Archive for the ‘City Reports’ Category

“The quality of beavers is twice-blessed”

Posted by heidi08 On April - 16 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Major beaver victory in Ontario, Canada this morning:

Hamilton Conservation Authority creates new protocol to let Fifty Point beavers be

A new protocol for dealing with wildlife conflicts at local conservation areas will leave beavers at Fifty Point alone unless they wreak major havoc.

 Set to go to Hamilton Conservation Authority directors for approval in May, the protocol only allows lethal trapping as a last resort in cases where beavers are a significant threat to health and safety, property or the natural environment.

 Directors placed a moratorium on lethal trapping last May after a Fifty Point neighbour’s discovery of a dead muskrat and injured snapping turtle in two beaver traps in the park’s trout pond created a public outcry.

He said if beavers aren’t creating an immediate flood risk, park staff will simply monitor their impact and if necessary consider habitat modifications, like fencing trees and modifying culverts so they can’t be blocked.

 If beavers have built a dam that is a flood threat, depending on the situation the authority may remove it or try less intrusive measures, like installing a flow device to restore normal water levels, the told the authority’s conservation advisory board.

 “Humane, lethal trapping is the last resort if you’ve got acute significant issues and the other approaches you’ve tried are not successful,” Stone said. “Generally, our preference is to leave wildlife alone.”

Go Hamilton! Fifty Point is an actual place, for a while I was reading this headline as if it meant fifty beavers at point! I had to hunt all over to find who’s responsible for this bit of beaver magic, but it turns out Hamilton is the home town of the Digital Director of content and the voice behind the radio at Fur Bearer Defenders, Michael Howie. So I’m not at all surprised they could will this into happening. Here’s their article on the victory.

The issue arose last year when a resident was out for a walk and came across a muskrat and an at-risk snapping turtle in beaver traps. The Fur-Bearers (and our wonderful supporters) spoke with the media, the Conservation Authority, and local politicians about non-lethal solutions following that news; it would appear the decision makers liked what they heard.

image1Last night I received the completely unexpected request for photo use from Demitrios Kouzios, a dedicated Cubs fan from Chicago who said he tweeted a beaver picture from our website and wanted to pay for its use. The photo was this, (hahaha) which I replied wasn’t ours, wasn’t a beaver and wasn’t even alive. Which he was thrilled to hear. He thanked me heartily and this morning donated $100 to Worth A Dam! Go Cubs!

Then Robin of Napa pointed me to  me this article on wildlife and traffic in the chronicle, reporting a study by the very group we featured this week. It also tells you where the danger spots are here in the Bay Area.

Mapping roadkill hot spots across a bloody state

Californians, with their famous love of the highway, tend to run over a lot of animals — raccoons, deer, desert iguana. But the danger for road-crossing critters may be rising with the drought.

A UC Davis study released Wednesday, which seeks to promote safety for both wildlife and motorists, identifies stretches of California asphalt where the most animals have been hit — and where more are likely to die in the baking sun as they extend their ranges in search of water.

CaptureFinally, in case you forgot to watch Nature last night there was unbelievably adorable footage of beaver kits in the lodge in winter. You will miss out on something truly special if you don’t go watch it right now. Beavers appear at the beginning and the end (the Alpha and the Omega as it were) but it’s all good. Ann Prum did a great job, although not better than our friend Jari Osborne who was prescient enough to just focus on beavers! Enjoy!

The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
Merchant of Venice, ACT IV: Scene 1

Beaver message trickles East

Posted by heidi08 On April - 14 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Busy as a beaver: unique partnership helps maintain riverside trees

UI allows the native beaver to gnaw down invasive trees, while saving protected species.  Keeping the University of Iowa campus beautiful is a full-time job. Luckily, the UI Landscape Services team gets a little assistance each year in the form of some notoriously busy helpers: the nocturnal, semi-aquatic beaver.

 Beavers, a native Iowa species, typically gnaw down trees along the UI campus riverbanks, which is fine for some tree species, but not for others. Instead of stopping the beavers’ behavior, the tree care team decided to work with the beavers’ natural talents. By wrapping valued native and planted trees with protective wire, the invasive and common native species like Boxelder, White Mulberry, Siberian Elm, Willow, Green Ash, and Silver Maple, are left for the beavers to utilize in their underwater homes for food and shelter.

It is true that beavers can be destructive if their work is not redirected; however, under the right circumstances they can be used as an effective, low-cost management tool. Next to humans, no other animal appears to do more to take care of its landscape.

“While there may be a number of trees gnawed off along the riverbanks, the beavers’ work will not kill the tree as the root system is still intact, so the tree typically will resprout. As long as they continue to do this to the invasive species, we don’t have a problem with them. They’re a spoke in the wheel of life as are the trees, as are we,” says Andy Dahl, UI arborist. “We’re happy to have them as our partners to manage the riverbanks.”

Go Andy and UI! Awesome to read that the Hawekeye State has at least an island committed to coexistence. Sometimes I get the feeling that the beaver good news is spreading so far and permeating so deep that there eventually won’t be a single state where it doesn’t exist.

Except Oklahoma. Because, you know.

“The flood recovery is helping us to clean up and better celebrate the Iowa River. Those busy beavers are helping to contribute to that effort,” says Don Guckert, associate vice president of Facilities Management.

Even in Fargo ND the attitude towards beavers is changing. Just look at this:

Beavers beware: Fargo Park Board mulls trapping, killing

FARGO—Because of tree damage caused by beavers along the Red River, the Fargo Park Board will meet tonight to consider trapping and killing the animals in hopes of reining in their population.

“We’re not trying to eliminate all the beavers,” said Dave Leker, director of parks. “We’re just trying to reduce them.”

 Leker said the district has received a number of calls from residents worried about beavers harming mature, riparian trees. He said there’s no problem with beavers using small trees for food and dam building, but the destruction of decades-old trees concerns district officials.

 Sam DeMarais, the district’s forester, said he’s counted roughly 70 trees gnawed by beavers in city parks. Many of the trees have been felled, and in other cases, beavers have chewed off the bark all the way around the lower trunk. This is known as girdling, which is a death sentence for a tree, Leker said.

“Beavers are part of the natural ecosystem, and so are trees,” he said. “It’s kind of a no-win situation. You’re going to have people that, you know, are rooting for the beavers, and you’re going to have people that are rooting for the trees.”

Hmmm Fargo hasn’t exactly exhausted their resources trying to solve this problem. But it’s still better that they don’t want to kill ALL the beavers. An inquiring mind might ask how many beaver they have? And how they’ll chose which ones to kill?   The Sophie’s choice of beavers, I guess. They are going to contact USDA next. Now how could that possibly go wrong?

Lifetimes and Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On April - 13 - 2015Comments Off


The California Roadkill Observation System is operated by the Road Ecology Center at UC  Davis. Our friend Eli worked to get it to show the incidence of beaver deaths around the state caused by drivers, which is a grimly useful tool for getting a handle on population. We can infer where there are breeding colonies and where beavers decided to disperse. The interactive map tells you what was seen and where, The one near San CaptureJose is from highway 1 at Pescadero, which is  a colony we know about. The one that makes me sad is the yellow one (meaning a large beaver) which was trying to cross highway 37. This means he or she VERY nearly made it on his way to colonize Marin, which might be harder to do than we realize with all the lethal motorways in between.

I like knowing there is a resource to report these deaths at least. I’m especially troubled by highway deaths when those lethal spacers block the center of the roadway. There is no place for the animal to get through and they just are forced to wander aimlessly looking for an opening.

This is a depressing conversation for a monday, so I’m going to give you a LARGE DOSE of cheer.

Napa River restoration begins a new phase Upvalley

OAKVILLE — After 13 years and $21 million, restoration of 4.5 miles of Napa River banks in the heart of Napa Valley is complete, offering improved habitat and reducing flood damage.

Federal, state and local leaders celebrated the accomplishment Thursday as they prepared to launch phase 2: 9 miles of bank restoration from Oakville to Oak Knoll costing another $21 million.

Almost 100 people turned out for the by-invitation morning event along the rivers bank at the Opus One Winery in Oakville, including Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St Helena.

“This river is part of what makes Napa County the iconic landscape that it is,” said Samuel Schuchat, executive officer of the California Coastal Conservancy. “I strongly believe this is the future of river restoration in California.”

One of the most exciting things at the Salmonid Federation Urban Streams Workshop I attended, was this talk

A “Living River” Runs Through It, The Napa Creek Flood Management Project – Leslie Ferguson, San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board

which described the 20 year job of restoring the Napa River. No kidding, 20 years of involving stake holders, wooing business leaders, and politicians. 20 years of weekly meetings to talk about letting the river return to some of its natural state, which means vintners had to agree to give up some of the most valuable land in the entire country.

 More than a decade ago, vineyard owners in the group called The Rutherford Dust Society started the effort. The result is the newly completed Rutherford Reach project between Zinfandel Lane and Oakville Cross Road.

 Twenty-eight landowners participated in the $21 million project. The county’s Measure A flood control sales tax provided $12.5 million, with federal and state agencies contributing $7.9 million. Landowners gave up 30 acres of vineyard land worth an estimated $9 million and agreed to pay a maintenance assessment.

Davie Pina of the Rutherford Dust Society and Pina Vineyard Management has seen a difference with wildlife along the river. He’s seen beaver dams and ospreys and Swainson’s hawks.

 “Things are coming back, and we are doing the right thing around here,” he told the gathering.

Once again, the arrival of beaver dams are recognized as a reward for the very hard restorative work done.  I say ‘again’ because I was lucky enough to once have a lovely conversation with the revered Hughlet Hornbeck about just this topic in terms of cleaning up the Marina, Granger’s Wharf and the mouth of Alhambra Creek in a sustained effort of 50 years that lead to the arrival of our beavers. He said the beavers were a reward for their effort. He wanted to meet the young lady who had “scared the city council” into letting them live.

( A memory to treasure until the end of my days for sure.)

Back to the topic at hand, learning about the marathon efforts at work in Napa have helped me understand just why their response to the beavers has been so uniformly idyllic. They are river-smart in Napa because they spent literally decades studying. Meeting every week, arguing with landowners, persuading the thick-headed and zealous over patient dialogue, compromising and never getting half of what they wanted. They did a remarkable thing,

We should all hope to be a part of something beautiful that is so long in the making.

Beaver Cheer x3

Posted by heidi08 On April - 2 - 2015Comments Off

Ooh this is a fun day. There is so much good news to share, I’m like a kid in a beaver store! You will be too. Let’s start with a late April Fools from Canada that I received yesterday afternoon. I was excited by the headline, but you’re sure to be thrilled by the photo.

Beaver-deceivers to beaver believers

040115_beavers-590x433What started out as an ecologist’s dream ended up a nightmare mired in mud, myth and misery.

 Rainer Wasserman is a 38-year old ecologist at The Ohio State University of Ohio, whose work used to focus on wetland restoration and ecosystems.

 “When I first heard it, I didn’t believe it,” he said, shaking his head. He was referring to the first confirmed sighting of the Castorimorpha megaloenochae, a giant aquatic relative of the beaver, whose destructive power is equalled only by its orneriness. “I never saw one; neither did anyone else I’ve worked with over the years. Until recently, that is.”

 The almost mythical creature came to the forefront recently when a 3-acre detention basin along King Street flooded in 2014. Great piles of debris blocked a culvert that allows for the basin to properly drain. And though beavers were fingered as obvious culprits, no one, in the basin’s ten year history, had ever actually seen the animals in the act of building the dams.

Hahaha! It reminds me of what I often say about our Castoroides skull….THIS is the size of the problems the city thought the beavers were going to cause! YS Ohio has definitely stepped onto the beaver stage this year. It has swallowed their news cycle, just like it did in Martinez. Funny to read a giant beaver is ruining a retention pond. To tell the truth though, considering the untrue things you say about beavers all the time, this article really isn’t that special.

Now it’s time to thank Connecticut because they had enough state pride to promote their resident filmmaker’s  3-part series on CPTV  starting next week. I thought it was only going to show on the east coast, but when I called I learned that it  will air on all PBS stations. The second part airs on tax day and will be about beavers!

CPTV to Air New Three-Part Nature Miniseries from New Haven Filmmaker Ann Johnson Prum

Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) will premiere the new three-part miniseries “Animal Homes” from filmmaker Ann Johnson Prum of New Haven, Conn., as part of the long-running PBS natural history series Nature on Wednesday, April 8 at 8 p.m. Parts 2 and 3 of the series will air on Wednesdays, April 15 and 22, also at 8 p.m.

This three-part series provides intimate, never-before-seen views of the lives of animals in their homes. It investigates just how animals build their remarkable homes around the globe and the intriguing behaviors and social interactions that take place in and around them.

 Filmmaker Ann Johnson Prum, an avid outdoorswoman, has produced television documentaries for the past 20 years with a focus on the arts, science and nature. Her 2010 documentary “Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air” was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Nature Programming, and her film “An Original DUCKumentary” won the 2013 Emmy Award for Outstanding Nature Programming. Both films also aired on CPTV as part of the Nature series.

“Animal Homes: Location, Location, Location” (Premiering Wednesday, April 15 at 8 p.m.) – Finding a good base of operations is key to successfully raising a family. One must find the right stream or tree, the right building materials, neighbors and sometimes tenants. In the wild, every home is a unique DIY project, every head of household a designer and engineer. Cameras chart the building plans and progress of beavers, black bears, hummingbirds and woodrats, examining layouts and cross sections, evaluating the technical specs of their structures and documenting their problem-solving skills. Animal architecture provides insights into animal consciousness, creativity and innovation.

Whoohooo! More beavers on PBS! Thanks CT for the promotion, because I might not have known. I guess they were pretty happy with how Jari Osborne’s documentary did last year. You can read all about the upcoming miniseries here. Here’s a great promo to whet your appetite.

Something too look forward to on April 15th. How often can you say that?

Onto my favorite part of this trifecta of beaver cheer. It’s the just-spring update from Spring Farm Cares an animal sanctuary in New York. They’re good friends of Beavers: Wetlands & Wildlife. Their beavers have just broken through the ice to check for treats. They made sure they weren’t disappointed.

BP 3 30 15 22

Beaver under ice – Spring Farm Cares

BP 3 30 15 25

Breaver Breaks Through Ice – Spring Farm Cares

BP 3 30 15 43

Iceworld – Spring Farm Cares


BP 3 30 15 42
Beaver emerges- Spring Farm Cares

Aren’t those lovely? You might want to go see the whole thing for yourself here. Consider dropping something in their tip jar because they are doing wonderful things. There’s even adorable muskrats under ice photos. I’m very jealous that we never get to see beavers under ice, but there is one thing they photographed that Martinez has seen many, many times before.

which first

Leaving nothing to chance – Spring Farm Cares

Beavers, water, & the learning curve.

Posted by heidi08 On March - 26 - 2015Comments Off

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.

Click on the headline above to hear the interview.


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 - 2015Comments Off

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.