Archive for the ‘City Reports’ Category

Can a ‘planned community’ plan for beavers?

Posted by heidi08 On February - 17 - 20173 COMMENTS

Reston Virginia is one of the first and most well known ‘planned community’ in the world. It has libraries and swimming pools and gutters all in the precise location for the maximal living experience. And now it has made sure it will have designated beavers as well.

CaptureYesterday they launched a swanky new beaver page on their website and today this article was released. Because these things shouldn’t be left to chance. Not sure exactly where posies and butterflies fit in on a beaver web page, but I think we need to grade on a curve here.

Reston Association Working to Manage Beaver Population in Glade Area

Beavers have long been a part of the Glade Stream Valley, but Reston Association is working to make sure they don’t cause destruction for nearby residents in the form of damaged trees and flooding.

“It would be hard to find a better example in Reston of a healthy, diverse, native ecosystem than the two beaver wetlands (Glade Valley and Bright Pond),” reads information provided by Claudia Thompson-Deahl, senior environmental resource manager. “Reston’s beaver wetlands are one of the few places in Reston where nature is able to thrive despite all the surrounding suburban pressures.”

Beavers, however, bring a “dramatic change” to the surrounding environment, so Reston Association has developed a beaver management policy.

Oh those pesky beavers and their darned ‘changes’.  How’s a city of 58,404  to cope? Planning is the operative word here. It was planned by Robert E Simon, named for his initials and launched on his birthday in 1964. (I’m not kidding.) You can imagine how some unplanned beavers just throw a big monkey wrench in their best laid plans – making them gang aft agley, as it were.

According to Thompson-Deahl, additional fencing is being installed to keep Glade beavers out of residents’ yards and off wooded slopes, and many individual trees have been protected with wire mesh to safeguard the pathway.

In the long term, Reston Association staff, with input from residents and wildlife experts, has developed and implemented guidelines for beaver management in the area. The primary goal is to find methods to preserve and protect substantial portions of the stream valley from beaver activity. To do so, staff plan to divide the valley into two sections.

Section 1, designated as a “Beaver Management Area,” will consist of stream valley that runs from Twin Branches Road to the bridge behind Leatherwood Drive that leads to the Hunting Horn Lane Tot Lot.

Section 2, running from Hunting Horn Tot Lot to Soapstone Drive, will be managed as a wooded stream valley.

Section 1 contains residential property, utility easements and recreational facilities. With that in mind, according to Thompson-Deahl, fencing and pipes will be used to protect those areas. Three-foot wire-mesh fencing will protect and areas threatened by beaver activity, in the attempt to ensure continuous tree cover between Twin Branches Road and Soapstone Drive. In addition, over 100 Bald Cypress trees have been planted, with wire-mesh caging around each one.

In Section 2, beaver activity will be discouraged with fencing and stream gates. According to provided information, beavers in that area “will be removed” by a licensed trapper if the discouragement fails.

According to Thompson-Deahl, beavers provide positive attributes to the ecosystem including a reduction in stream erosion, reservoirs of water during period of drought and freeze, and the creation of wetlands that support a large amount of plant and other animal life.

Don’t get us wrong, we like nature. In the appropriate areas and as long as it goes according to plan. We are a civilized people, and wild things just need to behave less wildly. You know how certain home owners associations won’t let you plant purple zalia’s or put up a flag on any day besides the 4th of July. We just want our beavers in sector 1 to stay behind the fence.

Is that so much to ask?

Which makes me think of the unplanned joys of beavers and their many trials and benefits. Even in Martinez where we worked harder to live with the animals than anywhere it’s not like we ever “asked” for beavers. Or wanted this to happen. It’s not like my life had a big open space that I was hoping beavers would rush in and fill.

But that’s just the way it is, I think.



“Beaver Blitzkrieg”

Posted by heidi08 On February - 15 - 2017Comments Off on “Beaver Blitzkrieg”

A true politician knows his audience. He can look boldly into the face of the crowd and describe the exact same actions differently depending on their particular interests. Behold beaver nonviolence!

Nonviolent beaver management focus of forum

BAR HARBOR — Skip Lisle, president and chief scientist of Beaver Deceivers International, will present his nonviolent, creative approach to beaver management at College of the Atlantic’s Human Ecology Forum in the McCormick Lecture Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 4:10 p.m. The talk is free and open to the public.

Lisle will share humorous informative stories about ways he has found to prevent beaver damage while still allowing the animals to repopulate and rejuvenate different locations, he said. His mission, he said, is to find creative ways for humans to coexist with these industrious, important creatures.

“Beavers are widely considered a pest to eradicate,” Lisle said. “However, they are our most valuable keystone species.”

Frequent dam construction, the felling of trees and the flooding that results from their building habits often damage property and put beavers at odds with people. In many cases, the common solution to this problem is short-term and frequently ends in the death of the animal.

The goal of Lisle’s organization, Beaver Deceivers, is to change this pattern of conflict into one of coexistence. Rather than resorting to a kill mechanism to remove a costly nuisance, he finds ways to protect infrastructure while allowing beavers to improve the health and natural beauty of an area.

CaptureThree beaver talks in three days. Skip is doing a “beaver blitzkrieg” in Maine and forcing wisdom upon the entire state with a one-two-three punch. Maybe that should be something we all strive for. Just imagine if all the beaver experts we know in every state committed to three beaver talks in three days, (held say around the international day of the beaver), what a dramatic difference we would make to our wetlands.

(Come to think of it, California is very big, we might need two or three experts.)

“With beaver-human relations, it turns out that long-term thinking, creativity, a nonviolent approach and a commitment to craftsmanship can combine for a great investment,” he said.

Maybe we could even get PBS to air the beaver Nature documentary on one of those days. And children’s authors to do beaver readings at their local public library. Heck, if I’m going to dream – dream big. Maybe there could be a cash prize for the city with the most officials in attendance.

Obviously this map needs filling out, but wouldn’t that be a sight to behold?

Before the curtain rises…

Posted by heidi08 On February - 14 - 20172 COMMENTS

Things are starting to take on a pre-conference craziness. I dreamed last night our beavers were living between two Killer whales at Marine World and I hired Skip to come build some kind of protection for them. When I woke up he had just told me he needed a permit to start work and I was worried how I was going to approach the city without letting them know the beavers had come back.

This morning I got an email from Paul and Louise Ramsay that they were passing near Martinez on the way to Canyonville and they’d love to visit. In addition I got an email from Gerhard Schwab of Germany that he and Duncan Haley were planning a trip after the conference and they’d love to see Martinez and our stomping grounds.

Apparently we’re a beaver flop house.

I suppose things could will get weirder the closer we get too departure. I am already so sure of a snowy drive that we have stooped to trading cars with my mother for the week. (Subaru vs. Prius) We’ll be right on the Umpqua river in nearby Tiller so I’m hoping we won’t be flooded or snowed out!  Hopefully, all will be worth it when the vast mysteries of beavers unfold before our eyes and ears at the conference.

In the meantime there are beaver tidbits too grand to pass up on the menu. First from Tallahassee FLORIDA where it never never ceases to amaze me that beavers and alligators are neighbors.

Orange Avenue construction threatens otters and beavers

Drivers should take caution as construction along Orange Avenue may pose danger for otters and beavers in the waterway underneath the road.

Animals attempt to cross the street to get to the other side of the creek, but due to a cement barricade blocking the area where they try to go around, they get run over by passing cars, said Melissa Ward, a local resident who first saw a beaver dead near the construction site three weeks ago. A week later, an otter met a similar fate. Ward said her mother has seen eight beavers dead in the past few weeks.

As if we needed ANOTHER reason to hate those cement barricades in the middle of busy streets. What on earth are animals supposed to do when they run into one of those? Just jump really high? I realize running into one is probably dimly better than running into a car going the opposite direction, but I’d much rather run into something soft and let wildlife cross safely. Jon was once saved very nicely by all that bottle-brush they tore out to replace with concrete.

A few fun items, one from the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival parade this weekend in New York.homepage logo

The Canoodlers, who wear old-fashioned orange life preservers and do dance routines with wooden canoe paddles, dress as beavers for this year’s parade. They won second place in the competitive independent walking group category, edging out the ever-popular Lawn Chair Ladies. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter

Heh heh heh. Let that be a lesson to you. Be careful of you might end up like this very foolish looking man who dances with canoe paddles.

The beaver that lives in trees

I think it safe to say that everyone knows that beavers live in water, leaving its safety only to forage on land or to sleep inside a lodge. While they eat both aquatic and terrestrial herbaceous plants, through much of the year, especially in winter, much of their diet consists of the bark and twigs of trees, especially poplar.

Beavers aren’t alone in their fondness for poplar. In the rodent group, there resides another species that also eats bark, twigs, and opening leaves of poplar. Porcupines eat woody material and, like beavers, possess a long intestinal pouch full of bacteria to digest cellulose. Unlike beavers, however, porcupines don’t cut down trees to access meals. They climb trees using their impressive climbing gear: huge claws and rough-skinned feet.

Apart from starvation and falling out of trees, Porcupines face another challenge. Some are shot by humans because they damage trees; others die when they cross highways or stop to glean salt from the asphalt. Porcupines are slow moving animals built for climbing, not running, and thus are prone to being hit by cars. They need not run from predators because they own a powerful defence: modified hairs known as quills.

In the vast history of our natural life, Jon and I have come across only a single porcupine that was hit by a car in the Sierras. Which doesn’t mean our paths haven’t crossed. I was fascinated to read in Dietland Muller-Swarze book that beavers are the only animal where the female young are recorded to disperse greater distances than the males – except for one other. You guessed it, the porcupine. As winter is a great time for spotting them keep your eyes pealed for these “Tree Beavers”.

But there is one silly image out there that is soo foolish I can’t even bring my self to write about it at all. Even if I did, I’m sure you know every single thing I would be likely to say. If you’ve spent any time on this website at all you’ll know IMMEDIATELY where this is. And if you’re new I’ll give you a clue. It starts with a “B”.

Skip tells the truth about beavers

Posted by heidi08 On February - 13 - 2017Comments Off on Skip tells the truth about beavers

This is a fantastic article about Skip Lisle’s upcoming beaver ecology presentation in Maine. It says everything about beavers you ever wanted to read in print – pointing out their importance to wetlands and wildlife, and challenging folks to be smarter than a beaver and save money by doing it.  In addition to all this it permanently lays to rest the age-old question as to whether the  man that Martinez secretaries once clustered to the windows to watch install a pipe shirtless has, in fact, matured well.

The answer is, yes.

Beaver ecology talks set for Belfast, Liberty

Beaver expert, inventor and entrepreneur Skip Lisle of Beaver Deceivers International will speak in Belfast and Liberty on how to install deceivers and other devices designed to protect human infrastructure, wetlands and beavers.

The assumption is that we cannot outsmart beavers so we have to kill them,” Lisle said in a news release. “I’ve spent my life inventing and installing a number of devices that permanently outmaneuver beavers. I’ve helped communities across the country and in Poland save huge sums of money, and wetlands in the process.”

Lisle’s talk will demonstrate how towns can save thousands of dollars by permanently protecting roads and culverts from beavers. He will also cover the history of beavers in Maine, and the essential role they play in creating habitat and maintaining healthy aquatic systems.

“I don’t know how many people understand just how important beavers are ecologically,” he said. “Without beavers, we basically wouldn’t have wetlands. We can coexist with them; it just takes some creativity and commitment.

“Many people do not know that wetlands are one of the richest habitats, with a greater density of life than anywhere else on land,” Lisle said. “We have to approach the problems we have with beavers intelligently. It is our obligation as stewards. But, we also need to be smart with our money. The human and machine hours it takes to constantly repair roads, destroy dams and kill beavers is really a squandering of public funds. And it never solves the problem because beavers will always return to the site.”

Ahh, Skip, you do this so well. It seems like just the right things to say tumble effortlessly out of your lips at exactly the moment when people need to hear them. The reporter covering this story was obviously impressed because got the entire story down beautifully. Come to think of it, it’s kind of amazing that at both ends of the country there will be important beaver ecology discussions happening on February 22. Now if only we could just get some started in the middle.

This has to be my favorite part of the article:

Of the hundreds of conflict sites where he has worked, Lisle has yet to find one he could not solve. Consequently, he has never had to kill, or recommend killing, a single beaver. Skip serves as a selectman in his hometown of Grafton, Vt., where deceivers are a line item in the budget, and all roads are fully beaver-proof.

Did you read that? I didn’t know Skip was a selectman. When did that happen? I need to pay better attention. But in Grafton EVERY ROAD HAS CULVERT PROTECTION!!!  This is a beaver utopia that we can only fantasize about. In fact I’m fantasizing right now. If it could happen in Grafton, why not all over Vermont? Or New England? Or the country?

“Many people do not know that wetlands are one of the richest habitats, with a greater density of life than anywhere else on land,” Lisle said. “We have to approach the problems we have with beavers intelligently. It is our obligation as stewards. But, we also need to be smart with our money. The human and machine hours it takes to constantly repair roads, destroy dams and kill beavers is really a squandering of public funds. And it never solves the problem because beavers will always return to the site.”

Sometimes I just get that contented feeling of being a child asleep in the back seat after a long day at the beach  on the car ride home. The happy adults are in the front seat and totally have everything under control. There is nothing I need to do, and everything is going to be okay. Ahh
Since I don’t need to be mature right now, I’m going to surrender to the very inappropriate impulse to post this for obvious reasons:


Posted by heidi08 On February - 9 - 20172 COMMENTS

Dendrophobia is described as the fear of trees, from the Greek root dendro meaning tree + Phobia meaning irrational fear. Martinez has long suffered from this difficult-to-treat condition. And yesterday we were informed that the transported willow shoots laid down by our noble volunteers Saturday were being dug up. Because of concerns that they would cause flooding.

No, I’m not kidding.

Now disappointing a bunch of beaver supporters is no big deal, and the city is free to do it with impunity. As they have shown, over and over again. But these trees were planted with the authority of the SF waterboard with a grant through the California Urban Streams Partnership. And it is a slightly bigger deal to disrupt their work. And to exhume the trees they have planted. I’m not sure what will be the immediate outcome, but I’m sure they’ll be another shoe, and I’m sure it will drop. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, this is what they were not alarmed about on the very same day, filmed by Bonnie Logan up where we saw the beavers last by the Junior High.

If you’ll notice the stiff trunks in the middle of this flow are NOT willow. And are NOT bending with the water. In fact, some of them broke and washed downstream creating further hazards as they went. Willow has actually been shown to bend in high flow and increase the velocity of the water. But that only matters if you care about facts.

Which the Dendrophobes obviously don’t.

Beaver Show and Tail

Posted by heidi08 On February - 2 - 2017Comments Off on Beaver Show and Tail

There is too much beaver news this morning. I feel like I’m struggling under a pile of important papers trying to get out. I will use the calendar as my only excavation tool, and start with what’s happening first. The other things can wait. Except for the serious cause for mocking, which obviously cannot be ignored.

2017 Beaver Tales Art Exhibit and Sale

The Wetlands Conservancy and partners invite you to see nearly 100 artists at six different venues throughout 2017. These shows will highlight the Beaver, our natural ally in conserving Oregon’s wetlands and restoring natural systems.

Beavers, though woefully misunderstood actually create and sustain wetlands that aid in resuscitating our riparian stream habitats. They play a central role in shaping our future as we prepare for the transformations that a warming and changing climate may bring. The Wetlands Conservancy is launching a statewide beaver conservation vision. Our goal is to learn more about how we can work with beaver to conserve and restore natural systems.

Join us on the dates and at the venues shown below to celebrate the beaver and understand the role and benefits wetlands play in Oregon and your community.

The show kicks off with a reading by Frances Backhouse of her great book, “Once they were hats” and then starts the exhibit with a month long display at Oregon State University before beginning a tour around the state. It is organized by the good folks who had me speak last year at their Wetlands event in Portland. I tried introducing the organizer (Sara Vickerman) to our beaver artist heroine with the Gallery in Concord (FRO Butler) but transportation was too difficult to figure out.

I do know there is one important kind of artwork that will be sorely absent in this show.  Dam foolish oversight if you ask me.

workingFrom the sublime to the ridiculous. Here’s a grandpa in North Carolina who wonders if beavers are safe to be around children. No, seriously. Press the arrow at the bottom right to view larger.

Beaver invasion has Greensboro neighbors concerned

GREENSBORO, N.C. — When Steve Brown heard that beavers were living in a nearby creek, he couldn’t wait to show his grandkids.

“Beavers had come into the creek by the children’s playground and had built two dams. My first thought was that’s cool I’ll go and check it out and watch them,” Brown said. Then he had second thoughts.

“I got to thinking, it’s right next to the playground. Are beavers safe? Are they dangerous, especially around kids?”

An old snark like me would be tempted to say that his problem happened when he “started thinking“. Some people just shouldn’t be allowed to do that. But I will just post this instead so folks can see for themselves how dangerous beavers are around children.

North American Beaver Castor canadensis Children watching beaver in urban environment Martinez, CA *Model release available - #Martinezbeavers_1.2

North American Beaver
Castor canadensis
Children watching beaver in urban environment
Martinez, CA
*Model release available – #Martinezbeavers_1.2

How does the beaver Tale end?

Posted by heidi08 On January - 23 - 2017Comments Off on How does the beaver Tale end?

I realized I was floundering around on the end of my presentation for Oregon. I’ve done the beginning of the many millions of times, but the end of the story keeps changing and I haven’t really wrapped my head around all the moving parts yet. I thought that when the kits died and the parents left it was the end. And the story of the mural helped soften the end. I thought when the new dam got built and Moses filmed them mating that was the end. Or maybe even the beginning of new story. deathsBut then the pile driver drove them upstream and mom disappeared on her due date and we didn’t know where they were. That sure seemed like the end. I was so relieved when the neighbor started seeing them from her deck on Arreba street with a little mysterious animal beside them. I thought that was where they would be for a while. But then they went farther upstream from her and we haven’t seen them since. I imagined maybe when the hard rains stopped they would stop going upstream and come BACK.

But obviously the hard rains are never going to stop.

So does that mean Martinez has no beavers? Or does that mean we can’t see the beavers we do have? How can I know? We haven’t seen sign of the beavers downstream. No chewing or damming or sightings at the marina. So what does it all mean? Is it the end?

North American Beaver Castor canadensis On dam Martinez, CA

Suzi Eszterhas

Here’s what I have decided. Beaver stories don’t have ‘ends’. They have ‘CHAPTERS’. And our particular chapter has been a helluva read. No one knows what will happen next, or if anything will happen at all. But we softened the soil in Martinez so if they turn up they will have better odds than most beavers because of it. We also showed a heck of a lot of people in Northern California how to coexist, and along the way we changed the population of beavers in the entire Bay Area for years and years to come.

Anything is possible.