Archive for the ‘Beavers elsewhere’ Category

Trust us – We know best

Posted by heidi08 On September - 1 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

This piebald beaver can be found on occasion in the Putah Creek Nature Park in Winters, in a part of the park untouched by the ongoing restoration project. Alejandro Garcia Rojas/Courtesy photo

Creek project puts pressure on wildlife

As the Putah Creek Nature Park in Winters gears up to finish a decade-long restoration project, locals are voicing concerns over wildlife that call the last stretch of undeveloped land home.

In 2006, the City of Winters initiated a four-phase project to bring life back to the Putah Creek Nature Park. Since then, the project removed a damaged percolation dam and narrowed the channel along 7 out of 8 acres of the park. As the project moves into the final phase, however, locals are voicing concern over the last, untouched stretch of the park which is home to species of beaver and otter.

 While this portion of the creek wasn’t visible before the new, wider pathway was put in during the earlier phases of the project, Hemenway says she’s worried that this final phase will drive away wildlife.

 “We keep being told ‘(the beavers) will be back eventually.’ Well when is that?” Hemenway said, of the city’s response to her concerns.

 “What we’re seeing now are unforeseen benefits from past phases of the project,” Brydolf said.

 Beavers and otters weren’t found prior to the initial channel realignment phase that took place in 2011. Locals such as Caro and Brydolf were hoping the project would be reevaluated in light of the wildlife that have settled in the crook of the creek. Yet at the beginning of the month, they received notice that construction efforts would be pushed forward to the end of June, two months earlier than previously anticipated.

Winters is getting mighty uppity about their creek, and rightfully so. Not only do they have tons of new wildlife, they have a very rare beaver that is making waves from Colorado to Conneticut and beyond.  People are beginning to understand that the “great plan” being implemented for Putah creek might not be all that great. I can’t think why. The city manager is obviously brilliant and very sensitive to the needs of wildlife.

City Manager Donlevy said a main reason for otters and beaver in the area is the improved fish populations.

 Yes, it’s true, John. There’s nothing beavers like better after a hard day at the dam office than a nice fat trout. (I always suspected that herbivore nonsense was a smokescreen.) I’m sure you know best. It’s reassuring to realize how solidly you understand the needs of  wildlife and creeks in undertaking a significant job like this. No wonder you can’t wait to finish. Sigh.


It’s September and this new design was needed. This should hasten fall along, don’t you think?

beaver drop


Just how stubborn are the Scots?

Posted by heidi08 On August - 31 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

The English and Welsh say: very stubborn.

Rewilding: Reintroduction extinct species back to Britain will be ‘enormous’ challenge, study finds

The reintroduction of extinct species across rural Britain will have to overcome “enormous” challenges to be successful, a major study of the UK’s largest “rewilding” project has found.

Rewilding is an increasingly popular strand of conservation. There are ambitious plans to revive biodiversity by reintroducing native species, including wolves, beavers and lynx. But new research for the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) has detailed the range of challenges facing the restoration of ancient habitats and returning of lost species to the wild.

According to the study, which will be presented to the RGS on Wednesday at its yearly conference, a number of “on-ground” challenges, including the unpredictability of wild animals, are likely to make rewilding difficult.

 The research, by Dr Kim Ward from Plymouth University and Dr Jonathan Prior from Cardiff University, primarily looked at the recent Scottish Beaver Trial in Knapdale, which began in May 2009 with the release of three beaver families. The animals went on to breed successfully, making them the first wild beavers in Britain in 400 years.

While the scheme was been hailed as an “outstanding success” by conservationists, the study found it created “conflicts with other land users”, amid local concerns over “disruption to rural business”.

 “Disruption to rural business is a chief concern of the most vocal critics of the Scottish Beaver Trial. They argue that the beavers’ potential to build dams along waterways, and fell trees, changes the dynamics of the wider landscape in ways that cannot be predicted and will negatively impact the rural economy,” said Dr Prior.

First of all, why isn’t a Scottish university reporting to us how impossible it will be to release beavers in Scotland? Why do we need professors from 600 miles away to analyze the situation? And second of all isn’t this really a paper about how impervious the Scots are to new ideas? Shouldn’t it be done by social psychologists specializing in attitude change? There was once a time when rural land use didn’t include vegetarians or dental floss too. And it was hard to change those ideas. But they adapted.

I’m thinking they’ll re-adjust to beavers back in their midst, too just fine.

I’m not sure what other people do on their day OFF but I worked on a new brochure about beaver management. I’m thinking of something that we can distribute at events to address the conflicts and outline solutions and also emphasize the good things beavers do. This will need tweaking I’m sure, but what do you think so far? There must be some way to virtually show this as a trifold brochure, but I haven’t found it yet. Try to imagine CONFLICTS as the front cover, techniques on the inside and WHY on the back. I’m trying to sell to the nonbelievers.



Big news at Beaver Central

Posted by heidi08 On August - 30 - 20151 COMMENT

There’s no important beaver news this morning, but I have something VERY important to tell you. Two things actually. Earth shattering.


This is the newest photo take of the threatened piebald beaver in Winters posted on the new Putah Creek Wildlife Stewards facebook page. (Go LIKE them if you haven’t already). Just remember that we probably won’t ever see anything like this again. It was taken by local photographer Vance AndTj Koski.

piebald beaver

Vance AndTj Koski

Isn’t that amazing? Seeing this I realize that losing his habitat is NOT that beaver’s biggest threat. His biggest danger is being trapped, because that is a very, very rare beaver pelt. I usually think that publicity saves beavers, but with our beaver dying lately I’ve begun to think that keeping beavers close isn’t always the best way to save them. Sometimes they’re better off taking they’re chances somewhere else. I said this to the defenders and they agree it’s complicated but feel that this beaver is likely to be threatened wherever he or she goes. Which is true. I’m honestly not sure what I would do.

I feel totally blessed that I ever got to see that photo though. Don’t you?

minor's council CCBAAnd the second important thing is of a more personal and less piebald nature.  I completed my presentation for minor’s council training for the Contra Costa County Bar Association yesterday about establishing rapport with child clients. Now I’m completely and totally DONE with all my commitments.

No, really. Done.

For 11 months I was getting ready for  various beaver talks or getting grants or planning the beaver festival, (or holding or recovering from the beaver festival), and then I had to submit reports to make sure we received our grants. Meanwhile the shrink side of my brain signed on for this talk because I knew it was after the festival and I’d have time, (and a topic near and dear to my heart) which I later found out the class was being video taped and being sold to the state bar so I wanted to make it good,  (which it was) and yesterday it happened and now I’m totally and completely done.

Which makes Sunday August 30, 2015 the very first real day off I’ve had since last September. Usually the months WHIZ by but I am stunned that 29 days ago we held the beaver festival. I love September. Because the next festival is still as far away as it will ever be.

Here’s another gift from Rusty’s visit to the Napa beaver pond to celebrate. Chirping and mutual grooming by otters pups. Enjoy.

Anonymous restoration work

Posted by heidi08 On August - 28 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Where cutthroats swim and cattle roam

A watershed restoration project on private and public land near Elko, Nevada, is benefitting threatened Lahontan cutthroat and the cattle of the Heguy family. The Susie Creek project has been highlighted by the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association and the Elko District of the Bureau of Land Management in the first of a series of articles showcasing ranching conservation projects on Lahontan cutthroat trout streams in Nevada

Susie creek. Maybe you’re thinking, “Susie creek, Susie creek…I know that name….” and you’d be right. Because you do. Because it’s the remarkably restored creek filmed in this part of a certain documentary that we all watched last year.

(That initial clip is of susie creek NV being assessed by Suzanne Fouty and Carol Evans.)
Clearly they know what’s saving these trout and the stream. And the author Brent Prettyman is a major beaver benefit reporter from way back, so he knows what’s going on too. But this article definitely hides the beaver light under a bushel.

It’s like everyone is afraid of saying the B-word.

The Heguy family allotment includes 37,000 acres of public land and 13,000 acres of private. Restoration work was done on the entire allotment and included help reseeding native vegetation from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after a wildfire, water developments to draw cattle away from riparian areas and a pasture to manage timing and duration of grazing on the land.

Um okay, you got a lot of money to plant willow and build fences to keep the cows out. Yeah, that is a great start. Then what happened? Did the trout just magically appear? Did it rain trout? Or was there several middle steps. Actors that enriched the soil, increased the invertebrate community, and stored the water over time. HMMM? Speak up, I can’t hear you?

The benefit for the threatened trout is colder water and more of it, as well as critical streamside vegetation. The evaluation showed riparian vegetation in the entire Susie Creek Basin increased by more than 100 acres. There had been no beaver dams in the system and there were 139 when the evaluation was done. More water was visible on the landscape and well monitoring showed an increase in shallow aquifers.

Okay, so we kept out the cows and planted willow and then these fish and beaver dams just started magically appearing! We have no idea why! I mean there just HAPPENED to be 139 beaver dams by the time  the creek was restored? That’s soooooooo random.  What an incredible coincidence.

What a bunch of beaver sissies! They just can’t admit how important a role they played can they?

The most amazing part of this article is that Carol is able to work with this rancher and get him to keep the cows out of the creek and manage to get a grant for it. All the while knowing full well that she can’t say the name of the heroes responsible or she’ll raise hackles. Plus the feds would never fund a BEAVER project!

Carol Evans is a magician, a talented tight-rope walker and I salute her for that. Here’s her additions to this article from her response this morning,

Well, thanks for this. Is it great, but there are a few things I would like to clarify. The Heguy Allotment is at the top of the watershed above the area where beaver have colonized. The majority of the Susie Creek basin is grazed by Maggie Creek Ranch. Cattle were never removed from any portion of the watershed or stream; rather we just work with the ranchers to manage grazing (basically the magic formula is to reduce frequency and duration of hot season grazing over time; the recovery areas are still grazed spring, fall, summer – short duration, etc.). Also, willows were not planted; recovery just happens here when you remove the stressor (too much hot season grazing) and let nature do her thing! This is happening in many places in NE Nevada.

 On another note, myself and several ranchers have been invited to speak on the subject of livestock management=riparian plants=beaver=water (!) at a conference on Restoring the Water Cycle at Tuff’s University in Boston in October. Cool that this important story continues to gain attention!

 As a side note, in the Maggie Basin, where prescriptive grazing has been in place for about 25 years, active beaver dams went from 100 to 270 in four years (from 2006 to 2010)! We have some similar type info in another basin. Remote sensing is a great way to look at all of it. The next step would be to quantify the water storage. Some day . . .

 Thanks for your work in telling the story!

Carol Evans
Fishery Biologist,Tuscarora Field Office
Elko District, BLM
3900 E. Idaho St.
Elko, NV 89801




Fargo’s valuable cargo

Posted by heidi08 On August - 27 - 2015Comments Off

KVRR:  Beaver Backers Won’t Back Down: Nearly 60,000 Sign Petition

This clip couldn’t be embedded so I had to get it on youtube as best I could. You recognize that’s BEAUTIFUL beaver photo over the reporters shoulder right? That the iconic photo by our own Cheryl Reynolds taken in 2008 of a truly handsome yearling grooming. (Youth are so focused on appearance!) What a fantastic way to start the newscast about citizens demanding to do beaver  things differently.

It’s all over the news today, and you have to think about the time the park district is spending answering calls and holding meetings and wonder whether trapping is REALLY less expensive.

costMartinez knows how this goes. Why not give our mayor a call? I’m sure he could share some memories. The truth is you had one chance to do this quietly, before everyone knew about the beavers. That chance has passed like morning mist on a hot day. It’s over. Now you have to do it the right way. You can protest as long as you want, like a child refusing a nap, but you know I’m right. Yes, it is 10% more work wrapping trees than paying a hitman. But after you finish adding up the amount of money you’re wasting to defend your ignorant decision to do this the wrong way it’s going to seem CHEAP by comparison. Honestly.

There’s religious music over my talking in this version for unknown reasons, but that doesn’t matter. all of Martinez was SO smart and well spoken at this meeting. nearly a decade ago. I realize that my input hardly mattered. And, in retrospect, to paraphrase Voltaire, if I didn’t exist, I surely would have been invented.

Do I look like a hat to you?

Posted by heidi08 On August - 26 - 2015Comments Off

Yesterday I received an excellent surprise. An early copy of Frances Backhouse newest book “Once they were hats”. If her name sounds vaguely familiar it’s because she was the journalist responsible for that excellent article in the Canadian Geographic a couple years ago, “Rethinking beaver“.

rethinkingI wrote about that article in December of 2012 and said she did a stellar job of recounting the benefits but noted that since people were very lazy she needed to spend time focusing on how problems were solvable – because it didn’t matter how good they were if people thought their challenges couldn’t be fixed. She must have listened, because we crossed paths again at the Beaver Management Forum, and that’s how I received the early copy of this book.

Grey Owl would be happy to note that Canada’s beaver journey has taken a leap forward in the past 5 years, starting with Glynnis Hood’s Beaver Manifesto in 2011, then the Canadian Geographic article in 2012, Jari Osborne’s “Beaver Whisperer”  on the CBC 2013, and its American version on PBS in 2014. This year saw Michael Runtz book and now Frances’ arrival. It’s all been pretty exciting for a beaver-phile like me.

Here’s how the publisher describes her book, I will tell you my thoughts just as soon as I turn every page.

Discover deeper truths and quirky facts that cast new light on this keystone species

 Beavers, those icons of industriousness, have been gnawing down trees, building dams, shaping the land, and creating critical habitat in North America for at least a million years. Once one of the continent’s most ubiquitous mammals, they ranged from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the Rio Grande to the edge of the northern tundra. Wherever there was wood and water, there were beavers — 60 million (or more) — and wherever there were beavers, there were intricate natural communities that depended on their activities. Then the European fur traders arrived.

 In Once They Were Hats, Frances Backhouse examines humanity’s 15,000-year relationship with Castor canadensis, and the beaver’s even older relationship with North American landscapes and ecosystems. From the waterlogged environs of the Beaver Capital of Canada to the wilderness cabin that controversial conservationist Grey Owl shared with pet beavers; from a bustling workshop where craftsmen make beaver-felt cowboy hats using century-old tools to a tidal marsh where an almost-lost link between beavers and salmon was recently found, Backhouse goes on a journey of discovery to find out what happened after we nearly wiped this essential animal off the map, and how we can learn to live with beavers now that they’re returning.

 If you have as little patience for all things beaver as I do, you can preorder your copy here or here.  I found a nice interview with Frances concerning one of the heroines from her previous book “Women of the Klondike” I think you’ll enjoy.

Now, you’re on your own because I have some important reading to do.


Excellent Forum for ‘em!

Posted by heidi08 On August - 25 - 2015Comments Off

bb15th Annual Fish and Wildlife Committee Fall Forum

The CCCFWC is who gave the grant this year for our wildlife button activity (The K.E.Y.S.T.O.N.E. Project -Kids Explore! Youth Science Training on Natural Ecosystems). Because I’m never happier than when I think up a good acronym. We haven’t actually received the check yet, I had to send in receipts and a summary after the festival, but I’m sure it’s coming because they just invited me to do a poster session for their Fall Festival, to show off to fish and game  and other folks how cool the event was.

It’s on a night I have to be at the office so I can’t attend, Cheryl says she’ll see if she can go. In the meantime I’ve been working on the poster and thought I’d share it with you. I’m attaching the summary too. I can’t decide between this and an actual 3D collage with our beaver tail and buttons, but I’m thinking an actual graphic that shows them all would be easier for them to manage.


A little bit about the day….

120 Children completed the tail activity, and 60 finished all buttons and the post test. 98% of completed tests show they learned how beavers help other species and parents verbally reported they had a wonderful time doing it. All exhibitors completed the post test too and reports were very positive, with 98% reporting they also learned something by doing it .

I’m attaching some photos of the children with their finished tails and taking the post test with their parents so you can see it was enjoyed!

Thank you again for your support of this wonderful day of learning!

Heidi Perryman, Ph.D.
President & Founder
Worth A Dam

The children’s post tests were my very favorite part of the day. I loved them standing thoughtfully and circling the right answers at my booth. Most of the exhibitors were also very positive about the activity, but one charmer actually wrote in a comment that we should provide the exhibitors water because it was hot that day.  The feedback was anonymous which worked in their favor because otherwise it would have been too much to resist grabbing them by their lapels and saying, “Let me make sure I understand. So in addition to our organizing the event, paying for the insurance, the park, the restrooms, the music, the solar panel, the brochures, the advertising, and renting a U-haul to set everything up for you at 6 am this morning, you’d like us to bring you waters for you because you can’t  plan possibly ahead?”.

Don’t worry. I left that part off the poster.