of Martinez or beyond, for an ecologically amazing day.
Just in case you need MORE good news on this fine April morning, check out the latest entry on the NOAA Fisheries home page!
Until recently, the role of beavers in maintaining healthy river ecosystems was not well understood or appreciated. Not everyone wants beaver dams in their backyard! But the same things beavers do naturally—cut down trees, dam up water, flood riverbanks—are exactly what we are trying to do to improve habitat for Pacific salmon.
That’s why beaver reintroduction is identified as a priority action in the Upper Columbia Spring Chinook Salmon and Steelhead Recovery Plan. The Methow Valley Beaver Reintroduction Project is relocating them from places where they are unwanted, and moving them to places where beavers can be part of the solution to salmon recovery.