Archive for the ‘City Reports’ Category

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!

The Un-memorial Mural

Posted by heidi08 On May - 31 - 2016Comments Off on The Un-memorial Mural

Okay, you really need to watch this. It took nearly all day to make and I’m kind of proud of the integration of our photos with Mario’s images. The painting process is done, he’s just sealing today, so it’s the right time for an un-memorial to christen the piece.

Mario said the mayor AND Dave Scola came by to congratulate him on how beautiful it is. And I just got an email from Lara on the council saying the same thing. There was a blurb about it in the community focus, and kids have been excited about the frog and the turtle. This was a hard project to complete at almost ever level, first convincing Worth A Dam that it was okay to do something that felt like a memorial, then convincing the city to let us, then wrestling with everyone get the project insured: it was a battle at every step.

But we won. The battle and the war. And now Martinez will have a beaver dam on Alhambra Creek forever.

DSC_6991Well it’s time to celebrate now. How about enjoying the 12th annual beaver pageant in Durham North Carolina. The fun part is, that Worth A Dam’s Lory Bruno will be attending so we have a beaver emissary!

The Beaver Queen Pageant brings puns, fur and fun to an ecological cause

Scarlett O’Beavah takes her reign at the 2010 pageant.

The Beaver Queen Pageant is not a beauty pageant with a twist. Rather, it’s a beauty pageant with a lot of twists. More twists and turns than its longtime beneficiary, Durham’s Ellerbe Creek Watershed.

For starters, its contestants dress up as beavers. In drag.

Still with us? Good. Now note that points are taken off if contestants’ tails aren’t at least partially, um, functional. Engineering is essential.

Contestants assume various alter egos. This year’s winner was a comer named Scarlett O’Beavah. Ostensibly, the lovelies are judged on the quality of their tail, evening wear, stage presence, something called wetland-ready wear and talent—which almost invariably involves pop songs rewritten for the occasion. (One year featured a mysterious contestant known only as Belvis.)

But at this pageant, the judges are gleefully on the take, available to the highest bidder—once, that is, they’ve bought their way into their seats. The more budget-conscious vote-riggers can help fudge the selection process by stuffing the ballot box with the perfectly good votes they’ve paid for. With their own (or other people’s) money.

In the tradition of the other kind of voter-financed elections that have marred North Carolina politics for too long, this exercise in civic representation isn’t merely pay-to-play: It’s strictly cash-and-carry.

Over the past six years, the pageant has substantially raised the visibility of its namesake—the beavers that have now made an unlikely lodge in a wetland behind a Roxboro Road strip mall. “The attention they’ve drawn has cleaned up that natural resource,” notes Duke Park resident Bill Anderson. “I can remember the Cub Scouts coming down to that marsh and pulling out five tons of trash in the early days.

“You go there now, it’s just amazingly clean, when in the old days it was a dump zone.”

But the Beaver Queen Pageant has done more than exhort neighbors to clean up an environmental eyesore. The $15,000 they’ve raised over the past half decade has helped the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association buy the wetlands the beavers call home this past year, as a part of their land trust efforts in acquiring and protecting ecologically significant areas in Durham’s urban environment. Their philanthropy has been “an enormous help in mobilizing the community to steward and maximize the benefits of the Beaver Marsh and our other preserves,” says Diana Tetens, the association’s executive director.

Still, this family-friendly neighborhood party and environmental, philanthropic endeavor started out as something significantly different. Picture an underground, after-hours drag pageant in 2005 led by activist Katherine O’Brien.

HA! This definitely has a more ‘diversity’ than ‘biodiversity’ flavor to it, but I’m thrilled that anyone in North Carolina is saving wetlands or valuing beavers! We loved their last slogan of  ‘Peace. Love. and Beavers’. So we can only assume this year’s will be awesome too. Lory is bringing a flyer of our festival with her to cross pollinate!

Go see the mural today. Snap a photo of yourself with your favorite part and I’ll be happy to share it on the website!


Beaver Memorial Day

Posted by heidi08 On May - 30 - 2016Comments Off on Beaver Memorial Day

Home again, home again, and not a moment too soon! We found Mario putting finishing touches on the mural, my attempts at posting on location upside down and the fantastic news that Hopkinton is FINALLY hiring Mike Callahan! Here let me catch you up to date on everything! I’ll sit on my Portland stories a while to let them percolate.

overthetopApparently Dave Scola and some city folks are stopping by on Wednesday to see the final product. Then it’s just sealing the work for posterity. Love the frog and the dragonfly and the way a beaver dam is forever on Alhambra Creek. I couldn’t be more pleased, but I’m still going to try to push for one little beaver kit. Wish me luck.

I think every city should have a beaver mural, don’t you?  I love that this mural is literally “OVER THE TOP”.

Now you might remember the city of Hopkinton in Massachusetts, which I was forced to learn how to spell when I wrote about them in winter of this year, or in winter of last year, or in spring the year before that. I wrote the council and one brave responder actually talked with Mike for a half an hour in 2015 before a trapper killed 42 beavers this year. Just go to the search bar and type “Hopkinton” to see how many articles come up on the first page alone. They have been such voracious whiners they provoked me into this graphic in December.

Beaver riskWell, change IS possible, get out your nano tools so we can all measure the progress.

Hopkinton looks to trap beavers, install devices

HOPKINTON — In an effort to reduce flooding on properties on Fruit Street and Huckleberry Road, the town is looking to get approvals to trap beavers and install other measures in Whitehall Brook. The Department has filed a notice of intent with the Conservation Commission to approve a beaver management plan developed by a private contractor, Beaver Solutions LLC.

The plans call for trappings, breaching three small beavers dams and installation of two flow devices.

“The town’s goal is not to eradicate the beaver population but to manage it enough so that we can all enjoy our properties safely,” Burke wrote. Mike Callahan, owner of Beaver Solutions in Southampton, surveyed the area by kayak and foot in March.

“Whitehall Brook is a large stream that drains an extensive area including Whitehall Reservoir,” he wrote in his report. “It can have very high flows and if impounded by beaver dams can flood extensive areas since there is a broad floodplain here.” He said beavers have likely lived in the area for a long time. His report details six dams.

“Three active dams raise the water by six inches to a foot each,” he said. “These several small dams all combine to maintain a higher water level abutting the homes on Huckleberry Road. There are also two very large active beaver lodges in this area.”

He said because there is a good food supply, some trappings will likely be needed. He said beaver trapping season is Nov. 1 through April 15, but a permit can be granted from the Board of Health in the off-season.”There are two large beaver dams and multiple smaller ones,” he wrote. “Ironically it is the smaller dams in the vicinity of Huckleberry Road that have generated the most concerns.”

He said for one dam that is flooding an acre of farmland, he recommends the town spend $3,000 for two pipes to lower the water.

Hurray for Mike Callahan and beaver solutions! And hurray for the working mind(s) that made this happen! Of course they are clinging to the trapping idea, because 42 beavers just ISN’T enough for a city of 15,000 and 1.5 square miles of water. (On the day the terms “Slow learner” were redefined, we can simply stand in awe and watch.) Still, progress is incremental. Maybe when they see how these two pipes work for the long term they will stop wasting everyones times with trapping.

learning curve

Looks like this memorial day is full of losses and opportunities. We need this I think.

Beaver Easter came late this year…

Posted by heidi08 On May - 16 - 2016Comments Off on Beaver Easter came late this year…

CaptureFor some reason the Handel version of this verse was playing in my head all morning. From the black pre-dawn sky where we stumbled down the dark alley to the dam, to the first initial trills of bird song as the steely darkness was haloed in a sherbet dawn, through explosion of bird chorus that followed, muffling the train whistles, all the way until I saw this:

A Beaver! What is that sudden lightness I feel between my shoulders? Am I falling upwards? Could it be the final easing of that dread harness of grim resolution in the face of overwhelming loss?  Was the sunrise always this splintered by all this moisture? Is it possible that it really was darkest just before the dawn?

Maybe you’ve never sat up through a candlelit vigil waiting for Easter to dawn, but my teenage days remember these things. You know how it is, that person you like talks you into going even though you’re not sure you really believe this stuff. I vividly remembered that spooky darkness replaced by irrational sunrise and this merry welcome of the day with lots of hugging. (Oh! the hugging!)  I was raised catholic but there was a bible-study period in my teens where I briefly mistook a crush for faith.

But of course you know my true religion now.

There s/he was building a dam in front of me. As if to prove that I wasn’t the only one happy for the dam’s return, a mother mallard with 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9 babies suddenly appeared, the ducklings zipping so quickly that hardly my eyes or the camera lens could keep up. Like fleas or rolling peppercorns, their rapidly expanding circles were pierced by a swimming turtle before they banded together like a seed pod explosion in rewind and followed mom back down stream.

The tide will be excellent for another day or two, you should go. I’m hoping Jon can be persuaded to make the journey again. Tomorrow we present at the Parks, Recreation, Marina and Cultural Commission to get permission for festival IX. Then it’s last minute details to take care of before Portland.

It all seems like perfect timing. Like destiny. If you believe in that sort of thing.

Beaver splashes

Posted by heidi08 On May - 13 - 20162 COMMENTS

blvHere’s the excellent documentary I was talking about yesterday. Don’t ask how it became possible to share it – just enjoy the ride! The Martinez story starts around 15:30 after a trapper segment – but you’ll be smarter if you watch the whole thing.

Untitled from Heidi Perryman on Vimeo.

Yesterday I spoke to a VERY packed house at Martinez Kiwanis, who were eager to know what was up with the kiwanisbeavers. I gave them the full update and talked about the mural and our very odd summer with Suzi and the unexplained beaver deaths.  Lara Delaney from city council was happy to have the update.  People said afterwards it was one of the best talks they ever had, so I going to assume I did okay. There was a lot of interest in the little Napa segment I added, and people were very surprised to learn how little controversy their arrival had caused in Napatopia as opposed to Martinez.

Unfortunately they mentioned during the meeting they had already voted last week to decide funding allotments for scholarships. So I hope they remembered how much they loved beavers then! The greedy marketer in me would rather Worth A Dam was fresh on their mind when they considered our grant application!

Now my desk is officially cleared and I have no other commitments before Portland. That will give me time to focus on that speech and the mural progress. Mario didn’t work yesterday because he had business in the city, but hopefully well march onward today and tomorrow? I would sure like to have a full bridge before we leave town.

hang in there baby


I wish we may I wish we might…

Posted by heidi08 On May - 3 - 2016Comments Off on I wish we may I wish we might…


I’ll give you a hint. It starts with a “b”. Three guesses, go ahead, I can wait. He reportedly went for his camera but when he came back the  beaver had slipped away. I’m guessing they’ll both be back this morning at low tide. I’m too emotionally beaver-scarred to be excited by this, but against my better judgement, I’m very hopeful.

For mural updates, let me say that the final contract has been signed by everyone, and now we are just waiting for the updated language on the insurance that the city needs and then we can mural! I won’t even start talking about how enormously frustrating this has been, because what would be the point?  I’ll believe the waiting is over when it actually happens and not a moment before. Fortunately there is a very kind soul at the city in the middle of all this and she has been cheering me through it. Last week we had a good laugh at my wicked idea to finally just spray paint “F*@# the beavers” on the bridge, because in addition to expressing my frustration:

  1. the city would suddenly want it painted over immediately and
  2. they’d never, ever suspect me.

(Insert story from Heidi’s childhood here, where older sister vandalizes family furniture by cleverly writing the initials of younger sister. Younger sister had nothing to do with it but gets punished anyway and older sister gets away with it.)

On to the impressively named “Clatskanie” at the very northern tip of Oregon, who received an award from the governor for working with beavers to restore their watershed.

Wetland Awards honor voluntary restoration in Clatskanie

Governor Kate Brown, chair of the Land Board, presented the award and praised the collaborative effort as a “wonderful example of how non-profit organizations worked with a private landowner to voluntarily preserve wetlands” for fish and wildlife habitat. She also commended the property owner for including people in the equation: Hunt allows camping on the property, which has 14 tent sites and kayaks available for campers.

Olsen-Hollander said the project planners used innovative restoration strategies from “The Beaver Restoration Guide Book” which touts modeling beaver behavior for restoring habitat for fish, waterfowl, amphibians and reptiles. Olsen-Hollander said that if the techniques prove to be successful over time, there could be significant cost savings in using them in designing future conservation projects.

Congratulations Clatskanie! You let the beavers do the restoration and collected an award for it. That’s harder than it sounds, because it means hours of meetings and hand-holding with anxious stakeholders who are worried that beaver will flood their driveways or eat their petunias. The beavers, frogs and fish are lucky to have you.

Ahanging there final note on what a very bad influence I am on Mr. Cohn of Napa. He sent me this photo yesterday of a beaver suspended animation feat and I was most appreciative. I told him he needed to go back and cut off the branch to use for display. He replied that it was in a seedy area with a lot of transient activity and he was worried it might be unsafe.  I understood. Don’t think I pressured him. I very distinctly remember how we had to get our current chew on Easter Sunday because it was the only time everyone was in church and the creek was neglected.

But a few hours later he sent me this.20160502_180404_resized_1Wouldn’t one of those be AWESOME in the silent auction? If only we could figure out how to make it into a lamp.