Archive for the ‘Beaver Chewing’ Category

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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

 

Baker City Goodies

Posted by heidi08 On March - 6 - 2017Comments Off on Baker City Goodies

Baker City Oregon is in the upper right hand corner of the state on the Powder river, which flows into the Snake river. Like Martinez it was settled early when the Short line railroad made it a stop, and is the county seat. By 1900 it was THE stop between Salt Lake City and Portland. It’s Main street looks eerily similar to ours. It even had a large Catholic population and has Cathedral because of it. Let’s think of them as a ‘sister city’.

Baker has a smaller population now than Martinez, and hasn’t sprawled like we did. Probably because it’s bordered by the Wallowa mountains that don’t take kindly to freeways. As luck would have it, that means it isn’t too far from famed USFS District Hysuzannedrologist Dr. Suzanne Fouty. Who happened to get very interested because there were some urban beaver sightings reported in this historic town.

Suzanne contacted me this weekend because she wants to use my talk to help teachers get on board with a student project that would let the children “adopt” the beavers, learn about them and sand paint trees etc. We had a nice conversation about her wish to get folks as interested and excited about the beavers as they were in Martinez.  I can’t think of a more magical combination for success than an interested hydrologist, some enthusiastic teachers and an army of child guardians. Can you? Then I found this article and realized the whole thing was already a done deal – with a sympathetic press to boot.

By JAYSON JACOBY

Beavers in Baker City

Homeowners along Powder River are learning to protect their trees from the nocturnal animals. Larry Pearson sacrificed a healthy quaking aspen last summer to their insatiable incisors, but he bears no real grudge against beavers.

“Personally I like seeing them around,” said Pearson, who has livedfor 33 years in a home beside the Powder River in north Baker City. Well, not exactly “seeing.” Pearson has seen several beavers outside the city limits, but he’s not yet spotted one of the rotund rodents near his home on Grandview Drive.

That’s to be expected, given that beavers are largely nocturnal. “I can tell when they’ve been in my yard, though,” Pearson said. Even when the animals don’t leave blatant evidence – it’s pretty hard not to notice when a 14-inch-diameter aspen in your backyard has been gnawed down – Pearson said he can usually find the muddy patch in his grass where the beavers climbed from the river’s bank.

Fortunately, protecting trees from beavers is no great ordeal, Pearson said.

“You have to put wire fencing around virtually everything,” he said.

A homeowner whose tree was chopped down by an unexpected beaver and his first comment to the press is “wire wrap it!” Have I fallen asleep? Am I dreaming? IMAGINE if the Contra Costa Times or the Gazette had a section about how to protect trees from beavers. Whoa, I’m getting dizzy, I need to sit down.

That’s what the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) recommends as well, in its “Living With Wildlife” pamphlet, which is available online at www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/living_with/beaver.asp

Actually, landowners have a few options with beaver-proofing, said Brian Ratliff, a wildlife biologist at the ODFW office in Baker City. Wrapping tree trunks with metal flashing is effective, he said.You can also use welded wire fencing, hardware cloth, or multiple layers of chicken wire.

Regardless of the material, you should wrap the tree to a height of at least 4 feet, Ratliff said.

“When beavers stand on their tails they can reach pretty high,” he said. If you choose chicken wire or fencing, you should leave a 6- to 12-inch space between the cage and the tree trunk, because beavers might try to wedge their teeth through gaps in the wire to get at the tree (this isn’t a problem, obviously, with metal flashing).

You should also reinforce the cage with rebar stakes or other supports, as beavers, which average 40 pounds at adulthood, are capable of collapsing flimsy wire barriers. To protect a large area rather than individual trees, ODFW recommends building a fence, at least 4-feet high, made of welded wire fence or other sturdy material (chicken wire is too flimsy).

I like to think of myself as a generous woman who only wants the best for others. But sometimes, when I read an article like THIS published a full 10 months before Suzanne even got interested and involved, before the school children even circled the wagons, or the town pushed back, I get crazy JEALOUS.

Some people have all the luck!

Baker city, you have started the footrace with a 10-mile lead. Already your papers are sympathetic and your affected citizens are cool-headed. You have interested scientists inches away that will help you move forward. And you of course, have us in your corner. With all the help you could possibly ask for.

I believe, Baker City, if you can’t save these beavers, no one can.

Pearson said he didn’t notice any signs of beaver activity on his property until a few years ago.That coincides with ODFW’s experience, Ratliff said. “In the past two years or so we’ve started to get more reports about beavers, and to see more signs of their presence here in town,” he said.That’s not especially surprising, Ratliff said.

Beavers live along the Powder River both upstream and downstream from Baker City.

“Beavers are very good at migrating both overland and along waterways,” he said. “And the Powder River in Baker City is pretty good habitat for them, minus the fact that it’s through town.”The river’s relatively flat gradient and low velocity are ideal for beavers, Ratliff said. (One reason the animals build the dams for which they are renowned is to slow fast-moving streams; deep ponds protect beavers from predators, and give the animals underwater entrances to their dens in the stream bank.)

Ratliff said it’s not clear why beavers have only recently colonized the river through town in significant numbers. His theory is that the beaver population in the river outside the city limits has grown enough that young beavers are dispersing to less-crowded habitat.

In any case, Ratliff believes beavers can co-exist, in relative harmony, with people.

For one thing, beavers don’t as a rule stray far from the river; they’re not going to start gnawing at your home’s siding, for instance.When, as in Pearson’s case, beavers do munch on trees on private property, the solution – wrapping or fencing trees – is neither complicated nor especially costly.

“It’s really a neat opportunity to have urban wildlife,” Ratliff said.

Pearson agrees. He would, though, prefer that private property owners have more flexibility in dealing with beavers that cause damage. City ordinances prohibit residents from trapping or shooting beavers. State law prohibits residents from live-trapping beavers and moving them elsewhere.

Okay, now things are going to get REALLY unbelievable. Are you sitting down? I just want you to be ready for the shock, because it could trigger a heart attack or something. Take a deep breath, and think of it as a Disney movie. Sweet and a little too idyllic to believe. Ready?

Tom Fisk, the city’s street supervisor, said workers have had to move several beaver-chewed trees that fell across the Adler Parkway over the past few years.Crews used to haul the trees away, but recently they’ve just sawed the tree into chunks and spread the pieces along the river’s bank.

“We figured if we took away the tree the beavers would just take down another one,” Fisk said.

“It hasn’t been such a big problem that we’re looking at other options,” he said.Protecting trees with fencing, for instance, would hardly be practical, considering the river runs for more than two miles through town.

“There’s a lot of trees,” Fisk said.

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What kind of groovy, laid back, reasonable town administrator says ‘well, there’s a lot of trees?’ Here in Martinez we held their feet to the fire for 10 years, were on fricking national news and on TV in the UK and our city manager is STILL ripping out the willow stakes we plant because he doesn’t want to encourage them.

Dear Suzanne, something tells me you’re going to do just FINE on this project. Baker’s going to celebrate beavers, children are going to learn and classrooms are going to thrive. Your creek will be filled with otters, frogs and heron. And heyy, maybe a Baker Beaver Festival is in your future soon?

making an armybeaver army

Planting Swords into Plowshares – Willow Version

Posted by heidi08 On February - 4 - 2017Comments Off on Planting Swords into Plowshares – Willow Version

IMG_6174Only good news on Sunday’s right? Well, yesterday’s planting party surely applies. 14 people showed up from Martinez, Napa, and Oakland and Berkeley to put some magical willow cuttings in the banks of Alhambra Creek.  (I say magical because at the right time of year willow can be cut from trees and turned back into trees. Imagine that!)Planting 2017The willow was trimmed from our own prodigious trees downstream and hauled back to be bundled into fascines IMG_6296or trimmed into stakes. The fascines were lovingly layed in trenches and staked in place. Study lone stakes were tapped into rain soaked soil where they will sprout. They planted at both Henrietta and Escobar streets. Everyone felt the conditions were ideal for an IMG_6279excellent planting. Ann Riley from the SF waterboard is always an outstanding teacher and Friends of Alhambra Creek Volunteers turned out to hear what she would say. As you can see, Cheryl was on hand to snap some wonderful photos of the moment. And you might recognize beaver-inventer BIMG_6337ob Rust even without his beaver bicycle! But if you need reminding, check the video below. Here’s Riley showing how a fascine is laid in trenches.  Afterwards most of the folks came to try out the wrap sandwiches and they must have been adequate because they were gone! All in all it was an excellent way to spend Saturday morning. I happen to be very fond of this lovely close-up of Riley and Jean bundling. I like to imagine they are wrapping very delicious beaver Christmas presents. Good work team beaver!IMG_6273

 


 

This week’s mail delivered a bevvy of beaver bounty for the silent auction. Starting with an adorable sterling silver beaver necklace from “Stickman Jewelry” in Montreal, Canada. The charm itself is even cuter because it is so tiny.  I anticipate rabid bidding on this cherishable trinket so start saving your pennies now.

The other glories came from artist Deborah Hocking in Portland. I didn’t even realize she was the brilliant artist behind the children’s book “Build beaver build.”   I just really, really liked this print she was selling on etsy.

I wrote her about the beaver bicycle Bob Rust made for our festival and she was immediately hooked. She ended up donating 8 prints and a copy of her book!  She might even  design something for the festival! Sometimes the best part of asking isn’t the things you get, but remembering that there are like minds all over the globe.


Afancod for all!

Posted by heidi08 On January - 17 - 2017Comments Off on Afancod for all!

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Wales is on the beaver Warpath, and  something tells me they aren’t giving up on their quest to reintroduce beavers any time soon. When Scotland gave the all clear they were immediately lining up to be next. They will be presenting at the beaver conference next month in Oregon. It’s pretty generous them to all do this separately, so we get to prolong the discussion of beaver benefits as long as possible. After they succumb, we still get all of England to do the promoting! Then what?

Proposals to reintroduce beavers to parts of Wales

A SPECIAL talk is to be held next week over proposals to reintroduce beavers to parts of Wales.

Welsh beaver project officer Alicia Leow-Dyke will be opening up the elusive world of beavers at a free event at the Centre for Alternative Technology on 24 January.

Alicia, of the Radnorshire Wildlife Trust, will talk about beaver ecology, the history and future of beavers in Wales and the impacts that beavers have on ecosystems, looking at how this can benefit many species, including humans.

In a report by the WBAI they said: “Beavers are often considered a ‘keystone’ species in aquatic environments, with an ability to modify riverine and wetland habitats to the benefit of many other species, with few negative effects.”

That sentence makes me excited and nervous in exactly equal measures. Yes, beavers modify rivers and benefit species but oh they bring a few negative effects for humans. Or at lets call them ‘challenges’. Truly solvable and worth doing but unfortunately not all people are up for a challenge. I’ll let them know when I get to meet them (assuming the sled dogs can get us both there). Here they are listed on the agenda for the State of the beaver conference:

5:00 pm – 5:45 pm

The Long Road: Returning Beavers to Wales.”

 Adrian Lloyd Jones, Wildlife Trusts Wales. Alicia Leow-Dyke, Wildlife Trusts Wales

Nice photo published this morning from Jestephotography I thought deserved sharing. His description says:

While out at Elk Island National Park this fall I stopped to set up on a family of 5 beavers , mom n pop with 3 offspring doing what beavers do.  Most of the time they where at a mid distance but this fellow decided the log right in front of me needed a good chewing.  I was belly down in the mud with my lens poking out between the cat tails for this one.

Friend or Foe?

Posted by heidi08 On December - 31 - 2016Comments Off on Friend or Foe?

Reader Pat Russel shared a well-crafted letter he sent to the news station about yesterday’s Reno report. I have his permission to share it with you, so enjoy.

This was not a very well written story.  Someone should check the FEMA  floodplain maps and check into whether the lady was advised prior to her land purchase whether the home is in the floodplain, let alone her extra insurance costs.  Would also be worth investigating the planning and Zoning along the Steamboat Creek corridor from the slopes of Slide Mountain past the Reno airport where housing and industrial development has sprung up.  

I grew up in Washoe Valley during the 50/60s and was/am very aware of the lack of planning by the Washoe County Board of Commissioners.  There has been a serious disregard for environmental constraints.  Many properties in Steamboat Valley rely on wells for their domestic needs.

Beaver contribute toward riparian enhancement, groundwater recharge and reduction of flashy runoff, but to be most effective, the ENTIRE riparian corridor should be allowed to flourish within the floodplain, and certainly not revetted or streambanks armoured to control erosion.

Of course, we all know the “ravages of nature” in the Sierras…conflagration fire events, high winds, mud slides, extreme precipitation and temperature, droughts and wet years (like fluctuations of Washoe Lake from dry to overflowing).

I encourage the TV station to check out the great work of beavers in Elko County where dry, delude, degraded and eroded ravines have been restored to much better riparian condition through allowance of multiple beaver dams, and ranchers have been working with BLM ecologists to control cattle grazing in these sensitive Northern Nevada stream corridors. Beavers are being recognized around the world  (and especially in our dry West) for significantly contributing toward restoration of once biologically diverse riparian corridors and flourishing wildlife,  thanks to beavers:  Eco engineers and a keystone habitat species!  How about putting a price on beaver Protection?  

Depredation permitting is the real problem, because without beaver, no one public agency can afford to fund restoration work accomplished for free by beavers over a span of decades.

 The county should be reexamining it’s floodplain policies and restricting any kind of “improvements” within the 500 year floodplain, including roads, utilities,  parking lots,  manicured park grounds, playground, paved trails, etc.  Truckee River flooding the past 150 years should be enough evidence of poor choices (how the city reacts and tries to control the river’s character) and unusual costs to citizens, especially allowing property owners to alter natural conditions over the last 150 years.  Over the next one hundred years, the public should attempt to recover those impacted lands and just let them be more natural.  Yes, a river runs thru it (Reno).

One last note: We are fortunate that groups of citizens around the world are advocating for the beaver and it’s many good works.  One excellent example is in the Bay Area out of Martinez, next door to the home of John Muir.  Check this website:  martinezbeavers.org   Many thanks for the efforts of Heidi Perryman and her friends.

You will also find some great volunteers at the Crystal Bay side of the lake (Tahoe),  along with volunteers near Camp Richardson at the south shore.

By the way, beavers have ALWAYS been native to the Sierras….proven fact.  Some of the wildlife managers are uninformed.

Patrick P. Russell

Clearly Pat is a former Nevada resident who remembered a few things about the old stomping grounds. He lives in Oregon now. Thanks Pat for this wonderful letter and for letting us share it here. I really think we should make it our new year’s resolution to write a few of these on beaver issues every so often. It might not change policy but it’s really good for people to read them and start thinking that there are other ways.

Here’s an almost clever author (John DeGroot) who is just starting to do so.

Toothy rodent can be a curse to the landowner

The animal that adorns the face of our nickel is both a friend and foe of Ontarians. Back in grade school, we learned all about the admirable beaver. We learned that beavers spent most of their time in the water, protected from predators. Beavers have heavy tails that act as giant fly swatters, but mostly serve as anchors when standing on their hind legs. And we learned that beavers built dams, not so they could live in the dam, but to create deep ponds so they could survive in water under thick ice.

In the wild beavers carry on their happy lives without much harm or blessing to the environment. They busy themselves chopping down small trees for a source of food, and chop down large trees to build dams to add depth to ponds.

But ask any farmer how they like beavers and you might get a harrowing story. Because beavers cause water to rise in ditches, streams and ponds, drainage tiles can be rendered useless. Fields can be flooded and even roadways can be washed out. Beavers will eat small limbs and landscape trees, favouring aspen, poplars, birch and maples. Beavers will also eat crops such as corn and beans, along with small shrubs, aquatic plants and fruit trees.

Beavers are stubborn creatures that won’t give up easily. Destroying their dam is futile because they rebuild quickly, sometimes overnight. Trapping and relocating beavers is also futile because they will invariably return to their chomping grounds or set up camp further upstream.

A clever farmer once told me he tricked the beavers by installing an overflow drain pipe that drained water elsewhere as soon as water rose to a certain height. The beavers eventually gave up and built a dam beyond his property.

Homeowners looking to protect their trees from beaver damage should wrap the bottom portion of their trees with steel mesh or hardware cloth. To protect a group of trees, install a mesh fence around the group, making sure the bottom of the fence is buried in soil and pegged often to prevent the beaver from crawling underneath.  

Beavers in the wild do little harm or blessing to the environment? I mean besides saving water, augmenting salmonids, increasing wetlands, enriching moose diet, restoring bird diversity, improving frog habitat, and filtering toxins. Little blessing other than that.

Sheesh.

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There but for the grace of beavers

Posted by heidi08 On December - 29 - 2016Comments Off on There but for the grace of beavers

It was such a big story yesterday they sent their news cameras to the scene of the crime. Mostly cries if vandalism, but you gotta’ love that resident who suggest “PROTECTING THE IMPORTANT TREES”. For some reason late December-early January has always been a tree chewing time. I remember our beavers gnawing several trees every new year’s without taking anything down. It seemed so wasteful and I thought their ‘forest’ looked a like most people’s living rooms the day after new years – Empty bottles piled up like dead soldiers.

Apparently it happens all over at this time of year. I guess they just get restless and need something toothy to gnaw. Or they need to sharpen their teeth before mating.  Here’s a similar report from Brampton, Ontario.

Beavers become gnawing problem for Brampton residents

Call it an epic struggle between man and beast. The man is Giuseppe (Joe) Vommaro on behalf of his Mountainberry Road neighbours.

The beast?

A colony of beavers that has gnawed down trees, built dams and, according to residents, exposed homeowners living along Stephen Llewellyn Trail in Springdale to the risk of flooding.

“We have a big, big problem here,” said Vommaro, one of several residents at odds with the City of Brampton on what to do with these unwanted neighbours.

Residents want the dam destroyed and the beavers evicted. But the wildlife and dam are protected. Rather than euthanize or toss the beavers out, the city’s animal services department has taken several measures to encourage the beavers to move out on their own like wrapping trees with mesh wire.

“That’s not good enough,” said Vommaro, complaining city officials have been slow to react to residents’ concerns. He argued the city has left homeowners to deal with the wildlife problem it helped create.

Beavers moved into the neighbourhood in 2011 after the city moved to “re-naturalize” the stormwater channel that runs between Mountainberry Road and Sandalwood Parkway, just west of Airport Road.

It was soon after city crews planted trees and made other changes that neighbours say beavers moved in and made quick work of the landscape.

Dammed off by wood and brush, the once flowing channel has transformed into a wetland and presented homeowners with some unique challenges.

Oh no! They made a wetland? You mean to say those beavers have created one of the most important environment’s on earth in just a few short months? No wonder you’re outraged. Let me just say one thing to Mr. Vommaro. Wrapping trees isn’t supposed to make the beavers “leave”, or the trees leave, or you leave even It’s just supposed to make them less accessible. Did any of your wrapped trees get chewed? Just asking.

Mr, Vommaro and his neighbors are now complaining the flooded vegetation stinks like excrement and no one wants to barbecue anymore. Plus all that water will bring more mosquitoes! Something must be done right away.

Animal services crews are scheduled to return in the spring to get a better handle on whether these measures are enough to encourage the beavers to move on.

Vommaro said without a lasting solution to the problem —reverting the trail to its pre-2011 state — beavers will continue to be a gnawing problem for residents of this Springdale neighbourhood.

Ahhh a true ecologist! Return the area to its prenaturalized state by adding more concrete and maybe the beavers will stay out. Or you know you could just install a flow device and drain some of that water away. But that would be actually solving the problem. You obviously don’t want to do anything like that.

Let me tell you a little story I heard about a city very far away. Their creek and Marina were damaged with chemicals and riprap. And some people worked very, very hard for half a century to get it restored. As soon as they finished some beavers moved in. Just like that. People were very surprised. But  a very wise man said to me that it was a stamp of approval for all their hard work. He knew the beavers were a reward for a job well done. But some curmudgeons like you said it was icky and the beavers needed to be gotten rid of.

If you want to know what happened next read ‘our story’. And if you want to know who the very wise man was click here.

Forget the Lion in Winter – What about the Beaver?

Posted by heidi08 On December - 16 - 2016Comments Off on Forget the Lion in Winter – What about the Beaver?

It rained and rained
For forty daysies daysies
It rained and rained
For forty daysies daysies
Nearly drove those animals crazy crazies
Children of the Lord

The hard rain yesterday reminded me of all those worried days we would go down with umbrellas to check on the beavers and their dams. It reminded me of when the filter cage washed away and when their lodge was flattened. It worried our Napa friends too, and they did an admirable job checking on the beavers they know and care about. Here are Robin’s pictures from the Pearl Street Dam:

pearl-street-comparisonAnd here are Rusty’s photos from the Tulocay pond. The big beautiful lodge was nearly covered and the anxious yearlings took sheltered together on the roof, like Katrina victims.

onthehouse

Juvenile beavers hunker on flooded lodge – Rusty Cohn

It’s so human to me to think of your home as safety even when it stops acting safe. I remember seeing the little beaver  footprints the morning after our second lodge washed out when our kits tried to come home and said “Where is home?”

As much as we worry about our beavers in these flooding conditions, I shudder to think what its like in the snow, where getting flooded out could mean freezing to death. Come to think of it, I guess if its freezing they just get massive snow, and if its flooding its not freezing. So stop worrying Heidi. Beavers have done this a long time. they know the drill.

It’s nice to read articles like this about their snowy habitats though.

Snow was falling, snow on snow, as the song goes, and another four inches fell on the thick snow blankets already on the ground. Splendid! We strapped on our snowshoes and took off. No adventures in the high country, but the Dredge Lakes area offered plenty to see.

There was still a little open water in some of the ponds and channels, despite several days of freezing and single-digit temperatures. So it was Watch Your Step, if we crossed the dicey spots.

Then down the lake beach to the lake’s outlet, still breaking our own trail, with a couple of short side excursions to check some beaver lodges. Ice continued to clump up on the ‘shoes, making hard work. Along the river, there are a couple of spots where it is best to duck up into the woods for a little way, before dropping back down to the river edge. By now, this is getting old, all that clambering over and under the sagging branches. Then one more stretch of open beach and another alder crawl back up to the dike by Moose Lake. Now it’s a piece of cake, on well-packed trail back to the bridge, with just a few drooping branches to dodge.

The big beaver empoundment was marked by some critters that crossed the wide open space and others that had ventured out only to retreat quickly. In addition to the numerous hare and porcupine tracks, we found signs of many other critters too. A shrew had scuttled briefly out into the open and right back, ducking into a hole only a shrew could fit into. Nearby was a bigger hole with signs of traffic in and out; one clear footprint let us guess that an ermine used this place. A deer had wandered out of the woods onto the river beach, and a mink visited a pond. Squirrels hadn’t done much traveling on the ground, but here and there a vole had made a beautiful trackway in and out of cover. Ravens had landed and taken off, leaving marks of wingtips etched in the snow. Before the last snow, a coyote (or wolf perhaps) had crossed a pond; its tracks were now just dimples in the snow, but the pattern suggested a running carnivore. Lots of activity, and for most of this walk, few signs of humans.

Sunlight on the mountains, with wind-whipped snow streaming off the peaks. All the trees and shrubs and tussocks draped in many inches of gorgeous snow. Back home, the aching feet and weary muscles were resuscitated by cups of tea and a pile of cookies. Once again, we claim that this is one of the best backyards in the world!

If Mary’s name sounds familiar it should. She’s the ecology professor who authored the mendenhall glacier beaver book. She may be retired now but boy she sure gets around and sees what’s happening! I always thought of beavers in the bay area having an easy life, but maybe the flooding is a different set of problems. True, they don’t need to do a food cache which must be hard work, but they also don’t get three months down time in the lodge just chilling out and waiting for spring. I guess both locations have their benefits and drawbacks. Just like they do for people.

In Minnesota they were surprised to find a beaver-chewed power pole.They think he mistook it for a tree, while we are pretty certain he just needed to sharpen his teeth.

Confused beaver chews power pole instead of tree

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. – Maybe he needs glasses.

A beaver near Grand Rapids apparently needed to exercise his teeth recently, and instead of chewing on a tree, which is routine behavior for beavers, the semiaquatic rodent decided to get after a power pole near the shores of Boy Lake. 

Lake Country Power posted a picture of the chewy beaver’s handiwork on its Facebook page, which is drawing plenty of attention and laughs. As one person posted, “Worked for power company 39 years, never seen a beaver chew a pole.”

Pshaw, if you had read this website you would have seen it a month ago! It must be a winter thing, but it’s strange we’ve seen it twice this year and never before. Hmm.

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