Archive for the ‘City Reports’ Category

Hurry! Only 12 days left to call WS liars!

Posted by heidi08 On November - 18 - 2014Comments Off

Well, I’m sure you’ll have plenty of other opportunities, but this is an important one. Before we get down to work and roll up our sleeves, let’s have dessert first.

Searching for beavers on the Quabbin Reservoir’s restricted Prescott Peninsula

About 20 DCR biologists and volunteers stomped to shake off the cold Sunday morning, standing in a ring outside a small shack on the Prescott Peninsula as Clark set the plan for the annual beaver survey. Teams would split off, tramp through the woods to follow their respective streams, take down data on any active beaver lodges, then return to the shack for lunch.

Beavers were non-existent in Massachusetts for more than a century due to hunting and trapping, plus elimination of habitat. After the valley was flooded in the late 1930s, the beavers returned.

Clark said that after the beavers came to the reservoir, the population followed a pattern typical of reintroduction — explosive growth, followed by a crash as the habitat is oversaturated, then a steady leveling off.

No way, are you suggesting that the population actually regulated itself? Without trapping? Even when the Massachusetts voters imposed new restrictions on trapping in 96 and the population was supposed to explode? This is pretty outlandish stuff. Just how long have you been collecting this spurious data?

The first Prescott survey was held in 1952. The survey has been annual since the early 1970s, and some of Sunday’s searchers have returned every year for 30-40 years.

Holy Guacamole Batman. You mean they have 62 years of data on beaver population? And the effect of conibear restriction is somewhere in the middle? You know a statistician worth his pocket calculator could easily whip those numbers into a regression analysis that disproves the accepted lie about beaver population exploding after the new rules were applied? You do know that, right?

Well, maybe the reporter got that wrong. He seemed really distracted by the meat balls. He does say that people aren’t normally allowed in the area because it’s in the watershed. Ahem. (News flash:Every place on this planet is part of a watershed. Just so you know.)


Everyone ready? It’s November 18th so that means you still have 12 days left to tell Wildlife Services that their rodent management plan is ridiculous, oblivious  of the environment or science, and barbaric in the extreme. But those are just my words. You’ll find your own. Here’s Mike Settel from Idaho talking about what’s needed.

In Wildlife Service’s newest justification for ridding us of beaver you can find that bit of humor and others in a recent request for public comment on Wildlife Service’s “Aquatic Rodent” EA for North Carolina.

Don’t attempt to e-mail your comments because, according to their deputy director for environmental compliance Alton Dunaway, receiving comments only by FAX and snail mail will “modernize” their public involvement process. I recommend Faxing comments to (919) 782-4159…However, an e-mail you may find useful is for that of the author, Barbara Schellinger. 

Even though it is a North Carolina document, the rationale proposed sets a precedent for mis-information and obfuscation regarding wildlife management. Please FAX your comments and request that WS includes non-lethal mitigation as beaver solutions, provide current data showing beaver harm salmonids, and prove that beaver dams increase sediment pollution (there are other spurious claims that are suspect or dated, but you should read those for yourselves). Regards, Mike

Thanks Mike for putting us on the right track. Remember, what they get away with in North Carolina will become precedent everywhere. I will share just a little bit of their ignorance, but you should really go read the report for yourself here:

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources guidelines for management of trout stream habitat stated that beaver dams are a major source of damage to trout streams (White and Brynildson 1967, Churchill 1980). Studies that are more recent have documented improvements to trout habitat upon removal of beaver dams. Avery (1992) found that wild brook trout populations improved significantly following the removal of beaver dams from tributaries of some streams. Species abundance, species distribution, and total biomass of non-salmonids also increased following the removal of beaver dams (Avery 1992).

Beaver dams may adversely affect stream ecosystems by increasing sedimentation in streams; thereby, affecting wildlife that depend on clear water such as certain species of fish and mussels. Stagnant water impounded by beaver dams can increase the temperature of water impounded upstream of the dam, which can negatively affect aquatic organisms. Beaver dams can also act as barriers that inhibit movement of aquatic organisms and prevent the migration of fish to spawning areas.

Wow. Give it up for the USDA and author Barbara Schelllinger who was willing to dig back through 47 years of research to find the  completely bogus paper she just knew to be true! This woman is no slacker when it comes to bravely lying about beavers. Good lord, the letter almost writes itself. Although I personally feel that Issue 7 deserves the lion’s share of our attention.

Therefore, the breaching or removal of a beaver dam could result in the degrading or removal of a wetland, if wetland characteristics exist at a location where a beaver dam occurs. The preexisting habitat (prior to the building of the dam) and the altered habitat (areas flooded by impounded water) have different ecological values to the fish and wildlife native to the area. Some species may benefit by the addition of a beaver dam that creates a wetland, while the presence of some species of wildlife may decline. For example, darters listed as federally endangered require fast moving waters over gravel or cobble beds, which beaver dams can eliminate; thus, reducing the availability of habitat. In areas where bottomland forests were flooded by beaver dams, a change in species composition could occur over time as trees die. Flooding often kills hardwood trees, especially when flooding persists for extended periods, as soils become saturated. Conversely, beaver dams could be beneficial to some wildlife, such as river otter, neotropical migratory birds, and waterfowl that require aquatic habitats.

beaver in barDingDingDing! I found the opening! (Well, one of many actually.)  See in their effort to say “it’s a wash, really” beaver dams HELP some species sure, but they HARM others. So getting rid of them is a zero sum game with totally justifiable consequences. Just take the darter for instance!


Maybe we’re the only ones that remember there’s this famous case from Alabama in 2008 where the city of Birmingham was sued by The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (among others) for upwards of a million dollars over removing this beaver dam that was protecting  thousands of the rare endangered watercress darters. In the end the case cost the city some 4,000,000 dollars and dragged  out in court over 4 years. Am I ringing any bells, does this sound vaguely familiar?

The city “knew or should have known that removing a beaver dam and surrounding natural structures would potentially disrupt the water level of the Basin and its inhabitants,” the agency claims.

CaptureDam [sic],  this is gonna be fun. If you want to share your letters, send them to me and I’ll make sure they’re visible. I’m sure WS is hoping they can make it all the way to November 30th without hearing from you. Let’s disappoint them, shall we?

Last night, on the footbridge, I loved you best of all!

Posted by heidi08 On November - 16 - 2014Comments Off
I love her, in the springtime
And I love her in the fall,
But last night, on the back porch
I loved her best of all!

These shocking lyrics reflecting the moral depravity of our youth were published in 1923, some 89 years ago, before video games and ‘R’ movies. Maybe the fact that our house had already been around for a quarter of a century before the song was recorded had something to do with why, when I went to see the beavers last night, this was the soundtrack I heard in my head.

You see, our kit, (the 2014) model, has been living at Ward Street since August. And I’ve been getting more and more worried about his truant little runaway self. I talked with our experts, who had not seen it before but told me not to worry, advice impossible to follow. Beavers are very social animals, and they need face time with their parents learning beaver things for upwards of 24 months before they’re ready to hitch off on their own.

So guess what I saw from the footbridge last night, with Lory and Jon?

Our twentieth kit, climbing on mom’s tail, crunching on snacks, with 2 or three other beavers! (Maybe even dad?) Swimming, chewing, whining and acting like his little kitself again! I can’t tell you how much lighter our three moods were as we walked eventually back to our cars. The beaver family is together and everything’s right with the world.


Now that we’re all in good moods, I will show you this treat that I stumbled upon yesterday. Look who has a new website! Now there are three great beaver resources to share with folks who want new ways to solve problems!


  We are a company dedicated to protecting our land and infrastructure, as well as allowing for creative remedies that improve habitats and end wasteful killing and spending. Our technology and practices are state-of-the-art, and have been employed domestically as well as internationally to mitigate the growing problems presented by the beaver population.

Finally! Skip Lisle’s website has hit the internet(s) running! Complete with great information and awesome photos showing off his skill. Go explore the sight, its lots of fun. I couldn’t be happier, although it was a little surprising to find this:

Skip Lisle offers that rare combination of “can-do” competence, creativity, and courtesy. He ably tamed our beavers with promptness and professionalism. Our California town, Martinez, still fondly remembers the man from Vermont, and his solution to save our Downtown!

Mark Ross
Vice Mayor
Martinez, California, USA

A testimonial from Mark Ross and nothing whatsoever from Worth A Dam? I suppose a vice mayor is slightly better advertising than a child psychologist, but it’s silly to overlook the beavers’ de facto press secretary. Well, the cat’s outta the bag now, I made sure everyone saw this yesterday, its on our beaver links, and in the future I will make sure that everyone knows your skills have a great website to promote them!

Too much good news?Guess what arrived in the mail yesterday. Approval from the Martinez Community Foundation for our grant application for the festival VIII art project! They paid 100% of the amount requested. No fooling, money from Martinez, for the beaver festival. I’m still pinching myself.

CaptureThank you Martinez Community Foundation for helping us teach children about ecosystems at the beaver festival! And thank you artist FRO Butler who will be doing the lion’s share of the work, prepping and painting the canvas, purchasing the materials, and supervising the eager artists. I can’t wait till the whole thing comes together and we can use it at our displays in the future!





Posted by heidi08 On November - 11 - 20142 COMMENTS

Beavers are busy preparing for winter

With the arrival of killing frosts, animals have gone into high gear preparing for the tough conditions soon to follow.

 Those who are feeding birds have observed their sunflower seed supply rapidly dwindle as Blue Jays repeatedly fill their crops only to fly off and cache their loads. Gray Squirrels are also busy, frantically seeking the last of the acorns to stash in the ground.

 And Beavers are busily harvesting trees as they build their winter stores.

The author of this article, Michael Runtz, is a friend to wildlife and to beavers in particular. We’ve connected in the past and corresponded about his work. He’s been photographing and watching beavers for 20 years, and his lovely photos were featured in the recent beaver documentary on PBS. The last I heard from him his book on beavers was due out any minute. But I guess while we wait for that we should savor this interesting fact.

Surely the presence of alders in food piles is sufficient evidence that Beaver’s prefer them in their diet?

 Actually, it is not. When food piles are examined, the surface portion often contains inedible items such as cedar and fir branches. And previously enjoyed (barkless) branches also adorn them.

 The most edible items are actually hidden deeper under the surface of the pile where they will not become locked in ice. That is where poplar and willow branches reside; these will be extracted from the pile all through the winter.

This is worth remembering. The good beer is always hidden in the back of the refrigerator.

waterboardsThis is the Elihu Harris building in downtown Oakland. It houses some of the most essential state government offices, like the Equalization board, the Alcohol and Tobacco board, The Unemployment board, and the Water Quality control board. That’s where Ann Riley works as a Watershed Stream Protection Advisor.

One portion of the Water Quality board is dedicated to what’s called the “Beneficial Use of the state’s waters”. Which covers areas like fish and water-dependent wildlife. Riley is a huge beaver supporter and invited me to be part of her panel at the Salmonid Federation last March. Now come December guess who just got invited to talk to them about a new potential partnership with beavers?

I can’t tell you what a big deal this sounds like in my head. I immediately thought of all the things that could go wrong: I could mess up, lose my voice, my computer could break, it could be cancelled, there will be no one there because it’s the holidays, I got invited because something bad is going to happen, etc. But it doesn’t matter. Beavers are coming to the water boards.

And it’s a big deal.

Visitors & Casualties

Posted by heidi08 On November - 8 - 2014Comments Off

setupLast night’s visitors from San Francisco were 30 high school students with backpacks and notebooks who came to see the beavers.They were accompanied by their energetic and fearless teacher/handler Catherine Salvin. I gave a little talk on the footbridge about beavers as ecosystem engineers and described their physical adaptions to walclife in the water. Then Jon took them on a tour of the dam and up to ward street to look for the kit. On the way she made sure they sketched the dam, the flow device, and the chewed trees.

There were some great questions, some  appreciative listeners and a few who  predictably couldn’t have been more bored. They had read the New York Times article beforehand, and were fairly schooled in the basic story. (Someone couldn’t exactly remember the word and said they were ecosystem technicians, which I loved.) I’m happy to say that not one student thought beavers eat fish or live in the dam. That’s Catherine right front below.

Heidi WALCAfter their tour our smaller yearling made several appearances, swimming obligingly and foraging for them to watch. When it first emerged  30 noisy bodies trampled for a closer look and it dove immediately. I was surprised how quickly they learned to watch silently so they could see and sketch the beaver at leisure. A second beaver appeared later on and a great egret fished ostentatiously at the bridge during the quiet moments. everyone watching

All in all it was a good night, for beavers, for ecological education and for Martinez. Thanks WALC!

This morning I heard from Robin that the second wave of depredation permits for beavers (the not-computerized ones that had to be scanned by hand) had arrived. She wrote,

“Yes, we have Region 4 well represented with counties Kern, Fresno, San Luis Obispo, Madera. Also Region 6 with Mono county. Nothing in the Southern coastal region- Los Angeles to San Diego.”

What does this mean? 4 – Central Region  Serving Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Stanislaus, Tulare and Tuolumne counties. Region 6 Serving Imperial, Inyo, Mono, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. That means permission to kill the water-savers in the driest regions of the state. Robin will generously donate her weekend to get the stats together. But she can’t possibly go fast enough for me.

I recently was talking to a reporter from the guardian about depredation in California, and she wanted to know if the numbers were going up or down. I realized we couldn’t know for sure, but might glean something from earlier records. I don’t have access to earlier depredation permits, but I do have the stats from a FOIA request by reporter Thomas Knudson on beavers killed by the USDA in 2010. Comparing the two is kind of like apples and oranges, because one is ‘permission given’  and the other is actual beavers killed, and just because a permit is issued the beavers could be killed by someone else and never wind up in the USDA stats. Think of it like “All mothers are women” but “not all women are mothers” grouping problem. Remember the column on the left is the actual number of beavers killed by USDA. And the column on the right is the number of depredation permits issued (which might valid for an unlimited number of beavers).

However you slice it, we still have our grim winner:

what a differenceSo Placer county is still the leading beaver killer in the entire state.  No surprise there. Even more interesting to me is second place. USDA killed 108 beavers in Colusa County in 2010. But in 2013 the entire county got only got 4 permits. What gives? Did they suddenly have a change of heart and think that killing beavers was wrong? No indeed. Those 4 permits were issued for the incredible number of 94 beavers PLUS one unlimited wildcard of dead beavers. And they were all awarded to USDA. Let’s assume that those US killers are good at their job and always get their beaver. 94 + X (make that at least least 10 probably a lot more) and that puts them right back in their number 2 spot.

Some things never change.

Lives Hang in the Balance

Posted by heidi08 On November - 6 - 2014Comments Off

CaptureIf I were the editor of Conservation Magazine, I would have a regular feature in every issue called “Who do beavers help now?” Wouldn’t you?

Beavers help out young frogs

Beavers are a boon to the environment: Their dams create ponds that provide homes for birds, amphibians, and other critters. Now scientists have found that beavers also aid their wetland companions by digging canals that young frogs use to hop from ponds to forests.

The canals, which allow beavers to transport branches and hide from predators, can stretch over hundreds of meters. But “the effect of canals on wetland ecosystems has received little study,” the researchers write in Animal Conservation. If the canals help beavers move around, they wondered, do they also help amphibians? For instance, wood frogs are born in ponds, but they must find their way through meadows to forests where they can spend the winter.

…researchers spotted six to nine times more young wood frogs on canals than along pond shorelines without canals.

Well, well well. Beavers help frogs. Who would have guessed? Oh, that’s right, everyone with a pulse. (Except for Roseville where beavers were killed in 2012 to protect frog habitat in vernal pools.) Thanks to Amy Chadwick of Montana for sending me this article. I would be happy for the ammunition, but I know better. If the beaver battle were about having enough research it would have all been over decades ago. In more cases than you want to imagine, facts don’t win the day.

Fears do.

But a well told story might. (Speaking of which, I just reviewed that article on vernal pools I wrote two years ago. It was sadly so much better than what I’m going to write this morning, you maybe should too.)

Here’s something else that beavers help, this photo is from Rusty of the beaver ponds at Napa he is keeping an eye on. He cleverly remarked that this was going to have to be his own version of Gravity Glue balancing stones. Obviously beavers help the wildlife supported by this pond and every other hang in a very delicate balance.

turtle act - Copy

Pond turtles in the balance – Rusty Cohn

If you’re like me you’ve been noticing the increasingly bright shine from above every night. Tonight will be the Full Beaver Moon, so named either because it was a good time to set traps for the winter OR the beavers were so busy making their underwater food storage. You know which one I prefer but step outside for a moment tonight and appreciate what it means to be under a beaver moon.

il_570xN.371888849_mk1w - Copy


Also from Rusty the other night, beaver browsing by the light of the beaver moon.

It takes a Beaver Village…

Posted by heidi08 On November - 1 - 2014Comments Off

Every now and then someone asks me what Worth A Dam does. Do we rehabilitate beavers like the Aspen Valley Sanctuary? Do we reintroduce them like Yakima? Do we install flow devices like Beaver Solutions? And of course the answer is “No, we don’t do any of those things.” But we are extremely busy all the time. How is that possible?

I like to think that what we do, maybe better than anyone else in the world, is cross pollinate beaver information from one place to the next like a giant bumblebee. So that people that never would have connected suddenly realize they have something in common. The festival is just on example of this – and it turns out it all matters way more than you might think. Let me show you what I mean.

My name is Michelle Rogers. I am an Environmental Engineer with the Phillips 66 Refinery in Rodeo, CA. Our Carbon Plant has an access road that is now flooded because of a beaver dam. The dam is in the Rodeo Creek which runs along-side highway 4. I saw the story about the Martinez Beavers and I would like to do something similar with this beaver dam. I want to deal with this issue in a humane way, as I am a big animal lover and I do not want any harm to come to the beavers.

 Is there any way that you can point me in the right direction or let me know the steps that you took with your problem in Martinez?  Thanks so much and I look forward to hearing from you.

Michelle Rogers
Environmental Engineer
Phillips 66 Rodeo Refinery

It was January 24th. 2014 when I got this email from Michelle Rogers the Environmental Engineer from Phillips 66 in Rodeo. They had some beavers in their creek that were flooding out a service road and they wanted to fix the problem. But rather than trap them, Michelle had heard of the solution in Martinez and wanted to see if it would be possible for them.

The first thing we did was send Jon to the site to walk around with her and understand the problem. He identified the issue  and another dam they hadn’t even seen. He showed her where a flow device would probably work and gave her a copy of Mike’s DVD. Michelle took the information (and several articles I armed her with) to her bosses and started talking about what could be done. Then, you might remember, I went in the hospital and we forgot all about it for a while.

Which was just as well because it was months later she was able to get her employers to consider this and she asked me about who could do the work. I introduced her to Kevin, associated with OAEC who trained with Mike Callahan last year and worked with Sherri Tippie this year.

Holy Cow! Heidi, thanks sooo much for passing her along. I’m headed down to check out the dam this afternoon, and can’t wait to see what our favorite critters are up to. Really appreciate all you’re doing, and am super excited about this next project. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you as well.

Kevin Swift
Head Beaver, Swift Water Design

So Kevin came out and brainstormed with Michelle and had Sherry Guzzi of the Sierra Wildlife Coalition design a map of what was needed. Then Michelle took that plan to get permission from the county of Rodeo (which is unincorporated) for the work. It was harder than you think. The county supervisors told her that in order to install a flow device she would need an insurance rider protecting Rodeo if anything went wrong. Seriously.

Then I met Fran T. de Sousa.

“We talked at the Beaver festival and you said that if I emailed you you could send me what you have on the Phillips 66 Environmental Dept. guy who called you in for a consult and that he called Skip Lisle about putting in a flow device. I was hoping to get something environmental going for kids in Rodeo and the beavers..and follow Worth A Dam’s lead.Rodeo is unincorporated and it must be county people insisting on insurance. I will get on that right away Thank you so much, I am looking forward to hearing from you!

I still don’t know what Fran does or how she knew what to do, but she was on a first name basis with all of the supervisors and I introduced her to Michelle and she went to work. I never heard another peep about the issue which seemed to evaporate like morning mist. But then there was Fish and Game Wildlife.

When Michelle presented her plan they came and visited the site and saw Western Pond turtles in the creek (species of special concern) and he told her the refinery needed a qualified biologist to come out, ID the turtles and say how the population would be protected from dangerous flow device injuries. Or something like that.

So I introduced her to Kelly, who introduced her to Jeff of the Wildlife Project.

I have copied Jeff Alvarez on this email. He is very familiar with western pond turtles and can either do the work you are looking for, or, if it doesn’t fit into his schedule, suggest someone who can help. He is the Principal Investigator for our western pond turtle telemetry study in Moorhen Marsh. Like Heidi said, the two turtles are easy to tell apart, but you really should have someone out there who knows how to find turtles and determine if you have a population of pond turtles or not. My guess is that if you saw 3 turtles you probably have more than that on site. Let me know if I can do anything else to help. Thanks. – Kelly

Kelly Davidson
District Biologist
Mt. View Sanitary District

Meanwhile the Fish and Wildlife officer told her that in order to install the flow device they’d need a permit to Alter the Stream, which was a little like requiring the EPA to approve which side of the street you park on. I asked Mike, Skip and Sherry if they ever needed to get a permit like this and they all said “Never”. Then I asked whether Martinez needed such a permit 8 years ago, and was told “Never”. I guess I was feeling kind of feisty that Friday, because I just called the officer up to talk about it.

I introduced myself as an interested party, then suggested he come to Martinez and see our flow device for himself. It would help to understand how it didn’t alter the stream bed. He said knew all about them but  it was the stakes holding the pipe down that affected stream flow. I said, I appreciate so much your talking to me about this, but do you mean if I was going to build a doc for my canoe I’d need a permit to alter the stream bed? He said it depended on the size of the doc and the area. I said it was really important to consider the precedent he was setting since flow devices were getting to be more common all across the state. He said every region makes its own independent decisions. I said installing a flow device altered the stream MUCH less than removing a beaver dam. He said he agreed, he actually liked beavers, but the key issue here was the turtles. They might get stuck in the pipe which would get full of sediment.


I assured him that we had western pond turtles in Martinez and in 8 years not a single turtle had ever gotten stuck in the pipe. We said our friendly goodbyes, and then I asked Mike about it who wrote back that in a decade of opening and repairing flow devices he had never seen one retain sediment (or turtles for that matter). I sent his comments along  to the officer.

There was a very long silence. Then on October 29th. 9 months and 4 days after Michelle’s initial email, I got this.

 We installed our device today. FINALLY!! I wanted to thank you for all the help you gave me. I could not have done it without your help. I wanted your photo person to shoot pictures but was advised not to because of the area we were working in. There is only one parking spot and the large coke trucks are in and out of that area on a consistent basis.

 I took pictures. I am attaching a couple of them. If you want to see all of them, let me know. Thank you again for all the help.  I am really excited about this!!!

We are excited too, Michelle! and so impressed at your vision in wanting to do this different from the very start. 9 months to save some beavers is a full-term effort. We were beyond delighted to help along the way. I’m sure there were Herculean labors by Michelle and others that I know nothing about, and I thank you for those, one and all!

Somewhere in Rodeo there is a family of beavers that can all grow up in peace. And you know what I think about their ancestry. A short swim down the carquinez strait will take you to Rodeo Creek and I think our dispersers explored their way into Phillips 66. After all, they were used to living near the Shell refinery. It probably looked like home.

Thanks to everyone who helped out on this journey and to everyone who keeps this Worth-A-Dam Bumble Bee flying. Buzz on team beaver!


Naturally Curious about Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On October - 29 - 2014Comments Off

CaptureNaturally Curious: Ecosystem Engineers

Wetlands are crucial — roughly 85 percent of all native North American wildlife relies on them — and throughout most of North America wetlands are highly correlated with beavers.

 When the beaver population plummeted due to fur trade in the 18th and 19th centuries, the number of beaver wetlands did as well. Today, beavers number around 6 million to 12 million, and the number of ponds is estimated to be between 1.5 million and 7.7 million. This had an enormous impact on the flora and fauna in and around these wetlands, changing the distribution and abundance of many plants and animals.


Naturally Curious: Ecosystem Engineers
Beavers are one, if not the only, species capable of changing the geological, chemical and biological properties of the landscape to suit their needs.

If you want to know why the state of New Hampshire is having such positive public support for beavers, it’s entirely because of articles like this. Mary Holland is a talented author and breathtaking photographer who donated generously to our silent auction in the past. She likes to write about beavers sometimes, but this is the most glowing advocacy I’ve seen from her yet. I’m hoping that we influenced her work in some small way. There is so much I want to share I can barely pick and chose. Make sure you click on her article  just so she gets credit for this remarkable work. Here’s a treasure hunt for motivation: there is one thing she got wrong. But only one. See if you can find it.


 Studies have shown that by increasing the diversity of habitats, beavers increase the number of species of herbaceous plants. By expanding wetland habitat, beavers provide an ecological opportunity for new plant species. The riparian vegetation — plants on a pond’s banks — not only increases in number of species, but the vegetation becomes denser as a result of beaver activity.


A beaver dam slows the current of a stream and increases deposition of nutrient-rich sediment and organic material in the water. This plays a key role in the development of insect life. The variety and density of species increases, providing more food for fish, birds and mammals.  Although one would think that the presence of a beaver pond might increase


 As one would expect, there is a shift in fish species, just as there is in insect species, as the rapidly flow ing stream is converted to the stillness and increased warmth of a pond. Studies have shown that fish species richness increases with the size of a pond, but even very small beaver ponds can have higher than expected richness compared to ponds of a similar size not impounded by beaver dams.

 Contrary to popular belief, beaver ponds have been shown to have a beneficial effect on trout and salmon populations. Loss of beaver ponds has been correlated with a significant reduction in salmon production. Beaver dams are typically not barriers to fish — they find ways of passing through them, except when stream levels are very low.

Amphibians and Reptiles

dt.common.streams.StreamServer.cls Beaver ponds create an ideal habitat for amphibians. Reptiles also fare well in beaver ponds, especially older beaver ponds. There is greater species diversity of snakes and turtles in older ponds than younger ones, but even younger beaver ponds usually have more species than undammed streams.


 A wide variety and number of mammals uses the lush vegetation around beaver ponds as food and cover. An increased production of woody plants (vigorous shoot growth at beaver-cut stumps) and aquatic vegetation attracts browsing moose and deer. Water-loving muskrats, otters, raccoons and mink frequent beaver ponds for food and shelter.


dt.common.streams.StreamServer.cls1 The creation of an aquatic habitat necessarily will attract different species of birds than a forest habitat. Significantly more bird species have been found at active beaver ponds than abandoned beaver ponds and control sites with no history of beaver occupation. Waterfowl use beaver ponds for nesting and rearing young, and as stopover sites during migration.

Mary’s Closing argument:

Humans may disagree about the advantages and disadvantages of having beavers as neighbors, but there is no disputing the fact that beavers play an important role in preserving biological diversity.

And THAT’s what the New York Times SHOULD have said. (By the way I just heard that the NYT beaver article is tracking as the 6th most emailed!)

Thank you so much Mary for singing beaver praises with such passion and timbre! We are grateful for your eloquence, talent and veracity. I’m sorry the grey lady pushed your work out of the spotlight for a whole day, but I am so thrilled to promote your work now!

And if you need a little more illustration to the argument that beavers create habitat, here’s some recent footage from Rusty Cohn in Napa showing an unexpected visitor to the beaver dam. He wondered, fox or coyote? So I sent it to the expert. This morning Camila wrote back: COYOTE!

We have been so inspired by his work we tried our own trail cam last night for the first time, but all we got was the “Lesser-spotted-Moses” hard at working cleaning up a tree so the city wouldn’t be annoyed at the beavers. Recognize this species?