Archive for the ‘City Reports’ Category

Yesterday was puppet day, and we got a lovely load of wildlife puppets from generous Folkmanis for the silent auction. Also the brochures are back from the printer and look lovely. We saved some money by trying out a new printer and are pretty happy with the results. Now there’s more good news, this time from Mike Callahan and Thoreau!

It’s nature vs. Thoreau at Fairyland Pond in Concord

There weren’t many beavers around back in Henry David Thoreau’s day. To the dismay of the great naturalist, though society proclaimed admiration for these brilliant and industrious creatures, beavers had been all but exterminated locally, for their luxurious pelts.

But bAR-160729572.jpg&MaxW=650eavers are back in Concord now, and their wonderful intelligence has put one specific beaver in direct conflict with Thoreau himself, or at least, with one of Henry David’s favorite spots.

hdtThe problem is, the stream being dammed is fed by Brister’s Spring, which is really just a trickle of water seeping out of the rocks of Brister’s Hill (part of Walden Woods. Some of that water, it is believed, originally seeped into the rocks from nearby Walden Pond itself.) The spring creates a little wetland and tiny stream that runs a few hundred yards and through a pipe under a trail in the town forest and then into the Fairyland Pond. The beaver built its dam just as the stream enters the pond, so when the water backs up, and it has already started to, it will flood the trail, the wetland, and Brister’s Spring. Anybody who’s walked around Fairyland Pond in the past few weeks knows that the trail is already flooded. The wetland and Brister’s Spring are next.

Luckily they are on good terms with Mike Callahan who’s coming out to help them meet this particular beaver challenge.

EP-160729572.jpg&MaxW=650&MaxH=650The third option is, fortunately, what the town’s Natural Resources Department is considering; running a narrow pipe at the bottom of the stream, entirely underwater, and literally through a hole drilled in the base of the beaver dam, so the water flows from the Brister’s Spring through the wetland, into the pipe at the bottom of the stream, through the dam, and finally into Fairyland Pond, without making any noise. That’s the key. The diverter lets the water flow through the underwater pipe silently. The noise of rushing water is like a “BUILD DAM HERE!” sign to beavers. It’s what attracts them in the first place.

That proposal comes from Mike Callahan of Beaver Solutions, Inc., who has helped Concord (and communities throughout southern New England) humanely resolve beaver/human conflicts for years. He built the diversion system at the open end of Fairyland Pond, where it drains, when another beaver started to dam that a few years ago, and has also installed “beaver deceivers” at Punkatasset Pond.

“I love doing this work,” Callahan said. “It’s humane. It allows the animal stay around, at least until its food supply runs out, and it preserves a lot of the beneficial aspects of their work for the environment.”

Fantastic! We here at beaver LOVE to read stories like this! Congratulations to Mike for using his good work to win over the local DNR, and congratulations to that young beaver who as crafted an expert pond in historic real estate. I’m sure Mr. Thoreau would be impressed! (But white pants to fix a beaver mud problem? Really?)

Speaking of impressed, I received a note from the Coyote Brush Visitors wednesday who stayed a little while after we left and happened to film this. Two beavers. Mom in the foreground and littler Dad on the right. Together again apparently!

Not bad for a Tuesday

Posted by heidi08 On July - 20 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

Last night, new members or the PRMCC were sworn in. I was worried to see our old supporters go until I noticed that they included Adrienne Ursino who was one of the beavers very first supporters and the aide to former congressman Miller. She explained to the other commissioners that I had come to Madison’s preschool and kindergarten to teach beavers to the children and she admired how I was always helping people learn about beavers.  I quickly reviewed the mural process and described how it was based on our own photos, fit organically with the creek and reflected the real mountainsides behind it. The commission chair even said he had seen one of the beavers down at the new dam! Then I made sure to add that we should all be so lucky as to swim under our own memorial and keep right on taking trees at Ward Street.

(Given how MUCH controversy the beaver caused initially it was truly special to see how happy this made them.)

Afterward the commissioner discussed how lovely the mural was, and how quickly and professionally the process had gone They were impressed with its swift completion and found thanked Worth A Dam and Mario for making it happen. I thanked them for their kind words and couldn’t help thinking, ‘swift?’ that was ‘swift???’ because it seemed to me that it took ages and required repeated onerous effort to honor the contract, get the insurance, meet the city requirements blah blah blah. But okay, I can believe it happened ‘swifter’ than other murals in town.

Afterwards we drove to Ward Street to tell the beavers the good news. And there met some youngsters from Lafayette who will be selling temporary wildlife tattoos at the festival this year. They were eager for beaver photos to help them with their designs.  The beavers liked them very much and were obviously pleased with our news because they decided to cooperate. As did 3 adorable raccoon kits in the blackberry bushes.

A Present for Rusty

Posted by heidi08 On July - 14 - 2016Comments Off on A Present for Rusty

I never thought I’d ever really appreciate the noisy art of chainsaw carving. Clearly I was wrong.

The evolution of a beaver

Mr. “Rusty” Beaver was raised in a 12-metre (40-foot) spruce tree on a quiet residential street in the Canadian prairie town of Beausejour, Manitoba. After 78 years of slow growth in sandy soil, his journey west began when the lives of his mom, sisters and brothers came to an abrupt end in favour of a new residential development.

Fortunately for Mr. Beaver, he was rescued by Beausejour resident Russ Kubara, retired school teacher and chainsaw carver extraordinaire. Then it all came together. A new roof on Ron’s house decommissioned the flagpole that launched off the eave and a date for a road trip to Russ’s new home in Beausejour was confirmed.

Day after day, the 180-kilogram (400-pound) log was whittleCaptured down to a manageable 90 kgs (200 pounds). A large hole was bored through from top to bottom and an eight-metre (25-foot) flag pole already waiting with the Canadian flag mounted was inserted.

It was so fitting – Canada’s mascot at work chewing a tree at the base of the Canadian flag.

Ron thoroughly enjoyed seeing Mr. Beaver come into existence as he emerged from the spruce log formerly laying prone in Russ’ back yard. He is now securely fastened to a buried concrete base in his new home at the front of Ron and Lynne Kubara’s house in Surrey.

Mr. Beaver now has been christened Rusty – named for his creator.

You can’t imagine how longingly I’m looking at my front yard waiting for a beaver flag pole holder to appear! We of course need two: (one American one British). The creative process and repurposing is very impressive. And to think that lucky beaver is named for our own Napa photographer extraordinaire obviously! He sent this last night as a demonstration of beavers creating habitat for turtles.


Turtle and Beaver: Rusty Cohn


My buddy at NCHEMS helped with a  very odd request yesterday. This is a map of all the places in California that issued ZERO depredation permits last year. We can infer what that means, right? California is missing a lot of beavers.

no permits 2016But I of course saved the REAL news for last. Guess who was cheerfully swimming around Ward Street today enjoying that felled willow? Two lovely beavers as comfortable in that big pool as you please.

The habitat is so rich up there my lens apparently got distracted by a moth, but never mind. We know who that was.

There was no activity at all at the old dam, where we started the morning at 5. Does that mean they moved? Does that mean their vacationing? Does that mean they’ll build a dam at Ward Street when the rains start? I can honestly say, after a decade of beaver watching, and dedicated study that I have absolutely no idea.

Stay tuned and we’ll see.


Stirling had a beaver dam

Posted by heidi08 On July - 7 - 20162 COMMENTS

Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow;
And everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go.

Mary had a little lamb. It was probably the first song you played on the plastic recorder in third grade. Did you know the original poem was written by the author and editor Sarah Jopsepha Hale about the real child Mary Sawyer who lived in Stirling Massachusetts?  Supposedly the little girl really did bring her lamb to school one day and it really did make the children laugh and play (which of course children would never do normally). Later Sarah also published one of the first novels against slavery, and was famous for writing that while slavery dehumanizes the enslaved, it also dehumanizes their masters and retards national progress. Good point!

Flash forward 180 years and apparently they can tolerate lambs in educational facilities in Stirling, just not beavers in creeks.

Selectmen say beavers must go

 “The intent was to sell the property once we put the easements in place,” said Town Administrator Michael Szlosek. “But the center easement was too intrusive. The desire was to get the Conservation Commission to move that center easement.”

But even with a less intrusive easement, there is still the matter of the beavers.

The selectmen agreed that, although there has not yet been any committed interest from a prospective buyer, the flooding caused by the beaver dam decreases the value of the property and that the dam must be broken and the land dried up before the parcel can be sold.

“You can’t trap and relocate beavers because they are a nuisance animal,” said Szlosek. “There is no place to put them. Nobody wants to kill the animals [but] the beaver population in Massachusetts has exploded over the last 10 or 15 years. What else can you do? They’ll continue to breed and they’ll flood more land.”

Because of the restrictions on lethal trapping, the animal control department is not able to preside over this matter. The town of Sterling will need to seek out a private company that can provide the trapping service.

“There was a referendum banning almost all trapping in Massachusetts so you really have to go through a lot of hoops to be able to do it,” said Szlosek. “Obviously, we will have to observe that.”

According to Szlosek, the season during which permits can be granted to trap beavers is between Nov. 1 and April 15. During the off season, appeals can be made to the Board of Health and a permit can be issued if the presence of the beaver dam demonstrates an impingement on personal or environmental safety.

“They’re relatively harmless creatures except that they can cause a lot of damage to properties,” said Szlosek. “They’re indirectly destructive to other species because they destroy their habitats.”

Destructive to other species because they destroy their habitats. Just pause a moment and let that sink to its full outrageous effect. Beavers destroy habitat. I obviously have been lying to you all these years and misleading the children at the beaver festival. We really should be doing an Demolition Beaver bracelet activity and teaching how they ruin things for fish and wildlife.

Mr. Szlosek gets a letter. And maybe a poem.

Stirling had a beaver dam
The babbling brook was stilled
Szoslek wants the dam removed
And all the beavers killed

The fish will have to go away
the muskrat, otter, mink
And all the birds that hunted there
go missing with the link.



From the sublime to the ridiculous!

Posted by heidi08 On July - 6 - 2016Comments Off on From the sublime to the ridiculous!

Global beaver citizens that we are, I woke up with an email from the Edinbugh professor and regular reader of this website J. Suilin Lavelle, who said she just ran into Roisin Campbell at the mammal conference on the weekend! Roisin told her she had a lot of fun on her visit to Vermont meeting Patti and Skip. (Which I wrote about a few days ago because, honestly that’s how small the beaver world is.) The beaver champions of that nation are currently in a Brexit-induced panic because the Scottish government had dragged their beaver decision out for so long, and now the insanity over the EU vote might delay or derail everything.

You probably didn’t realize that Brexit was bad news for beavers too, did you?

Meanwhile, there’s a nice bit of news from the Mendenhall Glacier beaver cam this year, which I was recently alerted to by a US Forestry friend here in Vallejo.

Thousands Around the World Tune In to Snoop on a Beaver Den

Watching the beavers sleep has kept thousands of viewers occupied since June 28, when the US Forest Service installed an infrared camera in the den to record in real time the beavers’ activities. As nocturnal creatures, that means sleeping most of the day and getting up periodically to stretch, eat, or relieve themselves. Recommended viewing is between 7 AM and 7 PM Alaska Standard Time.

Natural resource specialist Peter Schneider and fisheries biologist Don Martin initially set up a beaver camera in 2004 to satiate their curiosities about a collection of food outside the beaver lodge on Steep Creek. To monitor the beavers’ activities, they set up a camera outside the lodge and even had it insulated throughout the winter.

Are you keeping track of the mileage with your atlas at home here? The beaver story has gone from Scotland to Vermont to Juneau to Vallejo to Martinez so far. Some 2500+miles and counting. Not bad for a morning’s work!

And just so we don’t feel too smugly accomplished, here’s a glimpse of how far we have yet  to go courtesy of the silliest research ever published.


Yes. that photo is what you suspect it is; because you, dear reader are smart and this article is stoo-pid.

As more beaver colonies form, the rodents have an adverse effect on the climate by changing levels of methane gas. This happens because beaver colonies are formed in ponds constructed by the beaver dams. These tend to be pockets of shallow water (no more than 1.5 meters high.) Within this oxygen-poor standing water, methane gas levels build up and the gas, because it cannot dissolve in the water, is eventually released into the atmosphere.

According to Professor Colin J. Whitfield (University of Saskatchewan in Canada), compared with 100 years ago, 200 times more of greenhouse gas is released into the atmosphere from beaver colonies. This has come from a study into beaver colonies in Eurasia (the Castor fiber species) and North America (the Castor Canadensis species.)

The model suggests beavers currently contribute 0.80 teragrams (or 800 million kilograms) of methane into the atmosphere. Interviewed by International Business Times, Professor Whitfield suggest this problem not going away anytime soon unless action is taken: “Continued range expansion, coupled with changes in population and pond densities, may dramatically increase the amount of water impounded by the beaver…[this] suggests that the contribution of beaver activity to global methane emissions may continue to grow.

Truly the reporter selected the IDEAL photo to accompany this groundbreaking research, it really communicates the level of intelligence of those involved. (Nutria) See Dr. Whitfield is from the university of Saskatchewan which is famous for the kill contest they held this year.  He teamed up with Dr. Cherie Westbrook of Alberta who was probably just happy to publish something without the name Glynnis Hood on it, and I’ve been told that she regrets how this study has been misused. But I spare her no mercy and want this supposedly seminal research to be the beaver albatross around her educated neck. She should have known that folks would be only too happy for another bogus reason to blame beavers.

Let me explain this again for those who are mislead, yes beaver dams release methane, which is one of the green house gasses we are not really worried about. It dissolves in 2-3 years, unlike carbon, which we are VERY worried about, which lasts for decades.  (When you drive to work your car doesn’t release methane.) Along the way beavers increase the water supply which we are going to need as carbon numbers keep rising. Beavers also aid biodiversity, which we need in on a planet that is rapidly losing species. (I of course tried to write the editor yesterday about the photo, but it appears they are obviously not overly concerned with accuracy.)

Oh and did you know that we successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit  after the fireworks on independence day? We’re on a 20 month rotation studying a planet at 540,000,000 miles away. And the five year mission predictions were accurate to within 1 second.

Welcome to Jupiter!

East side West side, all around the town

Posted by heidi08 On June - 4 - 2016Comments Off on East side West side, all around the town

It’s election season, and amidst all the dramatic vote-wooing, winning and stealing, one contest stands out as a true gripping question for the American people.

Mendon residents to vote on beaver trapping, killing

MENDON – Residents at Special Town Meeting this month will vote on whether to approve trapping and votekilling of beavers on Lake Nipmuc to reduce high water levels.

The proposed article would allocate $1,500 from land bank money to pay a licensed professional to trap beavers which are building a dam which is causing Lake Nipmuc to rise and flood the yards of waterfront homes.

“A beaver dam seems to be the culprit,” said Land Use Committee Chairwoman Anne Mazar.Parks and Recreation Director Dan Byer said that rising water may also be eroding the town beach.

Mazar said she does not know if residents are widely aware of the problem and does not know if the Town Meeting article will have any opposition.

“That’s one reason it’s good that it’s going to Town Meeting so people can talk about it,” she said.

The article goes on to say they ruled out the use of a flow device because it requires an ‘an elevation drop to work’. Does that make some kind of sense that I’m not getting? For the life of me I can’t imagine why any beaver in the world would build a dam WITHOUT an elevation drop? I mean if its not holding back more water than there is on the other side what’s the point? Anyway, I wrote Ms. Mazar today and contacted Mike Callahan, who’s a whopping 70 miles away, and we’ll see what happens. I’m hopeful she’s interested in alternatives because the article quotes her as saying,

“Mazar said she wishes another option existed because beavers are “really important in the environment.”

Mean while PRI covered the story of the newly famous urban beavers at the Olympic village in Vancouver. It’s a nice report and you should listen it. The article has some of the best ‘urban beaver’ photos around. I give it 9.9 from the German judge.

Vancouver’s former Olympic Village is now home to urban beavers

lodge and apartments

Fortune Favors the Beaver

Posted by heidi08 On June - 2 - 2016Comments Off on Fortune Favors the Beaver

Yesterday was a day of gifts. Early in the day Julian Fraser posted this photo from States Coffee downtown, and asked if I had something to do with it. I replied that I was innocent of contribution, but sure wanted to ask for one to be donated to the silent auction at the Beaver Festival.  He took it upon himself to ask the manager Julian Gomez who thought it was a wonderful idea but needed to check with his boss. A few hours later I got a call to pick up one of these:

Beaver stateHooohooo hooo! Apparently they’re nearly sold out so you may want to bid on it in person in August. Thanks Julian and Justin! And thank you States Coffee for coalescing the community just like the beavers did before you!  Later in the day the mail contained this special donation signed by the author.

When I wrote to thank him, he warmly responded this;

i love what you are doing and am happy to help!

John Muir Laws

As if this all these rewards weren’t heady enough, at the end of the day I received notice of this article about Louise Ramsay.

Beavers are helping to restore the biodiversity to the Perthshire countryside

It is an immensely beneficial animal, restoring biodiversity to the countryside, and where it builds dams in riparian forest, slowing the flow of water in a way that may contribute to the moderation or prevention of flooding downstream, as well as holding water in times of drought – that in the highly managed farmland of the low-ground the beaver can be challenging.

Beavers are also not good garden animals.

For example, if your garden is next to a stream or pond inhabited by beavers you may prefer to wrap any trees you want to protect with wire mesh before a beaver comes and chews them.

But, on the plus side, the branches in the water create a microhabitat which is a playground for small fish, giving them somewhere to hide from predators. The lying trunk of the dead tree will become home to many fungi and invertebrates and a crossing point for red squirrels.

On low-ground farms beavers may present problems if they build dams in ditches (and water backs up into valuable arable fields), or burrow into flood banks and weaken them.

Luckily there are solutions to these problems. Various devices such as pond levellers and beaver deceivers have been developed in North America and used with considerable success. Electric fencing can be used in suitable situations.

The good news is that one or two local people in this area are now learning how to apply the best of American beaver mitigation to our farmland – and all they need now is some farmers to try it out.

The wider environment wins because it gets more wildlife habitat, and if there is any agricultural run-off coming from the fields then much of it will be stripped out by the dams and wetlands, purifying the water that goes into the river and ultimately the sea, preserving more aquatic wildlife.

Ahh Louise! If only there were a primary election coming up for you as beaver president!  This is a fantastic article that carefully lays out my two favorite beaver talking points: how and why! I have found that both are ESSENTIAL in changing minds. Thank you for making our case so clear and talking frankly about problems and solutions. Scotland beavers are lucky to have you, as are we all!