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In the heart of San Jose, nestled between the glass and steel of HP Pavillion and a busy highway, some long-unseen locals have moved back to town. Beavers have returned to a spot at the confluence of Los Gatos Creek and the Guadalupe River for the first time in 150 years, setting off a scurry of excitement among conservationists.
“I was elated to hear about the beavers,” said Leslee Hamilton, executive director of the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy in San Jose. “The Guadalupe River seemed like a prime candidate [for beavers] so I wasn’t surprised when they appeared, merely ecstatic.”
Close your eyes for a second and just imagine a world where every mayor and every city manager and every conservancy who finds beavers on their property reacts in exactly the same way as Leslee. Imagine what it would be like if every state park and every city park and every national park got ECSTATIC to have beavers in their borders. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m apparently not the only one any more.
When beavers arrived in Martinez seven years ago, an influx of other species came in on their coattails. Sacramento spittail, a member of the carp family seen most often in the Central Valley, and American mink made an appearance along Alhambra Creek. Perryman attributes this to the beaver’s role as a “keystone species”—a species that has a disproportionately large effect on its environment.
“Beavers do these really specific behaviours that create the conditions for the next species that will follow,” explained Perryman
The reporter Alessandra really did a nice and thorough job talking to the major players for this article and it will be in the magazine version in July. There was lots of information that never survived the editing room floor but I’m thrilled she really seemed to take the coppicing message to heart. Play this video all the way through.
To be honest, I’m a little bit disgruntled by the wary approach this article and others have displayed about beaver effect on fish. In my castor-centric opinion Bay Nature has been overly slow to get the beaver-salmon-steelhead memo. I personally talked to the editor about it in 2009 at the JMA awards dinner and directly talked to the publisher about it in 2011 flyway festival. They both said, send us the articles and we’ll look into it but when I gave them multiple sources and Michael Pollock’s personal cell phone number, nothing happened. One might think their foot-dragging has something to do with this:
In some situations, beaver dams can benefit native fish species including chinook salmon and steelhead trout by creating ideal conditions for juvenile fish (smolt) to mature in deep water ponds. “We would look at it on a site specific basis with consideration for the threatened steelhead, and get a professional opinion from a fishery biologist to see whether the benefits would outweigh the impact,” said Titus of the water district.
(Because you know, sometimes it’s good for fish to have deep pools of cooler temperatures, more food so that they can get bigger before they swim to sea and stand a better chance of not getting eaten while they grow to maturity and swim back, and sometimes you know, there are some fish that, for reasons of their own, are just suicidal and want to end it all, and we want to make sure beavers don’t get in the way of that.)
For goodness sake. I will admit there may be some portion of some stream for some fish species in the broad complexity of the planet where beavers produce a negative effect but I expect my water district and NATURE MAGAZINE to be familiar enough with the science to know that when these unlikely circumstances arrive they are going to have to PROVE it. Doug needs to come to the beaver festival. I’d like to introduce him to some folks. Especially the winner of last year’s golden pipe award. (Which he received for spreading the good news about beaver and salmon and steelhead)
Okay. I’m done ranting. This was a still a delightful article, I love seeing Cheryl’s photos so prominent, and Alessandra is about the only reporter that I’ve been able to impress the bird relationship on, so I’m very happy that this survived the cutting sheers. Thanks so much for your good cheer! I look forward to the print copy, and if you have time go comment on the article and thank her.
Martinez Beaver Update Cheryl was down last night and took some lovely photos of our family who has been working up a storm to feed new hungry mouths, taking a tree in the annex and primary dam.
I was down at 4:30 this am, where one adult beaver was literally on sentry, prowling back and forth across the creek, until he saw me in the shadows and then SLAP! The alarm was sent to our mystery kits. Jon and I eventually saw one black sausage paddling in the darkness beside the old lodge who ducked and wasn’t seen again. Nice to know they’re being healthy and guarded, but I can’t wait for photos! And nice to see mom spending quality time with Jr. Am I the only one who thinks she’s reassuring him, “Don’t worry. You’ll always be my first baby”.