Archive for the ‘Creative Solutions’ Category

Message Delivery

Posted by heidi08 On February - 27 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Indiana University researcher reports that isolated wetlands matter a great deal – just not the things that make and maintain them.

Isolated wetlands have significant impact on water quality

Geographically isolated wetlands play an outsized role in providing clean water and other environmental benefits even though they may lack the regulatory protections of other wetlands, according to an article by Indiana University researchers and colleagues.

 Given those benefits, the authors argue, decision-makers should assume that isolated wetlands are critical for protecting aquatic systems, and the burden of proof should be on those who argue on a case-by-case basis that individual wetlands need not be protected.

 ”Geographically isolated wetlands provide important benefits such as sediment and carbon retention, nutrient transformation and water-quality improvement, all of which are critical for maintaining water quality,” said lead author John M. Marton, assistant scientist at the IU Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs. “We demonstrate that continued loss of these wetlands would likely cause serious harm to North American waters.”

 Yes it’s true, wetlands are really important, especially when they’re in unconnected areas that aren’t attached to other wetlands.  Our top notch researchers think they’re so important that people should be prevented from ripping out those wetlands. And the government should play a roll in making them.

We don’t have the foggiest idea of how those wetlands get there, but we know they’re important.

Yes, webs are important but spiders don’t matter at all, nests are invaluable but we aren’t sure what makes them. and eggs are vital but who cares about chickens?


Oh alright, maybe you’re getting the football very close to the end zone and it’s up to some other researcher or environmental attorney to get it over the line. Certainly this lays a certain foundation. And I would know JUST where to look for argument if I were trying to save beaver in Indiana.

Citing research literature, the authors say geographically isolated wetlands are highly effective “biogeochemical reactors” that improve water quality. They often retain water longer than protected waters, such as streams and wetlands that are directly connected to navigable water. And they have a higher ratio of perimeter to area, allowing more opportunities for reactions to take place.


This morning a quick update from beaver friend Lisa Owens Viani, the founder of RATS, who guest posted this article on 10,000 birds. Apparently the raptor-killing fiends of the world have come up with the excellent idea to name their new rat poison “HAWK”, because you know, hawks kill rats too, get it?

22Hawk.22-2-400x280It takes a lot of nerve—or something that can’t be printed here—to name your rat poison after the animals that so effectively and efficiently control rodents but that are also being poisoned—as “non target” animals—by your product. The label on Motomco/Bell Lab’s rodenticide “Hawk” even sports a drawing of a hawk getting ready to pounce. But “Hawk”’s active ingredient, a deadly second-generation anticoagulant, bromadialone, has been implicated in the deaths of Red-tailed Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, and other raptors: American Kestrels, Barn Owls, Golden Eagles, Great Horned Owls, and Turkey Vultures. These birds are being poisoned after eating rodents that have been poisoned by products like “Hawk.”

You can read the entire article here. I told Lisa not to worry because this was such a tone deaf marketing decision they could easily turn it to their advantage. Instead of writing outraged letters or presenting them with a cease and desist letter. send the most flowery thank you card you can find, and say how much you appreciate their help in  linking rat poison to hawks, reminding every single buyer who the real victims of their products are. That kind of branding is invaluable. It’s hard work doing it yourself and billboards are very expensive.

Ask when their similar products of OWL or BOBCAT will go on the market, and say you appreciate their help in this matter. If you thank them sincerely enough, I said, that label will disappear.


Magical beaver day

Posted by heidi08 On February - 26 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Yesterday we had arranged a meeting between two Watershed Stewards Program Americorp interns and the city engineer of Martinez to talk about planting willow in the beaver habitat. It all became possible after my presentation at the San Francisco water board in December. Rebecca and Corie took Amtrak out from Oakland and we gave them a tour of the planting areas and beaver dam before taking them to the meeting. On the way we came across the most darling little beaver chews from our 2014 kit that we presented as souvenirs (along with hats, which were much appreciated, as you can see).

Desktop3Then we sat down to what we expected to be a challenging meeting. Historically it has not been simple to negotiate with the city to put trees in the beaver habitat. (Take from that what you will-it’s almost like they don’t want the beavers to stay!) But we were hopeful that having some professionals in uniform might make it easier. We talked a little about the areas we wanted to plant, and then discussed the ideas I had encountered regarding fascines at the beaver conference, which prompted our interns to talk about their recent projects at Baxter and Strawberry Creek where they had used fascines of both willow and dogwood.

We talked about timing and their experience, and then the city engineer said he would handle things with the council and with Fish and Game and we could get the project moving within two weeks.(!) They would do the planting and get the willow cuttings, and encourage some colleagues to help out on the day. We promised to reward everyone with hats if they did!  And then the meeting was over. Approximately 15 glorious minutes after it started.

No, really.

Jon and I were in varied states of amazement. To say that was not the reception we’d been expecting is a significant understatement. But I swear it really happened. And we are on board to get willow in the ground before the middle of March. Riley will help arrange for them to harvest it from wildcat canyon in Berkeley, and they will make the fascines and plant them. (Just pray that it rains SOMETIME along the way.) And thank you to Riley for sending these hardworking city-soothers our way. This video will teach you about what facines are, and this one could show you the magical way they work in less than 3 weeks! Our fascines will be buried in the unrocky bank.

Still don’t believe it? The day needs more incredulity, so I’m going to show you the very best beaver news out of Canada that was ever filmed. I can’t find a date on this story, and can’t embed it so you will need to perform the onerous labor of clicking on it and watching an ad, but trust me, even if you never trusted me before and never will again,  it’s worth it.

CaptureStarving beavers kept alive by couple after dam destroyed

Don’t you LOVE these people? Someone give them a bag of sweet potatoes right away!

Fnally I got a delightful email from Rusty in Napa yesterday because the beaver pond in Tulocay creek was visited by a whopping 5 pairs of hooded mergansers that evening. He was surprised how people shy they were in such an urban setting. But very kindly shared these photos. The beautiful one is the boy, and the rusty hairdo is the female. Enjoy.

HM napa

Hooded Merganser at Tulocay Creek – Rusty Cohn

hmpairs Napa

Hooded Merganser pairs – Rusty Cohn


Not what you’d expect

Posted by heidi08 On February - 11 - 2015Comments Off


Early Dam in Alhambra Creek - Heidi Perryman

Early Dam in Alhambra Creek – Heidi Perryman

Beaver illegally trapped and killed near shopping center in Lancaster County

A beaver that repeatedly set up a dam on a pond near a Lancaster County shopping center has allegedly been illegally trapped and killed, according to news reports. The beaver used sticks to create a 25-foot dam on the waterway beside the Red Rose Commons shopping center in Manheim Township, according to LancasterOnline.

 It was first noticed in November by David Kilmer, executive director of the South Central Transit Authority. During a hard rain, the beaver dam caused some parking spaces to flood at the transit authority’s nearby headquarters on Erick Road.

Kilmer told LancasterOnline he dismantled the dam weekly, but was willing to co-exist with the wild beaver. The news organization reported he was “thrilled” with the presence of the beaver, which each time would have the dam rebuilt overnight.

Reconstruction seemed to end this week when evidence suggested someone likely trapped and killed the animal.

Okay, I know this looks like a bad story, but think about it. This is Pennsylvania and the director of transportation was happy to rip out the dam every day and unhappy that the beaver was killed. Have I been wrong about everything? First Ohio wants to coexist and now the transit authority in Lancaster Pennsylvania? Will Alabama be next? It was reported in the PAPER! People were upset by this! Hundreds of beavers are killed even in California without the smallest alarm or conversation.  Heck, even the permit to kill our beavers was originally issued without a blip on anyone’s radar.

Alcoa used to operate a plant in the area and still owns much of the wetlands there.  When the company determined the beaver dam was causing flooding at its pumping station, the company contracted with Lititz-based Critter Catcher Inc.

 The wildlife specialists were hired to humanely capture and release the beaver to best protect the animal and the property, a company spokeswoman said. But someone else apparently had another agenda and set up a Conibear trap – a body-gripping trap designed to kill animals quickly – on the ground next to the pond, according to LancasterOnline.

 Blood was also found next to the pond.  Though the trap is legal if it is used in water, it is illegal to use it on land.

Really? It’s okay to drown beavers but not to crush them on land? If it’s true it must be about protecting accidental pet injuries, because I can’t imagine it makes a difference to anyone where beavers are killed. But still, considering the state this story comes from it’s a sign of remarkable progress. Whenever beaver deaths are reported as shocking and unplanned it is progress. This story confronts without defending,  instead of wrapping up the incident with a rosy package and calling it ‘management’. In fact there isn’t even an attempt to exonerate the offending party or let them lie or try to explain that the beaver was harming property and needed to be removed to protect public interest. We didn’t even get that in Martinez, where the media was always giving the city council several paragraphs to explain the damage the beavers would do if left alone. This article is just stark reporting of the death. Which is pretty amazing.

Since I’ve been reporting on beavers I have learned something about their news cycle. There are a handful of compelling scientific stories about beaver benefits every year from across the world. There are even fewer valiant neighborhood watch stories that show how to live with them. There are plenty of stories about how great trappers are, and how much damage beaver cause, but there really are no frankly bad-ass stories that just describe what actually happens to them when we call the critter removal company. There just aren’t. Not in Pennsylvania. Not in Oregon. No where.

I am celebrating with something else shockingly bad-ass and unexpected. Let’s think of it as crushing myth, ignorance and expectation.


Great people do great things for beavers!

Posted by heidi08 On February - 10 - 2015Comments Off


Need something beavery to do tomorrow morning? There’s still time to sign up for Joe Wheaton’s webinar on Beavers and Climate Change. Offered in combination with the Grand Canyon Trust and Utah State University, you know I’ll be there and it will be a dam good time!

Beaver and Climate Change: Free Webinar

They are the West’s most savvy water engineers. Here on the Colorado Plateau, ground zero for climate change, we humans have a lot to learn from these furry creatures.

What Can Beaver Teach Us About Adapting to Climate Change and Building More Resilient Systems?

FREE WEBINAR February 11, 2015 10 -11 a.m. MST

 Utah State University fluvial geomorphologist Joe Wheaton studies rivers and the changes we humans – and beaver – bring to them. Joe and his colleagues observe, map, and document what happens when rivers are fortunate enough to have beaver, both here in the West and around the world.

 In this 1-hour webinar, Joe will share what he and others are learning from beaver, explain where and how their dams interact with climate change, and take your questions.

Go here to register, and pass it on!

Now it’s time for our awed thanks to our Martinez resident talent Amelia Hunter who has outdone herself yet again on the poster image for the 8th beaver festival. I don’t know  about you but that might be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Note mom’s tail. This is the first painted image of a beaver getting a tail ride on the entire internet. I’m expecting it to inspire a Canadian coin design next year.

 2015 oval

Original artwork by Amelia Hunter
New festival

Immitation is the Sincerest form of Flattery

Posted by heidi08 On February - 6 - 2015Comments Off

9008_638290099610159_4507292353550062419_nThe otter folk are having a welcome back party and silent auction. I know because one of their offerings will be a beaver safari proved by yours truly. They posted this announcement the other day, which was prepared for Barry Deutsch and Lori Wynn formerly of  the top notch SF design firm Deutsch Design Works. I loved the brilliant idea of using the silhouettes as negative space, but sadly no SF graphics firm was around to help.. So I sat down with my inadequate skills and tools and tried to see what I could accomplish.

Since I don’t have photo shop I have to get buy with three inadequate programs, with which I can only make one thing transparent, not both the figure and the ground. The finished product has more white than I wish, but it came out alright. Now I am totally addicted to this and can’t seem to stop myself. As you can see the possibilities are endless.

 bwetlandsBsalmonBstreams The inspiration for all this is the Otter event which promises to be great fun, attracting the very best sorts of people. You should really go. And when you do stop by and say thank you again!

Beaver on both sides of the Atlantic

Posted by heidi08 On February - 5 - 2015Comments Off

For Love of Nature: The beavers of Blackwater Creek

While it’s true damming creeks in urban areas can interfere with water and sewer lines and exacerbate flooding, beavers are important parts of many ecosystems.

 Early residents of this continent considered beavers sacred because they create wetlands, the key to life for many species. Almost half of endangered and threatened species in North America rely upon wetlands, which also soak up floodwaters, alleviate droughts and floods, lessen erosion, raise the water table and purify water.

It’s not every day we get a reminder of beaver benefits from Virginia. Thank you Shannon Brennan of the NewsAdvance for carrying the torch. You can count the number of beaver supporters I’ve met from that state on one hand. But maybe there are are a few more closeted beaver believers out there than they let on.

 The pointed stubs are telltale signs a beaver has been busily munching, both to eat the bark and potentially use the tree for a dam. Beavers topple small saplings and very large trees, leaving many people to decry the damage. It makes me wonder what beavers would say about us.

That’s easy. I know exactly what beavers would say about us, if they bothered to talk about us at all.

“Those lazy things give up so easily!”

Looks like Devon is officially ‘calling the dogs off ‘ – dogs that helped hide the beavers when DEFRA was playing beaver-catcher. Now they want the community to know that the beaver should be quickly caught, tested for the parasite and released so they can go about their business. Not sure how that’s all going to work, how long the test will take, and what will happen if the family gets separated. The cynic in me wonders if DEFRA expects them never to live through the trauma, find each other again, or make it work and that’s why they’ve agreed they can stay. But years of watching officaials lie to us about the beavers in Martinez might have ruined me. I’ll keep quiet and hope for the best.

 Wildlife experts to discuss plans for wild beaver colony in Devon

Now the Trust wants to start talking seriously about the animals’ future with a public drop-in session arranged tomorrow between 3pm and 7.30pm at The Institute, Ottery St Mary, East Devon.

Representatives from Natural England will explain the temporary removal of the beavers to ensure that they are healthy. Devon Wildlife Trust staff will also be on hand to discuss how the trial will work over the coming years.

Spokesman Peter Burgess said: “It is very good news that we have been granted a license to release the beavers back on the river once they have been proven to be healthy.

 “Natural England and Devon Wildlife Trust are hosting this meeting to answer any questions the local community may have about the next steps of the project.”

How timely! The one I bought for my own valentine arrived this morning and showed me that these were alarmingly cuter than I had previously thought. The red see is the cut out wood showing the red layer behind. Even the cross hatch in the tail is delicately cross cut to reveal the space behind.

beaver_5de69b01-a1e6-42ea-abfc-1a250b9f0034_mediumI had no idea. And I’m sure you didn’t either because we only got TWO ideas for original sentiments to ask for on the bottom of the card. Remember, Betsey Reiche the talented SF artist of B-spired  genererously agreed to donate 10 to the festival and engrave  them with sayings you nominate. So put on your thinking caps and send me a loving beaver message right away that belongs on this card.

Hmm…Maybe I just thought of the solution by myself. The perfect engraving for this remarkable card. And unlike the majority of valentine’s cards on the market, it’s entirely true.

“Our love is Worth A Dam”


Let me end with a thank you for this cheery little fellow who has been in our garden since December. Hope you decide to stick around.

Ohio 1, Minnesota 0

Posted by heidi08 On February - 3 - 2015Comments Off

Sharon Brown of Beavers: Wetlands and Wildlife sends this excellent story, which will be further reported in the next issue of Beaversprite.

CaptureColumbus, Ohio Metro Parks Installs a Beaver Flow Device

Using BWW’s “Coexisting…” DVD Staff at Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks, Ohio in December installed a beaver pipe system in a beaver dam to manage the water level and save some wetlands. When beavers moved into Glacier Ridge Park last year their dam restored valuable wetlands, but it also affected a drainage ditch that served private properties bordering the park. The new flexpipe system, based on plans from Beavers: Wetlands & Wildlife’s (BWW) “Coexisting with Beavers” DVD, allows a compromise that benefits both the beavers and the park’s neighbors. Now the water level can be managed—allowing the beaver dam and wetlands to remain.

Beaver activity is the major natural method of creating and maintaining freshwater wetlands,recently valued at $49,000/acre/year in terms of natural services.* About 90% of Ohio’s original wetlands had been drained by the 1980s, according to the U.S. EPA. In past decades, when beaver dams caused flooding of farms or roads, the animal engineers were eliminated. As beavers return to western Ohio, using flow devices to manage their ponds can help save newly restored wetlands.

Carrie Morrow, Assistant Resource Manager for Metro Parks who coordinated the pond leveler d project said, “many of the parts were available at our park maintenance shops. She added, “Our volunteer Richard Tuttle graciously shared the DVD with us and Andrew Boose, our Forest Ecologist and talented handyman, assembled and built the structure.” Boose was assisted by park technician Mike Bosworth. The dedicated men worked in cold, chest-deep water in December to complete the installation. Later, Andrew Boose’s wife ordered a BWW cap for him, “because the project was a success.”

Richard Tuttle, who gave the “Coexisting…” DVD to the park staff, is an expert on conservation of Eastern Bluebirds. In the early 1990s, he created the “Beaver Hypothesis”— that beaver activity produces the habitat required by many wetland species. Photo by Carrie Wakeman Morrow Andrew Boose and Mike Bosworth install a flexpipe with a cage to protect the pipe inlet in a beaver dam at Glacier Ridge Park. Photo by Annette Boose. Andrew Boose, Forest Ecologist at Columbus Metro Parks, photographs a young beaver.


Costanza, R. et al. 2014. Changes in the global value of ecosystem
services. Global Environmental Change 26: 152-158.

Nice to read about Ohio doing the right thing, and I just got an update this morning from Karen of Mt. Healthy that ODOT might be bringing in Mike or Skip to follow suit. That’s a major improvement in a state that has a very tarnished beaver reputation. We’re going to have to make sure everyone knows how much that’s changing.

A quick bit of HUH? from Crosslake Minnesota where apparently they are unaware that pressure treated wood survives better in water. Hmm metal survives better yet.

Crosslake will make capital purchases, beaver-damaged bridge repairs

The Crosslake City Council chose to move forward with plans to repair the Dream Island bridge, which recently sustained damage when a beaver chewed entirely through one of the pylons.

I guess in winter it’s theoretically possible that a unprepared beaver could  exhaust it’s food cache and nibble on a board instead. But honestly do you really think this is beaver blame-worthy? And not the work of some drunk fisherman’s motorboat taking a chunk out of the piling with a side swipe?

Let’s leave MN to their conundrum and get ready for the unbearable gasp of cuteness. Jeannine Schafer of The Neenerbot, an enchanting artist and illustrator in San Francisco,  has most graciously agreed to donate one of these for our silent auction. Honestly, that might be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Especially the curling feet of the kit on the end. (I think we can officially retire that kitten poster. I would ‘hang in there’ much longer for beavers, wouldn’t you?) Thank you Jeannine for your generosity and remarkable creative vision.  If admirers can’t wait until August for the bidding war go here to buy your own:

beaver training