Archive for the ‘City Reports’ Category

Let’s not do it the easy way!

Posted by heidi08 On March - 27 - 2014Comments Off

Sacramento County approves plan to restore channel to natural creek state

 A graffiti-ridden drainage channel running through the American River Parkway in Rancho Cordova is poised for a major makeover that will transform it into a cleaner and greener creek where recreational and educational activities abound.

 The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a contract assessing the environmental impact of the Cordova Creek Naturalization Project – a rehabilitation effort that has been in the works for nearly a decade. The approval is a major milestone in a plan that involves breaking up and burying the channel’s concrete walls and rerouting its water through a new creek, which will be surrounded by native vegetation and walking trails.

 The new creek will allow the soil around it to absorb the water, which comes from a runoff watershed in Rancho Cordova, ultimately creating a 15-acre riparian area where trees and wildflowers can flourish.

 “It looks like a fallow field with a concrete ditch running through it,” said Gohring. “When we’re done, it will be a meandering stream which will provide an amazing amount of habitat diversity. … For those of us who do ecological restoration work, it’s like the holy grail.

 Honestly, at this point, do I even need to say it anymore? I’ve seen your Holy Grail Rancho Cordova and it looks like this.

Cover VII

Wanted to share Amelia Hunter’s fantastic new design for the seventh beaver festival. Don’t you love seeing the duality of a beaver’s life? Thank you Amelia for your lovely artwork, and I hope when our ad runs in Bay Nature paying customers with great big grants flock to you in droves.

Another beaver friend is working to organize a guided Amtrak journey from Oakland hosted by the Oakland Museum Docent Chris Richards. That would be a fun way to add watershed context to the festival. Fingers crossed it will really happen. I pulled together this graphic to celebrate!

straight train


Just six pages?

Posted by heidi08 On March - 26 - 2014Comments Off

 Emily the Trapper is 26, smart, loves animals, and thinks your ideas about fur trapping are all wrong

As a 26-year-old female, Lamb is a rarity among fur trappers, but her work ethic and foul mouth quickly endeared her to colleagues. While some of the fur she harvests is sold for use in the fashion industry, she also works closely with government officials, wildlife researchers and the oil industry to help study and sustain animal populations in the wild

Lamb has always found animals beautiful. She used to spend entire afternoons sitting in the hay feeder on her family’s Sundre-area farm when she was a girl just so she could see the cows up close when they came to eat. After graduating from high school, Lamb decided she wanted to be a veterinarian or a Fish and Wildlife officer. She eventually earned a diploma in Wildlife and Forestry Conservation online, then began an internship with the Cochrane Ecological Institute.

Joining the business as an outsider was a challenge for Lamb. So was being the first and only woman in the company. “You don’t expect a girl is going to be OK with going out and killing stuff,” she told me. Lamb found the physical demands gruelling. “It’s pretty intense work,” she said. “Tearing around with 70- or 80-pound beavers in your backpack for undeterminable distances. And setting traps with poundage enough to break your arms.” There is also, of course, the locker-room talk that comes with being the sole woman in a crew of men. “Trust me, I hear about a million beaver jokes a day,” she said with a laugh. She considers the ribbing good-natured. “Obviously, I am an easy-going gal.”

This is any trapping company’s wet dream. A cute, young, sympathetic girl they can push to the front of the line to put a humane face on their ghoulish activities.  No wonder the paper dedicated 6 entire pages to her story. (No word yet on when it will run a 6 page story on beaver benefits, or the rodent rebound from trapping coyotes, or why wolves help rivers.) There’s no time for fluff pieces like that when we have a cute 26 year old voyageur to write about.

Trappers are rarely paid for these contributions. They do it because they share a common commitment to wildlife understanding and sustainability. This is something Lamb wants the public to understand. “All of us–hunters, trappers, environmentalists, tree-huggers, hippies–every one of us, in the end, wants there to be as big and as healthy a population of wildlife as possible. Period.”

The style of beaver trap Abercrombie and Lamb use is a “body-grip killing trap”–often called a Conibear trap after inventor Frank Conibear–which a beaver springs by swimming into it. The trap is powerful enough to break a person’s arm. “That’ll wreck you pretty good,” Lamb said. The Conibear’s loaded jaws will catch a beaver around the neck and fracture its spine while compressing the carotid artery in its neck. Death comes painlessly and instantaneously.2 “The animal is living his life the way he lives his life, doing what he does every day,” Lamb said. “Then he’s not.”

Why is it that if you say that beavers are good for fish or wildlife reporters have to talk to someone who thinks differently to present a balance – but if you say conibears never make wildlife suffer they just obediently write it down with a flourish? Is there nobody in Alberta who disagrees with Emily? I’m assuming from the 60+ comments that there are. Maybe you could have contacted Dr. Hood for a quote about the impact of trapping beaver on surrounding wildlife?

Furthermore, the selective trapping of overpopulated animals like beavers and coyotes sustains their numbers. Abercrombie “traps out” about half of the beaver lodges on Chip Lake. In this way, he doubles the resources available for the remaining colonies and reduces their competitive stress. “I am keeping the population at a consistent high level on the lake by employing trapping as a management tool.” Abercrombie told me that 10 years ago, without enough trapping on the lake, the beavers clear cut the trees off every island. “They literally ate themselves out of house and home.” Those that didn’t starve contracted parasitic infections due to overcrowding. Eventually, every one of Chip Lake’s 200 beavers died. Now, thanks to Abercrombie’s trapping, about 60 individuals reside on the lake, a little more than half of what he figures the area can support.

You do realize animals move locations right? I mean if they chop the trees in one lake they move to another lake while those trees are coppicing and coming back to life? If you drink all the beer in your refrigerator what do you do?  I assume there are more trees at the lake than there are in Alhambra Creek. Its been 7 years and our beavers haven’t eaten themselves out of house and home or died of tularemia. I’m surprised the Alberta beaver species must be way more greedy.

“As a trapper, this is my responsibility,” Abercrombie said. “I do it as a steward on behalf of the citizens of Alberta. I manage the fur-bearer resource in this area. That’s what trappers do. The government doesn’t do it. The animal-rights people don’t do it. We do it.”

Oh pul-eeze. I can’t stand this much selfless patriotism without a martini. I’m reminded of a certain self-justifying poem by Oscar Wilde.

And all men kill the thing they love,
By all let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!
Oscar Wilde


Another Blessed Event in Bakersfield

Posted by heidi08 On March - 7 - 2014Comments Off

CaptureBeavers spotted in Bakersfield, no new tree damage

The beavers were spotted Wednesday morning in a parking lot near Mohawk Street and California Avenue.   One Eyewitness News viewer captured a photo of the furry visitors.  In November, beavers were spotted in the northwest near the Riverwalk. The beavers then had done damage to area trees. 

Bakersfield parks director Dianne Hoover said Wednesday’s beaver sighting was the first since November.  “All told in the last three to four years, they’ve damaged about 40 trees,” said Hoover.  She said each tree costs between $100 and $500 to replace.

No beaver story from Bakersfield will every be cheerful, but you should watch the news report just for the anchor. He’s adorable! Oh and seeing Diane Hoover in person helps me understand why she hasn’t been able to learn anything from my emails over the years – her heart is two sizes too small.

No word yet on whether any city official or media representative will ever learn a single thing about beaver DISPERSAL. Or when they’ll stop being  confused by the same exact thing occurring at the same exact time over and over again all along the west coast. It’s kinda sweet that these two yearlings start out their journey in tandem. Do you think they’ll split up eventually? Like when a friend comes with you in hide and seek and you shoo them away to find their own spot?  Check out their advanced nylon netting system to protect those 500 dollar trees. Bakersfield trees must be made of gold – or possibly crack?



Lynx ride beaver coattails in Scotland?

Posted by heidi08 On February - 26 - 2014Comments Off

Is it time to allow Scotland to go wild?

HERE’S a question for you. Do you wish to see lynx and beavers living freely in Scotland again within our lifetimes?  Let’s throw in another question. If these animals never returned to the wilds of Scotland, would that really bother you?

 There are simple answers to these questions. The problem is that my answer could be the total opposite of yours. However, these are questions that we must reach consensus on if we are to agree an intelligent way forward for the conservation of Scotland’s wildlife and our landscapes.

 Make no mistake about it, both beavers and lynx will trigger changes in our natural environment that will force us out of our current comfort zones and take us down the road to “re-wilding” some of our favourite places. 

Are we ready to allow nature more say on how our landscape may look and function in places? There will certainly be physical changes that some of us will like and others will not, whilst others might not even notice. There will also be knock-on changes for the rest of our wildlife which could prove initially dramatic as our natural environment re-boots itself to the return of such key species. The life of a roe or red deer will become very much different in an area where a top predator is present whilst those species that benefit from wetlands will undoubtedly gain from the activities of beavers.

If there’s one thing I admire about Lynx its those dams they build that impact the entire forest. Oh wait – they don’t. I mean I have nothing against Lynx but I don’t understand why they’re lumping these two animals together. I’m sure there are useful trophic things lynx do for the habitat. Reduce rodents, add a predator, etc. Still beavers are wayyyyyyyy better.

Many of us believe that every species has a right to live where it belongs and the environment of Scotland is the poorer without it. We intrinsically know this, and the fact that we obsess in our media about trying to save the last members of a rare species (usually furry, feathered or bright-eyed) shows how the value we attach to it increases with its increasing rarity.

 But how should we value species that were formerly native in Scotland but that we have now eradicated?

 Conversely, while we can quantify the costs of livestock lost to re-introduced species, how do we assign a value to the fear, however irrational, that we might have walking through a dark wood inhabited by lynx?

 We will continue to debate the pros and cons of whether beavers and lynx should return to live freely in Scotland and arguments on both sides of the debate are equally worthy.

 However, the final question is possibly the most important. Does it bother you whether beavers and lynx live in Scotland or not?

The answer lies deep within us all and should be the one that determines this debate.

Honestly, I don’t think that IS the final question. Scotland can’t decide whether it needs beavers or not based on how much they are missed. How much would folks miss politicians if Scotland took them all away? Just because something isn’t missed doesn’t mean its not necessary. And beavers are NECESSARY.

CaptureToday’s donation comes from the Oakland Zoo who kindly offered a Family Pass for the silent auction. When is the last time you went to the zoo? I had so much fun on my recent trip with beaver friend and guide Cindy Margulis. I also heard rumors about the vast new land the zoo has purchased and will turn into California terrain before it was settled, with all the wildlife that USED to be here, including you-know-what! Thanks Oakland Zoo for supporting the Martinez Beavers!

heidi at zoo

Talking beavers to Zoo Keepers at Oakland Zoo

Seeing the forest for the trees…

Posted by heidi08 On February - 6 - 2014Comments Off


Parks allowed nature to take its Course

 A few weeks ago, an eager beaver began gnawing at a tree along the side of the Derby Pond in Whatcom Falls Park. The parks department removed a bench in the tree’s way, and posted a notice that they were going to let the beaver finish its work — something our family appreciated so much.

 Over the following weeks, many trips were made to watch the progress, always amazed at the dif-ference and wondering when the tree might fall. Trips to the library and Internet searches were made to learn more about beavers — the “Beaver Tree” was the buzz of the park and neighborhood kids.

 This past Wednesday, shouts of glee were heard on the trail as three of our kids discovered the tree was down. Sadly, the finishing touch was made by a chain saw, but we were excited nonethe-less! The gentlemen handling the tree told us it would be moved to a place where the beaver could harvest the branches, and we could continue to witness the final stages of the process.

 We are so thankful to the parks department for allowing us this invaluable experience. The tree was in a place where they could have easily chopped it down as soon as the beaver had started the “damage.” Instead, they left it, giving our community the opportunity to watch the wonders of our natural world in our own backyard.

When I read an idyllic beaver letter like this I am always transfixed with a mixture of admiration and envy. Here’s a city that knows how and why to live with beavers. It doesn’t require 200 people at a meeting, or massive media shaming, or a popular website or Heidi flinging herself at the stubborn officials like a salmon beating against the rocks for six friggin’ years. There are no lawyers or CEQA violations. No committee meetings or civil disobedience.

It just happens because it’s the right thing to do.

Instinct demanded  I check to see where this utopian paradise is and of course I needn’t have bothered: Washington State.

And while we’re on the subject of humane pragmatism, isn’t this the most glorious beaver painting you’ve seen this decade? Its talented and whimsical artist, Cori Lee Marvin is in Port Hope Canada and  has generously agreed to donate a watercolor to the silent auction. I am so excited to see the work up close. It reminds me of the end of the Grey Owl movie! Thanks very much Cori!


Wonder – without winter

Posted by heidi08 On January - 26 - 2014Comments Off

Vail Daily column: Busy beavers

t’s a busy time on the mountain for us, but you might not expect beavers to be just as active this time of year. Surprise! They are busier than you’d think right around now because between January and February, it’s mating time for our furry friends. Beavers are a monogamous species, meaning they mate with one partner for life. They start reproducing around age 2 or 3, at which point they build a very impressive lodge with their mate and start their family.

A pleasant article about beavers from Kayla at the Vail Daily. (Not that it says anything about why beavers are actually useful. Instead it alarmingly opines that beavers cut down 1700 trees a year and live until 20!) But never mind,  compared to all the horrible things we usually have to review about beavers it’s not too bad.

Not like Peter Fimrite’s article in the SFGate this morning that says salmon may go extinct with California’s new drought pattern. And doesn’t mention what? Say it with me now.

California drought threatens coho salmon with extinction

The lack of rain this winter could eventually be disastrous for thirsty California, but the drought may have already ravaged some of the most storied salmon runs on the West Coast.

 The coho salmon of Central California, which swim up the rivers and creeks during the first winter rains, are stranded in the ocean waiting for the surge of water that signals the beginning of their annual migration, but it may never come.

You know, way back in 2008 when NOAA first reported on a regional level that said the way to fix our salmon population had four paws and a tail, I thought for sure the tide would turn. I imagined a three month period when everyone came to grips with the fact followed by an explosion of legislation with a burdensome salmon tax for cities that still trapped beavers.

Six years later I realize that things may be moving a bit slower than I had planned.


Yesterday a donation came from the local artist behind Bird versus Bird in Oakland. Bess Petty works with recycled materials and uses urban nature in all her designs. When I asked for a donation she told me that she and her husband had been out to see the Martinez Beavers but hadn’t found them. I assured her of an easier summer viewing and said she should let us know then she wants a tour. In addition to the pouch she sent lots of other goodies so thank her if you see her at the festival!

This nifty waterproof coin purse is sewn from salvaged vinyl banner material with a sturdy Velcro closure and features my original beaver drawing on a pale cream background.

This new toy was sent to me by Bruce Thompson of Ecotracs in Wyoming. I am having so much fun playing with it I just had to share. Go try your own!

Two fonts

The Culling Fields

Posted by heidi08 On January - 25 - 2014Comments Off

Siberia has just announced that it will kill 5500 beavers to “prevent the spread of disease”. No word yet on what disease exactly they’re stopping, or why a disease that beavers caught in their water system wouldn’t be a problem already without the beavers.

5,500 Siberian Beavers to Be Culled to Avoid Disease Outbreak

MOSCOW, January 24 (RIA Novosti) – Several thousand beavers in western Siberia are facing a cull by the summer in a drive to avoid an outbreak of disease, local media reported Friday.

Gazeta Kemerova news website cited a statement by the Kemerovo Region’s environmental protection department as saying as many as 5,500 beavers could be killed to thin out the ranks of the animal.

Overpopulation of beavers is also reportedly responsible for numerous road-flooding incidents caused by their dams. No up-to-date information on the beaver population of Kemerovo Region is available.

Ohhhhhh. The dangerous FLOODING DISEASE! Gosh, people were really scared of that contagion in Martinez. (I hear it’s catching.) And please re-read that last line. We have no idea how many beavers there are in Siberia we just know there are too many!

Wikipedia tells me that Siberia is 5.1 million square miles, and most of Russia. Not sure how they’ll even keep track of the numbers with all those dead beavers.

The rodent is a bigger hazard than it looks.

 Last April, an irritated beaver killed a man in western Belarus. The animal bit through a major artery while the man was taking a selfie with the rodent, causing fatal wounds to the photographer.

That’s right, we will justify our bad decision by referencing his. The man in Belarus should never have tried to pick up that beaver and his friends should have completed the second grade and learned how to apply a tourniquet, but that’s what happens when men make mistakes: beavers get killed. 5500 or however many we feel like. Never mind that the population will likely rebound and we will have solved nothing. Never mind that there are hundreds of Europeans who could teach us how to install flow devices. Never mind that Russia needs clean water as much as any other country.

Our minds (such as they are) are made up.


Now Lithuania is just a little east of Siberia, and I received a nice note this morning on a donation from an artist there.  Giedrė Karramba creates a miniature animal zoo from sterling silver. I asked for these earrings and she has kindly wrote back offering a pair of earrings and a pendant.

Just remember when you wear them, they were made in Lithuania so this adorable pair is castor fiber.