Archive for the ‘Beaver Chewing’ Category

Three States and Counting

Posted by heidi08 On May - 10 - 2017Comments Off on Three States and Counting

There was a rickety bridge I used to cross when I walked across the creek to my volunteer job back in the long-agoes. Every time I did so I began by carefully considering whether  the rotten old thing would be strong enough to hold me one more time.  In the back of my mind I knew I should give up and go the long way – but the long way was very long. And the parts of the bridge without holes were pretty sturdy looking. Eventually I would pick my way across the strongest bits surprised that the thing which looked so worn out still had strength left in it. In all those years I never fell 25 feet to my death and it never failed me.

I’m hoping that our democracy is like that bridge this morning. Meanwhile, let’s talk about beavers.

beaver physBeaver has a very nice story about climate change and our favorite topic, so this article about the Wildlife Conservation Society is exactly the right place to start. I especially love the title:

The latest weapons against climate change: The beaver, the oyster, cold water and more…

Beavers, high elevation streams, and oyster reefs are just three of the weapons in the fight against climate change discussed in 14 Solutions to Problems Climate Change Poses for Conservation, a new report released today by WCS.

From re-introduced beavers restoring the water storage capacity of ecosystems in Utah and Washington, to redesigned culverts that accommodate flooding in Upstate New York, the report showcases 14 inventive “real-world” solutions to a warming climate threatening wildlife and ecosystems worldwide.

Solutions profiled include traditional and innovative conservation tools applied strategically to address such as decreasing water availability, increasing risk of flooding and wildfires, rising sea levels, direct effects on species and habitats, and changing land use and human behaviors.

WCS Climate Adaptation Fund Program Director Darren Long said, “We are thrilled to share our ’14 Solutions’ report, and for others to learn from the adaptation work of those whose projects are showcased here. These solutions are on the leading edge of a field where traditional conservation work is no longer sustainable or strategic in light of .”

One of those fourteen solutions was a grant to the Methow Project in Washington, another was building pretend beaver dams in Montana. Go read the report here, and just be grateful there are little steps we can make to  help ourselves, and organizations like WCS to help us do it.

CaptureTime to visit Boston College where Beaver researcher Peter Busher has some interesting desk-o-rations. HDr. Busher hasn’t always been what I call a beaver believer, but he’s always been interested in the animal.  Go to the website where you can see an interactive page that allows you to click on specific items and learn why they’re on his desk. I am currently wondering if this intriguing fact is true:

CaptureYou know I’m already off to examine ALL the beaver chews in our house and compare incisor width. I asked a few experts whether they agree, because it’s nothing I ever head before. Oooh interesting.

Now onto Nebraska where their Ground water festival is in full swing. It’s been going on since 1988 so okay, they have us beat. But I’m not exactly impressed with the activity or the teaching about beavers! (Troubling statements will appear in red!)

Fourth-graders learn of key role of beavers and wetlands in nature

Build, Beaver, Build was a new activity presented by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission at the Children’s Groundwater Festival on Tuesday at Central Community College in Grand Island.Monica Macoubrie, wildlife education assistant, quizzed Boone Central fourth-graders about beavers and why they are critical to groundwater.

After her instruction, the kids enjoyed making an edible beaver lodge out of pretzels and chocolate frosting.

“We talk about why beaver dams are so important for groundwater and all the other species that use the wetland areas,” Macoubrie said. “Then they make their own beaver lodges. Lodges are different than dams, and we want to show the kids the difference.”

Macoubrie passed a couple of props, including a beaver skull, around to the students. She told them that beavers are members of the rodent family and that the unique orange coloring of their teeth is characteristic of rodents.

Really? Are rabbit teeth orange? Prairie dog?

Scientists classify beavers as keystone creatures because the ponds and wetlands created by their lodges are also used by many other animals and plants. Macoubrie quizzed the students about what kinds of creatures depend on the wetlands created by beavers.

Keystone species are anything that affects other animals,” she said. “Without our keystone species, those other animals would not be as abundant as they are.”

Another reason beavers are a keystone species is the fact that half of all threatened and endangered animals in North America rely on wetlands.

“Without those beavers, we would not have half of those animals,” Macoubrie said.

Which half, the front half?

She said beaver populations are doing well in Nebraska.

“They are considered a least concerned species, so we have a lot of them,” Macoubrie said.In fact, Nebraska Game and Parks officials are sometimes called to help relocate beavers when their dams present a flooding problem for property, she said.

Okay, in a metaphysical way, death IS a kind of relocation. The last relocation.

Marcia Lee, festival coordinator, said Cedar Hollow teachers Ashley Dvorak and Lola Hoover attended the festival with 44 students. Dodge Elementary teachers Michelle Carter, Alma Gutierrez, Amy Mingus and Nikki Stevens brought 67 students. Knickrehm Elementary teachers Sydney Gartner and Diane Meyer attended with 32 students. Trinity Lutheran teacher Wendy Heider brought 11 students.

Overall, 744 students attended this year’s festival with 43 teachers from 19 schools. More than 30,000 students have been educated at the festival since 1988. The Nebraska Children‘s Groundwater Festival has been replicated in 41 states in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, India and the United Kingdom.

The Groundwater festival is a big big deal with a big foundation and financial backers. In Platte Nebraska it is focused on regional issues and makes a huge difference. I can’t exactly argue with that and I’m glad they teach about beavers. Fracking pressures are driving water protections down in the region, and for people to learn more about what sustains them seems necessary. I can’t help be curious how much money fracking donates to these festivals. I’m sure its some respectable amount designed to influence and make things appear rosy.

But let’s face it, the ground water festival needs some better beaver education and activity. I think I’ll just drop them a note.

Beaver Fireside Chats

Posted by heidi08 On May - 2 - 2017Comments Off on Beaver Fireside Chats

Three beaver stories you don’t see every day…from places you truly expect to know better. The first is from Maine where a man believes he saw castoroides in person. Yes, really. He doesn’t want to give the location to make sure no people want go hunting for him.

Maine Man Claims to Have Witnessed Giant Beaver

A man from Maine claims to have seen a gigantic beaver. His estimations of size were about 14 feet long and weighing over 350 pounds. The man didn’t want to give away the exact location, for fear someone would try to harm the giant rodent.

“It was about 30 years ago,” he told Crypto Crew researcher Thomas Marcum. “It was a very general geographic area,” he added.

The anonymous eyewitness says he doesn’t want to give too much information about the area of the alleged sighting in order to protect this “rare animal” from “unwanted” human activity.

The man believes the rodent was about 14 feet long with an estimated weight of 350 pounds. It is believed that giant beavers, also known as Castoroides, went extinct about 10,000 years ago.

You saw a giant beaver 30 years ago? That’s nothing, a mere 47 years ago I could fly down stairs! I carefully explained to my disbelieving sister that I could only do it when no one was watching, because mysteries must be protected you know. Which I think makes my story more believable. To be fair, people were certain the ivory billed woodpecker was extinct until someone found one lurking in the back woods. I guess it’s theoretically possible castorides could be hiding in Maine.

Well, maybe not Maine.

Onto Montana where a wastewater staffer who has been told to protect the precious levys by killing beavers. A lot of beavers.

Pat Brook has nothing against beavers, but Hurricane Katrina forced his hand

Up until six years ago, though, Brook says, he’d never given beaver a second thought.

“Why would I?”

The answer is Hurricane Katrina. After New Orleans’ levees failed in 2005, FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began reevaluating other levees across the country, identifying deficiencies and tasking local officials with fixing them. When Missoula’s time came in 2011, the feds found that beavers were burrowing into a portion of the levee stretching from California Street to Russell. Their directive: Get rid of the beavers. And so, over the past six years, Brook has trapped 21 beavers near the California Street footbridge with the help of Dave Wallace, a Kila-based private contractor who specializes in wildlife control and removal.

“Let’s face it, you’re right on a primary corridor there,” Wallace says. “Basically, trapping is just preventative maintenance.”

Even so, Brook hates to call what they do trapping. It’s a practice he doesn’t support. “I mean, what’s the word I’m looking for? Barbaric?” From day one, he’s bucked the advice he says he received from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to simply kill the critters. Instead, he’s insisted on releasing the captured beavers at either Kelly Island or Fort Missoula, the two sites that FWP, which issues his permits, instructed him to use for relocation. Keeping the beavers alive carries an additional $50-per-beaver charge, and Wallace says Missoula is “the only place [in the state] where that’s carried out.” Brook sees it as money well spent.

“It sucks, but I gotta do it,” he says. “There’s a reason I’m here doing it, but I’d rather leave them alone.” According to Brook, the city’s bill for beaver relocation since 2011 totals $15,023.03.

City officials haven’t exactly been keen to discuss their approach to the beaver problem, fearful of how the trapping might play with the public. In fact, Brook found himself at the center of a dust-up in early April after two women confronted Wallace while he was setting cages. Brook says the situation escalated rapidly, drawing in both Missoula police and FWP.

The April incident has made increased public awareness inevitable. So Brook is now crafting a new plan, one that calls for installing large beaver-resistant rocks, or rip-rap, along the threatened stretch of levee. The project will have “a hefty price-tag,” he says, and would have to get the OK not just from city administrators, but from the feds as well.

I don’t know about you, but I’m still scratching my head about this article even though there not a word I disagree with. The waterway would be full of beavers using it as a freeway on their way to disperse, and killing every single one and throwing away the skin isn’t ‘trapping’ by any stretch of the word.

But the odds of him getting approval for  the rip rap plan are pretty slim. Just  like the odds of relocated beavers dumped in a neighboring lake surviving are also pretty slim. The army corps of Engineers were always crazy about their levies, and since Katrina they’ve become downright levy nazi’s. Remember a couple years back when they told California that if vegetation was left standing on a levy it wouldn’t be treated as their responsibility in a flood?

Sure, more erosion. That’s what levy’s need.

Well I wish Mr. Brooks all the luck in the world on his quest, and wrote him some advice about cost saving arguments to wield. In the meantime we should just all appreciate the fact that there is at least ONE wastewater operator in Montana that thinks endless depredation of beavers is cruel and pointless, and that’s something.Capture

Finally, CBC radio is fondly remembering one of their most famous stories today. Apparently this story was listened to and shared more than any other. The narrator is a mild-mannered canadian man who apparently wished the beaver no harm, and holds no grudges. I found the whole thing grizzly in the extreme, but I was somewhat touched by his comments at the end. Listen if you dare.

Make way for Beavers!

Posted by heidi08 On March - 19 - 2017Comments Off on Make way for Beavers!

It’s Sunday. All the cut-outs are done for the “Martinez-Loves-Beavers” art project at Earth Day. And we may well have beavers in Martinez. That all sounds like good news to me. But maybe you need some more, just to make sure. How about the appearance of our good friend Ann Riley on Chicago Public Television talking about why WILLOW is especially important to creeks. Ahem.


The Streams Below Our Streets | San Francisco

Cities once converted streams into sewers to make room for development. But now there’s a growing movement to unearth these buried waterways.

They flow beneath city streets, sidewalks, and even homes: creeks and streams across the United States were once forced underground into sewers, drainpipes, and culverts to make way for urban development.

For more than 30 years, efforts have been made in and around the Berkeley, California area to uncover—or “daylight”—the area’s buried waterways. The term daylighting was coined here in the 1980s, to describe efforts to bring Strawberry Creek back aboveground.

In 1903, a four-acre section of Strawberry Creek had been led into a culvert to allow construction of a Santa Fe Railway right-of-way. When Santa Fe abandoned the property in the early 1980s, the land was acquired by the city, and a park was proposed for the site.

As part of the park’s development, the Berkeley Parks and Recreation Commission planned to remove the 300-foot concrete pipe and expose the enclosed section of water. Although the idea was initially rejected by the city as too expensive and dangerous, the commission eventually implemented the plan. Activists argued that the transformation of the site from a derelict railroad right-of-way to a natural waterway would provide stormwater relief, and create heightened awareness about the ecology of streams.

The groundbreaking project represented the first time a culvert had been dug up and re-created in a channel, and helped pave the way for the formation of the Berkeley-based Urban Creeks Council in 1982. Co-founded by Dr. Ann L. Riley, the Urban Creeks Council was established to foster the preservation, protection, restoration, and management of natural waterways in urban environments. In addition, the non-profit organization works to educate the public on the ecological, aesthetic, and recreational values of restored urban streams.

Riley was introduced to urban stream restoration while she was training in the academic field of fluvial geomorphology with scientist Luna Leopold—who Riley called “the father of modern-day river restoration.” Fluvial geomorphology is the study of how water forms the earth.

Riley shows jon what to do

Riley shows jon what to do

Riley & Cory plan the attack!

Riley & Cory plan the attack!


Just in case you don’t remember Riley, she’s the awesome beaver supporter and author who helped Worth A Dam plant willow for the last three years which our very schizophrenic city helped her do and then promptly pulled up. Ahh, memories. Sometimes she obviously has much better luck. If you didn’t watch the video, go watch now. It’s really well done and we are SO lucky she’s on our side.

ann teaching

Our donation this week for the silent auction is an watercolor painting that comes from artist Patricia Manning in Tonawanda New York. When she’s not busy crafting, sewing dollhouse clothing or raising her two girls, she likes to paint the natural world she sees. So obviously she chose our favorite subject. What got my attention first about this painting was the striking rings of water, which is something I’ve come to associate so intimately with watching beaver activity. They write everything they do on the water surface, which is lovely to see. Thanks Pamela for your generous donation! We’ll make sure to find it a good home!