Archive for the ‘Beavers and Fire Prevention’ Category

Skipping to the rescue

Posted by heidi08 On October - 12 - 2017Comments Off on Skipping to the rescue

Well, the wine country fires are nearly as deadly as the Oakland Hills fires now, and have taken more homes and plenty more acreage. The entire town of Calistoga was evacuated last night and the two massive sidewalls of fire around Napa are probably going to meet up today, which is terrible news for our friends and the Tulocay beavers. To top it all off Cal-fire just announced a red flag warning for much of the entire state, which means the whole thing will get worse before it gets  better.

(I was vaguely remembering this morning how much people said they hated 2016, but they are going to remember it with fondness after this horrible year.)

DSC_7858The good news is that we heard from Rusty Cohn of Napa yesterday who is not missing but on vacation. We also heard from Susan Kirks of PLAN who said that Petaluma is terrified but holding steady. And our plucky little Martinez beavers have decided to forge ahead and rebuild one of the dams that were recently ripped out. Since there is fresh mud on the smallest dam, we can assume they must have repaired the larger too, even though we can’t see it. So we will take heart from their resilient spirits and fiddle on while Rome burns.

How one man tricked beavers and saved them — and roads — in the process

Knee-deep in muddy water, Skip Lisle wrestled with a metal fence, a key component of his invention, the Beaver Deceiver. On the morning of Sept. 29, deep in the woods of northeast Maine, Lisle pieced together the simple, durable device that he designed with one goal: trick the beavers, and in doing so, save the beavers.

CaptureConstructed on the upstream end of a road culvert, the device would prevent beavers from damming up the culvert and flooding the gravel road, something that is extremely common problem throughout the state.

“You hear about beavers being industrious and loving to work,” Lisle said. “That’s a myth. They’ll always choose the easiest damming site.”

Where humans see a gravel road with a culvert in it, beavers see a dirt dam with a tiny hole in it. As water rushes through the culvert, it calls to these natural builders, and their instinct is to “repair the dam,” block the culvert with sticks and mud so the area will flood, expanding their habitat. It’s what beavers do … unless you can somehow stop them.

That’s where the Beaver Deceiver comes in.

Maine is really a hotspot of beaver IQ at the moment. In the past two years I’ve covered stories as progressive as I’ve ever seen, and several that are equally backward – with hunting and trapping listed  as the only solution.  There is clearly some controversy going on there. But I’m hopeful with articles like these that beaver attitudes are moving in a good direction.

Growing up in rural Vermont in the 1970s, Lisle witnessed how beavers can rapidly change a landscape to benefit many other species of wildlife. On his family’s land, beavers constructed a dam across a waterway, creating a pond that expanded over the years, attracting a wide variety of animals to his backyard.

“There were so many animals using it, different species, and that stuck with me my whole life,” Lisle said.

When Lisle was bout 15 years old, the local beavers started damming up a culvert on a town road that ran through his family’s land. He realized that he needed to stop them or the road would soon be flooded. If someone else took action, the beavers would likely be killed. So he took charge and got creative.

truck“I actually stole some of my father’s old garden fence,” Lisle said, “and just built a crude fence in the culvert. And that’s when it all began.”

Constructing a fence around a culvert is the first step in building what Lisle would later call a Beaver Deceiver. But that invention was years in the making.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in geography from Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, Lisle worked for ten years in construction, mainly doing painting and carpentry work. He then returned to school to earn a master’s degree in wildlife management from University of Maine in Orono. His thesis was on beavers, and more specifically, the wetland habitats they create.

“[Wildlife management] has always been my calling,” Lisle said. “I just didn’t answer it at first.”

Ahhh Skip! What a great article about a great man with a vision. Thanks for giving Maine such a lovely view of  how and why to do this. And thanks for being our hero when we needed it. If folks need proof that it works, give us a call. Martinez was happy to function as a ‘test case’.

Now there are two more fantastic beaver stories on my waiting list I’m eager to get to. Assuming I’m not too stricken by fire-grief tomorrow to do my job, tune in for a great story of saving urban beavers in Port Moody BC.

Send Review Copy Here, please.

Posted by heidi08 On October - 6 - 2017Comments Off on Send Review Copy Here, please.

I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about this new text book, which was slated for release in August of this year. Dr. Carol Johnston is the professor from South Dakota who recently used those historic maps from Morgan to show that beavers build in the same areas for 150 years. The book looks very interesting. Minnesota Ag just reviewed their copy but where is mine?

Beavers Shape Northern Minnesota Ecosystem.

Beavers have probably been more influential than humans in altering the Kabetogama Peninsula ecosystem in northern Minnesota, writes South Dakota State University Professor Carol Johnston. She examined how beavers have impacted the peninsula which is home to Voyageurs National Park near International Falls, Minn., in her newly released book, “Beavers: Boreal Ecosystem Engineers.”

“This book is about a place and the science of how beavers shaped it,” said Johnston, who has been conducting research on beavers for 30 years. She wrote eight of the book’s 10 chapters based on her National Science Foundation-funded beaver research.

The text book is listed as a pricey 137.00 at Amazon, but shows the following drool-worthy pages of contents. It takes a second to load but trust me it’s worth it.  There isn’t a single chapter I’m not eager to read.  It’s maddening to think of all the text books I shelled out major cash for and never really read more than I needed to, (or frankly, even that) and this one that is sooo delightful-looking now that I’m not a student!


Posted by heidi08 On August - 5 - 2017Comments Off on SHOWTIME!

Eek! Showtime is here! Yesterday was a dizzying combination of details, confirmations, a last minute cancellation, and several favors I never expected. I was braced for tragedy so when the sound guy called at 11 I practically answered the phone with “Is it bad news?”. Nope, he assured me, just wanted to be sure of everything and would see me in the morning. The John Muir Histori site was very helpful in loaning us some tents and Jon had a fairly easy time loading up the U-haul, although I did wake him up at 1 and wonder where the tattoos were.

Pity the author Ben Goldfarb, who called me last night from the Quality Inn in Martinez to say he’d be there tomorrow morning to help set up. He cleverly noted they were having “quality time at the quality inn“, but I wasn’t fooled,  that place is so much of a dive even my parents couldn’t stand it and moved out in the middle of the night.  Good luck, Ben and Elise!

We had a nice mention in Joan Morris’ column yesterday as a final blessing. I’m sure that the last act of Gary Bogue before he retired was to tell her “be nice to those beaver people.” And she always is. Thanks Joan!

Beaver celebration

A decade ago, a family of beavers in Martinez were about to be evicted from their home on Alhambra Creek because their dam had caused flooding in the downtown area. Then a group of people stood up for the beavers and found a solution that prevented the flooding and allowed the beavers to live in peace.

Although the beavers eventually died or left the area, their presence encouraged other aquatic creatures to return the creek. The Martinez beavers will be celebrated 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Marina Vista and Alhambra Avenue in Martinez.

But there is one piece of good news that should make anyone’s day even if they are planning a Festival on the most weirdly humid day in Martinez history. And it’s this letter to the editor from Arizona of all places. I might have expected it from Oregon or Utah, but seeing it in the grand canyon state surprised  me. Mark my words, someday every state will write this letter.

The Brian Head Fire has been stopped and restoration has started.

To me, nothing could be better to help with restoration than the beaver. He works for free to help stop soil erosion, stop the flooding and save the fish. Their dams hold the water on the mountain to make it green, to water the aspen trees. They will not burn like the pines do. Our long-term goals in fire management should include the beaver.

If we have rules against this, they should be changed! No one can help save our land better than they can. I believe people should talk about this, and people like Jackie Grant and Brendan Waterman (The Spectrum & Daily News, 7-17-17) should be leading the way.

We the people should not let our tax dollars be used to kill them. We should spend our tax money to help them come back, to relocate them, put overflows on their dams and help them any way we can.

Eric Jensen Fredonia, Arizona

Eric! What a fantastic letter! You are absolutely right that having more water savers would alter the fire risk. And pointing out that people should be talking about this and changing the rules to make it happen. Thank you for your excellent letter. I think I better add a new classification of “Beavers and fire prevention” because we had another great article on this a while ago from Idaho after their huge fires. Too bad Fredonia is so far away because otherwise I’d invite you to the beaver festival!

Eek! BEAVER FESTIVAL! Come for the music! Come for the children! Come for the auction! Come for the wildlife! But just come!