Archive for the ‘Beavers and Forests’ Category

Guardian Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On September - 17 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

Time for some UK praise of beaver gifts. I’ll be so wistful when they finally make the right decision. It’s wonderful to see articles like this in the Guardian.

Meet the latest recruit to the UK flood defence team: the beaver

Beavers could be put to work building dams to stop a village from flooding in the Forest of Dean, in what would be the first such scheme on government land.

The Forestry Commission has been an enthusiastic advocate for the release of a family of beavers into a large fenced area surrounding Greathough brook above the village of Lydbrook, on land owned by the commission.

Experts predict that the beavers will rapidly create dams, canals and ponds, slowing the stream’s flow and potentially holding back 6,000 cubic metres of water to prevent huge floods inundating Lydbrook, a village that suffered badly from flooding in 2012.

Villagers are mostly supportive, hoping the scheme will not only protect the village but boost local wildlife and tourism. “It’s a brilliant idea,” said Stuart Aken. “There were about 100 people in the village hall when they made the announcement and there wasn’t a single dissenting voice. People are in favour because of the potential to help against flooding and most are interested in the increase in wildlife that it will bring to the area.”

Everyone seems excited about the day, what’s the hold up?

But despite the beaver scheme not costing the taxpayer a penny – it would be funded by landfill taxes – it was abruptly postponed last month. A source close to the project said it had been blocked by a minister in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – and the Forestry Commission was “hopping mad”.

A spokesperson for Defra denied that the scheme had been blocked by a government minister and said that the Forestry Commission would announce the next steps in the coming weeks.

Derek Gow, a beaver expert who has worked on reintroductions in Scotland and England, said: “This is a tremendous opportunity. The science suggests these animals will hold back 6,000 cubic metres of water.

“This has the potential to prevent a once-in-30-years flood event. These animals will also open the forest canopy to light and create a biodiversity jewel in this forest.

 This “natural” flood defence works only in small streams in upland areas. In deeper rivers, beavers do not need to rapidly create dams. In lowland areas, beaver activity can also cause flooding.

But those in favour of their reintroduction to England and Wales say beavers can be returned to western river systems and will not spread to low-lying eastern areas, such as the Fens, where their activity could cause valuable agricultural land to flood.

Ahhh what a fine article! Where to begin? You have such great beaver advocates in the UK. But did someone really say that beavers would not spread and populate themselves into low-lying areas? I hate to break it to you but (ahem) beavers are very good at finding their way into new territory. It’s what they do. Their raison d’être , so to speak. I just don’t think it’s a great idea to tuck in the unsuspecting British population with cozy dreams of beavers who always stay where you put them. I agree about flooding. And I agree 100% with the lovely statement that “they’ll make a biodiversity jewel in the forest”.

But I wouldn’t say they won’t relocate. Never make promises beavers can’t keep.

I’m sure whoever said that it wasn’t Derek Gow, who is as fine an advocate as beavers could ever hope for. Looks like he’s giving a talk soon to spread the beaver gospel even farther.

Cheshire Wildlife Trust to stage beaver talk at Bickley Hall Farm

National beaver expert Derek Gow will be in Cheshire to give a talk on the how the animal’s re-introduction could impact the countryside. Cheshire Wildlife Trust is hosting the one-off talk at its headquarters at Bickley Hall Farm, between Malpas and Nantwich.

Several reintroductions of beavers are now either underway or being researched across the UK including in Scotland, Dorset and Wales.

A growing body of evidence suggests beavers have a key role to play in restoring nature in our countryside. They are a native species, which was hunted to extinction in the UK 400 years ago. They are a keystone wetland species, known for their dam building and tree-felling activity. This not only creates their home, but also provides the ideal habitat for many other plant and animal species and can play a role in flood prevention.

Derek Gow is at the forefront of beaver re-introduction and will be joining us to tell the story of the beaver comeback in the UK, sharing his experiences of the projects he has worked on along the way. His talk ‘The Return of the Beaver to the UK’ will be held at 7.30pm on Thursday September 28 at Bickley Hall Farm, Malpas, Cheshire, SY14 8EF.

Don’t you wish you could be there? I sure do! Derek is as fine a spokesmen as beavers could ask for and I know they have ever confidence in his work. Why just yesterday I found an awesome wetland illustration and was confused by one creature in the bottom right hand corner. He clarified helpfully that it was a water vole, and very common in England. Oh, and of course you know he came to Martinez after the beaver conference right? Because it turns out we are a kind of beaver Mecca too.

do wetlands matter

Sticking Place

Posted by heidi08 On September - 14 - 2017Comments Off on Sticking Place

Lovely letter this morning from Caitlin Adair of Vermont about how property owners can help save water and mitigate storm damage. When I looked her up I saw that she was friend and neighbor of Patti Smith, which makes a lot of sense. (Patti is the wonderful artist and writer behind ‘the beavers of popple’s pond.) Caitlin’s letter is full of great suggestions that you should read and implement, but obviously the last one is my favorite.

Individuals can help make area more flood-resistant

What can we do, as individuals, to turn all the rain that a big storm brings into an asset rather than a disaster? You can look at your property or backyard and see what you might do to stop or slow the flow of water into nearby rivers. A few sandbags placed along a natural pathway for water runoff could prevent erosion and slow flooding. A more permanent solution might include building earth berms in these places or directing roof or driveway runoff into a rain garden.

Finally, beaver dams and beaver ponds also help rainwater to stay where it falls, soak in slowly, and restore aquifers. Beavers are the original wetlands engineers. Let’s support their work for the benefit of all.

Well said, Caitlin! And a great time to say it when folks are thinking about the effect of storms. From now on you are officially a friend of Worth A Dam.

Yesterday I was asked by Michael Howie of Fur Bearer Defenders to do a webinar presentation of our story for their Compassionate Conservation Week at the end of next month.

This unique event replaced our traditional Living With Wildlife conference by utilizing webinar technology that can bring together speakers from around the world, with audiences from around the world. Anyone with a computer and an internet connection can attend or participate as a speaker (though speakers will need a microphone, which is quite inexpensive). Each day we will showcase two to three webinars from a variety of speakers, all of which help wildlife advocates, researchers, students, and animal lovers get their communities on track with the concept of compassionate conservation.

We talked about my doing it last year but the timing was a problem. This year things look better so I agreed. I haven’t done a powerpoint presentation since my early days on the subcommittee, so I will need to do a little work to get ready, but I’m happy to help. We are heading for a vacation at the coast next week and I’m hopeful that some ideas can come together along the way. If it all works out, I’ll give you the specifics so you can attend or listen later. Stay tuned!

Every now and then some new gadget or technology catches my eye and I can just see how this could be incorporated into a wonderful activity. Two weeks ago it was the sticker books from Moo printing, which I must have seen on another website looking for information about children’s crafts. Each book contains 90 stickers printed according to your instructions. Everyone could be different if you like. And the entire set costs just 10 dollars.

I thought I’d try one out just to see if I liked it.

How  remarkably cute is this little book? The stickers are the size of postage stamps. I know what you’re thinking. How does this relate to beaver education? I’ll tell you how. Suppose each sticker book is a different species, birds, fish, dragonflies, frogs etc. And suppose kids had to ‘earn’ each sticker from the exhibitors by learning how beavers helped that animal. And suppose kids were given a card printed with an inviting keystone image on which to place their gathered stickers. A ‘Keystone Keepsake’ let’s call it. Like this for instance.

The physicality of placing that sticker on the card does a lot to really make the ecosystem connection. As you can see the possibilities are practically endless. I talked with Mark Poulin last week about reusing his very fun images he did as buttons one year. He gave permission and thought it was a great idea. Then I pulled together a keystone image with the fun illustration of Jane Grant Tentas, and it all came together. We could do 15 species for 150 dollars for 90 children, and I bet if I poke Moo a little bit I might get a bit of a donation because look how I’m plugging their adorable product!


The Bright Fortune of Beaver Friends

Posted by heidi08 On August - 31 - 2017Comments Off on The Bright Fortune of Beaver Friends

Has there ever, in ALL of history, been a beaver day like August 31, 2017? There are literally 7 positive stories to cover about beavers today, each more wonderful than the last.  You dream of a day like this, when you’re just starting out telling folks that beavers matter, but you never think it will happen to you! Obviously I can’t cover them all today, so I will focus on our friends, because if this website is nothing else, it’s an old boys beavers’ club. And beaver friends lives matter.

Let’s start with our good friends at the Blue Heron Nature Preserve in Atlanta Georgia. Founder Nancy Jones trekked to Martinez to visit our beavers and hear the story years ago, and even made it to the festival one year. New Executive Director Kevin Jones came out as well and brought us a beaver chew from Georgia!  Nothing could make us happier than to start with this story from WABE in Atlanta. I’m told it was on the radio this morning, and a link the the audio is coming later.

Beavers In Buckhead? Yes, And They Help Restore Nature

When you think of the wildlife in a city, beavers may not be the first animal that comes to mind, but they’re all over the place in Atlanta. And while the big, goofy-toothed swimming rodents can be a nuisance, it appears beavers may also help our environment.

“What I see is just the potential for all kinds of biological processes to be happening,” says Sudduth. “Cleaning the water. The wetland hosts a huge diversity of bird life that you wouldn’t see otherwise.”

Amphibians and fish thrive in Emma Wetlands, too.

What Sudduth is especially interested in is water quality. She’s studying if this creek is cleaner because of the beavers. She’s not quite finished with that work yet, but it has been done in other places.

“There’s more and more research coming out about that,” says Greg Lewallen, a Ph.D. student at the University of Saskatchewan, who studies beavers. He co-wrote a handbook on using beavers in river restoration for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and recently wrote a new chapfocusing on urban beavers. [Eds. note: with a little help. Sheesh]

Lewallen says beaver dams trap pollutants, and wetland plants help clean the water. Out West, in states including Oregon, Idaho and Colorado, there have been some projects that actively try to attract beavers. That can save money on river restoration work that would otherwise require things like backhoes.

Beavers do it for free, with their teeth.

“They’re an incredible species,” says Lewallen. “We can relate to them in a lot of ways as humans in my opinion. They’re incredibly industrious and hard-working, and for a rodent species, they are extremely family-oriented.”

Lewallen says almost all major cities now have beaver populations. We don’t see them much because they’re nocturnal.

Hurray for Greg and BHNP. I am so happy to see urban beavers discussed on NPR, you can’t imagine. Kevin wrote me this morning and was really excited about the news.  BHNP is a success story like no other, and I’m so proud of everything they achieved. I’m thrilled that this report included our chapter in the restoration handbook and talked to Greg too. If folks are going to see urban beavers differently success stories need to come from all around them. Congratulations Greg, Kevin and Nancy!

More great news about our beaver buddy in Napa, Rusty Cohn who’s fabulous photos appeared in an Essay on the beavers of Tulocay Creek. I’m not going to post every photo here, just a few favorites, but GO LOOK AT THE ARTICLE it’s well worth your time.

Photos: Life at Napa’s Beaver Lodge at Tulocay Creek

The Tulocay Creek beaver pond is located next to the Hawthorne Suites Hotel, 314 Soscol Ave., Napa. At the creek, you’ll find river otters, mink, muskrats and herons as well as beavers. Here are some photos of the critters taken by local photographer Rusty Cohn.

“Since Beavers are nocturnal, the heat doesn’t seem to bother them,” Cohn said. “They come out a little before sunset and are mainly in the water. During the day they are sleeping either in a bank den in the side of the creek bank under a fair amount of dirt, or inside a lodge which is made of mud and sticks mainly.”



Go look at the whole thing and I PROMISE you won’t regret it. Wonderful work Rusty, Napa beavers are so lucky to have you.

And wait, there’s more, this from the big glossy magazine of the center for biological diversity. Guess who finally got the memo that beaver help salmon?

To Restore Salmon, Think Like a Beaver

Manmade “dam analogues” could help beavers recolonize former habitats — and help fish in the process.

In one project landowners and public-land managers have started building structures called “beaver dam analogues,” which are essentially starter kits designed help beavers recolonize rivers.

The premise is simple: Drive a row of narrow logs into a streambed and then weave the pilings together with cuttings sourced from nearby trees. The structure slows the pace of the water and traps sedimentation, allowing a small pond to form and creating favorable conditions for nearby beavers (Castor canadenis) to move in. Then the beavers can build their own homes and continue to modify streams to meet their needs.

Their use has spread. In California Brock Dolman and Kate Lundquist, co-directors of the WATER Institute at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, facilitate the effort to introduce beavers to watersheds. Because the animals provide ecosystem services, Dolman and Lundquist see them as underutilized allies in watershed recovery efforts. Their handiwork transforms the landscape, creating a mosaic of habitats. First, beaver dams modify streamflow, creating slow and fast-moving bodies of water. This leads to an increase in the types of streamside habitats available to a variety of wildlife, boosting biodiversity in the process.

Lundquist says the North American beaver is the continent’s original water manager, renowned for storing and caching water for future use. Since beaver dams are temporary and permeable, she explains, the structures allow water to flow, thereby reconnecting mountain streams with the floodplains below.

As California looks for ways to become more resilient in the face of climate change and the prospect of prolonged droughts, the construction of these dams may prove to be advantageous. They could even buy more time for stressed aquatic species such as oceangoing salmon and steelhead trout, which have been left high and dry by California’s prolonged droughts, deforestation and water-diversion projects meant to help farmers.

What remains unchanged is the beaver itself. “They are highly adaptable animals and able to persist,” Lundquist says. “What limits beaver are water and wood — period.” And that combination may be a damned good way to restore streams and solve water woes in California and other parched states.

Hurray for Brock and Kate and writer Enrique Gili[s for the wonderful article. It is great to see the benefits of beavers get discussed specifically in California.  We all need to start having more serious conversations about water storage and beavers in our state, so I’m grateful for this push. It is great to have  this issue noticed at the upper levels.

One thing that’s not clear in the article is that actual beaver relocation in California is still illegal. Unlike many other states who understand that value of sending in beaver to work their magic, our state still thinks of them as a pest and you aren’t allowed to relocate pests. Unless you’re on tribal lands, and then you can do anything you want. I’m happy the center for biological diversity came to the party, but wish they had clarified that one nagging detail! It’s hard to organize a campaign to change the law if the folk think the law already allows it!