Archive for the ‘City Reports’ Category

Beavers, water, & the learning curve.

Posted by heidi08 On March - 26 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Another red-letter day for beavers. They’ve been  happening so often I’m going to start calling them red beaver days! The first from NBC.


Beavers Are Great for the Environment. As Neighbors, Not So Much

The dam-building rodents are getting a boost across the West, thanks to their signature water-blocking homes that, it turns out, can have a positive effect on the local environment, and have gained the critters support from local tribes and wildlife biologists. Their dams hold back water flow in elevated regions, propping up groundwater supplies in areas hit by drought and reduced snowpack. They provide habitats for salmon. And while there are other, less natural ways to achieve the same effects, there’s one big advantage to beavers: They work for free.

 A team led by Kent Woodruff, a U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologist, has spent eight years refining beaver relocation in Washington’s Methow Valley. The goal: Make sure that the beavers being brought together are compatible. Think of it as a for beavers.

The target areas are mostly public lands at higher elevations — exactly the areas that supply much of the water for humans across the West. “We’re desperate for water storage,” said Woodruff, and “that’s easily enhanced by beavers.”

Okay, first the good Heidi. I absolutely LOVE when beaver benefits get highlighted in a major NBC story. Kent has done great work in the Methow and I’m thrilled to see that project get the flagship recognition it deserves.  Now the not so good Heidi. More beaver stories saying  we care about water so we’re moving beavers into the mountains instead of killing them? Really? Hmm. Mighty white of you.

Will someone please tell Miguel the reporter that ‘good neighbors’ are like good marriages. They don’t just happen but are made every day by people who care. Like the people in Martinez for example.  And maybe next time you should make a report about that.


Onto more good press for the Beaver Believer documentary. This time Sarah’s on PRI.

Beavers are being looked at as little climate change fighting machines

Sarah Konigsberg is documenting the efforts of six people across the US who are working to bring the big-tailed and bucktoothed beavers back to lakes and rivers across the country.

Like beavers themselves, the human subjects of Kongisberg’s documentary, The Beaver Believers, are climate change activists.

“The Beaver Believers” features the stories of people who share the common passion of restoring the beaver in the West by trapping and relocating the animals to habitats that could use a beaver’s touch.

Beaver dams change the landscape of the waterbed. Whole ecosystems with rich, biodiverse habitats and species build up in the area around a beaver dam, Kongisberg explains.

Streams are slowed and deepened, which allows the water bodies to grow and widen. The dams hold back sediment, raising the water levels for vegetation growth. The slowed water seeps into the ground and recharges aquifers.

“It basically creates a much more varied habitat for many, many more animals to live on,” she says.

The grand filmmaker  actually made a stop last night to refilm some urban beavers and their guardians in Martinez.  She was staying nearby in Pt. Reyes and thought the earlier footage she got when her crew came to the festival two years ago just wasn’t good enough. She’s been excited by the response and thinking the film would be ready for music and final touches this summer. I, for one, can’t wait.


What news stories will there be about beavers tomorrow? I wonder. It’s a little harrowing trying to keep up. That’s the very best kind of harrowed, I admit. But we need a treat this morning, and Cheryl just posted this to my timeline on facebook, so I thought I’d share. Brace yourselves, this is alarmingly cute.


Western Arkansas Wild Rescue Alliance


When it rains it pours!

Posted by heidi08 On March - 23 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

And then there were three. How’s this for keeping the story in the public eye?

How Beavers Help Save Water


In the drought-ridden West, some people are partnering with beavers to restore watersheds, where, before trappers arrived, the large rodents once numbered in the millions. Film-maker Sarah Koenigsberg captures various efforts to reintroduce beavers to their former habitat in her documentary The Beaver Believers and tells host Steve Curwood why beavers are essential for a healthy ecosystem.

Cmore filming - Copyongratulations to Sarah Koenisberg who’s Beaver Believer film made it all the way to living on earth of NPR this week. Sarah and her crew were the documentary that filmed at the beaver festival 2 years ago, you might remember them hanging around at the time. Her film is sure to be thirstily received in the west, and I’m thrilled the Martinez Beavers were a part of it.

The Beaver Believers Kickstarter Trailer from Tensegrity Productions on Vimeo.

It’s pretty exciting when there are so many good news stories to keep up with it’s hard to update the website fast enough! This weekend I was hard at work for beavers Friday with the grant application for Kiwanis, Saturday with the grant application for the city and yesterday putting together a presentation for Derek Gow of Devon so he can build momentum for a beaver festival in England.  I tried to do it in under 15 minutes so I had to leave tons out, but it’s a fun way to share with folks who’ve never seen my talk in person. And I saw almost nothing snarky about the city, so that’s refreshing. Feel free to pass it on to friends or enemies who need to hear the story.

The start of something good

Posted by heidi08 On March - 18 - 2015Comments Off

Long Term Solution Sought For Beaver Problem

The selectboard met Tuesday night and addressed several matters, and the primary two concern the North Prescott Road area. First, the long running issue of beavers making dams near the roadway was addressed. Susan Cloutier and Dave Wattles of the conservation commission said that beavers have been doing so for years on the wetlands just off the road, and that this is causing recurring flooding.

 Recently, the animals have built up two piles of dam material across the street, basically turning it into a one-lane road. There have been similar issues throughout the years, and it has proved hazardous to motorists on several occasions. The Department of Environmental Protection has been notified of the issue, and as simply ripping out dams is illegal, trapping has commenced in the area, with four of the creatures being re-located last week.

 According to Wattles, trapping is at best a short-term solution, as beavers are very resourceful and the area in question connects to Quabbin wetlands, making it highly likely that they will return. ” A more permanent solution is needed,” he said.


Pond Leveler before lowering into the water- Mike Callahan Beaver Solutions

 One such solution was then addressed, which is the possible installation of a “Beaver Deceiver,” a flow device that regulates the water levels of beaver dams. Wattles has been in touch with a company called Beaver Solutions out of Southampton and was quoted the price of $1,500 for a unit at the Prescott site. The price could actually be lower, closer to $1,000, should the town provide pipes and some labor.

 Happy beaver news from a state that often misunderstands beavers. We are thrilled that Prescott is already in touch with Mike, and can’t wait to see the problem solved for the long term. To the untrained eye, one would assume that the state that outlaws conibear traps would understand beavers better than most. But we here know better. The bay state seems to spend half its time bemoaning the unjust will of the voters, and the other half trying to overturn it. Obviously these smart members of the conservation commission know what the word conservation actually means.

 You may have realized this weekend that it’s spring (before spring) and that means it’s time for animal webcams around the world – or as I’ve chosen to call them “Nature Porn”. Yesterday I stumbled upon a camera from Van Nuys CA tracking a beautiful allen’s hummird and her rapidly growing chicks. They are 13 days old today, the awkward teens of hummingbird life. The nest is smaller than a tennis ball and made from plant fibers, moss and spider silk, (Which allows it to stretch as they grow). She comes and feeds them every half hour or so, but if you’re lucky you won’t see anything at all and think it’s boring so you’ll never watch again.  Otherwise you might find yourself cursed with a new hobby. I saw big eyes watching the world for the first time this morning.


Beavers high and low

Posted by heidi08 On March - 8 - 2015Comments Off

Polish beavers scale new heights

 Poland’s sole high-mountain national park gets its first-ever beaver colony, the park rangers said on Tuesday. The beavers, which have so far limited themselves to scouring the foothills of the Tatra mountains, have scaled the slopes up to the level of 1,100 metres above sea level this winter.

 This marks the first time that rodent engineers have been spotted this high. “These are pioneer climbers,” among beavers, ranger Marcin Strączek-Helios is quoted as saying.

 The rangers are yet to see the beavers with the naked eye, but the effects of their presence have been obvious since October. Felled trees with trunk perimeter of 10-20 centimetres blocked the Palenica stream near the famous lake of Morskie Oko, creating a pool of water 1.5 metre deep and 10 metres wide.

 Two animals, thought to be international migrants from Slovakia, have been caught on camera. The exact size of the colony is yet to be determined.


Tatra National Park boasts views like this, a high peak of 8100 ft, miles of rivers, waterfalls with oohs and ahhs from grateful tourists but is probably best known for its over 650 caves.Many of which are open to the public, including the world famous Demänovská Ice Cave and the breathtaking Demänovská Cave of Liberty.

All of which made me think about the entirely new idea of beavers in caves.

Think about it. Beavers aren’t very keen on eyesight, they live mostly in the dark anyway, have thick fur coats so they won’t mind the cold, and spending 3 months in a frozen lodge can’t be all that different from spending  a year in a cave. Of course I had to go looking to see if such a thing ever happened. And what do you think I found?

CaptureEureka! Not only does that make total sense and suggest our Polish friends might be thriving in caves, it also explains the ANCIENT mystery in my mind of how beavers can coexist with alligators, which being reptiles are cold blooded and need more sun than their dam-building neighbors.  You can read the rest of the Florida article here, but suffice it to say that the next explorers in those Polish caves shouldn’t be at all surprised if they see this:

b min caLast night we met Danielle from the Academy of Sciences down at the beaver dam. She is writing an article for their new longer web format and had talked to Michael Pollock earlier about beavers and salmon. She said she hadn’t been lucky looking for beavers in Yellowstone but her luck changed in Martinez. She was rewarded with a happy adult sighting and very surprised to find out that beavers were BIG. After she headed home to Oakland mom and kit popped out to say goodbye. A good beaver evening, and thank goodness day light savings is over and we can see them earlier.

Keep it Rural – with beavers!

Posted by heidi08 On March - 6 - 2015Comments Off

Chalk this up to the list of things I never expected. Maria Finn’s smart beavers and salmon article was just picked up by the Daily Yonder of all places. It’s based in Tennessee and Kentucky and focused on rural living.


The California drought, now in its fourth year, has put a hurtin’ on wild salmon populations in the Sacramento and Klamath rivers. Enter the beaver. Once thought to hinder the salmon’s upstream migration, the role of the tree-downing, dam-building mammal is being reconsidered.

 Beavers, which were almost hunted to extinction in California during the 1800s, can help restore this watery habitat, especially in drought conditions. Fishery experts once believed the animals’ dams blocked salmon from returning to their streams, so it was common practice to rip them out.

 But, consistent with previous studies, research led by Michael M. Pollock, an ecosystems analyst with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shows the opposite: wild salmon are adept at crossing the beavers’ blockages.

 Beavers are tireless workers (and work for free) that raise the sparse water tables.

 ”One of our largest expenses is electricity for pumping water. With beavers on the land, the water tables are higher, and we’ve had a 10% to 15% reduction in pumping costs.”

 Along with saving money, Plank now boasts 76,000 Coho fingerling (very young fish) and 35,000 Chinook fingerling in his property’s rivers.

 So rejoice, fishermen and environmentalists. And respect your new buck toothed friends.

 PS – Beavers are fascinating, FYI.

The blurb links to the full article AND the PBS beaver documentary. How’s that for surprising range? I’m sure people interested in rural living are hurt by drought just as much as salmon, so lets hope they tuck this away and remember it next time beavers make a nuisance of themselves down that way.

The Water Institute at Occidental Arts and Ecology Center has a shiny new website you’ll enjoy checking out. Why not pay them a visit? You’ll especially enjoy the beaver mapping project with Eli Asarian and maybe you can even add some sightings of your own!



Looks like we got ourselves a horse-race!

Posted by heidi08 On March - 5 - 2015Comments Off

Beaverton beaver dam causes park to flood

Nancy Freeman’s home backs up to the park, and her deck has a view of one of the beaver dams. She loves watching the wildlife, and hopes what THPRD says is true.

 ”So much has been displaced because of development. Our animals, the creatures that were here first, we sometimes forget and want to displace them because they inconvenience us.”

 The options are to create a wildlife viewing area, construct a new trail around the flood water or build a bridge over it.

 A date hasn’t been set yet, but THPRD says it will hold a public meeting in April to get feedback on the options. Officials have already been hearing from park visitors.

Hmm, the Beaverton story is shaping up to have all the ingredients of a beaver polity. You remember, like we had in Martinez a few years back. I got several emails from the reporter and the natural resource guy yesterday, and there were a ton of responses to the article. Now I don’t like to gamble, but I’m going to guess that there’s a good chance the park will accommodate the beavers.  I heard from the park yesterday that trapping them out is NOT being considered.

Readers say ‘Go, Beavs’ as THPRD ponders options for beavers at Greenway Park

The Greenway Park beavers are pulling in some interesting and funny comments from folks, most of whom support the beavers.   The comments:

 thomasg86 As a frequent user of the park, I have noticed this transition over the last few years. The “main route” is still mostly clear, except when passing under Scholls Ferry Road… a lot of the flooding seems to be on the “secondary loops” north of there. A big attraction with this park system is the eight or nine continuous miles through the heart of Tigard and Beaverton… that’s a pretty cool resource. So if we have to avoid a couple side trails to make peace with the beaver, I’m okay with that.

 Jimmy Carter Just change the name to Peopleton and everything will be okay.

 kpu7m Long live the beaver state….learn to coexist.

 Values Voter Humans have dammed nearly every major river in North America and flooded the homes of billions of animals. Who is the bigger and far more destructive beast?

 outersepdx Guess this is the only place where the Beavers (OSU) can get a win??? ;) I’m guessing it’s duck fans who want to take the dam out.

 sangre_naranja Go Beavs!!

I’m thinking we should just sit back and watch this one.  It promises to be good.

Ohhh and two stories this morning you might not read anywhere else. The first that a 185 year-old gold beaver coin sold yesterday to a collector in Eugene:

 Eugene dealer snares 165-year-old Oregon ‘Beaver Coin’


Nelkin bought the $5 gold coin in August from a private collector, who had paid $257,000 for it at an auction three months earlier.

 The coin was made in 1849, a decade before the Oregon Territory became a state.

 It’s unknown how many of the Oregon gold coins remain in existence. But fewer than 50 out of the 6,000 $5 coins made in Oregon City in the 19th century have been certified as authentic, Nelkin said.

 Ooh a beaver coin valued at over a quarter of a million. That seems about right to me. Beavers are almost as valuable on a coin as they are in your creek! Amazing!

And this last story has nothing to do with beavers (probably), but blew my mind and I know will interest you. Get ready for a fast ride.

Weasel Rides Woodpecker in Viral Photo—But Is It Real?

Can weasels fly? According to an image captured by amateur photographer Martin Le-May, they can if they hitch a ride on the back of a woodpecker.

The picture shows a least weasel (Mustela nivalis) clutching on the back of a European green woodpecker (Picus viridis), likely as a result of a predatory attack gone awry. (Watch: “Hoarders: Acorn Woodpeckers.”)

Le-May told BBC News he snapped the photo Monday afternoon while visiting Hornchurch Country Park in East London. In fact, his presence may have saved the bird’s life.

 ”I think we may have distracted the weasel, as when the woodpecker landed it managed to escape and the weasel ran into the grass,” he told the BBC.

I know what you’re thinking. Is this a photoshop fake? National Geographic doesn’t think so.

But is the photo now known on Twitter as #WeaselPecker a fake?

 Hany Farid doesn’t think so. Farid is a professor of computer science at Dartmouth College, in New Hampshire, who researches digital forensics and image analysis.

 Farid said that while the image’s low resolution makes performing a detailed analysis difficult, there are several other factors to consider. For starters, because the weasel is virtually hugging the woodpecker, forging such an image would be extremely challenging.

 ”This would have required a nearly perfect and coincidental alignment of the two animals in their original photos so that they could be composited together,” said Farid. “This type of forgery is therefore more difficult to create than, for example, two animals simply standing side-by-side.”

The fact that Le-May has posted several other photos of the scene is another indicator that the images are probably real, because it would be even more problematic to consistently alter two or more photos.

 Finally, Farid said there doesn’t seem to be any obvious lighting, color, focus, or quality differences between the weasel and the bird.

 ”Combined, I don’t see any evidence that the photo is not real,” he said.

That is one lucky weasel. And considering he was probably pouncing for his meal, one lucky woodpecker to boot. The photo is one in a million, but honestly, I couldn’t get this song out of my head all day…

No Irony in Ironytown

Posted by heidi08 On March - 4 - 20152 COMMENTS

-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