Archive for the ‘City Reports’ Category

Stewardship

Posted by heidi08 On January - 5 - 2017Comments Off on Stewardship

For some reason, (for many reasons), we are lucky that special people take things on and protect them. Martinez protected beavers, Megan Isadore protects otters, Corky Quirk protects bats, and Steve Holmes protects the urban creeks of Los Gatos and the south bay.

Steve Holmes: San Jose needs to step up to protect creeks

For the past two years, Friends of Los Gatos Creek, an affiliate of South Bay Clean Creeks Coalition, has been conducting cleanups along creeks in Santa Clara County. We have tallied an astounding 76 cleanups. On our most recent event, June 4, we had 55 volunteers from Google, Santa Clara County Parks and the Friends team leaders converge on Los Gatos Creek in downtown San Jose.

With very little fanfare, our small grass-roots effort has surpassed a milestone: 100 tons of trash removed from the Los Gatos Creek — with over 85 percent of it linked to encampment activity.

Sometimes Steve uses the removed trash in artistic sculptures, (because man does not live by bread alone). A recent clean up struck such a fancy he had to send it my way. I met Steve at the creeks coalition conference in 2010 and we have swapped emails ever since. Isn’t this beautiful? The fur is cigarette butts, the tail is an old tire, and the ‘creek’ is an rusted box spring. I told him he should really come to the beaver festival and share his work and his message.

debrisbeav

Steve Holes: South bay clean creeks coalition.

There might be very exciting news soon, but I won’t jinx anything by sharing it. For now we can delight appreciation of this inspiring article in the LA Times about an elementary’s school appreciation of the appearance of a burrowing owl. Because urban wildlife matters.

In a paved, urban world, nature makes a rare appearance — delighting kids near MacArthur Park

Principal Brad Rumble took a photo of the burrowing owl that has been spotted on the grounds of Esperanza Elementary. (Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times)

Nathan, 9, had no idea how the bird found its way to the courtyard of his school, Esperanza Elementary, near MacArthur Park in the middle of the city.

“This is a big deal,” he thought.

Nathan told a teacher, who then told Brad Rumble, the school’s principal and a man who takes bird matters very seriously.

Rumble pulled a few students out of class to observe the visitor, identified as a burrowing owl. In a neighborhood of asphalt, street vendors and crowded apartment buildings, this was their closest encounter yet with nature.

Decades ago, before buildings and cars covered Los Angeles, burrowing owls were a common sight, said Kimball Garrett, an ornithologist who manages bird collections at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.  Now, sightings are rare. The last one spotted near downtown Los Angeles was six years ago, near the museum.  

Rumble thinks he knows what attracted the bird. In mid-November, he teamed up with the Los Angeles Audubon Society to transform more than 4,000 square feet of asphalt on campus into a native habitat.

High school students helped Esperanza families lay down a bark path and plant California golden poppies, an oak tree and a sycamore.

“It’s not natural around here for kids to come down from their apartments and walk down to the creek and play,” the principal said. “But if the neighborhood is lacking, at least the school campus can serve as a living laboratory.”

He created something similar once before — with remarkable results.  A few years ago, at Leo Politi Elementary in Pico-Union, he had 5,000 square feet of concrete ripped out and replaced with native flora. 

The plants attracted insects, which attracted birds, fascinating students. They learned so much, their test scores in science rose sixfold, “from the basement to the penthouse,” Rumble told The Times in 2012.

Since the owl showed up on campus, peculiar things have happened: Students have skipped recess to stay in the library, poring over books about falcons, swallows and hummingbirds. Some have pulled their parents out of their cars after school to hunt down the owl’s droppings. Teachers watched in shock one day when two crows tried to attack the school’s honored guest.

Rumble encourages students to use an observation board he set up outside the main office to document each owl sighting. There have been more than a dozen so far — on drainpipes, rooftops, PA speakers, even a library rolling cart. For more than a week, the owl frequented a jacaranda tree located next to the lunch tables, amusing the 200 kids who munched on pizza and sandwiches below.

The bird has caused such a stir, the student council is considering changing the school’s mascot from a dragon to an owl. 

On a recent morning, teacher Elizabeth Williams talked with her third-graders about the bird’s diet, markings and nesting habits. She introduced new vocabulary: perch, burrowing, conservation, habitat. 

  • “It likes to burrow in nests underground,” said Emily Guzman.
  • “It bobs its head up and down to protect itself,” said Yonathan Trujillo. 
  • “It makes sounds like a snake,” said another student. 

Some students are getting quite savvy about birds. They see them soar overhead, dark specks in a blue sky, and know them by name: a yellow-rumped warbler, a red-tailed hawk, a common raven.

When he asked Jose what he thought of the bird, the boy’s eyes glowed and he smiled. 

“It’s made me very happy,” Jose said.  

The arrival of a simple burrowing owl delights and energizes an entire public school.  Are we surprised? And the principal is smart enough to know how special this is. If you doubt its value go to Martinez California and read how some children responded to beavers. Urban Wildlife reminds us that there are things alive and precious besides roads and freeways. Children are reminded that there are wonderful things the adults don’t control. And adults are reminded that not everything has been formed in concrete and shaped by convenience.

I think it reassures us of that special place inside each one of us that isn’t molded by expectation and responsibility. Something wild and free even amidst the most tangled constraints.

paintingbeaver

 

Beaver Information Airdrop

Posted by heidi08 On December - 22 - 2016Comments Off on Beaver Information Airdrop

Colonel Gail Seymour “Hal” Halvorsen is best known as the “Berlin Candy Bomber” who dropped candy to children during the Berlin airlift from 1948 to 1949. Sometimes you need to sneak things into the people you want to have them, because they are surrounded by obstacles.

airliftWhen I saw this report I wanted to Airdrop information to the poor besieged sufferers in North Carolina. Obviously the state is steeped in closely protected beaver ignorance from head to tail. I’m think we’d drop a package with Mike’s DVD and Dietland Muller-Schwarze beaver book with a little bag of sand and a can of latex paint to teach them how to protect trees. They obviously need all the help they can get.

And no, I’m not exaggerating.

Hurricane Matthew presents ongoing beaver issue in Lenoir County

So the good folk of Kingston believe that the hurricane brought beavers like a kind of  ‘beavernado’ and if they dig enough holes in the dam they’ll find them.  They wonder why they’ve never seen the culprits in the day time. And think trapping is the only way to stop them. When I’m finished slapping my forehead you should fire up the airplanes because something tells me Mr. Davis and the newscaster need an airdrop right away.

I noticed a very cool thing about one of Suzi’s photos yesterday. In addition to top and bottom teeth, (which is very rare in a photo)  you can actually see the grooming claw if you look closely. I’ve only place I have ever seen this before in a dead beaver that we could photograph closely. This is obviously much, much better.

show-me-the-claw

It’s almost my favorite day, Christmas Eve Eve – an underappreciated holiday with all of the seasonal charm and none of the social pressure. I will give you a Suzi Eszterhas treat. Hohoho!

recently-updated5

Suzi Eszterhas photos – Martinez Beavers

 

Three states of why beavers matter

Posted by heidi08 On December - 19 - 2016Comments Off on Three states of why beavers matter

Sometimes we get the faintest whiff of beaver benefits and actual solutions from sources you’d never expect. I think I’m a little like a mother who knows that her middle child isn’t the brightest bulb in the box and so reacts with extra praise when he gets the simple problems right. We want to encourage them, right?

Discover Nature and Evidence of Beavers in Your Area

capture1This is the Missouri chapter of public radio, not an area usually known for progressive beaver solutions. So this quote at the end got my attention:

Beavers play a valuable role by damming backed up silt-laden waters and subsequently forming many of the fertile valley floors in the wooded areas of our continent. Beaver dams stabilize stream flow, slow down run-off, and create ponds which influence fish, muskrats, minks and waterfowl.

However, some landowners wish to protect certain trees from potential damage from beaver cutting. This can be done by enclosing the target trees with wire netting up to a height of three feet.

surprised-child-skippy-jonIt must be the season. This article from North Carolina actually focuses on the benefits of joining BAMP (their beaver-killing club), but look at what it also finds time to include;

Rodent causes problems for farmers, residents and roadways

Beaver aren’t all bad. In fact, they can be responsible for some very diverse ecosystems. A 2015 PBS article titled, “Leave it to Beavers,” explains beaver dams as “Earth’s Kidneys.”

“Beaver dams and the ponds they produce act as filters, generating cleaner water downstream.”

One pond observed in Greene County, known as good duck hunting grounds, has a beaver family to thank. The dam extends several hundred feet across the mouth of a swamp creating a large, shallow home to waterfowl.

You heard it here, folks. Beavers aren’t ALL bad! Spoken like the most educated ecological mind in the entire state. Over the years I’ve become accustomed to the annual justification for BMAP printed in local papers. Usually they say something about how bad beavers are and what a cost-saving deal it is for the unlucky counties that are suckered into it.

Seeing the need for the management for the ever-increasing damage caused by the growing beaver population, State Legislative action created the North Carolina Beaver Management Assistance Program in 1992.

BMAP is a cost share program to aid landowners having problems with beaver damage. As of 2016, the cost share is a $4,000 per county contribution for annual membership.

The BMAP cooperative endeavor also receives funding from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, NC DOT, USDA Wildlife Services and others.

Participation in BMAP is a county-by-county decision. Locally, Lenoir and Greene County participate, Jones County does not.

The total $21,800 set aside in Lenoir County for control and management (between BMAP membership and specialist) is an investment that pays dividends. Per the BMAP 2015 annual report, from June 2015-June 2016, beaver control prevented the loss of, or damage to, $262,140 in resources, including over $140,000 to roads and bridges alone. Efforts resolved beaver damage problems at 28 sites in the county, 13 were private landowners and 15 were Department of Transportation sites.

Of course, the more you use BMAP the more you NEED BMAP because of things like population rebound and short term solutions. Its a racket. Guess how much money BMAP spends on flow devices and solutions that will last longer than a season? I’ll give you a it, it’s a ROUND number.

One thing that confuses me in the article is this:

Also in the budget are funds to support a percentage of a Wildlife Beaver Specialist.

What percentage of the guy did you get? The part that goes over the fence last? Because I’d ask for my money back.

Hey, speaking of actual beaver specialists, and beaver benefits, NOAA just released its offical Oregon coast Coho Recovery plan. Which mentions beaver lots of times (by my count 227 times). Lots like this:

capture It even had time for the honorable mention of our noble friends in South Umpqua.

captureIf you want to grind your teeth in envy that California is so remarkably backward that we just can’t have nice things, go read the report. It’s beaver-licious, and someday we might be too!

Wetlands inconvenienced by beavers

Posted by heidi08 On December - 17 - 2016Comments Off on Wetlands inconvenienced by beavers

captureNot a bad beaver report considering its from Indiana. I can’t embed it here but click on it for a nice review of the issues. Even though they newscaster can’t tell a lodge and a dam apart, there is actually discussion about beaver benefits and options supposedly being considered.

Damming Up the Place

A family of beavers is currently living the Hawthorne Park Wetlands it’s kind of like having, squatters move into your neighborhood. The rodents are causing a big problem and the Vigo County Parks Department is facing a tough decision.

The Parks Dept. say trapping and killing the beavers in the area is an option. The other alternative would be to capture and relocate the animals, but that equipment can cost around $200 per beaver. The issue is the dams they build can cause water back up in other areas.

On a cold, frosty day there’s not much activity at Hawthorne Park. But there’s definitely something going on.. and it concerns the wildlife here. In particular some pesky beavers.
    
“When they create dams, stop up water bodies, which creates sort of artificial wetlands in areas where people might not want those wetlands to be,” Falyn Owens, said

Owens, Urban Wildlife Biologist with Department of Natural Resources says the ideal would be to put up barriers to stop the animals. But if something more drastic is needed, then trap and kill is favored over capture and release because then the beaver essentially becomes someone else’s problem.

The beaver taking down trees and potentially causing flooding are primary concerns, but the animal does a lot of good too.

“They are what we call ecosystem engineers which makes them an incredibly important species in the natural system, just like human beings, they have the capacity to change their environment,” Owens said.

Since we’re talking about Indiana I would ordinarily hold little hope for these beavers, but I was tipped to the story by someone who works for the parks department who was tipped by the reporter. I was able to pull up email for Ms. Owens and the park superintendent, and send them information about flow devices and beaver benefits. Who knows? At least there’s a chance things could work out.

To be honest I was surprised they have a biologist in charge of Urban Wildlife at all. And Falyn Owens wrote me back twice, basically saying I can’t do anything and the park has a license to kill. But still. We’re grading on a curve.

Robin let me know that the infamous dollar store beaver made his way to Anderson Cooper at CNN the other night.  Apparently causing him to get a bit of the giggles. Discretion being the furrier part of valor, I won’t comment. Sit thru a short commercial and enjoy the clip.

“Gnawty or Nice?”

Posted by heidi08 On December - 13 - 2016Comments Off on “Gnawty or Nice?”

“We’ll have to figure out if this is the handiwork of an                                                   animal of interest or “primal” suspect.”

Oh Oh! I know! Call on me!

Beaver: Gnaw-ty or nice?

A sign posted to a tree in Broadhead Creek Park warns visitors “Use of property, streams and ponds at own risk.” That same tree now presents a hazard. With a section of a trunk gouged out, only a narrow piece of wood holds the tree upright.

“That tree may have to come down,” said Stroud Township Supervisor Daryl Eppley. “It looks pretty far gone, and we don’t want to put the public at risk.”

The damage was discovered by recent park visitor Bill Sine. Township officials have one suspect already – a beaver. Sherry Acevedo, executive director of Stroud Regional Open Space and Recreation Commission, said preliminary evidence shows signs of an animal preparing for winter.

“Beaver activity does occur naturally along the stream,” she said, “and they do typically chew on trees.”

Stroud Township could decide to remove the tree as early as Tuesday, said Eppley. A public works crew will investigate multiple factors, including the direction the tree might fall.

“Even if it falls into the stream,” he said, “it can cause a dam – something beavers are notorious for.”

Full credit to the author of the article for using an actually new pun. “Gnawty or Nice” amuses me. Stroud Township is in Monroe county in Pennsylvania. It is one of the counties stricken by drought, although they apparently don’t want any beaver dams saving their remaining water though. Beavers are rascals.  Any amusement leftover from the very rare new pun in this story is directed to the public works crew who will be “Investigating multiple factors”to determine which way the tree is going to fall. I can just see our DPW crew now out with their tape measures and plumb bobs using calculus to determine the trajectory.

michaelYesterday I showed you the trail cam video of Michael Forsberg which showed a beaver doggedly protecting his home from intruders. Turns out Michael’s a renowned wildlife photographer with extensive background in prairie wildlife. His glorious work has been featured in books and shown in National Geographic and PBS.

Lots of cranes, foxes and stunning night skies in his portfolio, and you should check out his website. But surprisingly few beaver. Obviously his resume has some beaver gaps that he is hoping to fill. We friended on facebook yesterday and I’ll do what I can to nudge him closer to beaver greatness.

capture

Sadly, this is Mr. Forsberg’s only beaver photo featured on his website.

Don’t I always save the best for last? Yesterday I read about the first episode of Autumn Watch in Cornwall which stared the river otter beavers. So of course I went looking for it. I wrote my buddy Peter Smith of the Wildwood Trust in Kent and he directed me to this. You should really watch the whole thing. But first I’m going to tell you what made me very, very happy.

The interview with scientist/naturalist Derek Gow shows him wearing the Worth A Dam hat we gave him at the beaver conference a few years back. Martinez in Devon! Worth A Dam around the world! Isn’t that WONDERFUL?
derekhatI’ve cued up the segment so you really need to watch!

Rolig bäver skämt!

Posted by heidi08 On December - 6 - 2016Comments Off on Rolig bäver skämt!

Apologies in advance for using google translate but my Swedish is -er- rusty. Yesterday I received an email for the owner of an ecotour company in Sweden asking me what the best beaver tours were in the west. Could I recommend some for his itinerary through the western states? I politely explained that I had friends dotted around that could show him local colonies but as far as I knew there were NO professional tours in the US. He was surprised and said that there were at least 20 in Sweden!

calvin-and-hobbes-laughIt took a while to catch our breaths again after the hearty chuckle to think that of the day when California (about the same size as Sweden) sported 20 professional  beaver tours. (That would be like four in the bay area alone!) I, of course, went to check out his website.

captureThe1 tour runs 5 hours and costs around 150 dollars per person. It is lead by strapping young wildlife guides who know what to look for and are wonderfully fluent.   The tour includes an outdoor meal by the lake and advice on how to get thcapturee best photographs. Their website says that beavers are seen most nights and often feed near the boat.

Just like a visit to the footbridge in Martinez except fewer homeless and 150 dollars a head.

Marcus thought it odd that there were no tour programs and suggested he might be able to help us start one? Just our luck because we’re such fools in Martinez we’ve been giving free tours to 500 people a year at the festival and on call when we could have been making top dollar! (500 x 150 x 10) adds up to nearly  a million dollars!

calvin-and-hobbes-laughCertainly we know in Martinez that folks are interested in Beavers and appreciate the chance to see them or see evidence of them. Jon could tell you how eagerly folks listen to his many tours and crowd for a chance to see a chewed tree or dam. Maybe there is a future for us in beaver tourism? Ahh Marcus, you have made us dream of the possible and reach for the stars! Thanks for that!

Speaking of glimpses of rare wildlife I was particularly moved by this short celebration of reintroducing fishers on Mt. Rainier tribal land this Saturday. Fishers were all trapped out like beavers for their rich fur and hadn’t been seen in hundreds of years. We know from our beaver mileage that sometimes the easiest way to get around the feds and bring back a species is to just do it on sovereign land where federal rules have no jurisdiction. Then wait for the successful animals to reintroduce themselves over the borders.

Surrounded by riches and treasures

Posted by heidi08 On December - 5 - 2016Comments Off on Surrounded by riches and treasures

It’s Monday, you have tons of Christmas wrapping and decorating to do, so you need this. Really.

cutest-kit-ever

Back when famed wildlife photographer was photographing our ill-fated baby beavers, she would Suzi at workhave to leave occasionally to go to Washington where Sarvey rehab facility had a very small baby beaver that she needed to include with the photos for the beaver story for Ranger Rick. I remember because in the beginning she talked about filming him in a ghillie suit because he shouldn’t learn to trust humans. The timing is right and I think this little guy was it.

Never A Dull Bling

I work at Sarvey Wildlife Care Center, a rescue and rehab facility for wildlife.

In May 2015, this baby beaver was discovered by some campers.  He was without his mother and too young to survive on his own, so the campers brought him to us.  We actually already had a female beaver with us who was rehabbing from an animal attack, and the two beavers were eventually put together.  The older female became a surrogate to the baby male. The two beavers spent a year with us.  This past spring they were both released, together, in a secluded area with lots of access to trees, water, and natural habitat.

Beavers play a crucial role in biodiversity.  Many species rely on beaver-created habitat, and a lot of these species who rely on beavers are threatened or endangered.  This year, the baby American beaver was made Patient of the Year at Sarvey. Ornaments and cards were made to celebrate this particular animal.

BENEFITS OF BEAVER PONDS

  • Decrease damaging floods
  • Recharge drinking water aquifers
  • Remove pollutants from surface and ground water
  • Drought protection
  • Decreased erosion

Sarvey does excellent rehab work and has earned a reputation throughout the world for their wildlife care. Aside from having the very cutest kit photo I have ever seen, they understand why beavers matter, which isn’t always the case. If you want to send them some love donate here because they deserve it.

Now there’s something that I’m even more excited to talk about. It’s an article in the very respected magazine Natural History that a beaver buddy alerted me to yesterday. The article is by Katy Spence and she obviously  spent some quality time with our beaver friends in Alberta with Dr. Glynnis Hood and Lorne Fitch of Cows and Fish. You can’t believe how great this article is. Guess what the title is. Go ahead, guess.

hydroDing! Ding! Ding! That’s the title I have been waiting for a decade to read! Somebody give Katy a Worth A Dam t shirt! Unfortunately the very impressive article isn’t online and doesn’t want to be shared with the likes of people who haven’t purchased a subscription, so it required stealth to obtain and sharing it with you requires stealth as well. I figured I’d put the cute baby photo on the top and all the copyright police would walk on by saying ohh, just some cute animal loving website; nothing to see here, move along.

Are they gone? Shhh. It starts with the account of Pierre Buldoc, who wanted to use beaver on is private land.

Sometimes called “nature’s engineers,” the North American beaver (Castor canadensis) is one of the few mammals — including humans — that substantially alters the landscape to suit its own needs. In fact, ecologists consider beavers to be a keystone species because their presence or absence will drastically change an ecosystem. With increasingly extreme weather events, ever-growing human populations, and declining freshwater sources, some beaver advocates believe the animals offer a vital, natural solution for retaining water in ponds and mitigating floods in other riparian ecosystems.

When Bolduc first proposed reintroducing beavers to the landscape, his neighbors — not to mention county officials — were not happy. Beavers had previously clogged a nearby culvert, which, in turn, often washed out the road. They were a nuisance, so the county removed them. Property values, crops, and roads in many rural areas have suffered damage from beaver construction sites. Sometimes, the territorial rodents will cut a favorite tree or even kill curious pets.

Yet, the rodents have had a tremendous impact on Bolduc’s pond. After approaching each of his neighbors individually about the beavers to convince them to try his reintroduction experiment, they eventually agreed. He even suggested an alternate solution for the county road: beaver-proof culverts. Unlike standard culverts, which run parallel to the water, these culverts are perpendicular — letting water rise into them like a straw in a glass. If the water gets high enough, it will drain through a connected horizontal pipe that runs underneath the road, preventing floods. Even when the beavers’ dam breached in May 2016 and drained hundreds of thousands of gallons of water, the culvert prevented a flood.

As climate change increases the risk of extreme weather events, some scientists are eyeing beavers as a tool for maintaining volatile watersheds. In 2008, Glynnis Hood, an environmental scientist at the University of Alberta-Augustana who specializes in wetland ecology and the impact of beavers, published a paper describing beavers’ unprecedented ability to mitigate drought. She and her team analyzed fifty-four years of drought data from Elk Island National Park in Alberta and found that where beaver dams were present, there was more water-up to nine times that of a pond or water source without beavers. Because beaver ponds are so much deeper than other ponds, water lasts longer, even in times of drought.

Hood has continued to examine the nuanced effect beavers have on a landscape, as well as how humans respond to them. She’s completing a study that compares costs of different beaver management efforts. The study will contribute to a larger project, called Leave it to Beavers, which aims to reduce human-beaver conflict. The Alberta-based, inter-agency effort uses citizen science to gather information about the long-term effects beavers can have on a landscape. The project is composed of several agencies, including the Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society, a non-government agency informally known as “Cows and Fish.” Cows and Fish works with landowners and stakeholders to clarify how water flows through different landscapes, especially agricultural areas.

A riparian specialist for Cows and Fish, Lome Fitch, is trying to spark discussions about living with beavers. He offers a voluntary workshop on how beavers affect the landscape and how humans can peacefully coexist with them. He isn’t interested in pushing people to accept beavers, necessarily. He’s simply holding the door open. “You don’t bring people to the middle,” Fitch said. “You just start them thinking about where their position is and, hopefully, use that and expand their information sources. Maybe they’ll continue to migrate towards the middle.”

Fitch developed a ten-step list of goals, the first of which is building tolerance. Perhaps the most formidable step will be to change government policy in Alberta. The province has no clear policy concerning beavers, leaving confusion over what is permitted and what is not when it comes to relocation and rehabilitation.

The article goes into a full description of flow devices and how they work, and talks about how Glynnis and her students are using them effectively and teaching others how to use them. It even talks about how polarizing beavers are, Rachel Haddock of the Miitakis Institute calls them the ‘Wolves of the watershed’ because people either love them or hate them. Ahh! Sounds familiar!

Then it ends on this POWERFUL note.

If people are willing to compromise with beavers now, the result could be a new narrative in which humans and wildlife co-engineer a healthier, more resilient landscape. The big unknown is whether or not we can move past old assumptions.

That sure is the big unknown alright. But wowowow! What a fantastically public place to put this out there. We can only hope it gets read and circulated in all the right places. Lets hope someone leaves it on the governor’s desk right away. And decorates the halls of congress with it. And forces everyone waiting in line trying to get a depredation permit to read it. And if, btw,  you work somewhere someone needs to read it email me, and we’ll see what we can do.