Archive for the ‘Beavers elsewhere’ Category

Triumph at Taylor Creek

Posted by heidi08 On October - 1 - 20142 COMMENTS

sierra wildlifeGreat news from Taylor creek in Tahoe which has been the site of the most glacial-paced evolution in beaver management. I can’t tell you how many folks have been hard at work advocating the use of flow devices, but Sherry and Ted have been at the forefront every step of the way. They finally got the go-ahead to install a leveler in the side channel a while back, and since that was so successful they were recently given the go ahead on the main channel. I’ll let Sherry tell you about it herself.

The US Forest Service, pleased with the success of the Leveler installed by SWC as a “research project” on a small beaver dam on a man-made side channel at Taylor Creek, has asked SWC to also install Levelers on the main channel! The first Leveler kept water from saturating a meadow and running onto a trail that crossed the meadow. They requested that we install a Leveler on a beaver dam and pond some distance downstream from their Stream Profile Display, again in order to avoid any flooding on trails (and beaches where visitors watch the Kokanee Salmon spawning). Fish & Wildlife will be increasing flows in Taylor Creek this week, in order to let Kokanee salmon begin their fall spawning. The new Leveler on the main creek successfully kept the lower beaver dam at a level the Forest Service likes when flows were increased for one day last week. We look forward to installing another Leveler on the main creek channel at the beaver dam that is near the FS Display, to prevent any flooding of the trails and display, and, more importantly to prevent the Forest Service from tearing out this beaver dam, as they did last winter and years past. That was SWC’s major goal (and it only took 2+ years).

 Also the FS is actually asking F&G to do as little ‘notching’ of beaver dams as possible, and to wait and see if fish can actually cross the beaver dams on their own – we’ll see if that really happens. (Plenty of fish managed to cross the beaver dams last fall during the government shutdown, when nobody could be taking out dams.)

 Too much information, I’m sure, but thanks so much for all your posts. The last 2 photos were taken yesterday, 9-29 (Leveler installed Wed. the 24th) – the Leveler at noon, in the full sun you can see everything. (This is off the trails, where most people won’t see it at all.) And the main beaver dam upstream – you can see how low the water is now (and would be naturally – they’re raising it tomorrow for the fish).

And again, a huge thank you for your donation, all of which we’ll be using for this!!


Congratulations Sherry and Ted on a monumental job well done! As always, it turns out that fixing the problem is fairly straightforward, it’s changing those minds that’s hard, hard work! You did outstanding on both accounts, and the beavers thank you!

Taylor Creek for Beavers Hands (Medium)

Taylor Creek for Beavers Hands: Haerr

Wondrously familiar

Posted by heidi08 On September - 28 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

This is what two mostly damp beaver advocates look like at a Utah festival, On the left is Mary Obrien of the Grand Canyon trust, and on the right is me looking dazed to be sitting at the first booth at the Utah festival where a bright young college student tells you to take a treasure hunt and find the 5 ways that beavers help wildlife. Then come back wih your card filled out, paint a tail, and decorate a beaver-shaped gingerbread cookie!

It was raining the first time I gave my talk indoors at the nature center. So there were lots of folks who wanted to be dry and listen. Thank goodness it stopped soon and folks turned up anyway.  At one point I sat by the pond and gave an interview to their tech crew about our experience, the student asking the questions was actually from Danville! Later we went down to the festival proper where we heard about one little boy who had had gotten the notice at school but his mom said “I’m sure it was probably cancelled with the storm”. He convinced her when he somberly said, “But we have to go check“.

Just in case you think I was exaggerating about the storm, the big empty stone-lined waterway around the nature center was RUSHING with muddy water that day. We were told that it probably rains 2 days a year in St. George and that summer temperatures commonly reach 115.

One great idea we want to try at home was a beaver lodge the children made – with the orignal frame of a dome tent covered with willow that kids added branches to to make a beaver house. They were running in and out hiding from ‘otters’ later in the day. Mary had also boldly invited the trappers association who displayed pelts for the children to feel. One surprising trapper commented, “People just don’t realize how good beavers are for streams and wildlife”. Which might have blown my mind if I was not already through the looking glass.

I gave the talk again in the afternoon and then came back to the hotel while they cleaned up. That night Mary picked us up and brought us to their camp sight in Sand Hallow where 15 tents circled their giant field station horse trailer-with-sattrlite dish. The cooking crew made us an awesome dinner of jumbalaya which we ate in a giant circle under the stars. The looming clouds were on the opposite bank and kindly stayed away from us.


After dinner there was a single darting bat, a crescent moon, and looming stars overhead. The great arc of 21 young students of semester in the west introduced where they were from and their majors, then said the favorite part of their day. It was amazing to hear their stories and did you even know there were political majors like environmental politics or environmental humanities? Then  Mary asked me to say a little about the research we did on the historic prevalence papers. A huge gust of wind made my teeth chatter too much to talk anymore and fortunately caused the pages of ‘data’ to blow away so that everyone scrambled to retrieve it. Then we said our goodnights and thank you’s and dashed back to the car where Phil brought us back to the hotel.

This morning, Mary picks us up and brings us back to Cedar Springs, from where we will fly home tomorrow morning. The Whitman crew will head off for North for a 5 hour drive to their final camp, where they will end their journey and take finals before heading back to Walla Walla.

Dinner under the stars with tomorrows smart, talented environmental advocates was definitely the best part of the journey. But the woman who introduced herself at my talk as a docent from Yellowstone who does the beaver talks there was definitely a close second.

Then there was the child who explained he knew why beavers were important because (and I quote) “they make honey” 

And in the end, the beavers you save, is equal to the beavers you have

Posted by heidi08 On September - 26 - 2014Comments Off

Southern Utah beaver festival enlightens public about the creatures.

Beaver Festival Brings Awareness To Community

A festival meant to create awareness about beavers and the important role they play in the ecosystem is scheduled to take place in southern Utah on Sept. 27.

Lynn Chamberlain with the Division of Wildlife Resources said the Leave it to Beavers festival seeks to debunk some myths about the industrious critters. Contrary to popular belief, Chamberlain said beaver habitats extend far beyond the mountains and he says they are not merely destructive creatures.

“They slow down flood waters—we’ve certainly seen some of that this year with some of the heavy rains that we’ve had—and they filter out a lot of the sediment that would be going down the flood waters also,” said Chamberlain. “So, they slow it down and help to build meadows, they build habitat for other wildlife species—not only aquatic ones but those that live around the riparian area, around the pond.”

The festival is the second of its kind in Utah. Chamberlain said it is moving this year to the Tonaquint Nature Center in St. George to reach a different audience.

The Beaver festival in St. George is 200 miles away from the 2012 one in Escalante. I can’t even imagine what it would be like for us to move the next festival to Redding or Fresno. I guess if you are partnering with Fish and Wildlife their reach can help span the distance. But it’s hard to imagine what it would take to pull that off. Of course those areas both NEED beaver festivals. But they’re going to have to generate their own. I’m tapped.

(I sure wish WE had ever gotten a headline like that on public radio.)

Oh and guess what happens tonight? The beaver dam jam in Idaho. That’s right, it’s an entire beaver weekend in the western states.

10382725_804717179573295_3153313975239790248_nBeaver Dam Jam–A Music event to support beaver conservation in Idaho

10647022_817296904981989_2965568295390226904_nOur good friend Mike Settell has been working round the clock with our friends at The Watershed Guardians to pull this off. He’s got public transportation bringing folks to the event, and will use the bus ride to educate en route. This is rough and tumble country where folks like their firearms and their hunting and trapping. Mike is trying to get folks to pay attention to the impact beavers have on wildlife populations. Attendees purchase a ‘beaver bead’ from near by stores and wear it to enter. How cool is that?

I know everyone will think saving beavers once upon a time was easy for us because we’re in liberal tree-huggin California. But at last count there are 482 municipalities in the golden state. And exactly one of them  has saved beavers.

This is the first weekend in the history of the world that will host TWO BEAVER CONSERVATION EVENTS in two different states. And either of them may not have ever happened in the first place if it hadn’t been for Martinez.  I don’t know about you but that makes me a little dizzy. Something to ponder with awe as I’m hurling across the sky in a metal box to the first one.

And on a personal note, I was feeling worried about messing up in Utah, when I thought of this amazing song from Quidam. Remember what they say: fortes fortuna adiuvat.

Put up – Or shut up!

Posted by heidi08 On September - 25 - 2014Comments Off

CaptureGovernment plans to capture ‘wild’ Devon beavers unlawful, says Friends of the Earth

Friends of the Earth has written to the Environment Secretary Liz Truss to warn that plans to capture a beaver family on the River Otter in Devon “may be unlawful”.

However Friends of the Earth claims that Britain forms part of the “natural range” of beavers and that removing them could be against EU laws governing protected species.

 “Beavers belong in England, and are an essential part of our ecosystems – Government plans to trap them should be scrapped,” said Friends of the Earth Campaigner Alasdair Cameron. “Beavers bring huge benefits to the environment – reducing flooding and boosting fish stocks and biodiversity. Rather than try and get rid of them, we should be thrilled to have them back in our landscape.”

Nice! Friends of the Earth are are new best friends! (Bonus points: Their acronym and website is FOE.) This report was on the radio in the UK this morning and all over the press. Let’s hope it throws a little monkey wrench in the spokes of this dastardly plan. I mean another one. In addition to harboring evil intent, DEFRA appears to suck at their job. No beavers caught yet, and their success at badger killing is equally laughable.  Fingers crossed the EU threat will just tip the scale into oblivion.


litbDYesterday was full of last minute preparations trying to track down Mary Obrien to confirm that I am really honest-to-goodness going to Utah Friday to present at their “Leave it to beavers” festival on Saturday. She had said someone would pick me up from the airport but, in my usual precise way,  I needed to know WHO and WHEN I was presenting. She hadn’t responded to my emails and I wasn’t sure I could talk Jon into getting into an airplane without more details.

Since I wasn’t able to get a hold of her, I called her friends and co-workers and generally sounded alarmed enough that I got a call back last night from a very exhausted Mary in the field. Everything was fine. Yes, it was really happening. Children had gotten notices at school and it was on the radio.


I apparently am presenting at 11:00 and 2:00 on Saturday. Mary or Phil Brick will pick us up, and her students from Whitman will make us dinner that night and I’ll talk to them about our historic prevalence papers and how we did that research. Hopefully we’ll get to see a little of St. George before we fly home Monday, after spreading the beaver gospel in a third state!

So I guess that’s what I’ll be doing this weekend.


ST. GEORGE – The Utah Department of Wildlife Resources is holding its annual festival, “Leave it to Beavers,” aimed at educating the community about beavers and other wildlife on Saturday at the Tonaquint Nature Center, 1851 South Dixie Drive, in St. George.

 The event, which will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will feature a myriad of family friendly activities and opportunities to learn about the benefits beavers provide to the local environment and ecosystem, said Lynn Chamberlain, conservation and outreach manager for the DWR’s southern region, Lynn Chamberlain said.

 “There are more beavers on the Virgin River and its tributaries than most people realize,” Chamberlain said.

 Previously held in Boulder, this annual festival has been moved to St. George to provide the local community a chance to understand and appreciate this industrious and charismatic river creature, Chamberlain said.

 This is a free event for the whole family, she said, and everyone is invited to come out and spend the day.

 Event details
Where: Tonaquint Nature Center, 1851 South Dixie Drive, St. George
When: Saturday, Sept. 27, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: Free
Online: Leave it to Beavers

Something tells me the Martinez Beavers are going to be right at home in St. George.

In the Shadow of greatness, there oft Stupid lies

Posted by heidi08 On September - 24 - 2014Comments Off

I’m still scratching my head about this article on Port Orchard in Kitsap county. The area actually borders Kings and Snohomish counties which boast the most enduring record of progressive beaver management in the world. They are literally in throwing distance of better solutions everydirection they face. I recognize the reporters name because I’ve written about her glowing intelligent reporting on beavers before. And now this.

Persistent beavers frustrate county workers

PORT ORCHARD — It’s one dam problem that keeps coming back.

 Kitsap County crews have been battling beavers for more than a month below the Long Lake Bridge near Port Orchard.

 The persistent beavers keep rebuilding a dam, which the county removed last week for the third time since Aug. 8, according to Tony Carroll, with the county roads division.

 Beavers can cause roads to flood, endangering drivers.

Trapping and removing the animals has been the county’s answer, until its certified, locally contracted trapper was hired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, leaving the county without a trapper.

 Now, the county is asking the department to help handle the beavers with a $15,000 contract through the end of the year.

So the previous county trapper loved his work so much that he got hired by USDA and now they are subcontracting the work out with a 15,000 a year contract. Hey, I bet you didn’t know that the old name for Kitsap county used to be SLAUGHTER county. Coincidence?

 Typically, the county has about two or three beaver incidents a year when it can trap and remove beavers, according to Andrew Nelson, Kitsap County public works director.

So 5000 dollars a family? That’s your budget? Maybe I’m in the wrong line of work. I couldn’t believe the article didn’t at least mention flow devices, and then I got to this.

Beaver deceivers, specialized fencing to deter beavers and allow fish to migrate, have been placed in some areas to prevent the animals from building dams.

The county and Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe teamed up in 2010 to place a beaver deceiver by a culvert along 288th Street in North Kitsap.

 While the fencing is a deterrent, it’s not guaranteed to keep out beavers.

“Believe it or not, they still manage to build inside that culvert,” Carroll said.

Of course they do, those scheming beavers. with their cunning ways and wire-clippers. It couldn’t be that you put them in WRONG or anything, could it? You know, far be it from me be like the loyal republican who says, “Conservatism never fails, it can only BE failed” – but in this case the  tools are automatically suspect. I want to see that beaver deceiver that failed. And Beaver Deceivers helping fish migration? I blame Mike Callahan for that. I knew his specially adapted flow devices would give people the wrong idea. And here’s proof.

For the record, they’re helping fish maneuver the flow device, not the dam.


On that note, we will say goodbye to the “you’ve got to be kidding me” in Kitsap story, and talked about our favorite topic. Citizens protecting beavers. This time in Milford, MA.

Breach of Milford beaver dam upsets some residents

MILFORD – A few residents joined environmental activist Suzanne Fournier Monday night as she continued to criticize town officials for breaching the dam at Heron Pond.

 Fournier, who wrote in a letter to the editor of The Cabinet last week that removing part of the dam will harm many animal species, told selectmen someone should have consulted the town Conservation Commission and teachers at the nearby Heron Pond elementary school before the work was done.

 “Many teachers are very upset about the loss of this beautiful pond,” she said, and the reasons given for the breach “are not credible.”

 There were complaints about turtles and frogs and a ruined Great Blue Heron Rookery. The Conservation Commission who gave the orders has little to say for itself, but gosh, they’re thinking about using a flow device next time.

Selectmen did not respond to the comments, but Fred Elkind, the town’s environmental programs coordinator, said last week that no real harm was done to the dam or the pond by the breaching, which was done in August.

 The Conservation Commission is looking into the possibility of installing a pipe and fence system, he said, that could help control beaver activity, as Fournier has suggested.

 Now you’re thinking about following her advice? Now that you’ve tried every conceivable way to ruin things on your own? I think your body is laboring under a misnomer.

You should be called the “Destruction Commission”.

And Suzanne, Worth A Dam is VERY proud of you and your neighbors. Your next step is to get the kids in those classrooms and bring them on a fieldtrip to the ruined dam. It’s a science project on habitat and ecosystems. Have them all draw something that was harmed by the damaged wetlands. You know, the frogs and the fish and the blue herons.  Invite the art teacher to cut them out and put them on a mural. And oh, call the media and invite them to photograph kids at the ruined dam.

That flow device will start looking better and better to those commissioners. I guarantee it.

 Final Mural

Beaver Cousins near and far

Posted by heidi08 On September - 23 - 2014Comments Off

These were among the dead trees that had to be removed from Tulocay Creek because a beaver dam downstream created a pond in the channel. The trees were standing in three feet of water which was likely the cause of their death.

Soscol Avenue’s beaver colony creates flood control issues

Protectors of a small colony of beavers on Tulocay Creek near Soscol Avenue became alarmed recently when flood control workers began cutting down dead trees in the middle of the beaver pond.

Ron Swim said he grew concerned when he saw trees being felled near the largest beaver mound, located adjacent to Hawthorne Suites. “I would like to see the wild beaver left alone to do what wild beavers do. They create ponds that will bring fish and ducks,” he said.

Until recently, Swim said he’d lived in Napa for 57 years and never seen a beaver. “It’s a nice addition to the community,” he said.

 Rick Thomasser is the watershed and flood control operations manager with the Napa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District. It’s his job to keep creeks clear of possible flood hazards.

 “The beaver habitat is great, but one of the downsides is they fell trees” for dam building, Thomasser said. This, in turn, causes a water back-up, which can drown tree roots and result in the death of the tree, he said.

 That’s exactly what happened near the beaver dam just east of Soscol Avenue. Thomasser said the flood district had been monitoring a number of trees that had been engulfed by the new ponds.

 A dead tree in the middle of a stream becomes a hazard and can collect debris. “We try to keep the center of the stream open to flows,” he said.

Proudly lowering the level of discourse, reporter Jennifer Huffman took the a phone call from concerned beaver friend Ron Swim who was worried Flood Control was chopping down the beavers’ trees and transformed it into a Beavers-are-Problematic article. She called Rusty several times for quotes and he mentioned keystone species, wildlife photographers, beavers saving water, etc. She was really only interested in the dog fight. Napa has been SO good about beavers up until now. I think she is hoping if she shakes the ants in the jar enough they’ll start fighting and make an exciting news story like we had in Martinez.

Rusty Cohn checks in on the animals five to six times a week. He hopes that as few trees as possible are removed near the beaver lodges.

 “I think flood control is doing their best to take care of the beavers,” while at the same time preventing flooding, he said. “I don’t think what they’ve done so far is causing too much grief for the beavers,” he said.

 “It’s a balancing act,” having beavers in an urban area, said Cohn.

Rusty is such an excellent beaver defender. I think he’s in that stage now where he can still recognize how bizarre it is to care about something this new this much, but is fascinated where the trail will lead. Obviously he’s reading everything he can get his hands on  about the topic. And he’s struggling to alienate no one while he steadily builds education and support. I sometimes fondly remember those days. I actually remember standing at the Escobar bridge to film the beavers in the beginning, which is where I always used to watch them. I never went any farther or down to the primary, maybe because I could sense it would push me farther into the story. I filmed from there and it seemed like the distance down to the dam was this magical, inviting  OTHER place. The beavers story, not mine.
Here’s a time capsule from those days, May 6, 2007. There is even a mislabeled nutria for you to spot. Ahh memories!

I have long since crossed the rubicon into the new world and there’s no going back for me. Maybe Rusty is tempted to go back while he still can? (We hope not!)


In the other direction, the South bay is equally interested in beavers. Here’s a video that Steve Holmes of friends of los Gatos Creeks, (A truly heroic creek-watch group that does unbelievable cleanups with massive public support) just sent.

One comment: Those beavers probably weren’t building a ‘leaf nest’. It’s probably a scent mound to mark their silicon valley territory. Other than that I’m always happy to see beavers making a splash! Thanks Steve!

One final update of some not-so-local beavers. On Sunday we had another visitor from the Blue Heron Nature Preserve in Atlanta, Georgia. This time the president, Kevin McCauley, who cycled from Bart to my house where he met Cheryl and I, had some lemonade and friendly  developer-taming conversation and then went down to the creek where he was delighted to see three beavers courtesy of Martinez.

I’m thinking the beaver festival in Georgia can’t be far away.

Of course it’s a beaver! Why do you ask?

Posted by heidi08 On September - 22 - 2014Comments Off

Beaver footprints found along Allegheny River bank, not gator

What has big hind feet and leaves a trail into the river that can be mistaken for an alligator slide?

A beaver.

That’s the consensus among wildlife experts and trappers about tracks found on Thursday on the Allegheny River bank in Cheswick.

He said he wouldn’t expect an alligator to leave a “trough” 3 to 4 inches deep like Gerhard described.

To leave a track that big the alligator would have to be very large, which means it likely would have been raised then released as an adult because a juvenile wouldn’t survive our winters.

The other telltale sign is that a close-up photograph that Gerhard took of one of the tracks shows three toes and a rear foot pad.

It more closely resembles a beaver track, rather than that of an alligator, which has more toes.

Why wouldn’t there be an alligator in Cheswick Pennsylvania? Never mind that it snows two feet every year and alligators are cold blooded. The witness is sure of it! Better ask a trapper for advice. Whatever it is, we’re sure that it’s icky. So killing it is our only possible recourse.

Was it a soldier beaver? (PA will never live that down. I think that was one of my top five favorite posts of all times.)

Mean while in the Duck Creek subdivision in Chicago they’ve had 6 inches of rain in two days, and homes are flooding. (Homes built illegally in a flood plain mind you, but never mind that.) They’re sure the flooding is caused by – what else? A beaver.

 Beaver dam removed, but flood issues remain for Duck Creek homes

PORTAGE TOWNSHIP — The township trustee says Porter County officials told him they’ve removed a beaver dam that caused severe flooding recently in the Duck Creek subdivision, but residents have more questions and a regional water expert said other measures could be taken to reduce flooding problems.

Trustee Brendan Clancy said county officials told him that beavers built a dam near a standpipe in one of the nearby ponds, which worsened flooding of the subdivision’s streets and some homes about four weeks ago, when the area was hit with 6 inches of rain over two days.

6 inches of rain in two days? Good thing Global warming is a myth. I guess hundreds of thousands showed up for the myth march yesterday. On a related note, I have something VERY interesting to share about climate change and the Public Trust, but I’ll wait until tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s a great BBC radio program on reWilding that aired yesterday and was put up by Peter Smith of the Wildwood Trust. Enjoy!