Archive for the ‘Beavers elsewhere’ Category

Everything’s coming up ‘beavers’

Posted by heidi08 On September - 2 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

12. “Worth A Dam – Beaver Safari in Martinez” 6:00PM – 7:30PM Martinez

 Date: September 6, 2014

Worth A Dam – “Beaver Safari in Martinez” – 6:00PM – 7:30PM – Meet Heidi & Jon @ Martinez AmTrak Parking Lot, 601 Marina Vista Ave, Martinez

 Visit the active beaver family in Martinez with the guides who know them best. You will almost certainly see the beavers – as well as turtles, herons and maybe an otter or two. The gentle stroll through an urban creek is ADA accessible and some of the best beaver viewing in the State. Get ready for a dam good time.

So Tom Russert is helping Steve Dunsky coodinate this massive statewide event (of which one part is centered in Vallejo), and I thought what the heck? Why not include some beavers? So I dutifully pitched my idea and made sure Jon was off. The sign-up list languished for a number of days and I honestly thought no one would show. Now its FULL. I got an email from another couple who wanted to add this morning so get ready for a real beaver Safari!

CaptureIf I were the person in charge of the Wilderness Act Implementation, I would surely want as many beavers as possible working for me in the state of California. Wouldn’t you?

September is a PACKED beaver month, because we have the safari this Saturday, I give a talk at Sulpher Creek Nature Center in Hayward next Saturday, and Sunday we’re displaying at the Nature and Optics fair again at Cornerstone in Sonoma. Then we get a weekend off to get ready for Utah!

I spent the long weekend pulling together my presentations for the events so honestly if I open my mouth and anything but beaver information comes out today I’ll be very surprised.

Beavers win Badger-Spirit Award

Posted by heidi08 On September - 1 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

2014 Badger Spirit awards are presented to:

Occidental Arts and Ecology Center and WATER Institute in Occidental, CA, for their work in conserving natural resources, sustainable agriculture, respect for the environment, and the WATER Institute’s national outreach to “Bring Back the Beaver” and restoring Coho Salmon to watersheds programs. More info:, and

Worth a Dam,, based in Martinez, CA, for conservation, outreach and educational programs on behalf of Beavers in the United States and stewardship and protection of the Martinez Beavers in Martinez, CA. More info:, an innovative and contemporary internet resource, for San Francisco Bay Area information about wildlife, places, activities and resources. More info:

Many thanks to Susan and the Paula Lane Action Network for recognizing beavers with this years awards.  We even got mention in the local Press Democrat.

 Award for Bring Back the Beaver program

The group Worth a Dam which also works to educate the public about the value of beavers in restoration and conservation of natural resources was also recognized. The group holds an annual Beaver Festival in Martinez where beavers have become a tourist attraction as well as providing a habitat for other wildlife..

 The much maligned animal has proved its worth in preserving valuable salmon runs, and in water conservation. Bring Back the Beaver and Worth a Dam are working to educate the public and change state policies about the beaver which date back to 1942 and are founded on inaccurate data.

susanA beaver-maniac like me is thrilled to accept the honor. I first wrote Susan close to 8 years ago when she was a writer for Sonoma Press Blog and had written about our beavers. When I learned about her badger affinity I told her that through a weird series of coincidences my earliest fiercely loved toy had been an actual stuffed badger the neighbor had thrown over the fence. I had loved its soft fur and sharp claws, and imagined that its badger spirit had shaped my adult life, making me unwilling to give up on much of anything including the Martinez beavers.

Thank you PLAN for recognizing the badger spirit in us! And we look forward to badgering people about beavers for years to come!



Utah Beavers Beckon

Posted by heidi08 On August - 31 - 20142 COMMENTS

Mary Obrien was the first beaver idol I ever had. It was 2009 when I read the article in High Country News that described her eloquently preaching the beaver gospel and advocating for their many benefits. I was starstruck to meet her in person at the State of the Beaver Conference in 2011 and thrilled when she came to our festival the following year. It was Mary who talked the documentary crew into including Martinez last year. And Mary who flew out to attend the  Salmonid Restoration Conference workshop on steelhead and beaver, coming to dinner at the house we rented in Santa Barbara with the other beaver wizards.

santa barbara dinner

Think I’m exaggerating about her importance? Here’s a description of Mary from Scientific American.

One five-star general in the campaign to save nature is Dr. Mary O’Brien, and she has a thing for beaver, the championing of which she has completely converted me to. In the first place, the quest for beaver has arguably had more impact on American history than the pursuit of any other single natural resource, its influence lasting well over 200 years. Sixty million or so beaver populated North America before 1600, and had a huge effect on the hydrology of the landscape – beaver dams stored water, slowed its flow and rate of evaporation, slowed erosion and supported a wealth of fish and bird species. In fact, the extermination of beaver from North America arguably marks the point at which our landscapes began to buckle and slide down the ruinous course we find them on now. Especially in the West, where water has always been an enormous issue and will become more important as climate change affects it, there is a real imperative to put beaver back on the waterways.

So when she asked me after my presentation at the conference whether I’d be willing to come to Utah and present at their festival this year if they payed my expenses I was very, very surprised. Like kinda if Santa asked you to help pick out your presents for next year, surprised. The kind where you don’t really want to mention or think about it just in case it doesn’t happen. Mary’s a busy woman and has five million things to do at any given moment, so I thought she might change her mind or forget about it.


She didn’t forget. She wrote me the week of our beaver festival and said “Are you coming?” So on the last weekend of September we are officially flying to Cedar City on Friday and getting picked up by her students to stay at a hotel in St. George where the festival is. Saturday morning we go to the event where I will present twice in an auditorium at the Nature Center on our urban beavers, and generally enjoy the day. Sunday morning I’ll present to her students on the research we did for the historic prevalence papers. And Monday we fly home. She sent the almost completed poster yesterday which needed a time change, but I couldn’t wait to share so I patched it myself just to show you.

correcty poster

Remember, that there was no Utah Beaver Festival until there was a Martinez Beaver Festival. And there never would  have been a Martinez Festival if our city had conceded gracefully and said “OK you win, we’ll protect the beavers.”

I guess we should really thank them for being so encouragingly stubborn?

And as for Utah, home of the first beaver relocation plan to restore upper watersheds, a statewide USFS beaver management plan, who brought in Skip Lisle, Sherri Tippie and Mike Callahan to teach the basics, and who still had time to commission the “Economic Services of Beaver” paper, Utah of the adorable beavers in towels photos after the famous Willard Bay Crude Oil spill – That Beehive state had better get ready.

Because I think Martinez is going to rock their world.


The beaver sun also rises

Posted by heidi08 On August - 29 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

Former Martinez resident LB moved away to Beaverton 5 years ago. Last night she wrote me that she still reads the website every day and sent this column. Thanks LB! Beaverton NEEDS beaver supporters.

This undated photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows an Oregon spotted frog, which was listed Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 as a threatened species. Once common across Oregon and Washington, the frog is only found in scattered and isolated wetlands amounting to 10 percent of its former range. (AP Photo/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Oregon spotted frog to be protected as threatened

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — Twenty-three years after it was first proposed for protection by the Endangered Species Act, the Oregon spotted frog is being listed as a threatened species.

 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to publish its decision on Friday in the Federal Register. It takes effect 30 days later.

 Once common from the Puget Sound in Washington through the Willamette Valley in Oregon down and into Northern California, the frog survives in scattered locations in about 10 percent of its former range, mostly east of the Cascades, the service said.

That’s sad for frogs, but what does  this have to do with beavers? Hmm can you guess?

Habitat for the frog has been lost to urban and agricultural development, livestock grazing, the removal of beavers and the encroachment of non-native grasses, the agency said. Non-native fish and bullfrogs have eaten them.

Restoration plans will focus on maintaining water levels in wetlands, putting beavers back into ecosystems, removing invasive grasses and removing non-native predators, Fish and Wildlife officials said.

And that’s just ONE reason why it’s smart to play for team beaver. There are many more. Take care of the beavers and lots of things will take care of themselves. Frogs and salmon and birds and water…

Oh and lest you despair, apparently the beaver spirit lives on in the shire. A prominent beaver defender wrote me yesterday after my gloomy column bemoaning DEFRAs unstoppable evil in Devon:

Hi Heidi – Its not over till the fat lady sings – no notes so far. We are fighting this as hard as we can with more people helping daily. The govt trappers have no idea how to capture them all and none of us are helping.

I don’t know, maybe you should help. Put on your best wellies and a field jumper tell them how much beavers like to roost in the lower tree branches or doorways.

6825195-large[1]English beavers face wipe-out for the second time at the hands of humans

Wildlife ‘control’ could mean the beaver is lost from the English landscape before it gets re-established. Beaver expert Derek Gow mourns its likely passing.

 As the beaver families on the River Otter snuggle together today in their cosy nests of shredded willow they cannot conceive that they are about to participate in a remarkable historic event.

At the beginning of the 21st century, in the time if the “greenest Government ever” their removal at the hand of Defra’s trappers will ensure that they become the first ever native English mammal to have been exterminated by humans twice.

 I should have known better to be hopeful about the broadly-attended public meeting in Devon. I should have realized that the fact that DEFRA didn’t bother to be there spoke volumes. This article does an amazing job of targeting their asymmetrical illogic point by point and concludes that in this instance facts and public opinion and economics don’t matter.


Children and senior citizens, students and business men stood up at the end of the presentations to state their wish to see the beavers remain. Letters of support from farmers who could not attend were read out by councillors.

 Many people cited their appeal as a tourist attraction, others pointed out the hypocrisy of our national position whereby we lecture others on the conservation of threatened species such as tigers or elephants while making no effort to restore our own depleted wildlife. At the end of the evening a show of hands was unanimous in its support for the retention of the beavers on the River Otter.

 Defra did not attend the event. On the same day their field staff were collecting from Scotland the traps they require to remove the Devon beavers. To date despite considerable media attention, representations to senior civil servants and ministers, national petitions which have attracted over 30,000 signatures and the clear will of the local community they have made no effort to attain or consider a balanced approach on this issue.

 Did you catch that?  While the citizens of Devon were bravely assembled to talk about beaver benefits and problem-solving, bright-eyed children and craggy old farmers and gray haired dears all coming together to talk about making Devon a better place, DEFRA in their infinite badger-killing wisdom was getting ready the beaver traps. The deceptions of a certain Grinch spring to mind.

And when Cindy Loo Hoo went to bed with her cup.
He went to the chimney and stuffed the tree up.

This makes even a battle-scared rodeo clown like me feel sad and hopeless. It’s hard to believe that Devon could do everything right, the  meeting, the science, the overseeing trust, the media, the farmers, the school children, the shop owners, and it doesn’t matter at all because DEFRA will do whatever the fuck it wants to do. No matter what.

Did mention this is depressing?

Art for beaver’s sake

Posted by heidi08 On August - 26 - 2014Comments Off

The beaver world is oddly quiet today. I would have nothing to write about but as it happens I spent yesterday working on a grant for next year’s art project and wrote a nice profile of the amazing artist you always see working frantically at the festival. If you’ve never actually seen HER you’ve seen sign of her in the beautiful banners, the giant painted beaver, the ceramic tiles, the mural or any of our other myriad art-ifacts that are her handiwork. This is a fine place to share the column so, enjoy!

fro working

FloFROgard Butler is the owner and manager of aRt Cottage in Concord, CA, which displays collections from artists all over the state. She teaches classes and workshops to adults and children in various mediums. She is the winner of the 2011 Arts Recognition Award for Contra Costa County and the 2010 outreach coordinator of the CA watercolor association. She has supported Worth A Dam since its inception and helped hundreds of Martinez children understand nature through clay, watercolors, and acrylic paint.

P1070876In addition to her training as an artist, FRO has an extensive background in early childhood education, and especially enjoys helping children represent their own way of seeing the world through art. FRO has generously pledged to support the Keystone Species Archway Canvas project at the 8th beaver festival, and will treat the cloth, pre-paint the archway, and coordinate the young artists on the day. Her services will be offered as an in kind donation, and easily represent 20 hours of work.

paintingbeaverFormer FRO-directed festival efforts have been on display in public offices (tryptch Mural 2010), adorn the Escobar bridge (ceramic tiles 2008) and blanket virtually every Worth A Dam display (Banner 2009). The colorful and inviting profile of children’s artwork has made Martinez stand out in public displays and sets this city apart as a community who cares.

 fro earthdayA word to all the nonprofits in the world who are trying to generate enough community support to get attention for their important cause: find an amazingly creative artist who loves working with children. Add water and pigment, stand back, and watch what happens.

Rolling with the Punches

Posted by heidi08 On August - 25 - 2014Comments Off

It was bound to happen, that awkward moment when your day job as a legal secretary for Lerner and your evening passion of playing drums in a alter-punk club collide. Surprising at first to have your boss see you hammer the snares with a stud in your nose, and then unbelievably liberating to finally have it all together in one place.

I’m very proud of this interview. I never was allowed before to talk so much about my experience on the beaver subcommittee and it was so healing to do. For me this is a vibrant red poppy growing on the dusty battlefield where much blood was spilled 7 years ago. I think it starts slow, but you have to at least listen to the John Muir part. That story relaxed me and it gets a lot better.

Episode 145: The emotional lives of advocates

You may know Dr. Heidi Perryman as the beaver believer from Martinez, California, or the defender who hosts the Worth a Dam website and podcast series. But between her evenings of working with municipalities, landowners and the general public on beaver protection, she’s a successful clinical psychologist.

 Dr. Perryman joined Defender Radio for a unique conversation on these emotions, what they mean to us and how we can manage them in our day-to-day lives as advocates.


Cheryl sent this lovely photo of our kit on vacation at Ward street.


2014 Beaver kit: Photo Cheryl Reynolds

And speaking of emotional lives, just in case you wondered, this is what resilience looks like: courtesy of Meadow Lane in Napa.