Archive for the ‘Beavers and climate change’ Category

Beaver Centerfold

Posted by heidi08 On July - 15 - 2017Comments Off on Beaver Centerfold

Yesterday the bookmarks arrived and they are every BIT as cute as you might imagine. Jon ran some over to our buddies at Parks and Recreation and the oohed and passed them around with glee. Yesterday was also very exciting because I suddenly realized I didn’t have the contract for the solar panel, and fell into a state of panic that I hadn’t ordered it this year. What if all the bands were lined up and the sound guy was there and there was NO SOUND! I called them in alarm only to find out that every single representative was at a big meeting and they would call me on monday. I must have sounded so truly forlorn that they made Ryan call me back from the meeting – which I found out was IN HAWAII by the way – YES they would help me, not a problem, but please let the man go back to his hawaii meeting so he can spend the last part of his last weekend at the beach.


Good lord. That was close. I know I spoke to someone about something way back in March, but I also know nothing is firm without a contract and they need us to show our event insurance will cover their panel and these things take time. Three weeks should do it. So that’s good.

Meanwhile our friend Kent Woodruff at Methow was being rewarded by a lovely, slick magazine profile in the outdoor clothing store of Filson’s. Even though the head quarters is in Seattle they have a store in San Francisco so I have NO idea why they aren’t donating to the beaver festival, but good for Ken (again), it’s still lovely to share.

Region 6: Planting Beavers, Raising Waters

Beaver ponds store a lot of water. Millions of gallons. And scientists are now realizing that reintroducing the animals to struggling streams is a way to buck a drying trend. This Filson Life is part of Filson’s celebration of the Forest Service and the people of the Pacific Northwest Region of the USFS, Region 6. 
As the Northwest gets less snow, Kent Woodruff says it needs more beavers.

Less snow means less rainfall. Less rainfall means less water for farms and streams – which leads to a decrease in spawning ground and shelter for salmon. Beavers dam streams and streams flood their floodplains, which produces more trees for more dams and provides millions of gallons of water for everything in the vicinity. It even provides shade for salmon.

“One of the things we know is that beavers improve streams,” says Woodruff, a beaver biologist with the Forest Service. “Beavers make things better by adding complexity to streams to enhance everything that needs to happen out there.”

For the past ten years Woodruff has been the driving force behind the Methow Beaver Project, a partnership that relocates problem beavers – those that have dammed up irrigation ditches or felled high-value fruit trees – from private land to mountain streams in the National Forest surrounding Central Washington’s Methow Valley.

“We’re in a very water-limited situation in the Methow Valley,” he says. “So we do this balancing act between the towns, the rural folks, the agriculturalists, and the fish. To find a natural solution in beavers for water storage and temperature moderation, which are critical limiting factors to endangered salmon, is really exciting to what we do.”

After trapping a problem beaver, Woodruff temporarily keeps it at an old fish hatchery that he’s set up with beaver homes. He’s found that relocating beavers is best done with male-female pairs, and he waits until he traps a beaver of the opposite sex before pairing the two at the fish hatchery. He then transplants the pair—with a bundle of sticks and willow switches they’ve been chewing at the hatchery—to a suitable, beaver-free stream in the forest.

“We’ve found that a male-female pair is a lot more sticky than just a lone beaver,” he says. “Two of them are more likely to stay where we put them than just one.”

Half a dozen universities are making plans to use his beaver restoration work as laboratories to answer questions about the role of wetlands in the larger ecosystem. How much carbon does a large beaver complex store? How do beaver ponds contribute to the insect life of a river? How many gallons of water are stored in the spongy soil surrounding a wetland? Interns, graduate students, and Ph.D. candidates from colleges and universities around the Northwest will show up in the Methow Valley this summer to work toward answering those questions.

Woodruff and Johnson estimate that their pro-beaver message reached 2.8 million people in 2015. The benefits of beavers, Woodruff says, are becoming more widely recognized. Biologists in Canada, Mexico, and Europe are interested in the work coming out of the Methow Valley and elsewhere around the region.

“California is very interested in modernizing its approach to beavers,” Woodruff says.

“Washington state is beginning to take similar steps. We’re talking to people in Britain where beavers have been extinct for 600 years, and now in the past ten years they have them in five different places. Idaho has a fledgling relocation program, too. It feels to me like we are just getting started learning where beavers could help.”

Nice review! Wonderful to see beaver benefits emphasized. This is a rugged outdoor clothing profile so they chose the strapping young Ph.D. candidate for the photo, which is foolish because Ken’s very handsome and there are way more mature shoppers than young ones, but never mind. It’s a nice spread with a good focus on salmon and water and I’m very grateful about that. Of course I’m very impatient with ANY article that mentions problem beavers without talking about beaver solutions.

But still.

I confess I was alarmed reading that in 2015 reached their message reached 2.8 million people, because how on earth is that even possible? This meager website gets 10,000 hits a week, and over 10 years that’s maybe 1 million, but how are they so much more visible than we are? What’s WRONG with us?  But then I though they maybe meant through Sarah’s great film, which was wonderful and really allowed a lot of people very quickly to learn the story of why beavers matter.  And they have more supporting players (NGO’s and GO’s) than god. And plus, people are always happier thinking they’re doing good for the environment when they get rid of beavers than when someone tells them to keep them.

But I admit it. I had beaver envy.


SNF: Every Beaver Everywhere

Posted by heidi08 On July - 8 - 2017Comments Off on SNF: Every Beaver Everywhere

I try to stay beaver-centric on this website, but once in a great while an article about general ecology grabs and holds my attention so much that I can’t entirely escape. Besides, this entire article might as be about beavers anyway. Every Single Beaver Everywhere.

beaver phys

The big ecological roles of small natural features

Ecologists and conservationists have long recognized that keystone species have major ecological importance disproportionate to their abundance or size. Think beavers, sea stars and prairie dogs—species that >Similarly across landscapes, the keystone concept of disproportionate importance extends to other ecological elements, such as salt marshes in estuaries. Now an international group of researchers is exploring the disproportionate ecological importance of small natural features—unique environmental elements that provide significant ecological and economic impacts.

Desert springs. Caves harboring bat colonies. Rocky outcrops. Strips of natural vegetation edging agricultural fields. Riparian zones. Small coral heads. Tiny islands. Large old trees.

These small natural features are often overlooked, relatively vulnerable yet environmentally mighty in their ecosystem. They also are at the opposite end of the spatial scale from the Earth’s large conservation superstars—the Serengeti, Yellowstone and the Great Barrier Reef.

Or hey, maybe an unexpected beaver pond in an city stream?  Sustaining unique habitat even  in the middle of town?

Small natural features have big ecological roles, according to the 37 researchers from 11 countries writing in a Special Issue of “Biological Conservation.” Sometimes they can provide resources that limit key populations or processes that influence a much larger area. Sometimes they support unusual diversity, abundance or productivity.

They also are small enough to efficiently maintain or restore, while traditional land-use activities continue in close proximity, such as forestry, fishing and grazing.

“Small natural features are an example of what can be termed ‘The Frodo Effect,'” writes Malcolm Hunter, University of Maine professor of wildlife resources and Libra Professor of Conservation Biology, in the journal introduction.

“In the ‘Lord of the Rings,’ the small and unassuming hobbit Frodo has more strength than any of his larger peers and saves Middle Earth with his brave actions,” says Hunter. “Gandalf and the rest of the fellowship of the ring go to great ends to protect him, because they know this.”

And you thought that only techs could be geeks. Apparently what Star Wars is to silicon valley, Tolkein is to biologists. They love thems some Frodo. We’ll let them have their fun, but that’s silly, because it’s not even the passage I would have chosen for this significant contribution played by very small things.

“For you little gardener and lover of trees,’ she said to Sam, ‘I have only a small gift.’ She put into his hand a little box of plain grey wood, unadorned save for a single silver rune upon the lid… ‘In this box there is earth from my orchard, and such blessing as Galadriel has still to bestow is upon it. It will not keep you on your road, nor defend you against any peril; but if you keep it and see your home again at last, then perhaps it may reward you. Though you should find all barren and laid waste, there will be few gardens in Middle-earth that will bloom like your garden, if you sprinkle this earth there. Then you may remember Galadriel, and catch a glimpse far off of Lórien….”

Isn’t that much better? Now let’s get back to the subject of this article. Small natural features (SNF) like a big oak tree, or a small rock outcropping, or even a drowned stump in the river, are often the nexus around which a  collection of wildlife is gathered. And if it wasn’t there, the collection wouldn’t be either. More than this, the researchers argue that actually saving that frog pond or small stand of trees beside the field might have as important an impact as a large scale restoration project that costs hundreds of thousands more dollars.

Will someone PLEASE argue this case in court to save a beaver pond in the next 6 months?

Every time an individual city or landowner makes the decision NOT to rip out a beaver dam, they are allowing one of these important SNF’s to exist. And every time they trap a beaver they are destroying one. Don’t believe me? Here’s some of the biodiversity our friend Rusty Cohn photographed at the tulocay beaver pond between a hotel and a car dealership in downtown Napa  last week.




Posted by heidi08 On June - 21 - 2017Comments Off on Approved!

10Beaver Festival 10 was officially approved by the Parks, Recreation, Marina and Cultural Commission last night, including the waving of park fees for the event. Michael Chandler assured me they were implementing the proposal to extend wifi to the park and Daniel Radke the chair thanked me for my generous 10 years of service. There were no challenges or questions, just an easy fast approval.

Some things have indeed changed in a decade.

Then I found out from Frances that her ‘idea city’ presentation had gone very well over the weekend and was currently available to watch. It’s a delightful 17 minutes that packs a huge punch showing why beavers matter, although I wish she had squeezed in a little information on how to live with them. You should really watch it from start to finish. Even if you have been in the beaver business longer than I have, it will surprise you.

Frances Backhouse – The Mighty Beaver