Archive for the ‘Beavers elsewhere’ Category

Closing the Gap

Posted by heidi08 On May - 19 - 2016Comments Off on Closing the Gap

Mario’s deft handiwork has transformed a dull concrete bridge into a vibrant living canvas. I love looking back and thinking about how we got here. Of course the proper slideshow ought to include multiple meetings, daunting contracts in triplicate and struggles for insurance, but hey, it’s a start!

The narrow gap between ‘sides’ should be closing today or tomorrow, pop by and take a look.

This news story made me remember being a very little girl, and thinking that if I stole my mom’s lighter she might stop smoking. My five year old self nobly committed the crime and breathlessly waited to see whether my heroism saved her. Of course she found it in my drawer later when she came in to put away the laundry, but never suspecting me as she thought it had gotten misplaced in the washing.

I bet the Alberta police never suspect me either. Bwahaha…

36 beaver traps stolen from home in Delhi

Thieves made off with an unusual haul after breaking into a home in Delhi, police say. Norfolk County OPP officers responded to a break-in late Tuesday morning, at a home on Imperial Street.

Taken from the home was Canadian cash, as well as three dozen beaver traps. Police describe all of the traps as being black and rust-coloured. They say they want to hear from anyone who has noticed the traps around the community or has potential information about the theft.

This made me actually laugh out loud when I read the headline. Do you think we’re dealing with some rogue member of Furbearer Defenders? Or an opportunist from Saskatchewan who wants in on the cash prizes?  Surely we were both alarmed to learn there was a Delhi in Canada. Apparently it is in Ontario, just across Lake Eerie from Cleveland and was named for a fond postmaster in honor of what was at the time a jewel in the crown of the British Empire.

Jon will be so proud.




Beaver Easter came late this year…

Posted by heidi08 On May - 16 - 2016Comments Off on Beaver Easter came late this year…

CaptureFor some reason the Handel version of this verse was playing in my head all morning. From the black pre-dawn sky where we stumbled down the dark alley to the dam, to the first initial trills of bird song as the steely darkness was haloed in a sherbet dawn, through explosion of bird chorus that followed, muffling the train whistles, all the way until I saw this:

A Beaver! What is that sudden lightness I feel between my shoulders? Am I falling upwards? Could it be the final easing of that dread harness of grim resolution in the face of overwhelming loss?  Was the sunrise always this splintered by all this moisture? Is it possible that it really was darkest just before the dawn?

Maybe you’ve never sat up through a candlelit vigil waiting for Easter to dawn, but my teenage days remember these things. You know how it is, that person you like talks you into going even though you’re not sure you really believe this stuff. I vividly remembered that spooky darkness replaced by irrational sunrise and this merry welcome of the day with lots of hugging. (Oh! the hugging!)  I was raised catholic but there was a bible-study period in my teens where I briefly mistook a crush for faith.

But of course you know my true religion now.

There s/he was building a dam in front of me. As if to prove that I wasn’t the only one happy for the dam’s return, a mother mallard with 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9 babies suddenly appeared, the ducklings zipping so quickly that hardly my eyes or the camera lens could keep up. Like fleas or rolling peppercorns, their rapidly expanding circles were pierced by a swimming turtle before they banded together like a seed pod explosion in rewind and followed mom back down stream.

The tide will be excellent for another day or two, you should go. I’m hoping Jon can be persuaded to make the journey again. Tomorrow we present at the Parks, Recreation, Marina and Cultural Commission to get permission for festival IX. Then it’s last minute details to take care of before Portland.

It all seems like perfect timing. Like destiny. If you believe in that sort of thing.

Beaver splashes

Posted by heidi08 On May - 13 - 20162 COMMENTS

blvHere’s the excellent documentary I was talking about yesterday. Don’t ask how it became possible to share it – just enjoy the ride! The Martinez story starts around 15:30 after a trapper segment – but you’ll be smarter if you watch the whole thing.

Untitled from Heidi Perryman on Vimeo.

Yesterday I spoke to a VERY packed house at Martinez Kiwanis, who were eager to know what was up with the kiwanisbeavers. I gave them the full update and talked about the mural and our very odd summer with Suzi and the unexplained beaver deaths.  Lara Delaney from city council was happy to have the update.  People said afterwards it was one of the best talks they ever had, so I going to assume I did okay. There was a lot of interest in the little Napa segment I added, and people were very surprised to learn how little controversy their arrival had caused in Napatopia as opposed to Martinez.

Unfortunately they mentioned during the meeting they had already voted last week to decide funding allotments for scholarships. So I hope they remembered how much they loved beavers then! The greedy marketer in me would rather Worth A Dam was fresh on their mind when they considered our grant application!

Now my desk is officially cleared and I have no other commitments before Portland. That will give me time to focus on that speech and the mural progress. Mario didn’t work yesterday because he had business in the city, but hopefully well march onward today and tomorrow? I would sure like to have a full bridge before we leave town.

hang in there baby


Beavers and other assorted nuts

Posted by heidi08 On May - 11 - 2016Comments Off on Beavers and other assorted nuts

CaptureOne day you’re a perfectly normal woman leading a normal life. You have a labrador and like to make things from beads. You work with children, rotate your tires and make soup. And them some beavers come along and change everything. I’m sure every woman dreams of one day starring in a film called “Beaver Las Vegas”. Don’t they?

My mother will be so proud.

scaring people in london now


So this was on TV last night in the country of Jon’s birth and the home of the queen. I’m sure my in laws all had an amusing wtf moment as the flipped through channels before bed. Honestly the interviews happened so long ago that I had convinced myself it was all a dream. The unembeddable trailer shows a clip about our story and Greg Kerekes wife dancing in costume at the beaver festival in 2012.  Trust me, click on the photo and watch the trailer. Here’s the description from Las

Sam Challenger and David Sumnall of Middle Child Productions have filmed an amazing documentary here saying, “Las Vegas is in desperate danger of collapsing not for a want of money but due to dwindling water resources.”

Their true-life story is one I wasn’t aware of and don’t think has been covered as much in depth by our TV news people here. I could be wrong, though. “Beavers might have the answer to the Las Vegas drought,” said Channel 5 program chief Ben Frow.

Capture1Apparently they decided to call the program ‘beaver las vegas’ because ELVIS!! and it’s all the West anyway, right? Martinez is practically in Las Vegas isn’t it?

(I am reminded that in the UK folks have zero idea of the relative size of the United states. Even on the east coast they are completely ignorant about California. I had a friend from Boston who came out for grad school in LA, spent the weekend in SF and thought,’well I can just drive down in an hour or so sunday night’.)

The other clip looks a little more serious. A friend has volunteered to tape it all for me so I am sure we’ll get the whole thing soon enough.



You would think that being an international film star would turn my head, but you’d be wrong. I had a perfectly normal red-carpet free life yesterday, practicing my speech for Kiwanis tomorrow, filming Mario doing some colorful progress on the mural, and even going down in the evening to wait for the elusive beavers that never came.

(I’m beginning to think that these beavers hate me. Never mind. I’ll grow on them soon.)

Folks are really excited about the mural, and that’s wonderful. Mario loves to smoke mexican cigars while he’s working, and that’s a little smelly, but you should go watch him. It’s really fun to watch it all unfold. Jon and I are starting to look at our front porch and think ‘beaver mural?’ And I’m not kidding.  I was very disappointed we saw no beavers last evening, but it was pretty nice to be there again, and many folk stopped by to ask about them. One gentleman said he works at a warehouse down there and sometimes sees a beaver stop by to nibble their old grape vine, which he was a good sport about. I told him if it ever turned into a problem to contact us, and he said there were no concerns. Good soul!


The lying month of May

Posted by heidi08 On May - 9 - 2016Comments Off on The lying month of May

We are just two weeks from the purifying ritual that occurs every year apparently at SARSAS in Auburn. Before they invite me to come tell the truth about beavers, they conjure the opposite so as to soothe the evil bureaucratic spirits. I guess them helps sneak me in the gates, so to speak, since the powers that be are thus duly convinced they hate beavers.  By the time my booming beaver beatitudes arrive no one of consequence suspects anything.

By evil spirits, I’m referring, of course, to Mary Tappel, who still takes time out of her busy life on the water board to spread vile lies about beavers. I once  called her the ‘human beaver deceiver‘. Her bio in the SARSAS newsletter has some rich allegations of her merry volunteer brigade and their wondrous application  of various nonlethal techniques. But this is my favorite one.

 Mary also dealt with beaver management questions and in foothill areas such as Granite Bay, Loomis, & Roseville; and towards the Bay/Delta area in Fairfield & Martinez, and to the south in Elk Grove, all in creeks and small retention basins.

surprised-child-skippy-jonSo not only does Mary have the outright gall to take credit for the unrivaled beaver slaughter in Elk Grove and Granite Bay (The biggest beaver genocide in 2007 and the site of the most depredation permits in 2013-14.) She also PROUDLY proclaims her work in MARTINEZ.

We’re actually on her resume.

What was her service to the home town of John Muir you ask? Fortunately nothing at all that was useful or true. She told the Gazette that beavers breed for 50 years. She told our mayor that flow devices never work. She advised city staff to kill the father beaver so that the mother would be forced to mate with her offspring. And, at a public meeting of 200 people nearly a decade ago said that the beavers were leaving Martinez, and wouldn’t be a problem anymore.

I have to say I remain very grateful for her unique level of competence.

Maybe I’ll thank her publicly when I come present in June and talk about the many transformations that beavers made to our creek in Martinez. I’m constantly reminded of how many individuals’ incompetence was instrumental in saving our beavers. The lawyer on the subcommittee who wanted them trapped, for instance,  was lackadaisical at best in his half-hearted efforts to convince the city they would ruin the creek. He brought a large stuffed beaver once to the meeting with a sign that said ‘send me to Plumas county’. I thought maybe he was just ineffective generally until I saw him speak on another issue in opposition at a meeting. In that instance, he was forceful, competent and had done all his homework, which is what my lawyer friends told me he was like in court.

If THAT attorney had shown his face on the subcommittee we might have had a very different outcome.

As it was, folks just didn’t really care that much. Maybe enough to toss some money to hire a lawyer, but not enough to do research and really examine the allegations in the case. Like say, um, me for instance. If I had been my opposition, there would have been trouble.

Thanks, Mary.


Bonafide Beaver Bounty

Posted by heidi08 On May - 6 - 2016Comments Off on Bonafide Beaver Bounty

It’s been a surreal pair of days. Yesterday I saw beavers in Alhambra Creek for the first time in 8 months. I spoke with Suzi Eszterhas who said the Ranger Rick wants to go ahead with the beaver story and might want to include my paper bag puppet design as an activity. Today I opened my email to find an invitation to speak at the Placer Fish and Game Commission. (Yes, PLACER) And now this from Michigan. I can’t embed the news clip here. But you MUST go watch it, it’s that good. Capture

Beavers blamed for local flooding in back yards

“The beavers are doing really good habitat work,” said DNR Wildlife Biologist Mark Mills. “It just happens that they’re flooding a neighbor’s yard.”

Instead of trapping the beavers and endangering the unique wetland in which they share with many other species, Kalamazoo Christian High School students volunteered to help the DNR install a beaver pond leveler. The structure, made with pipe and fence, allows humans to control the level of water even after the beavers rebuild the dam.

DNR says a lot of rare species depend on the higher water. If they removed the beavers, the water level would drop too much, and important wildlife would be lost.

“It’s about finding an equilibrium,” said Mills.

The supplies for the beaver pond leveler cost about 100 bucks. That’s less than the cost of pest control, and only a small price to pay for protecting a popular environment.

Michigan is having a kind of beaver revival. Once regarded merely for their self-destructive habit of ripping out beaver dams to help fish, in the past year we’ve seen their beaver IQ take a hearty surge.  I’m particularly impressed that DNR (which is like their fish and game) would encourage this. It makes me very curious how, for example, they adopted Mike Callahan’s design name (Pond Leveler) but not his exact design. He wrote on the beaver management forum that he was a little nervous about the look of what they built, so I doubt they used his DVD. But I’d love to track down the trickle of influence and see how it made its way to Michigan DNR. At least, they have a helpful group of curious and interested students. So if anything goes wrong, they can make the necessary adjustments.

Jon is helping Mario this morning set up to get started on the mural, and we turned in our application for the festival yesterday. It turns out the invitation for Placer is for exact hour I’m presenting in Portland, so hopefully we get find another time. This morning Moses’ beaver discovery is (sort of) in the Martinez Tribune. And I was grateful that Amelia made a few changes to our final festival poster. I figure, if we have to pay for the Bay Nature ad, why not use it to educate as well as promote?

festival 9

I wish we may I wish we might…

Posted by heidi08 On May - 3 - 2016Comments Off on I wish we may I wish we might…


I’ll give you a hint. It starts with a “b”. Three guesses, go ahead, I can wait. He reportedly went for his camera but when he came back the  beaver had slipped away. I’m guessing they’ll both be back this morning at low tide. I’m too emotionally beaver-scarred to be excited by this, but against my better judgement, I’m very hopeful.

For mural updates, let me say that the final contract has been signed by everyone, and now we are just waiting for the updated language on the insurance that the city needs and then we can mural! I won’t even start talking about how enormously frustrating this has been, because what would be the point?  I’ll believe the waiting is over when it actually happens and not a moment before. Fortunately there is a very kind soul at the city in the middle of all this and she has been cheering me through it. Last week we had a good laugh at my wicked idea to finally just spray paint “F*@# the beavers” on the bridge, because in addition to expressing my frustration:

  1. the city would suddenly want it painted over immediately and
  2. they’d never, ever suspect me.

(Insert story from Heidi’s childhood here, where older sister vandalizes family furniture by cleverly writing the initials of younger sister. Younger sister had nothing to do with it but gets punished anyway and older sister gets away with it.)

On to the impressively named “Clatskanie” at the very northern tip of Oregon, who received an award from the governor for working with beavers to restore their watershed.

Wetland Awards honor voluntary restoration in Clatskanie

Governor Kate Brown, chair of the Land Board, presented the award and praised the collaborative effort as a “wonderful example of how non-profit organizations worked with a private landowner to voluntarily preserve wetlands” for fish and wildlife habitat. She also commended the property owner for including people in the equation: Hunt allows camping on the property, which has 14 tent sites and kayaks available for campers.

Olsen-Hollander said the project planners used innovative restoration strategies from “The Beaver Restoration Guide Book” which touts modeling beaver behavior for restoring habitat for fish, waterfowl, amphibians and reptiles. Olsen-Hollander said that if the techniques prove to be successful over time, there could be significant cost savings in using them in designing future conservation projects.

Congratulations Clatskanie! You let the beavers do the restoration and collected an award for it. That’s harder than it sounds, because it means hours of meetings and hand-holding with anxious stakeholders who are worried that beaver will flood their driveways or eat their petunias. The beavers, frogs and fish are lucky to have you.

Ahanging there final note on what a very bad influence I am on Mr. Cohn of Napa. He sent me this photo yesterday of a beaver suspended animation feat and I was most appreciative. I told him he needed to go back and cut off the branch to use for display. He replied that it was in a seedy area with a lot of transient activity and he was worried it might be unsafe.  I understood. Don’t think I pressured him. I very distinctly remember how we had to get our current chew on Easter Sunday because it was the only time everyone was in church and the creek was neglected.

But a few hours later he sent me this.20160502_180404_resized_1Wouldn’t one of those be AWESOME in the silent auction? If only we could figure out how to make it into a lamp.