Archive for the ‘Beavers’ Category

Out & About with Trout

Posted by heidi08 On March - 29 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

So I’ve been getting ready for the trout talk, and trying to pull things together.Niles2 I stumbled across this ominous paper and was feeling a little anxious. They had a 10-foot dam they ripped out and counted lots of trout afterwards. It was published in 2013 and concluded that this was a great way to help trout. At least in the short term, which (as we know) is all anyone ever thinks about.

I immediately turned to the very wise Rickipedia who reviews research for a living and asked his thoughts. He helped me understand the following:
NilesLokteffRick directed me to the more respected paper by Lokteff, Roper and Wheaton. It was completed on a much broader scale and concluded pretty much the opposite. Both papers were published the same year, and neither one mentions the other.

What is particularly interesting in this paper, which looked at many dams over 4 years, is that natives like cutthroat and brook  did better with beaver dams than non native ones (brown). And that little fish crossed dams less often than bigger fish. (Size matters after all).

Lokteff1All of which sounds pretty good for beavers, and I’m not surprised to see Joe Wheaton’s name among the authors. Apparently you can’t just rip out a beaver dam, count the trout, and call it research. Who knew? Anyway, it renewed my focus for the talk, and inspired me to make this, which I like VERY much. Thanks Amelia!

Trout & Beaver

Beavers, water, & the learning curve.

Posted by heidi08 On March - 26 - 2015Comments Off

Another red-letter day for beavers. They’ve been  happening so often I’m going to start calling them red beaver days! The first from NBC.


Beavers Are Great for the Environment. As Neighbors, Not So Much

The dam-building rodents are getting a boost across the West, thanks to their signature water-blocking homes that, it turns out, can have a positive effect on the local environment, and have gained the critters support from local tribes and wildlife biologists. Their dams hold back water flow in elevated regions, propping up groundwater supplies in areas hit by drought and reduced snowpack. They provide habitats for salmon. And while there are other, less natural ways to achieve the same effects, there’s one big advantage to beavers: They work for free.

 A team led by Kent Woodruff, a U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologist, has spent eight years refining beaver relocation in Washington’s Methow Valley. The goal: Make sure that the beavers being brought together are compatible. Think of it as a for beavers.

The target areas are mostly public lands at higher elevations — exactly the areas that supply much of the water for humans across the West. “We’re desperate for water storage,” said Woodruff, and “that’s easily enhanced by beavers.”

Okay, first the good Heidi. I absolutely LOVE when beaver benefits get highlighted in a major NBC story. Kent has done great work in the Methow and I’m thrilled to see that project get the flagship recognition it deserves.  Now the not so good Heidi. More beaver stories saying  we care about water so we’re moving beavers into the mountains instead of killing them? Really? Hmm. Mighty white of you.

Will someone please tell Miguel the reporter that ‘good neighbors’ are like good marriages. They don’t just happen but are made every day by people who care. Like the people in Martinez for example.  And maybe next time you should make a report about that.


Onto more good press for the Beaver Believer documentary. This time Sarah’s on PRI.

Beavers are being looked at as little climate change fighting machines

Sarah Konigsberg is documenting the efforts of six people across the US who are working to bring the big-tailed and bucktoothed beavers back to lakes and rivers across the country.

Like beavers themselves, the human subjects of Kongisberg’s documentary, The Beaver Believers, are climate change activists.

“The Beaver Believers” features the stories of people who share the common passion of restoring the beaver in the West by trapping and relocating the animals to habitats that could use a beaver’s touch.

Beaver dams change the landscape of the waterbed. Whole ecosystems with rich, biodiverse habitats and species build up in the area around a beaver dam, Kongisberg explains.

Streams are slowed and deepened, which allows the water bodies to grow and widen. The dams hold back sediment, raising the water levels for vegetation growth. The slowed water seeps into the ground and recharges aquifers.

“It basically creates a much more varied habitat for many, many more animals to live on,” she says.

The grand filmmaker  actually made a stop last night to refilm some urban beavers and their guardians in Martinez.  She was staying nearby in Pt. Reyes and thought the earlier footage she got when her crew came to the festival two years ago just wasn’t good enough. She’s been excited by the response and thinking the film would be ready for music and final touches this summer. I, for one, can’t wait.

Click on the headline above to hear the interview.


What news stories will there be about beavers tomorrow? I wonder. It’s a little harrowing trying to keep up. That’s the very best kind of harrowed, I admit. But we need a treat this morning, and Cheryl just posted this to my timeline on facebook, so I thought I’d share. Brace yourselves, this is alarmingly cute.


Western Arkansas Wild Rescue Alliance


When it rains it pours!

Posted by heidi08 On March - 23 - 2015Comments Off

And then there were three. How’s this for keeping the story in the public eye?

How Beavers Help Save Water


In the drought-ridden West, some people are partnering with beavers to restore watersheds, where, before trappers arrived, the large rodents once numbered in the millions. Film-maker Sarah Koenigsberg captures various efforts to reintroduce beavers to their former habitat in her documentary The Beaver Believers and tells host Steve Curwood why beavers are essential for a healthy ecosystem.

Cmore filming - Copyongratulations to Sarah Koenisberg who’s Beaver Believer film made it all the way to living on earth of NPR this week. Sarah and her crew were the documentary that filmed at the beaver festival 2 years ago, you might remember them hanging around at the time. Her film is sure to be thirstily received in the west, and I’m thrilled the Martinez Beavers were a part of it.

The Beaver Believers Kickstarter Trailer from Tensegrity Productions on Vimeo.

It’s pretty exciting when there are so many good news stories to keep up with it’s hard to update the website fast enough! This weekend I was hard at work for beavers Friday with the grant application for Kiwanis, Saturday with the grant application for the city and yesterday putting together a presentation for Derek Gow of Devon so he can build momentum for a beaver festival in England.  I tried to do it in under 15 minutes so I had to leave tons out, but it’s a fun way to share with folks who’ve never seen my talk in person. And I saw almost nothing snarky about the city, so that’s refreshing. Feel free to pass it on to friends or enemies who need to hear the story.

And they said it couldn’t be done…

Posted by heidi08 On March - 20 - 2015Comments Off

City of Tyler makes plans for Lindsey Park beavers

Screen shot 2015-03-20 at 6.48.43 AM

Click to Play

The fate of a family of beavers is more certain, but it looks like they’ll have to find a new home. The City of Tyler has come up with a plan to take care of the beavers and the problem.

The beavers are causing problems at Lindsey Park where beaver dams are causing water to back up onto trails making it difficult or impossible for hikers and bicyclists to use. The City of Tyler is consulting with a local biologist. There are two beaver families living at the park. The original mother and father are in one lake and the son and his wife in another.

The plan is to drain the lake where the second family lives using a pipe system. The original family will stay, while their children will be forced to find a new home. The biologist said this is safe for both beaver families because they tend to like their offspring to move far away, anyway.

The city will pay for the project with general maintenance fees and it should cost about $1,500.

Wow! Flow device in Texas? I try not to be a beaver snob. I try not to glance at a beaver story where someone wants to save beavers in Georgia or Arkansas and say, too bad, that will never happen. But I honestly thought that the state of Texas was more likely to enact a vegan holiday than they were to save beavers. Good work Lindsey Park!

Mind you, I’m not sure how they decided that a second family of offspring live in the second lodge, because we’ve had two lodges with one family. But never mind. If they install a flow device they can satisfy the mean-spirited by thinking they chased out one family, solve the problem and STILL save the beavers.

Mark this day on your calendar. It’s important.

The start of something good

Posted by heidi08 On March - 18 - 2015Comments Off

Long Term Solution Sought For Beaver Problem

The selectboard met Tuesday night and addressed several matters, and the primary two concern the North Prescott Road area. First, the long running issue of beavers making dams near the roadway was addressed. Susan Cloutier and Dave Wattles of the conservation commission said that beavers have been doing so for years on the wetlands just off the road, and that this is causing recurring flooding.

 Recently, the animals have built up two piles of dam material across the street, basically turning it into a one-lane road. There have been similar issues throughout the years, and it has proved hazardous to motorists on several occasions. The Department of Environmental Protection has been notified of the issue, and as simply ripping out dams is illegal, trapping has commenced in the area, with four of the creatures being re-located last week.

 According to Wattles, trapping is at best a short-term solution, as beavers are very resourceful and the area in question connects to Quabbin wetlands, making it highly likely that they will return. ” A more permanent solution is needed,” he said.


Pond Leveler before lowering into the water- Mike Callahan Beaver Solutions

 One such solution was then addressed, which is the possible installation of a “Beaver Deceiver,” a flow device that regulates the water levels of beaver dams. Wattles has been in touch with a company called Beaver Solutions out of Southampton and was quoted the price of $1,500 for a unit at the Prescott site. The price could actually be lower, closer to $1,000, should the town provide pipes and some labor.

 Happy beaver news from a state that often misunderstands beavers. We are thrilled that Prescott is already in touch with Mike, and can’t wait to see the problem solved for the long term. To the untrained eye, one would assume that the state that outlaws conibear traps would understand beavers better than most. But we here know better. The bay state seems to spend half its time bemoaning the unjust will of the voters, and the other half trying to overturn it. Obviously these smart members of the conservation commission know what the word conservation actually means.

 You may have realized this weekend that it’s spring (before spring) and that means it’s time for animal webcams around the world – or as I’ve chosen to call them “Nature Porn”. Yesterday I stumbled upon a camera from Van Nuys CA tracking a beautiful allen’s hummird and her rapidly growing chicks. They are 13 days old today, the awkward teens of hummingbird life. The nest is smaller than a tennis ball and made from plant fibers, moss and spider silk, (Which allows it to stretch as they grow). She comes and feeds them every half hour or so, but if you’re lucky you won’t see anything at all and think it’s boring so you’ll never watch again.  Otherwise you might find yourself cursed with a new hobby. I saw big eyes watching the world for the first time this morning.



Posted by heidi08 On March - 16 - 2015Comments Off

I received an Email this morning from Michael Pollock who says the salmonid conference was abuzz with beavers and people excited about doing more with less. He’s on his way home after a very popular weekend, but didn’t get in until Thursday so he missed my talk. I think I’ll send him one of these….No more standing in front of the closet wondering what to wear on November 1st.

Maybe the back should take a clue from the protestors.
Know beaver; know salmon.
No Beavers; no salmon.
No Bones about it

Wolves, Words and Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On March - 15 - 2015Comments Off

If one more person sends me the film “How wolves change rivers” I may do something drastic. Local author Jennifer Viegas puts it all in perspective in her smart new article on Wolves and public opinion. Jennifer is a writer for the Discovery Channel and, as it happens, a long-time friend to the Martinez Beavers. Yesterday she sent a recent article where she managed to slip in some of the rich credit beavers deserve.

Wolf Attacks More Myth Than Reality

From fairy tales to phrases like “lone-wolf terrorist,” wolves are vilified in our culture, and yet a fact check finds that a person is more likely to be killed by lightning, ATVs, dogs, cows, and even elevators than by a wolf.

Nevertheless, the myth that wolves pose a major threat to people persists, and at a time when their future is uncertain. Wolves used to be abundant in the United States from coast to coast, but unregulated hunting and habitat loss dramatically reduced their numbers. In 1974, the gray wolf became officially protected by the Endangered Species Act, which rescued the carnivores from the brink of extinction.

Because the presence of wolves affects where grazing animals feed, trees and plants in valleys and gorges at Yellowstone where deer and elk previously had collected are now regenerating, according to the research. Smith and colleagues’ research is documented in the short film “How Wolves Change Rivers.” Songbirds and beavers are returning. Because beavers help to provide habitat for other animals — such as muskrats, ducks, fish, reptiles and amphibians — these animals also got an indirect boost from the reintroduction of wolves.

Ahhh thank you, Jennifer. It’s good to have beaver friends in widely read places. I’m full of compassion for the plight of the wolves, mind you. But they can’t get all the praise in this matter. If there weren’t beavers to restore those rivers the Yellowstone wolves are protecting, all that would happen when wolves threatened browsing elk is the occasional  dead elk. That wouldn’t make a very exciting film or a very rewarding research project, would it?

I heard from Jennifer last night because I sent her this article, which a friend from England sent in my direction. It’s a much richer read then we have time for, but it’s Sunday and honestly, this is the best possible day to go savor it in its entirety. You might want to get the book too. It’s that good. There are a few short sections I wanted to share, to whet your appetite.

Robert Macfarlane on rewilding our language of landscape

The same summer I was on Lewis, a new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary was published. A sharp-eyed reader noticed that there had been a culling of words concerning nature. Under pressure, Oxford University Press revealed a list of the entries it no longer felt to be relevant to a modern-day childhood. The deletions included acorn, adder, ash, beech, bluebell, buttercup, catkin, conker, cowslip, cygnet, dandelion, fern, hazel, heather, heron, ivy, kingfisher, lark, mistletoe, nectar, newt, otter, pasture and willow. The words taking their places in the new edition included attachment, block-graph, blog, broadband, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, committee, cut-and-paste, MP3 player and voice-mail.

Eight years ago, in the coastal township of Shawbost on the Outer Hebridean island of Lewis, I was given an extraordinary document. It was entitled “Some Lewis Moorland Terms: A Peat Glossary”, and it listed Gaelic words and phrases for aspects of the tawny moorland that fills Lewis’s interior. Reading the glossary, I was amazed by the compressive elegance of its lexis, and its capacity for fine discrimination: a caochan, for instance, is “a slender moor-stream obscured by vegetation such that it is virtually hidden from sight”, while a feadan is “a small stream running from a moorland loch”, and a fèith is “a fine vein-like watercourse running through peat, often dry in the summer”. Other terms were striking for their visual poetry: rionnach maoim means “the shadows cast on the moorland by clouds moving across the sky on a bright and windy day”; èit refers to “the practice of placing quartz stones in streams so that they sparkle in moonlight and thereby attract salmon to them in the late summer and autumn”, and teine biorach is “the flame or will-o’-the-wisp that runs on top of heather when the moor burns during the summer”.

Even if you aren’t immediately enchanted remebering the caochan’s you have passed or wondering if Eit’s really attract salmon, I assume readers of this website will be outraged that the OED for children once removed acorn, otter, and kingfisher! It immediately makes me think of the beaver words we have lost over the years. How thick with experience of them we must have been at one time, and then how nearly fully we extincted them. The phrase ‘beavering away’ for example, was once as common as OMG,  and visible in every single historic paper I reviewed for our prevalence research.  I know I miss a word for the sound kits make. Mewing just doesn’t communicate how purposeful it is. And whining sounds to negative.

Hey, I have an idea. Let’s make up our own beaver lexicon.   We talk about them more than anyone has since the fur trade I’m sure. And I’ve written close to 3000 columns on the subject. Why not make up some words to describe what we’ve seen?