Archive for the ‘City Reports’ Category

No Irony in Ironytown

Posted by heidi08 On March - 4 - 20151 COMMENT

-a7c07872c273858bMan vs. beast: Beavers blossom at Greenway Park, dams flood Fanno Creek Trail

Greenway Park used to have a beaver or two living along Fanno Creek, which winds through the area, and the park-goers and animals lived in harmony.

 But now a family of beavers calls it home and they’re flooding the park. The beavers have dammed Fanno Creek, and Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District gated off a section of the flooded trail at least six months ago.

 Even after several days of dry weather, the trail remains underwater. A secondary loop takes walkers and bikers around the high water but, lately, it’s been flooding, too, when it rains, said James Wilson, a frequent trail user.

 Wilson said he has watched the park, which has playgrounds, basketball courts, tennis courts and disc golf as well as an extensive trail system, transform into a lake over the last three years.

 ”Beavers are cool animals but you can’t let them destroy the thing,” he said. “This is not a lake, it’s a park.”

That’s right, beavers are ruining a perfectly good city park with their mucky nature activities. That certainly doesn’t happen in BEAVERTON anyway. I’ve already written the park and the press about flow devices and Bruce wrote me back concerned that the city attorneys have warned the that changing the stream will leave them open to lawsuits. I told him what we did and said that removing beavers also opens you to lawsuits and we’ll see what happens. There are some smart beaver champions out that way and let’s watch and learn.

THPRD was waiting to see if Fanno Creek would wash away the dams, said Bruce Barbarasch, superintendent of natural resources and trails management. But that hasn’t happened, and the park district is considering other options.

 Barbarasch said THPRD could let nature run its course and make a portion of the park a wildlife area. Other options could include rerouting the flooded trail or building a boardwalk or bridge over the area.

 Building a new trail or a boardwalk, however, is expensive and the park district doesn’t have funding for it at the present time, he said.

 Nearly 100 percent of Greenway Park is in a flood plain, Barbarasch said.

One helpful commenter on the article suggested changing the name of the town to Peopleton. Problem solved! Failing that, they all need to watch this video over and over.

Here’s an update from our friend Rusty Cohn at the Napa beaver dams:

two m

Hooded merganser males, crest lowered – Rusty Cohn of Napa

A wrinkle in beaver-time

Posted by heidi08 On March - 3 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

CaptureThis weekend I was working on putting together my presentation for the Salmonid Restoration Conference in Santa Rosa and thought I’d try to find some photos of the big multi-million dollar creek fix done in 1999 that everyone said the beavers threatened. Considering the fact that the work is talked about all the time, and changed our creek-scape fairly dramatically, it’s surprising that there is not a single photo of it on the internet(s). You would think Martinez would be proud of this accomplishment?

While I was looking about I came across a website discussing some OTHER work done in our creek, which is often dramatically added to the price tag of how expensive the beavers were to Martinez. The work was done in 2008 but was posted by the engineering firm in 2012. Maybe they were waiting for the dust to settle or for everyone to forget what actually happened?

I certainly never will.

CaptureProject: Alhambra Creek Beaver Dam

In 2008, litigation was brought against the City of Martinez for damage to private properties caused by beavers living in Alhambra Creek (owned by the City). Cal Engineering & Geology reviewed the site conditions and met with the City’s attorney regarding the merits of the claim.

The litigation put the City in a politically difficult position since the beavers were not a protected species but were greatly supported by the politically active environmental community group called, “Worth a Dam-Martinez Beavers.org”.

rIn the interest of striking a balance between nature, public interest, the City’s liability, and private property, CE&G suggested use of a sheet pile wall to both support the private properties and to act as a barrier against beaver dens extending below private properties.

Based upon conversations with a beaver expert retained by the City and the City Attorney, the sheet pile wall concept was approved.

You can understand at once why this got my full attention. Right off the bat I’m curious why this article is titled the Alhambra Creek beaver dam since even by their own definition this work had nothing to do with the dam. It had to do with the [completely fallacious] argument that they were tunneling out from their lodge like coal miners and undermining the property beside the creek. It’s surprising to see our name (or at least our name as it might appear on the internet) used. But the really interesting statement is the one in red. Exactly what beaver expert did the city confer with to hatch the sheetpile idea?

You understand. there is a sequence problem here. Obviously the city attorney isn’t routinely involved with creek maintenance. I’m sure she’s busy with abutments and ordinance challenge. Neither she nor  any expert were part of the decision which was made in some secret back room, I’m sure. The city attorney got involved when we tried to challenge their willfully misguided decision in court and failed. The beaver  expert was hired as a result of our outcry in attempt to mollify public opinion.

Credit where credit is due – the city council hatched that horrific idea all by themselves (actually I heard from several sources that one of the few members no longer on the council came up with the idea in conjunction with the disgruntled party). This member later had an ex parte conversation with  someone on the subcommittee and that member later called me saying would be no big deal to open the lid of the lodge, gently tap some sheetpile through, and then close it back up. Like a can of beans.

That terrifying  phone call followed a closed door meeting on a Thursday night. The following Friday the action was proposed, we hired an attorney, and paid a geomorphologist to walk and assess the creek on Saturday. The following week Worth A Dam went to court and our request for a temporary restraining order was denied. If the whole thing wasn’t burned into my memory, it would be helpful to look at the blow by blow available on this website. Next wednesday the entire proposal was approved and retained and I was invited to participate on a citizen oversight committee that would have zero capacity for oversight of any kind. I declined and left the meeting in tears.

City Approves All Resolutions

Including the exemption from CEQA. Bids for the work open at 11 tomorrow. Sheet pile will be driven through the beavers lodge. Council responded to comments for citizen inclusion with an offer to set up an oversight committee including Worth A Dam, but then discussed it with the attorney and city engineer who advised that any oversight body could not make decisions, slow decisions or influence them in any way. I declined to participate under those conditions.

 Supporters were in tears at the meeting’s end, including myself. Gary Bogue offers his condolences and wisdom.

Ahh Gary, we miss you. Sniff.

Dear Readers:

In other words, the city invited beaver lovers to sit on an oversight committee … that had no oversight. That kind of says what this is all about, doesn’t it?

 The city now plans to charge ahead on their “emergency bank stabilization,” causing a MAJOR impact on the beavers’ environment and their home … and of course on the beavers themselves.

 I guess we’re going to find out how tough those little guys are, whether we (or they) like it or not.

P1070029That was easily the darkest hour in beavertown, maybe of my life because I felt so personally responsible for failing to avert the decision that I believed would kill them. But Gary was right, we did find out how tough our beavers were. Pretty dam tough is the answer. Every beaver survived and adapted pretty well to the intrusion.

The whole thing introduced an element of freedom to how politely constrained I needed to be in dealing with the city. Up until then, I felt my hands were tied by always feeling obligated to assume they meant well. Now I understand better whose interests they really serve. After the shock and heartbreak wore off, the clarity was truly liberating. With the benefit of hindsight I can look at my remarks and Gary’s remarks and think they probably had something to do with this creative narrative:

Additionally, the beaver expert, who monitored construction at all times and had the authority to stop work, was satisfied with the project.

P1070035I’m so glad that our website was able to put together enough information so that Cal Engineering would know intimately how to lie about in their post. We tried not to leave anything out. I’m rankled that they are offering this whole dangerous charade as an example of their environmental engineering. Although to be fair, I’m not mad at CE, they were just getting paid. I’m mad at the liars and schemers who used the excuse of the beavers as a way to turn a legal award from an old oil spill into a personal flood protection barrier for one property owner.

But that’s all blood under the bridge, now.

Funny thing, it turned out the only thing really being undermined in this whole process was my faith in the city. But no amount of sheetpile will repair that.

In the end, they won the battle. But beavers won the war.cooper crane

Some good beaver news that might pass unnoticed…

Posted by heidi08 On February - 28 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

The first is a new article from Rochestor Minnesota where the outdoor reporter has surprisingly nice things to say about beaver.

 Chris Kolbert: Beavers create havens for trout — and anglers

54f116b2131c0.image

  Beaver ponds are one of my favorite places to fish trout, and studies have shown that they can enhance trout and salmon populations. The large rodents are engineering geniuses, building dams to deepen the water, creating habitat that allows them to survive harsh winters.

 Just upstream, a beaver lodge, made of logs and branches, was built into the stream bank to create an impenetrable fortress in which the animals could live. As is typical for beavers, a food bed of freshly cut saplings was buried in the pond, with only the tips of the branches rising above the ice.

 I moved out of the willows and cast into a shallow riffle below the beaver dam. As the line passed a large boulder, another fish picked up the bait. This time, it was a spunky 12-inch brook trout that gobbled up the nightcrawler.

 The mid-day sun beamed down on the water as I turned back. For a short time at least, I’d cured my case of cabin fever — and I had a few beavers to thank for that.

The photo is a dam on a trout stream in northeast Iowa creates a deep pool that’s perfect for trout. Beaver dams can cause problems for landowners, but they can be an angler’s best friend.

(Except in Scotland and Wisconsin where they are terrified of them.)

Thanks Chris for reminding us of yet ANOTHER reason to appreciate beavers. We always need more. Although I won’t post this article anywhere near our beaver dam, because the last thing we need is a beaver snagged by some fishing tackle or tangled in line!

More good news from Ohio because Sharon Brown sent me the article on Mason we missed when I was away conferencing.

Controversy Builds Around Beaver Dams

ONow there’s a story you don’t read every day from Ohio. They are still hard at work deciding if they can stand learning such new things and co-existing with beavers, but I’m thinking with BWW on their side and some very concerned residents they have a dam good shot at success! Go here to read the full article with has only 1 or 2 things I’m scratching my head over.

For example it says there are “30 beaver families” in this park. Where on earth does that stat come from? Do they mean 30 dams? Hopefully Owen and Sharon will explain that one dam doesn’t equal one family. Our family maintained as many as four at one time. People have all kinds of complicated statistical methods to infer beaver population, but honestly. The only way you’re going to know for sure is just by watching.

And remember, it was Scott Stolensberg of Ohio’s perfect Glass Farm Beaver photo that gave me permission to use his photo and do this.

Keystone Beaver Arch

Photo by Scott Stolensberg, artwork by Worth A Dam

Now I’m off to record a post-conference interview with Furbearer Defender Radio, to talk about what was learned at the State of the Beaver. Hopefully it will be up and share-able sometime soon. Wish me luck!

 

This is Ripley, signing off.

Posted by heidi08 On February - 17 - 2015Comments Off

If you’re hungry for one last beaver article before I go, read this about how they’re going to catch and test the Devon beavers ‘imminently” Not sure what that means since they’ve been going to catch and test them for the past 8 months and nothing happened.  But I’m sure it will work this time.

 River Otter beavers due to be captured and tested for rare parasite imminently

 In the “remote” chance any of the 10-strong family test positive, the individuals will be humanely euthanised.

 At the same time, the beavers will be micro-chipped in their rumps, and tagged ready for a pioneering monitoring project upon their release by the Devon Wildlife Trust.

The charity has hailed the decision by the Government’s advisory body for the environment, Natural England to grant them a five-year licence to monitor the beavers as a “key moment in the history of modern conservation”.

10-strong? That’s news to us isn’t it? Good luck little beavers, and Godspeed. I guess this is a kind of victory, but captured, tested, quarantined  and tagged is a little onerous. It’s like the victory of being sent to the work camps instead of the death camps. It’s a start, but I don’t envy those beaver pioneers. I’m sure I’ll get all the gossip when I meat Derek Gow at the conference.OT-Oregon Trail MarkerIt’s showtime! We hit the road this morning and are Beaver-conference bound! I’ll leave you in Rusty Cohn’s capable hands and I’m sure there will be lots of exciting updates and photos about those Napa Beavers in Tulocay Creek. Be nice to him and say welcome aboard, because this is harder than it looks – or more accurately, every bit as hard as I usually make it look!

I will be off the internet grid and immersed in everything new there is to learn about beavers. Here’s the agenda in case you want to follow along. Jon and I are staying at a house on the Umpqua River belonging to a friend of the conference organizer (Leonard Houston) who works with him for the local volunteer fire department. Think of me here:

i'll be here facing this

And bright and early tomorrow going here:

gatheringI’ll make sure to take plenty of notes and photos and tell you all about it when we get back. Alright, maps, snacks,  and the car is packed! Wish us luck!

Not what you’d expect

Posted by heidi08 On February - 11 - 2015Comments Off

 

Early Dam in Alhambra Creek - Heidi Perryman

Early Dam in Alhambra Creek – Heidi Perryman

Beaver illegally trapped and killed near shopping center in Lancaster County

A beaver that repeatedly set up a dam on a pond near a Lancaster County shopping center has allegedly been illegally trapped and killed, according to news reports. The beaver used sticks to create a 25-foot dam on the waterway beside the Red Rose Commons shopping center in Manheim Township, according to LancasterOnline.

 It was first noticed in November by David Kilmer, executive director of the South Central Transit Authority. During a hard rain, the beaver dam caused some parking spaces to flood at the transit authority’s nearby headquarters on Erick Road.

Kilmer told LancasterOnline he dismantled the dam weekly, but was willing to co-exist with the wild beaver. The news organization reported he was “thrilled” with the presence of the beaver, which each time would have the dam rebuilt overnight.

Reconstruction seemed to end this week when evidence suggested someone likely trapped and killed the animal.

Okay, I know this looks like a bad story, but think about it. This is Pennsylvania and the director of transportation was happy to rip out the dam every day and unhappy that the beaver was killed. Have I been wrong about everything? First Ohio wants to coexist and now the transit authority in Lancaster Pennsylvania? Will Alabama be next? It was reported in the PAPER! People were upset by this! Hundreds of beavers are killed even in California without the smallest alarm or conversation.  Heck, even the permit to kill our beavers was originally issued without a blip on anyone’s radar.

Alcoa used to operate a plant in the area and still owns much of the wetlands there.  When the company determined the beaver dam was causing flooding at its pumping station, the company contracted with Lititz-based Critter Catcher Inc.

 The wildlife specialists were hired to humanely capture and release the beaver to best protect the animal and the property, a company spokeswoman said. But someone else apparently had another agenda and set up a Conibear trap – a body-gripping trap designed to kill animals quickly – on the ground next to the pond, according to LancasterOnline.

 Blood was also found next to the pond.  Though the trap is legal if it is used in water, it is illegal to use it on land.

Really? It’s okay to drown beavers but not to crush them on land? If it’s true it must be about protecting accidental pet injuries, because I can’t imagine it makes a difference to anyone where beavers are killed. But still, considering the state this story comes from it’s a sign of remarkable progress. Whenever beaver deaths are reported as shocking and unplanned it is progress. This story confronts without defending,  instead of wrapping up the incident with a rosy package and calling it ‘management’. In fact there isn’t even an attempt to exonerate the offending party or let them lie or try to explain that the beaver was harming property and needed to be removed to protect public interest. We didn’t even get that in Martinez, where the media was always giving the city council several paragraphs to explain the damage the beavers would do if left alone. This article is just stark reporting of the death. Which is pretty amazing.

Since I’ve been reporting on beavers I have learned something about their news cycle. There are a handful of compelling scientific stories about beaver benefits every year from across the world. There are even fewer valiant neighborhood watch stories that show how to live with them. There are plenty of stories about how great trappers are, and how much damage beaver cause, but there really are no frankly bad-ass stories that just describe what actually happens to them when we call the critter removal company. There just aren’t. Not in Pennsylvania. Not in Oregon. No where.

I am celebrating with something else shockingly bad-ass and unexpected. Let’s think of it as crushing myth, ignorance and expectation.

 

Beaver Speaks

Posted by heidi08 On February - 8 - 2015Comments Off

 Devon’s wild beaver colony to be tagged and named

Devon’s family of wild beavers could become stars of the internet with pet names to match under plans to monitor how the animals live.

Details of a scheme to capture and fit the creatures with coloured ear rings for identification have been revealed, a move that will “inevitably” lead to the creatures being given individual names, conservationists have said.

Devon’s wild beaver colony to be tagged and named

The colony is to be micro-chipped and tagged as part of plans by the Environment Department (Defra) to test the creatures for disease before they are released back to the River Otter by April.

 Devon Wildlife Trust has revealed the details of the first trial of its kind in England and Wales to monitor a group in the wild.

 Hidden cameras will film the creatures at work and play to observe their habits and make sure they do not damage the landscape or cause annoyance to any of the dozens of nearby landowners

Hmm, I have an idea. Since these are the only supposed beavers in the entire country, how about you could tell them apart from the other beavers that are NOT THERE by just looking. Well, never pass up a choice to put a chip in an animals head appears to be the national motto. It’s better than putting them in the zoo at least, and I’m sure DEFRA wanted radio tags on their tails, so this is kinder. But honestly. Bagged and tagged?

Now I have a treat for you, that I meant to share yesterday. Robert Redford’s Nature is Speaking. Have you seen them? Every single one of these is worth watching, but I’ll just share two. I love how willing he is to squeeze every bit out of his considerable weight to get this done by famous actors. I love how unapologetic and brilliantly harsh they are. Don’t take care of nature because it’s nice or because it’s cute. Nature will take care of itself. Endanger it at your peril.

Don’t you want to see the one about beavers? I’d be happy to do the script.

I’ve been around
in one form or another
for 55 million years.
My ancestors date from the Eocene period
ἠώς (eos, dawn)
I was here before the sunrise
And I’ll be here after it sets
I invented the words “Conserve” and “Recycle”
but I never, ever need to say them.
The lesson you need to learn
I could teach you.
I survived the warmest climate this planet has endured
and the coldest one yet seen.
I was the first to return after the volcanic eruption of Mt St Helen’s
And the nuclear explosion at Chernobyl.
I build mountains without an opposable thumb
walk miles without comfort or shelter
Swim oceans with nothing to drink
Endure winters without food
The only thing I couldn’t survive
was your Greed.
It nearly ended me.
Your Greed is insatiable
And next time,
It won’t be me that it kills.

I love that. Anyone have Mr. Redford’s email address?

Now tonight you might be sitting at home watching the Grammy’s so I thought I’d start you out with a beaver favorite. You know they sing this every time the lithe otters slink by. I’m addicted to this cover. How do we get her to sing at the beaver festival?

mirror mirror

Yearling grooming on dam: Cheryl Reynolds

Ohio 1, Minnesota 0

Posted by heidi08 On February - 3 - 2015Comments Off

Sharon Brown of Beavers: Wetlands and Wildlife sends this excellent story, which will be further reported in the next issue of Beaversprite.

CaptureColumbus, Ohio Metro Parks Installs a Beaver Flow Device

Using BWW’s “Coexisting…” DVD Staff at Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks, Ohio in December installed a beaver pipe system in a beaver dam to manage the water level and save some wetlands. When beavers moved into Glacier Ridge Park last year their dam restored valuable wetlands, but it also affected a drainage ditch that served private properties bordering the park. The new flexpipe system, based on plans from Beavers: Wetlands & Wildlife’s (BWW) “Coexisting with Beavers” DVD, allows a compromise that benefits both the beavers and the park’s neighbors. Now the water level can be managed—allowing the beaver dam and wetlands to remain.

Beaver activity is the major natural method of creating and maintaining freshwater wetlands,recently valued at $49,000/acre/year in terms of natural services.* About 90% of Ohio’s original wetlands had been drained by the 1980s, according to the U.S. EPA. In past decades, when beaver dams caused flooding of farms or roads, the animal engineers were eliminated. As beavers return to western Ohio, using flow devices to manage their ponds can help save newly restored wetlands.

Carrie Morrow, Assistant Resource Manager for Metro Parks who coordinated the pond leveler d project said, “many of the parts were available at our park maintenance shops. She added, “Our volunteer Richard Tuttle graciously shared the DVD with us and Andrew Boose, our Forest Ecologist and talented handyman, assembled and built the structure.” Boose was assisted by park technician Mike Bosworth. The dedicated men worked in cold, chest-deep water in December to complete the installation. Later, Andrew Boose’s wife ordered a BWW cap for him, “because the project was a success.”

Richard Tuttle, who gave the “Coexisting…” DVD to the park staff, is an expert on conservation of Eastern Bluebirds. In the early 1990s, he created the “Beaver Hypothesis”— that beaver activity produces the habitat required by many wetland species. Photo by Carrie Wakeman Morrow Andrew Boose and Mike Bosworth install a flexpipe with a cage to protect the pipe inlet in a beaver dam at Glacier Ridge Park. Photo by Annette Boose. Andrew Boose, Forest Ecologist at Columbus Metro Parks, photographs a young beaver.

Capturea

Costanza, R. et al. 2014. Changes in the global value of ecosystem
services. Global Environmental Change 26: 152-158.

Nice to read about Ohio doing the right thing, and I just got an update this morning from Karen of Mt. Healthy that ODOT might be bringing in Mike or Skip to follow suit. That’s a major improvement in a state that has a very tarnished beaver reputation. We’re going to have to make sure everyone knows how much that’s changing.

A quick bit of HUH? from Crosslake Minnesota where apparently they are unaware that pressure treated wood survives better in water. Hmm metal survives better yet.

Crosslake will make capital purchases, beaver-damaged bridge repairs

The Crosslake City Council chose to move forward with plans to repair the Dream Island bridge, which recently sustained damage when a beaver chewed entirely through one of the pylons.

I guess in winter it’s theoretically possible that a unprepared beaver could  exhaust it’s food cache and nibble on a board instead. But honestly do you really think this is beaver blame-worthy? And not the work of some drunk fisherman’s motorboat taking a chunk out of the piling with a side swipe?

Let’s leave MN to their conundrum and get ready for the unbearable gasp of cuteness. Jeannine Schafer of The Neenerbot, an enchanting artist and illustrator in San Francisco,  has most graciously agreed to donate one of these for our silent auction. Honestly, that might be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Especially the curling feet of the kit on the end. (I think we can officially retire that kitten poster. I would ‘hang in there’ much longer for beavers, wouldn’t you?) Thank you Jeannine for your generosity and remarkable creative vision.  If admirers can’t wait until August for the bidding war go here to buy your own:

beaver training