Archive for the ‘City Reports’ Category

Photographs and Memories

Posted by heidi08 On July - 26 - 20151 COMMENT
Suzi at work

Suzi Eszterhas photographs Martinez Beavers

Last night more than 40 children and their parents showed up for a chance at having their picture taken by Suzi Eszterhas for possible inclusion in Ranger Rick magazine. I was in charge of registration at the footbridge and got parents to sign the model release. Jon shepherded groups across the street, and Suzi was at the old dam arranging children, persuading them to be patient, and taking photos.

The night had a strangely important feel. Almost everyone had seen the beavers before, and many knew about the kits, most had attended a beaver festival. One eager attendee showed me her three layered keystone charm necklaces from the previous years, and one boy was even wearing a lovely homemade t-shirt that said “Save the Martinez Beavers”!

(Jon got so excited about him that he told Suzi to get a photo, and when she was trying to walk around the edge of the pond she slipped in!  About three feet deep because of the swelling tide, but she instinctively held her camera over her head so everything important except her squishy boots was saved! Afterwards Jon was very sorry apologetic.)

nature clubThe kids and parents were very excited about her work and wanted to know as much as possible. Of course they asked which issue of Ranger Rick it will be in, and of course we have no idea. Hopefully sometime next year.  She was especially interested in the older kids because of the readership age of Ranger Rick, but  she made everyone feel important and part of something very special. Parents were totally unphased by the release which they happily signed and gave contact information. Afterwards Jon and I looked at each other and commented that this had felt like an unexpectedly important night.

I’m hoping this translates into lots of new sign ups for NWF at the festival and some great bidding on Suzi’s donations. Now today it’s time to buckle down with Deidre and get the items for the silent auction tagged and organized. Next week is full of last minute details and the Contra Costa Times is supposed to release its article about the festival (and profile of ….cough…me.) I’m just hoping it doesn’t mortify me too much.

A star is born from Heidi Perryman on Vimeo.

“One stick at a time…”

Posted by heidi08 On July - 17 - 2015Comments Off

I guess USDA finally got the memo! Even though they chose to bury this story in their blog, I’m pretty excited. Just look:

Working with Beavers to Restore Watersheds

The Methow Beaver Project is a bit uncommon as far as forest health

restoration projects go, because it relies on one of nature’s greatest engineers – the beaver.

Beavers build dams on river


s and streams, and build homes (“lodges”) in the resulting bodies of still, deep water to protect against predators. Beavers play an important ecological role, because the reservoirs of water that beaver dams create also increase riparian habitat, reduce stream temperatures, restore stream complexity, capture sediment, and store millions of gallons of water underground in wetland ‘sponges’ that surround beaver colonies. This benefits the many fish, birds, amphibians, plants and people that make up the entire ecosystem.

Across the country today, there are fewer beavers than there used to be because their fur was very desirable to early American settlers and many landowners considered them to be a pest that damaged the landscape. As beavers were eradicated, the once complex wetlands that they helped to create disappeared as well.

 Recently, low snowpack in the Cascade Mountains has resulted in less meltwater flowing through streams throughout the spring, summer and fall on the Methow Valley Ranger District of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in north central Washington State. The low water levels have negatively affected habitat for salmon, trout, frogs, eagles and many other species. Over the next 20 to 30 years, dramatically less snowpack is predicted.

 That’s why U.S. Forest Service biologists like Kent Woodruff are working to reintroduce beavers to forest streams where they used to be common. Beavers can help make such ecosystems more resilient to future changes in climate by restoring ecological function. Not only do beaver dams increase water storage on the landscape, they improve water quality by reducing stream temperatures, increasing nutrient availability in streams, and increasing stream function by reconnecting floodplains.

Recently, the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society recognized the Methow Beaver Project, awarding it the Riparian Challenge Award for 2015. This award recognizes and encourages excellence in riparian and watershed habitat management, and celebrates the accomplishments of the project’s many partners, including its beaver engineers!

 “We’re solving important problems one stick at a time,” Woodruff said.

And on the weighty day when USDA pinched their nostrils closed and  forced themselves to mention the positive truth about beavers, Kent was standing there in uniform to ease the pain. A USFS biologist himself, Kent’s project carries the respectability that not even USDA can ignore forever. With so many partners and supporters the Methow project is guaranteed to make a difference, and Kent has worked hard to see that it will thrive long after he retires.  It is remarkable, that even though Methow has been doing this work a long, long, LONG time, USDA is just starting to get the message.

Better late than never, I always say.

Struggling amphibians get a beaver boost

New research by the U.S. Geological Survey suggests that the effect beavers have on the environment may stem the decline of amphibians in places such as Grand Teton National Park.

 The decade-long study found startling declines of amphibians in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park and more gradual declines in Grand Teton and Yellowstone parks. It determined that further north in Glacier National Park the metamorphosing critters are faring better. Headed by Blake Hossack of the USGS, the research also determined that beavers create wet habitats that act as a hedge against declines in amphibians, which depend on water in their early life stages.

“Although beaver were uncommon, their creation or modification of wetlands was associated with higher colonization rates for four of five amphibian species, producing a 34 percent increase in occupancy in beaver-influenced wetlands compared to wetlands without beaver influence,” the study said. It was published recently in the journal Biological Conservation.

 “Also, colonization rates and occupancy of boreal toads and Columbia spotted frogs were greater than two times higher in beaver-influenced wetlands,” the study said. “These strong relationships suggest management for beaver that fosters amphibian recovery could counter declines in some areas.”

 The USGS, New Mexico State University, Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative and the National Park Service all collaborated on the study.

The influence of beavers is on display along Moose-Wilson Road in Grand Teton park, upstream of where the beaver pond borders the road, Patla said. During the study, she said, the aquatic rodents colonized a new area to the north.

 “The beavers started moving upstream from there and making dams and they flooded a huge area,” Patla said.

Previously the habitat in the area consisted of “ancient” beaver ponds that had dried out and wasn’t great amphibian habitat.

 After the beavers recolonized, “all four species were present and toads suddenly appeared for the first time,” Patla said. “Adults laid their eggs and rapidly colonized that area.

Whoa! You’re kidding me! You mean the actions of the “water-savers” actually benefited multiple species of “water-users”? That must come as a real surprise, since I’m sure you were taught in school that beavers were icky. And in California we’ve killed them for destroying frog habitat by “ruining vernal ponds.” And if you doubt it you should reread my column about it from 2012, back when I used to write fairly clever things.

Honestly I thought the ship of “Beavers help frogs” had sailed and was already in the general lexicon. But I forgot the need to repeat research to prove that results apply regionally. No word yet on when they’ll be releasing the papers on “Gravity still applies in Wyoming” or “Researchers confirm water tends to flow down hill in Jackson Hole, too.”


I shouldn’t complain. USDA, USFS, USGS all in one day proclaiming beaver benefits. That’s got to be some kind of acronym milestone. I sure wish their was a department of Beaver Benefits. Maybe USBB?

Here’s some eye candy to start the weekend right. First kit filmed in the Scottish Beaver Trials this year.

Video: rare footage of Scots beaver released



Best Beaver Day Ever?

Posted by heidi08 On June - 25 - 20152 COMMENTS

So yesterday morning, former Martinez resident LB sent me this story from an elementary school right outside Seattle trying to get rid of its beaver. Apparently the state with the smartest beaver management in the nation has  a few large pockets of ignorance.

Wash. school district looking to get rid of pesky beaver

On an elementary school campus? With kids who love the beavers and parents who care? In Washington? So LB and I wrote the principal and media spokesperson for the district, and I posted  about it on facebook. Mind you, this is in Kings county which had one of the only websites about flow devices when we were looking for answers back in 2007. Shouldn’t they, of all places, know better?

I learned that in addition to being worried that ‘the beaver” would attack the students,  one of the concerns was about the Lake Forest Park Stewardship Foundation which had just worked with students to hatch and release salmon eggs in the creek, and wouldn’t the beaver dam ruin everything?

No kidding. 12 miles from Michael Pollock’s office.

So I made sure everyone had a crash course in beavers and salmon and sent the salmon film and flow device information, and I added the LFPSF to the list of people I included in the little impromptu seminar. I sent along the kids power point presentation that I made for teachers to use in Contra Costa County and encouraged them to look at teacher materials on our website. And when I posted about this on the beaver management page several bold people actually CALLED the school to ask what the heck they were thinking-including an elementary school science teacher in WA who said he would love beavers on his campus to use in education!

And guess what? By midday the school had backed down and the traps were removed. Let me say that again. By midday the school had backed down and the traps were removed. The principal said he was  happy to know about flow devices. And this morning the director of LFPSF wrote to thank me for the all the information and said he was thrilled that when the reporters called this morning they knew much more than they did before about beavers and salmon and how to prevent flooding.

I think that makes yesterday the single most successful day we’ve ever seen on this website. I am so grateful so many people spoke up and they agreed to do the right thing. I have to admit I felt a little powerful yesterday. As if I had finally been doing this work long enough to make a difference.

ZUBR Beavers from Platige Image on Vimeo.

But that’s kind of silly. Honestly, I guess if you can’t save beavers near an elementary school just outside Seattle, you’re probably in the wrong line of work.

(H/T to RC from Napa for the ZUBR comercial. Which, in case you didn’t guess already,  is polish for Bison.)

A ‘Winters’ Tale

Posted by heidi08 On June - 22 - 2015Comments Off

Looks like the Putah Creek Beavers are getting some traction.

Winters in uproar over Putah Creek beavers, otters


 In this sleepy, orchard-ringed commuter town, a former newspaper reporter wondered aloud last week whether she ought to chain herself to a bulldozer.

 The source of her and others’ unlikely, new-found activism? A languid 1,000-foot stretch of Putah Creek and a group of beavers and river otters living inside a wide, deep pool.

 Some Winters wildlife lovers are pushing back against the last phase of a city stream rehabilitation project that will shoo the aquatic mammals away.

 Carol Brydolf was relieved. On Thursday, the former reporter had discussed with a fellow activist whether she had the fortitude to chain herself to a bulldozer to stop the project. She said Friday that the project’s managers were finally listening to their concerns.

 “They really, really blew us off,” she said.

The upheaval over the beavers and otters has spilled over into public meetings, newspaper letters to the editor, social media accounts and an online petition. City Manager John Donlevy Jr. said he is exhausted by the acrimony.

Donlevy said project managers have performed detailed scientific assessments and have gotten input from every stakeholder group, including the animal lovers. The beavers and otters won’t be harmed, he said. They just have to move somewhere else for a little while.

Oh is that all? They just have to pack the entire family in the station wagon and go to motel 6 for a while? I mean after the bulldozers make their roof cave in and they’re buried underground and a few lucky ones dig their way out and escape? As horrific as that sounds, something tells me they’re taking it to the next level in Winters. This article doesn’t even mention the piebald beaver, which means they feel better keeping their ace in the hole for now.


Click for video

Good, I wrote the mayor and city manager and maybe you should too. They need to be reminded that beavers are asleep during the day and that when their homes are crushed during their slumber they don’t “go somewhere else for a while”.

Unless they’re Uma Thurman, they suffocate and die.

Some opponents, including Tim Caro, a Winters resident and UC Davis wildlife biologist, are skeptical.

 Caro said it’s such a small section of the stream that the benefits to salmon likely will be negligible and not worth depriving residents of a fascinating window into the natural world from their neighborhood nature trail.

 “Schoolkids in the city of Winters could learn about biology by seeing these charismatic mammals,” he said.

For the time being, they still can. At least for another month.

School children, biologists, little old ladies. Just remember, you CAN stop city hall. But it takes many voices working together. Maybe that next meeting could look something like this.

Worth A Dam from Bill Schilz on Vimeo.

Beaver wanderer

Posted by heidi08 On June - 18 - 2015Comments Off

Dispersal is so harrowing. Maybe that’s why our 2014 kits decided to stick around.

Beaver blocks entrance to Chick-fil-A, gets courtesy ride from police

Beavers may be great architects, but perhaps they aren’t the best with directions. Bellevue police helped one such beaver Monday evening after it found its way into the Chick-fil-A parking lot, and had difficulty making its way back home.

“The beaver somehow got himself on the sidewalk in front of the entrance to Chick-fil-A and there was lot of traffic there,” said Amanda Jensen with the Bellevue Police Department.

“He seemed disoriented,” she said. “They were just concerned about him getting hit.” The other concern was the line of cars waiting to enter the fast food restaurant. Bellevue’s new Chick-fil-A location has become renowned for causing heavy traffic as patrons drive through.

Being a good neighbor, a Bellevue police officer gave the little guy a ride home, or at least to the front door of the nearby pond where he has taken up residence.

“The officers used a dog catching pole and wrangled him into the car,” Jensen said. “And they brought him to a pond area where it is known that beavers are.”

After hopping in, a short ride, and hopping back out, it was dam-sweet-dam for the clever rodent.

There’s nothing more embarrassing than being brought home in a police car after your first night out. But it could have been much worse. He could have hit by a car, mauled by a dog or remained at Chic-fil-A.

Martinez Beaver Festival promo 2015 from Tensegrity Productions on Vimeo.

/a>New promo thanks to Sarah Koenisberg who was kind enough to update her last one. Hopefully it will run on the Martinez channel soon. Feel free to pass it on!


Napatopia and Ohiotopia?

Posted by heidi08 On June - 15 - 2015Comments Off
blue heron on lodge

Blue Heron on beaver lodge in Tulocay Creek: Rusty Cohn

CaptureBeavers set up home in downtown Napa

Downtown has some new residents, and they’re not the two-legged tourist variety.  Beavers have moved into Napa Creek and built at least two dams visible from the Pearl Street pedestrian bridge and from the parking lot behind the former Napa Firefighters Museum.

 “I think it’s great. It speaks to the health of the watershed,” said Shaun Horne, watershed and flood control resource specialist for the Napa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District.

 “It’s a good sign for the creek,” Horne said. “The whole beaver population seems to be spreading. These creatures are recolonizing some of these areas that maybe didn’t have the best habitat prior to this.”

Beavers change creek hydrology for the better, Horne said. Dams pool water, which is good for fish, birds and other wildlife. Beaver dams can also help reverse channel deepening, provide nurseries for fish, increase habitat for small mammals, contribute to the establishment of new vegetation and improve downstream water quality by trapping sediment.

 Napan Rusty Cohn is a regular beaver watcher. He’s seen the animals and their work at Tulocay Creek near Soscol Avenue and other river areas in the city. He gave the new dam on Napa Creek a thumbs-up.

 “They did a nice job of building it,” Cohn said. He has yet to spot the downtown beavers, but he has a theory about where they came from.

More remarkable beaver wisdom from Napatopia, with Flood control saying how valuable beavers are and Rusty getting some smart quotes in. I can’t figure out thought why they didn’t run some of his great photos, or the news that there are three new kits in Tulocay creek. Reporters remain a mystery to me, but you are encouraged to solve the puzzle for yourself.

More good news from places that aren’t here. Brace yourself. This is surprising. The state of Ohio (OHIO?) Department of Transportation has apparently contracted with Mike Callahan to teach them to install flow devices to control beaver damming rather than killing them Here is proof they’re listening.

A Possible Beaver First!

Last week in Cincinnati the Ohio Dept. of Transportation hired me to train their personnel how to manage beaver problems with flow devices. Is anyone aware of another state Highway Dept. that has committed to building and installing flow devices themselves? I think Ohio may be the first! Here in Massachusetts the MassDOT is very supportive of flow devices but they contract with me to install them. Ohio wants to start doing flow devices themselves which I think is pretty cool!

All this came about due to local beaver advocate Karen Arnett being persistent and lobbying the ODOT to consider flow devices as an alternative to trapping. Her dogged efforts bore fruit and the beavers, humans and ecosystems of Ohio are bound to benefit.

The ODOT training included a PowerPoint presentation tailored to ODOT needs, and a hands-on flow device installation where many ODOT staff participated. The flow device install site is a highway retention pond where unfortunately beavers were trapped last year. Since new beavers are bound to relocate here ODOT wanted a flow device to protect the drainage structure and prevent the need to trap in the future. I was very impressed with the level of interest by ODOT staff and their willingness not only to do the work but also get in the water. See pictures. Kudos to ODOT as well as to Karen for getting ODOT interested in flow devices!

Karen contacted this website ages ago, and Beavers: Wetlands and Wildlife as well. She really did a stellar job of getting new ideas through thick skulls. And Mike did a great job convincing them once she got their attention. Great work team beaver!

Beavers: The future and the past

Posted by heidi08 On June - 10 - 2015Comments Off

Let’s start out with some momentous news. Last night in Napa they almost certainly saw three kits. HURRAY THREE KITS!!! One appears to charge off with the adults to feed, so missed his photo opportunity in his rush to maturity, but they are pretty sure it’s a brave little kit they’re seeing. Congratulations Napatopia, we’re excited for you!

two Rusty

Two kits – Rusty Cohn

close rusty

Close up – Rusty Cohn









Now its on to some inspiration from our great friend Camilla Fox who lent full ‘Project Coyote‘ voice recently to the Bobcat hearing in Santa Rosa. Great work team bobcat!

dubingiai-21-012Finally an update and a short poll. I know you all recognize the fellow on the left, but the gentleman on the right might be less familiar to our new readers. This is Alex Hiller a beaver supporter from Germany who once  came to america to visit a beaver family with Hope Ryden of the famed Lily Pond book. Alex was an early and dedicated supporter and attended the beaver symposium in Lithuania, shocking the heck out of Skip and Glynnis by wearing  his Worth A Dam t-shirt shown here.

I hadn’t heard from Alex in a while and I thought I’d send him the Geo article in case he hadn’t seen it and wanted to help with a translate. This morning he wrote back sighting an old German saying, “Some people you assume to have perished only got married.” He announced that he met and married a wonderful woman from Sri Lanka who was passionate about elephants so they were focusing their energies there for the time being. How cool is that? Congratulations Alex! We wishing you every happiness but we will miss our reliable foreign correspondent!

Lastly. if we were offering recycled bags for sale at the festival would you prefer a green bag with a logo or a khaki bag with this in brown? I like them both so you’re vote is needed. Let me know here. Thanks!

 logo bag Circle khaki