Archive for the ‘City Reports’ Category

Above and Beyond

Posted by heidi08 On December - 15 - 20141 COMMENT

Lake Elmo beavers: Cute, yes, but something of a nuisance


It might look like the middle of the wilderness, but this beaver was photographed after a recent snowfall on the west side of Lake Elmo in the Heights. Photographer John Warner has been taking pictures of this beaver and two others this fall.

  Three or four beavers—one or two adults and two kits—have built themselves a home on the shores of Lake Elmo in the Heights.

Their bank den is on the west side of the 64-acre reservoir, near the boat launch and right alongside a culvert that feeds the lake with water from the Billings Bench Water Association canal. A bank den is similar to a lodge but incorporates the bank surface into the structure.

Only three beavers at a time have been spotted so far, but Dave Pauli, with the Humane Society of the United States, said beavers mate for life, so there is most likely another adult in the den.

Terri Walters, who manages Lake Elmo State Park, of which the reservoir is part, for the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said the beavers apparently migrated to Lake Elmo from the nearby irrigation canal sometime this fall.

 The beavers have already felled two small cottonwood trees, a willow and a Russian olive, and they have been working their way through a willow stump thick with dozens of shoots, including a few large ones. They have stacked the top of their lodge with branches, which they will feed on throughout the winter.

 Walters said she had to wrap 10 other trees with wire so they beavers wouldn’t gnaw on them.


Don’t tell me you actually had to take such extreme measures to fend off these marauders! Actually wrapping trees? That’s like having to put your car in the garage or your wallet in your pocket! I mean it’s not quite as bad as wearing a condom or keeping a receipt, but my God, how much can one woman take?

beaver and kits in snow

An adult beaver and two kits swim in open water. John Warner

Pauli also said he’d like to work with FWP on a plan that would allow the beavers to stay at the lake. The adults could be spayed and neutered, and the kits could be as well if they stayed on. Lake Elmo State Park is often visited by groups of schoolchildren, Pauli said, so it would be good learning experience to have a family of beavers living where they are so easily accessible.

The article was going along pretty much like I expected but this was a coffee-spitter. HSUS Dave Pauli thinks the beavers should be neutered? You do realize that kits disperse and move away on their own, right? I mean here in Martinez we’ve had 20 born in 7 years and our population is still 6. I hope you don’t think that beavers can get neutered as easily as cats. Males and females have internal sex organs, and they might not survive the stress of capture even if it were possible.

What a very scary thought. It might well mean that sadly, sometimes the Human Society of the United States has absolutely no idea what its talking about. I always thought of them as smarter  and better than me. Like Jane Goodall,  Gandhi or Mother Theresa.

But even more importantly, let me just say that John Warner’s remarkable photographs of this beaver family are among the most beautiful images I have ever seen. And that’s saying something. Why not use these urban beavers and remarkable visuals to promote the first ever beaver festival in Billings Montana? It would teach locals how and why to work with the animals, and improve water, hunting, and fishing in the area.

beaver reaching snow

A beaver stands on its hind legs to get at snow-covered branches. John Warner

Now this came yesterday from our friend Lee Ann Carver, the wildlife photographer in Canada. You will of course appreciate what happens on the twelfth day of Christmas, but the fifth is pretty clever too. Pass this along to your friends. See it you can spot Grey Owl and if we can top 1000 views by tomorrow.

Oh and a sad correction from our retired librarian friend in Georgia, who pointed out that beavers might not actually get to heaven after all. Dam it.

Pope Francis turns out not to have made pets in heaven comment

Water, Water, everywhere

Posted by heidi08 On December - 12 - 20142 COMMENTS


CaptureDSCN0546Our beavers got three and a half inches of rain yesterday, but the flow device was still standing and there was a wet bump under the water indicating at least the mud part of the dam was still in place. I received an email from Robin in Napa which got much more rain than we did. She was heart broken by her visit to the DSCN0551beloved dam that was no longer visible under flooding. I of course said the usual things I say to console myself when these things happen. Beavers rebuild. The dam is probably partly still there underwater. Beavers have faced much harder things than this, have faith in them. And even in the hard flow their lodge was still standing, which was encouraging. Rusty went down a little later and could still see the outline of the dam underneath. (There art thou happy.) But beavers have hard jobs, there’s no denying it. There’s a reason they’re so busy. Our lazy lives are much easier by comparison. Imagine being the breadwinner, the contractor  the engineer, the flood control, and the public works department all at once.
outlineRecognize that familiar bump? It’s what we see every year after a washout,  and it means things aren’t as lost as you thought. I’m just thrilled that there are other souls in the world watching beaver dams in rain storms.

Jon just trotted down to look at our wet “bump” this morning, which he says is still visible. The level is too high to see if the filters in place, but he thinks it is. Jean took this movie just now with her phone. IMG_0628. From now on we can assume our beavers will be doing lots and lots of this.

beaver repairsNow if you have time before all the Christmas parties and you happen to be anywhere near Cape Cod you should really plan on attending this tonight.

 College Students to Present Environmental Science Research Results

The public is invited to attend a symposium featuring the research results of 21 undergraduate students who are participating in the Marine Biological Laboratory’s Semester in Environmental Sciences (SES) program. The symposium will be held from 8:20 AM to 3:30 PM on Friday, December 12, in the MBL’s Lillie Auditorium, 7 MBL Street, Woods Hole.

Sounds amazing. There’s a day worth of 15 minute presentations, but the last three look particularly interesting:

2:45-3:00 – Delaney Gibbs, EARLHAM COLLEGE
The effect of beaver ponds on the nutrient concentrations in the Cart Creek/Parker River Ecosystem within the Plum Island Estuary watershed
3:00-3:15 – Julia McMahon, DICKINSON COLLEGE
Influence of beavers on benthic community trophic structure in Cart Creek within the Plum Island Estuary watershed
3:15-3:30 -Jessie Moravek, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY
The effects of beaver dams on nitrogen-mineralization and community structure in a forest ecosystem

 Oh, to be in Massachusetts now that beavers are the hot topic! I have written the presenters all individually and asked them to share their findings, hopefully we can find out soon. In the meantime keep an eye out for wet bumps in creeks near you!

Town Rallies to Save Beavers in Connecticut

Posted by heidi08 On December - 7 - 2014Comments Off

Essex Beavers Will Live Another Day

Thanks to an outpouring of opposition from local residents at the Dec. 4 Essex Conservation Commission meeting, the beaver family that has currently taken up residency at the Viney Hill Brook Park, will not, as originally—and controversially—decided by the commission, be trapped and drowned.

Upwards of 150 residents, young and old, filled the meeting room at the Town Hall, ready with written statements and heartfelt speeches about why the beavers should be allowed to live freely at the park
“The beavers were here before people came in; it’s more their land than ours,” said 11 year-old Jack Simon who attended the meeting with his mother Laura Simon, a representative from the United States Humane Society.

The elder Simon explained that she would be more than happy to work with the town to come up with a viable solution that doesn’t involve trapping the beavers.

“There are simple alternatives such as wrapping the trees and painting the trees,” Simon said. “These are great community service and boy scout projects.”

This is just the kind of story we love best to hear at beaver central! John Ackerman was a resident who started asking questions on the beaver management forum a while back. I gave him all the advice and inspiration I could, but honestly, I needn’t have bothered. John is apparently adept at being creative and engaging on behalf of beavers all by himself!

“I think we should let the beavers do what they do best, build dams and create wetlands,” said 13 year-old Essex resident Jake Klin. “Viney Brook swimming hole was a mistake for humans, but great for the beavers. Please don’t drown the beavers.”

 “I personally would like to see the beavers stay. I think they can be lived with,” said former first selectman and current State Representative Phil Miller.

 “Instead of being negative about the beavers, why don’t we see them as an opportunity for education? They are a keystone species in Connecticut. We should be working with them not against them,” said resident Megan Schreider, who works at the Denison Pequot Nature Center in Mystic. “This town instilled in me my love of nature growing up and I hope it continues to that for future generations of children. Keeping the beavers alive is one way to do that.”

When I read something like that I am so excited I can hardly stop grinning. The town will bring in Mike Callahan to review the situation and make recommendations. And public works will start wrapping trees. Congratulations John and the people of Essex! You did something extraordinary and should be enormously proud of yourselves. I almost wish Martinez could go back in time and save our beavers all over again! Fantastic work. The meeting wasn’t filmed or photographed unfortunately, but I’m sure this is what it looked like.


sonomabirdingNow it’s bird count morning! Tom and Darren will be busy in the field today with the first of their two highly successful bird counts for kids. If you miss this one, you can still catch the 18th. In the meantime if you need to remember who they are the photo from the beaver festival might help. Tom and Darren have helped us get our footing every step of the way,  They have made sure to include us on many of their ground-breaking events, the Duck Stamp art show, the Optics and Nature fairs. the celebration of the wilderness act in California. Tom and Darren won the John Muir Conservation award last year, and have been invited to Canada and Washington D.C. to implement their ideas. we couldn’t be prouder of them or their friendship

Christmas Bird Count for kids

Calistoga families looking for a fun, outdoor activity that doesn’t involve a ball, but does involve a little math and education, may want to consider the Christmas Bird Count for Kids this winter.

There will be two nearby opportunities for citizen scientists to take part in the National Audubon Society’s Annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC). On Sunday, Dec. 7, a CBC will be held at Connolly Ranch in Napa, and on Sunday, Jan. 18, a CBC will be held at Sonoma Community Center in Sonoma.

 Tom Rusert and Darren Peterie of Sonoma Birding launched Christmas Bird Count for Kids (CBC4Kids) in 2007.

The Scottish Beaver Trial Report

Posted by heidi08 On December - 5 - 2014Comments Off

  Scottish Beaver Trial publishes its final report

The Scottish Beaver Trial, the first formal reintroduction of a mammal ever to take place in the UK, has published its final report. The five-year-trial, at Knapdale forest, Argyll, is a partnership led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.

 The first Norwegian beavers were released in Knapdale in 2009 and monitoring ended in May. This report will help ministers decide on the future of beavers in Scotland.


Now this is worth curling up and reading next to a good fire with a cup of hot chocolate. Or maybe Scotch. It’s a huge file and is taking forever to download but the entire thing is accessible here and you can count on me for some highights. I thought it was impressive but  Victor Clements just scoffed that its mostly presentation with little information. I was interested in details of the beavers lives.   Here’s the family tree, (ours is so much better!)

CaptureThe first thing that really caught my eye is that the trial site turned out not to be secure and maybe some of the beavers got away into the sea!! (Which our friends of the River Tay Beavers should find fascinating!) They installed a kind of flow device in the first dam and then realized it didn’t matter if the pond flooded! I was also interested to learn that two of their kits were predated, one by a fox and one probably by a large domestic dog. This surprises me not at all, but is worth remembering the next time someone says beavers don’t have predators.


Two kits were also found predated during the course of the Trial. One of these was a Dubh Loch kit found dead on 8 September 2011 in shallow water at the edge of a flooded track at the marshy eastern end of the loch by the SBT Field Officer while carrying out a routine field-sign survey. The cadaver was collected and taken for full post-mortem examination, which indicated that the beaver had been in good body condition but had died as a result of traumatic injuries to the head, possibly caused by a large predator. Although unconfirmed, it was felt by SBT staff that this could have been caused by a domestic dog–a diagnosis strengthened by later comparison with a kit killed by a fox. The second kit was found on Loch Linne by researchers from the University of Stirling, who were undertaking vegetation transects as part of their annual data collection. This kit was quite badly decomposed, and all internal organs were missing, so full post-mortem examination was not possible, though from the location of the puncture wound and marks on the bones it was presumed that this individual had been predated by a fox.

 Remember that these beavers got “injected, inspected, detected, dis-infected, neglected and selected.”They had Ear Tags, tail radios and GPS systems on their backs. They were weighed, sexed, measured and monitored at regular intervals. Their private moments were caught on film and they still managed to elude the researchers at times.  Dispersal, it seems was really hard to catch, and the first and second year it didn’t happen at all. Population density seemed to really effect behavior because where there was only one male at Dubh Loch the father (Bjornar) surprised everyone by mating with his own undisperssed offspring (Mille) who went on to have several kits. This is not totally unprecedented, but theu didn’t exactly issue a press release!

Capture23And speaking of press releases, there is an entire section on how they educated the media and the public for this monumental undertaking. They really included public support at every level and I am not at all surprised it worked for them. This is a great learning activity they did with the lower grades that has me thinking about the beaver festival! They made sure there was accessible, inviting viewing for the public Captu4reand encouraged visitors. They did what they could to bring the public along with them and make sure everyone understood where their tax dollars were going. There’s a very good reason why the Scottish Beaver Trial received an award for being the best Conservation Project of the year.


The report concludes with these exciting remarks:

The authors of this report, along with many others across Scotland, Wales and England, look forward to the coming months when a decision on the future of beavers in Scotland will be made. Perhaps one day we shall see the widespread return of this native species to our lochs, rivers and burns.

Worth A Dam welcomed the trial in 2009 and is proud of its conclusion in 2014. And when you watch this inspiring baptism think about how much bigger our festival is now.

Beaver Friends & Foe

Posted by heidi08 On December - 4 - 2014Comments Off

Brock Dolman & Kate Lundquist

KRCB is the local public radio station in Sonoma and yesterday it featured beaver friends Kate Lundquist and Brock Dolman from the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center. Click and listen to three and a half minutes of beaver praises. The photo is from our fifth beaver festival in 2012. (You can tell by Bob Rust’s giant inflatable beaver in the background!)



I love when beaver benefits are extolled on the air waves! Great work team beaver! (Although I’m not totally sure the west coast is without its own dramatic examples of cities living with beaver. Ahem.)

Yesterday saw some heavy, heavy rains in Martinez. So heavy that we were worried that filter had been knocked off the flow device again. Jean saw a confused beaver swimming at high tide during the day, probably when his bank hole was filled with water. But by afternoon the level was back down and we could see that the filter had not moved, and there was a huge snag on one of the stabilizing posts holding the pipe that we thought was the filter. The dam had been breached by the heavy flow. And more rain came later at night. In weather like this we’ve seen the beavers sit tight and wait for the excitement to be over before they begin repairs. Stay tuned.

As if to compensate for our worry yesterday, there was this headline  from Ohio which  provided us with the warm feeling one needs in terrible weather. Maybe it will warm you too.  And it might be time for a German lesson.

 Worker injured removing beaver dams near Hinckley

An 84-year-old man struck in the head with a log while blowing up beaver dams Tuesday remained in serious condition Wednesday at a Rockford hospital, DeKalb County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Gary Dumdie said.

Ivan Dremann of Ohio, Illinois, was using explosives to remove beaver dams from Little Rock Creek for a farmer on Lee Road west of Rimsnider Road northwest of Hinckley about 4:10 p.m. Tuesday, according to a DeKalb County Sheriff’s news release.

Ouch. This is a very good time to observe that I don’t believe a person of any age was ever injured installing a flow device.


German, from Schaden damage + Freude joy

“a feeling of enjoyment that comes from seeing or hearing about the troubles of other people”


BWW to the rescue!

Posted by heidi08 On December - 3 - 2014Comments Off

Town, residents to work on solution to beaver dams

Owen and Sharon Brown of Beavers: Wetlands and Wildlife, an educational

BWWrescuenonprofit with 30 years of experience in providing solutions for beaver problems, visited Carlson Road on Nov. 13

and said in a report to the town council the water level at the culvert outlet across from the Prestigiacomo pond was three feet below the road surface.

 “A downstream dam that rises only a few inches above the water level is unlikely to cause a problem because of the almost three feet of clearance to the road surface,” said Owen Brown, adding maintaining secondary dams is not a high priority for beavers. “But they will maintain their primary dam as if their lives depend on it, because they do. If the water in that pond is drained, the beavers will lose access to their winter food cache.”

 Sharon Brown added it’s not unusual for beavers to reduce the amount of road flooding.

 “Having dams upstream — such as the one across the road from Gordon Robotham’s home on Barry and Debbie Prestigiacomo’s land — slows and stabilizes the water flow because beavers build leaky dams,” she said. “The water isn’t completely trapped.”

 The Browns added during a deluge this past spring, water just downstream of Carlson Road rose high enough to threaten the road. Since the dam just downstream on Robothom’s side of the road was likely at least two feet under during the event, they said in their report to the town it was their opinion the dam did not cause the flooding.

 It was a few weeks ago I saw a news item about the beaver dams in Dolgeville NY causing concern among the city council. I recognized the location and thought since it was in Sharon and Owen’s city they’d want to know. Obviously they’ve been hard at work since then, with some pretty great results. Looks like they even got locals to stand up for the beavers as well.

 DOLGEVILLE — Leave the beaver dams along Carlson Road alone.

 That’s the message residents who live along the road in the town of Manheim have for the town council and anyone else who wants to have the dams removed.

 “There’s been no flooding since the beavers came in years ago,” said Gordon Robotham. “If there’s a problem with the beavers, it should have come up before now.”

  Like Robotham, Barry and Debbie Prestigiacomo have a beaver pond on their property. They installed a leveler system with a 12-inch diameter pipe in the dam last year to manage the water level, and said they have not experienced any problems since.

 “There’s also gates or fencing that can be used to protect the culverts. The beavers don’t have to be killed to address the town’s concerns,” said Barry Prestigiacomo.

Manheim Town Supervisor John Haughton said the town only recently received a legal opinion from attorney Kenneth Ayers that any damage to the road as a result of flooding caused by the beaver dams would be the town’s responsibility to repair.

Ahh, memories!  It was a letter from the lawyer of the 500 block on Main Street that started the excitement in Martinez all those years ago.  (It’s always a lawyer!) Well it looks like Owen and Sharon knew what to do to fix things. I’m not worried about these beavers at all anymore. Too bad we don’t have little beaver M.A.S.H. units all over the country that can swoop in and solve problems at a moments notice.. We need at least one in every state, maybe as many as the state has electoral votes.


Beaver Strategist

Posted by heidi08 On December - 1 - 2014Comments Off

Yesterday an article from Georgia caught my attention. You may remember that Georgia is the state where the original Clemson Pond Leveler was invented, and the state where I first read about beaver tail bounties. Let’s say that in addition to having alligators and very nice peaches, it has a fairly schizophrenogenic stance on beavers in general. Which is why I wasn’t surprised to see this.

Carole Currie: Talking ’bout the wildlife, again

Almost everyone around us at the Georgia farm has a wildlife story, and when there’s a gathering, there’s a lot of storytelling. There are skunks under houses (we’ve had that), deer eating everything (we’ve had that in spades), coyote sounds in the night and bobcat sightings.

Our story continues to be about the critters that keep stopping up the outflow drain at our pond, threatening to cause it to flood over the dam. Once we found the lodge, we knew it was beavers stopping up the drain. We are threatened by the beavers because of the damage they can do by flooding the pond and ruining the dam and to the surrounding trees. But the more we learn about the beavers, the more we have to admire them.

A recent “Nature” program on public television shed a lot of light on these overgrown members of the rodent family. The sound of running water to a beaver is like a call to work. They want to stop it, and they do so by packing the drain with mud. Somewhat blind and slow on land, they are fast in the water.

They are sociable, family-oriented critters who earn their reputation as being “busy as beavers.” They just don’t give up. Walt unstops the pond, and the next morning it is stopped up again. With their long orange teeth, they can fell a large tree overnight to pile onto their dam.

Once beavers were valued for their furs to make hats. When the hats went out of style and beavers overpopulated, many were eradicated but they are coming back. There are either eco heroes now because of their ability to create wetlands for wildlife and cattle or pests who want to dam up our pond.

It makes for a good critter story but one without a good ending for us or the beavers.

This made me think Carole needed a letter. So I wrote her about protecting the overflow on her pond and the benefits beavers could bring if she let them stay. I told her how it would be saving money because if she trapped them out more would just come next year.  I told what we had done in Martinez (did you know there’s a Martinez in Georgia? My niece used to live there. They pronounce it mar-tin- EZ.) I was careful not to sound too ‘California’ in my email and said if she needed regional resources she should talk to the folks at the Blue Heron Preserve in Atlanta or Stephanie Boyle in West Virginia.

And whadaya know, she promptly wrote back!

Heidi, thanks so much for your thoughtful and informative e-mail. It casts things in a whole new light.

Which was nice. And maybe because I finished watching West Wing on Netflix last night, made me realize something: I’m kinda political strategist for beavers. A national beaver strategist? An North American beaver strategist? More like a  Global beaver strategist! (GBS) and at the moment, weirdly enough, I’m the only one. Which is pretty amazing if you think about it in this day and age to be the only one of anything is fairly surprising. (Don’t believe me? Go ahead, take your wildest and most creative thought and google it. A million people around the world have already thought it and written it down.)

national map`

So it means something to be the only GBS. But it won’t last  forever. I may be the only one now, but the only one so far. There are so many more regional beaver strategists than their were eight years ago when we started this campaign, that I’m sure many more GBS will come soon. Which is wonderful in a way I can barely describe.

I can’t wait to be redundant.