Archive for the ‘Creative Solutions’ Category

“One stick at a time…”

Posted by heidi08 On July - 17 - 2015Comments Off

I guess USDA finally got the memo! Even though they chose to bury this story in their blog, I’m pretty excited. Just look:

Working with Beavers to Restore Watersheds

The Methow Beaver Project is a bit uncommon as far as forest health

restoration projects go, because it relies on one of nature’s greatest engineers – the beaver.

Beavers build dams on river


s and streams, and build homes (“lodges”) in the resulting bodies of still, deep water to protect against predators. Beavers play an important ecological role, because the reservoirs of water that beaver dams create also increase riparian habitat, reduce stream temperatures, restore stream complexity, capture sediment, and store millions of gallons of water underground in wetland ‘sponges’ that surround beaver colonies. This benefits the many fish, birds, amphibians, plants and people that make up the entire ecosystem.

Across the country today, there are fewer beavers than there used to be because their fur was very desirable to early American settlers and many landowners considered them to be a pest that damaged the landscape. As beavers were eradicated, the once complex wetlands that they helped to create disappeared as well.

 Recently, low snowpack in the Cascade Mountains has resulted in less meltwater flowing through streams throughout the spring, summer and fall on the Methow Valley Ranger District of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in north central Washington State. The low water levels have negatively affected habitat for salmon, trout, frogs, eagles and many other species. Over the next 20 to 30 years, dramatically less snowpack is predicted.

 That’s why U.S. Forest Service biologists like Kent Woodruff are working to reintroduce beavers to forest streams where they used to be common. Beavers can help make such ecosystems more resilient to future changes in climate by restoring ecological function. Not only do beaver dams increase water storage on the landscape, they improve water quality by reducing stream temperatures, increasing nutrient availability in streams, and increasing stream function by reconnecting floodplains.

Recently, the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society recognized the Methow Beaver Project, awarding it the Riparian Challenge Award for 2015. This award recognizes and encourages excellence in riparian and watershed habitat management, and celebrates the accomplishments of the project’s many partners, including its beaver engineers!

 “We’re solving important problems one stick at a time,” Woodruff said.

And on the weighty day when USDA pinched their nostrils closed and  forced themselves to mention the positive truth about beavers, Kent was standing there in uniform to ease the pain. A USFS biologist himself, Kent’s project carries the respectability that not even USDA can ignore forever. With so many partners and supporters the Methow project is guaranteed to make a difference, and Kent has worked hard to see that it will thrive long after he retires.  It is remarkable, that even though Methow has been doing this work a long, long, LONG time, USDA is just starting to get the message.

Better late than never, I always say.

Struggling amphibians get a beaver boost

New research by the U.S. Geological Survey suggests that the effect beavers have on the environment may stem the decline of amphibians in places such as Grand Teton National Park.

 The decade-long study found startling declines of amphibians in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park and more gradual declines in Grand Teton and Yellowstone parks. It determined that further north in Glacier National Park the metamorphosing critters are faring better. Headed by Blake Hossack of the USGS, the research also determined that beavers create wet habitats that act as a hedge against declines in amphibians, which depend on water in their early life stages.

“Although beaver were uncommon, their creation or modification of wetlands was associated with higher colonization rates for four of five amphibian species, producing a 34 percent increase in occupancy in beaver-influenced wetlands compared to wetlands without beaver influence,” the study said. It was published recently in the journal Biological Conservation.

 “Also, colonization rates and occupancy of boreal toads and Columbia spotted frogs were greater than two times higher in beaver-influenced wetlands,” the study said. “These strong relationships suggest management for beaver that fosters amphibian recovery could counter declines in some areas.”

 The USGS, New Mexico State University, Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative and the National Park Service all collaborated on the study.

The influence of beavers is on display along Moose-Wilson Road in Grand Teton park, upstream of where the beaver pond borders the road, Patla said. During the study, she said, the aquatic rodents colonized a new area to the north.

 “The beavers started moving upstream from there and making dams and they flooded a huge area,” Patla said.

Previously the habitat in the area consisted of “ancient” beaver ponds that had dried out and wasn’t great amphibian habitat.

 After the beavers recolonized, “all four species were present and toads suddenly appeared for the first time,” Patla said. “Adults laid their eggs and rapidly colonized that area.

Whoa! You’re kidding me! You mean the actions of the “water-savers” actually benefited multiple species of “water-users”? That must come as a real surprise, since I’m sure you were taught in school that beavers were icky. And in California we’ve killed them for destroying frog habitat by “ruining vernal ponds.” And if you doubt it you should reread my column about it from 2012, back when I used to write fairly clever things.

Honestly I thought the ship of “Beavers help frogs” had sailed and was already in the general lexicon. But I forgot the need to repeat research to prove that results apply regionally. No word yet on when they’ll be releasing the papers on “Gravity still applies in Wyoming” or “Researchers confirm water tends to flow down hill in Jackson Hole, too.”


I shouldn’t complain. USDA, USFS, USGS all in one day proclaiming beaver benefits. That’s got to be some kind of acronym milestone. I sure wish their was a department of Beaver Benefits. Maybe USBB?

Here’s some eye candy to start the weekend right. First kit filmed in the Scottish Beaver Trials this year.

Video: rare footage of Scots beaver released



Remember beavers in Urban Planning?

Posted by heidi08 On July - 16 - 2015Comments Off

What a great day yesterday! It started out by picking up a fantastic gift bag donation from Trader Joe’s (Thanks TJ), organizing the amazing donations from Folkmanis puppets (Thanks Elaine), getting two copies of the unbelievably exciting book DAM BUILDERS from the publisher(Thanks Natasha), sending the finished festival brochure to the printers, (thanks Amelia!) and finishing a spread sheet for a stunning 134 auction items! Here’s a little taste.

Then retired librarian friend BK from Georgia sent this my way, and it made everything even brighter. This is such a beautiful review from I’m going to print it all. And if they want to come get me I’ll take the consequences.Capture

Wildlife in built-up areas an undervalued part of our urban ecosystems

Urban wildlife such as deer, foxes and badgers should be cherished for the ecological benefits they bring to towns and cities, rather than feared as potentially harmful pests, scientists argue in a new report.

The review, published in the scientific journal Wildlife Research, states that in order for humans and animals to live successfully side-by-side in built-up areas, a cultural shift is required for the public to fully appreciate the integral role that wildlife performs in urban ecosystems.

 Much of the public dialogue about larger urban wildlife currently focuses on the risk of disease, pollution and threat to property or pets, rather than the positive contribution these animals can make.

Lead author Dr Carl Soulsbury, a conservation biologist based in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln, UK, said: “While promoting education about urban wildlife and its risks is important, the benefit wildlife brings to urban areas is often poorly communicated. It includes benefits such as regulating and supporting the ecosystem, through to improving human health and wellbeing.

“We need to identify ways to maximize the benefits, in particular increasing the accessibility of natural green spaces and promoting interactions with wildlife as a form of nature-based therapy. It is only through such an integrative approach that we can advance our understanding of how to live successfully alongside wildlife in an increasingly urbanised world.”

How beautiful is THAT for a beginning?  Wildlife in our cities is a treasure NOT a nuisance, and the problem is that people complain too loudly about the problems and don’t talk about the benefits. I have already written to Dr Soulsbury, because we obviously need to be friends.

 The researchers detail how urban wildlife can provide a range of benefits to human health and quality of life which are often undervalued or overlooked. For instance, there is a growing body of evidence that indicates the presence and viewing of urban wildlife is beneficial for human mental health and psychological wellbeing.

Urban animals also regulate and support the ecosystems of towns and cities. Many creatures serve as important predators of pest species – for example, songbirds help to control insect populations and predatory birds help rodent control.

 But as urban human populations continue to grow, so too does the chance of ‘human-wildlife’ conflict, the researchers warn.

These conflicts occur when the activities of wildlife, whether through aggression, nuisance behaviour such as bin emptying or the spread of parasites or infectious diseases, have a negative effect on humans. Most such problems are minor, but can be distressing to individuals and tend to shape attitudes of the public and authorities.

 Dr Soulsbury added: “The main problem is that many of the benefits of living alongside urban wildlife are difficult to quantify. However, we do know that the presence of wildlife gives people an opportunity to connect directly with nature at a local level. This is becoming particularly important in our increasingly urban society where humans are becoming more remote from the natural environment.

 ”More work is needed to better understand the role of urban wildlife and urban biodiversity in general, in the promotion of mental health and its greater role as a recreational and cultural ecosystem service. To do so wildlife biologists will need to work with other research disciplines including economics, public health, sociology, ethics, psychology and planning.”

 I agree! Hmm can we think of any psychologists we might know interested in co-authoring a research paper on this topic? Maybe one with a yearly access to a sample size of 2000?

I’m in love with this article and think I need the paper to which it refers. None of my usual sources can access it yet, so it might not be available. Here’s the link for the abstract if you’re feeling scientific. All I can say is that maybe Dr. Soulsbury needs to come to Martinez for some field research. I’m thinking August would be the perfect time.

Human–wildlife interactions in urban areas: a review of conflicts, benefits and opportunities CaptureCase in point…


Lets all be more like beavers…

Posted by heidi08 On July - 12 - 2015Comments Off

No new deaths, and Jr. was seen last night. How quickly the standard for good news changes when you are living in a war zone. The dam was worked on too, meaning the beavers themselves are feeling back to normal. I guess we should try and do the same.

These are nice articles to bring us gently back to the land of the living.

North woods entrepreneur: New beaver pond shows the power of the beaver’s creative destruction

To a beaver, the slightest trickle of water is the sound of opportunity. It’s said you can give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. But, I say, give a beaver the barest of brooks and he’ll create a new world.

It’s a process of creative destruction that kills a forest and replaces it with a rich wetland environment that, in its first summer, is already home to at least three broods of mallards and probably more.

It’s a perfect environment for raising young ducks. The pond, which is isolated from any open water source, obviously harbors no giant muskies waiting to inhale a downy little duckling. And the canopy of now-dead alder and aspen offers the young ducks substantial protection from hawks or falcons.

But there was much more at the new pond early one morning this week. Frogs were poking noses from the water, a garter snake was coiled on a sun-splashed rock on the shore, while legions of dragonflies darted around in search of breakfast or a sunny perch of their own.

In the long view, beaver ponds are temporary components on the landscape, even though they can last, at times, for decades. Over time, they change, of course. Our new pond is full of woody cover, but soon enough those dead trees and shrubs will disintegrate and fall below the surface of the dark waters, opening up the pond. The brush will be replaced with true wetland vegetation, like cattails, rushes, or sedges. If they haven’t already, turtles will eventually find their way to this oasis in the forest. I’m curious to watch the transition over the years to come— assuming that the beavers and their progeny continue to maintain the dam.

I love a beaver article that takes the long view on beaver impact. But  Marshall Helmberger stopped short of mentioning the egrets and herons that come to the pond to eat those frogs, and the fish that feast on the dragonfly larvae. Not to mention the mink and otter that come feast on the fish. How about the nutrients that will accumulate in that damp soil and the many plants that will eventually settle in that meadow? I’ll let Dr. Wohl explain:

I never get tired of hearing that clip. That is the best lightening overview on beaver impact I have ever heard. Even better than Enos Mills, and that’s saying something. Ellen donated another book for the auction, this one looks like an excellent summer read.

A combination of travel writing, nature writing, and science writing, Transient Landscapes is a beautiful and thoughtful journey through the natural world.

Now on to my favorite beaver article this season, I have tried to track down the author but had no luck yet. This appeared yesterday in the News Tribune in Washington state. (Of course)

Eager beavers seeking summer fun can rely on these tips from the animal world

Here are five ways your kids can be more like a beaver this summer.

Tip 1: Create your own shelter

Have you ever pitched a tent outdoors, or gathered all the pillows and blankets in your house for an epic pillow fort? It’s amazingly satisfying to put a roof over your own head, even if it’s just for fun. Beavers are known for creating their own homes, called lodges.

Tip 2: Hang out with your family

If you spent the summer by yourself, you’d probably get bored. A beaver would feel the same way. They love to play and socialize with their family members every day. Beavers live in family groups called colonies.

Tip 3: Eat a healthy snack

 Nothing tastes better than fresh veggies found at the local farmers market. North American beavers have diets based on the plants found in their natural range, which includes Canada, the United States and northern Mexico. They love to eat bark, twigs, aquatic plants, and the leaves and roots of deciduous trees.

Tip 4: Go for a swim

What’s the best way to cool off in summer (aside from eating Popsicles all day)? Taking a dip in the pool, of course. Swimming is a refreshing activity for lots of animals and a major part of the beaver lifestyle.

 Tip 5: Help habitats

All living things are connected, and every animal needs a home. Protecting and creating homes for other animals is a great habit to practice every summer (and the rest of the year, too). You can try it yourself by planting trees, building bird houses or bat shelters, or volunteering for habitat restoration projects.

Beavers modify their surroundings quite a bit. In the process of creating lodges, dams and canals, they create rich habitats for other animals. Cutting down trees allows shrubby plants to grow, which are great food for deer and elk in winter. Beaver ponds also attract frogs that are hunted by weasels, raccoons, herons and others. Ducks and geese may build nests on top of beavers’ lodges.

A beaver colony is a good thing for a healthy forest.

I love. Love. LOVE. This article! How it of course PRESUMES that children might want to be like beavers. How it finds ways to educate children about beaver adaptions by pairing them with things they already know. And of course how the last paragraphs emphasize that beavers are GREAT for other animals in the forest.


I don’t know about you but I can see the beginnings of a beaver badge tied in with the festival, in which children show us they have taken beaver action during the season and earn something to acknowledge their role in the colony! Maybe they even get the list of how to be like a beaver at earth day, check the items off and turn it into us at the festival?

Hmm we’d have to add one of course. Teaching others what you know. Beavers do that all the time.

“And one Beaver in his time plays many parts”

Posted by heidi08 On July - 5 - 2015Comments Off

Another fourth of July safely passed. We stayed on sight until 9 and the beavers and kits wisely stayed upstream. Except for Junior who went down to the dam when everyone was on the bridge and demonstrated damming behavior. There must have been 100 separate photos taken of him as people stopped to watch on the way to the fireworks.  We made sure there were signs for the festival which people remarked on and stopped to look at too. The best thing heard were several comments of “Where else can you see beavers on the way to fireworks?”

No where, I think.

Lots of odds and ends to talk about to day, as my in box has been accumulating. Let’s start with the annoying and work up to the inspirational, okay? The first was reported this weekend in the Sacramento Bee. Remind me never to hire a lawyer or doctor that had such a hard time remembering things in school that he used lies like THIS!

Their video study guides aim to keep it sketchy


CaptureTwo video series, dubbed SketchyMedical and SketchyLaw, offer short, animated videos that illustrate biological or legal terms and concepts, using wordplay and nonliteral interpretations of the terms to help students better remember.

 The 11-video SketchyLaw series on criminal law features animated sketches of beavers chewing on bark to represent the various legal scenarios in felony murder; “BARRK” is the acronym commonly used by law students to remember the five felonies that can lead to a murder charge if someone dies in the process. As the animation progresses, Mueller narrates off-camera to explain the terms.

Beaver in trees so you can remember to watch out for murder charges? Call me a cynic. But I think in this world there are two types of brains. Let’s call them “Bowls” and “Colanders “. And if information is draining out of your head as fast as you put it in, you might be great at making spaghetti, but even if tree-climbing rodents can get you out of law school you won’t remember what your clients tell you anyway! Or what color tie the judge hates, or the best way to start oral argument with a mostly female jury. You get the idea. Law and Med school (and graduate school for that matter) are practice arenas. You have to make it there before you hit the big leagues.


Speaking of the big leagues, there’s a new kid on the beaver management block worth talking about. Jakob Shockey attended the State of the Beaver Conference this year, met with Mike Callahan and others, and decided the watershed group he worked with needed a beaver expert. Folks helped raised funds to send him off to Massachusetts to train with Mike which I wrote about here. Now he’s opened his own shop with website here.

Capture Flow Devices

Flow devices can be used in a variety of situations to keep a beaver pond at a certain water level, or to protect a culvert or spillway from damming activity.

These designs essentially trick beaver into believing that their dam is holding water while sneaking it out, either through a caged drainage pipe (pictured) sunk into the middle of the pond or a trapezoidal protective fence.

 Over time, these solutions are far more cost-effective than lethal management of problem beaver, while also retaining the ecosystem services of beaver on the landscape.

 Contact us for more information on a potential solution to your beaver issues.

Welcome to the beaver ‘hood Jakob! It’s wonderful to have another expert on the west coast. We’ll be sure to send lots of folks your way. I already added a link to our blogroll, but let Worth A Dam know if we can help get the word out or maybe with a beaver photo for your cover page. We are happy to assist friends!


Finally, I received this great paper from beaver friend close to home Jeff Baldwin at Sonoma State. In it he writes deftly about his idea of the way beavers shaped the country. It is a fairly intellectual paper, but you will be smarter at the end of it than you were at the beginning. Jeff already proved himself the intellectual heavy weight of the beaver crowd at the conference, where he thoroughly impressed everyone with his careful capacity to scour the literature and report unpopular truths even to a roomful of acolytes. He’s a brave man, and a very, very smart one.

Beaver as Historical Actors: In Theory and Practice

We now know that beaver dams change landscapes and hydrologies in important ways. Like the milldams on the Appalachian Piedmont they trap sediment. In north central Oregon, Pollack et al. found that in their first year beaver dams trapped enough sediment to raise the stream bed an average of 0.47 meters. Though stream bed aggradation slowed to about 0.075 meters (about 3 inches) in the sixth study year, the area of aggradation broadened significantly as sediment was increasingly deposited across the entire riparian area. Typically, given enough time beaver ponds fill in and become swales and then wet meadows.[4]

 Beaver dams essentially spread hydrologic flows across the entire flood plain. The surface of beaver ponds are typically at or near bank-full, meaning that a small increase in flow quickly expands the pond to cover its flood plain. Thus, high stream flows spread nutrients to riparian communities rather than washing them downstream where they have caused hyper-eutrophication and accompanying dead zones. Unlike incised streams whose surface is far below the flood plain and so drain water from the ground below flood plains, beaver ponds charge those soils and aquifers with water. Westbrook et al. explain that typically about one half of the water that flows through a dam-pool system travels through the soil. There it maintains moisture in wide riparian zones long in to dry periods. Typically water re-enters the stream at the temperature of the soil, a cool 54° F (12° C), conditions preferred by many fish species valued by Americans.[5]

Finally, when beaver are present, streams tend to have multiple shallow and shifting channels. For low gradient streams, ‘the model’ that conservationists have been working so hard to emulate bears little resemblance to an ‘un-disturbed stream.’ While one may be impressed with the extent of milldams in Appalachia, that anthropogenic environmental dialectic pales when compared to what beaver did, and still could do, to North American waterscapes. Yet very few historians, environmental historians, or environmental geographers take beaver, and other non-human beings to be historic actors, in and of themselves.

While beaver dams could help mitigate the effects of climate change, they could also help moderate the process. Because ponds are nutrient rich they become eutrophic, and as biota dies and decays anaerobically the ponds and meadows trap the carbon embodied therein. Similarly, the wetland soils around beaver ponds also work to sequester carbon. On a landscape scale, beaver ponds both moderate atmospheric carbon loading, and at local and watershed scales they mitigate increased seasonality. These biospheric relationships would, if allowed, respond in significant, novel, and historical ways to anthropogenic changes to Earth’s atmosphere and climate.[39]

Without the ecology background to inform my reading, I found this paper a little smarter than my brain could process. But I am happy to share it with s better minds than my own. On the most basic level, I am certain that Jeff is right and beavers function as actors on the human landscape and story. I am confident that if we read a little more of Dr. Baldwin we’ll be better equipped for these understandings. Thanks Jeff for your hard work!

Beavers Unlimited

Posted by heidi08 On July - 2 - 2015Comments Off

Just in case you’re not sure I’m telling the truth about four kits, here’s the proof. Junior comes from the left for size comparison. One of the kits is a little meanie. I’m waiting for mom or dad to straighten him out.

We didn’t have to wait long to see all four. Hoping they agree to stay upstream through the fourth.

Now, as promised we can finally return to the fantastic Beaver article from Ducks Unlimited. It’s definitely worth our time.

Understanding Waterfowl: Beaver Ponds and Breeding Ducks – Growing beaver populations have created an abundance of high-quality habitat for waterfowl

“We have mined the northland, not for wheat, not for gold—but for fur. Now the fur seed is gone.”

Those words were spoken in 1938 by Ducks Unlimited Canada’s first general manager, Tom Main. He was relating his ideas about how to resolve the challenges facing waterfowl as DU began its first year of operation. Main and many others believed that beaver ponds were an integral component of the original habitat that once produced sky-darkening flocks of waterfowl. By the time DU started its conservation work, however, nearly all the beavers and the millions of ponds they had created along the continent’s rivers and streams were gone.

 Research has verified that beaver ponds provide important habitat for waterfowl. In a large study conducted by DU in the Clay Belt region of Ontario, the most abundant breeding duck in beaver pond–rich forests was the mallard. Other common breeding ducks on beaver ponds include cavity-nesting wood ducks, hooded mergansers, buffleheads, and common goldeneyes. Beaver ponds also provide breeding habitat for American black ducks, blue- and green-winged teal, American wigeon, and ring-necked ducks.

 Beaver populations have now expanded across the United States. In many areas, especially in the West, beavers are increasingly viewed as key partners in the restoration of diverse plant and animal communities. Beaver ponds provide vital habitat for many species of fish, amphibians, and birds while also conserving threatened water supplies and moderating downstream flooding.

 But what effect do beavers have on continental waterfowl populations? DU and others have long chronicled and fought the loss of wetlands important to waterfowl. Despite all our efforts, the net loss of wetlands has continued and even accelerated on the continent’s most important waterfowl breeding, migration, and wintering areas.

 As natural wetlands have declined, man-made water bodies such as reservoirs, storm-water retention basins, borrow pits, and golf course ponds have increased on the landscape. Many man-made ponds and lakes are of limited value to waterfowl, although they do serve some wetland functions. DU and its conservation partners restore, enhance, and protect high-quality natural wetlands that provide crucial habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife. As nature’s wetland engineers, beavers are in the same business, and they do all the work themselves.

Beavers truly are a partner in wetlands restoration and maintenance, just as Tom Main had hoped they would be over 75 years ago.

High praise from a powerful lobby. I’m sure a lot of us might have mixed feelings about DU. (They want lots and lots of ducks to grow up big and strong so they can go out and shoot them.) But DU has done literally more wetlands restoration than we can imagine. They put their money where their guns are, and as a result they have saved many of the very species they are interested in hunting. They really are conservationists. Not my kind maybe, but conservationists all the same.

And they love beavers because they help them do this work. And that’s a big deal.

Not to hog all the camera time, Rusty sent a wonderful photo this week of an otter truly enjoying all that Tulocay beaver pond has to offer.

close your mouth

Close your mouth when you chew – photo Rusty Cohn

One more film from last night. This was heart-meltingly beautiful. Love mom’s foot in this video. Reminds me of a Degas painting.


Just Desserts for beavers

Posted by heidi08 On July - 1 - 2015Comments Off

There are not one but TWO awesome pieces of beaver news this morning. I’ll start with the pièce de résistance, a phrase which literally means the thing with staying power. Because that’s what this is. Really.

pollockMichael Pollock sent it to me yesterday on it’s glorious release.  He said getting out 1.0 was grueling and he was still seeing typos, but he asked me to give him thoughts about 2.o down the line.  Check out the title photograph for which it credits the Worth A Dam FOUNDATION.  We would have liked Cheryl’s name too but I’m happy we got the website. And this is exactly the kind of place we want our photos to be. Just read for yourself.

Beaver as a Partner in Restoration

More and more, restoration practitioners are using beaver to accomplish stream, wetland, and floodplain restoration. This is happening because, by constructing dams that impound water and retain sediment, beaver substantially alter the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the surrounding river ecosystem, providing benefits to plants, fish, and wildlife. The possible results are many, inclusive of : higher water tables; reconnected and expanded floodplains; more hyporheic exchange; higher summer base flows; expanded wetlands; improved water quality; greater habitat complexity; more diversity and richness in the populations of plants, birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals; and overall increased complexity of the river ecosystem.

It starts with a review of the hydromorphic and geological effects of beaver dams, then talks about filtration, groundwater and biodiversity. Honestly. for the beaver nay-eayers on your list, this is a big dose of science from the heavy weights FWS, NOAA, and USFS. Even if you can read nothing else, take a look at the first chapter because it says literally everything you know to win the next five arguments you have about beavers.

Chapter 1—Effects of Beaver Dams on Physical and Biological Processes

Beaver impoundments change the spatial distribution of water (groundwater, pond, or stream), as well as the timing of its release and residence time in the watershed. Beaver dams impound water in ponds and pools, and these impoundments slow the flow of the stream; this holds the water within the stream reach for longer periods and can increase base flows (reviewed in Pollock et al. 2003). Indeed, some perennial streams transform into intermittent and/or ephemeral streams following the removal of beaver dams (Finley 1937, Wilen et al. 1975).

Conversely, reintroduced beaver have transformed some intermittent streams back to perennial streams (Dalke 1947, Pollock et al. 2003), and recolonizing beaver have transformed slightly losing streams to gaining streams ((Majerova et al. 2015).

Honestly every ecologist and politician needs to read this from cover to cover. It ends with first hand case studies of watersheds where beaver were introduced. And describes the successes they observed. I already told Michael it needs a section on restoration in URBAN streams and he says he lobbied for its inclusion but was denied.Thus far. Another something for version 2.0.

At the end is a list of resources for answering any burning beaver question that might arise. And guess what’s first?


That’s right.  Listed before the established forefathers of Beaver Solutions and BWW, the little upstart crows of beavers from martinez have first place in the queue. Along with the cover placement. We are the Alpha and the Omega of living with beavers. Could there be a better sign that we are doing the right thing? Not for me there couldn’t. (I mean another thousand readers couldn’t hurt, but I’d rather be the GO TO spot when folks have burning questions than anything else.)

Honestly the whole thing is such a useful, instructive, science-based labor of love that it will take me weeks to fully read. I did my best to splash its announcement around the four corners of the internet, but feel free to share with your unpersuaded friend(s) of choice. What a fine ending to June!

I think I’ll leave the DU article for tomorrow. But if you want a sneak peak here it is.

Understanding Waterfowl: Beaver Ponds and Breeding Ducks: Growing beaver populations have created an abundance of high-quality habitat for waterfowl

I sometimes get the feeling that we’re winning.


Victory comes in many forms

Posted by heidi08 On June - 27 - 2015Comments Off

I won’t force you to read this story with a soundtrack, but, (and I can’t stress this enough) you REALLY should.

Mom fights Shoreline School District about beaver and wins

The maintenance crew at Brookside Elementary in Lake Forest Park had a wildlife-removal firm set up traps to catch and kill a beaver at a creek by the school. Then they heard from moms and kids. The traps are gone.

It took less than three days for the Shoreline School District to capitulate to the moms and kids.  The order had gone out to trap a beaver that had arrived at Brookside Elementary in Lake Forest Park.

 On Monday, a sign from a firm called Northwest Nuisance Wildlife Control was placed at the creek bordering the school:


Left unsaid was that the trapped beaver likely would have been killed, with a shot to the head, as the state doesn’t encourage relocation. Relocated beavers have a poor chance of surviving.

 On Wednesday afternoon, the district backtracked with this mass email:

 “The traps are being removed from the area. The District will be researching viable approaches to manage this situation. We appreciate community support and insights we have received this week.”

Ohhh yeah! Martinez knows that victory comes when children carry signs and moms write letters. Hurray for Lake Forest Park and the heroes of Brookside elementary! And one mom in particular:

Meet Jenny Muilenburg, librarian at the University of Washington and mother to kids attending Brookside. On Monday morning, returning from a swim team practice, she saw the sign right across the road from her home. Peering from the edge of the road, she saw the metal traps.

This is how protests begin these days.

You take a smartphone picture of that sign. You post on Facebook. You send out news tips to media outlets.  You email, then have a phone conversation with the Lake Forest Park Stewardship Foundation.

 Its president, Jean Reid, then pays a personal visit Tuesday to City Hall, which is surprised to hear about the traps. Pressure on the school district mounts.

 Muilenburg writes, “Like many schools in the area, the school teaches environmental education, and each year releases salmon into the stream abutting the property … The kids love the beaver …

 “Can someone help us figure out why, when local and state governments and nonprofits and volunteers are all working year-round to improve our waterways and greenspaces to encourage wildlife, that a nondestructive, harmless animal that provides a learning opportunity for children and adults alike must be removed?”

 By Tuesday, neighborhood kids put up signs by the creek: “We love our beaver.” “Save the beaver!”

Joey Eck, 8, decides the beaver’s name is “Billy.”

 Free Willy, Free Billy.

Game. Set. Match.

Someone bring that woman a margarita because she deserves a little treat this weekend. Involving children always makes the difference, and living near the beavers and showing photos to the media doesn’t hurt either! I tracked Jenny down at the university and emailed her a ton of info when the article originally aired. She never wrote back but I’m going to assume it helped.

Now you just might want to click play on that video again for this story. Just sayin’

Two men rescued after Deschutes River beaver attack – Fell in water after climbing onto dam

BEND, Ore. – Exploring along the banks of the Deschutes River is usually a placid, familiar activity for locals and visitors alike. But two men, from Bend and Redmond, ended up seeking rescuers’ help Thursday evening when they climbed to the wrong spot – a beaver dam – got attacked by a protective beaver and fell into the water, authorities said.

The caller told dispatchers that Clayton Mitchell, 23, of Bend, had walked to his property from upriver and said he and his friend, John Bailey, 31, of Redmond, had been attacked by a beaver.

He reported his friend last was seen in the water, trapped amid some submerged logs, said Sgt. Bailey (who the department noted is not related to the Redmond man)

Sgt. Bailey said an investigation found the two men were exploring along the river when they climbed onto a beaver dam when they were “attacked by a beaver protecting his/her dam and both subjects fell into the Deschutes River.”

 “Mitchell was able to immediately climb out of the water, but Bailey was caught on some logs by his clothing,” the sergeant said. “Bailey eventually was able to climb out of the water as the first deputy arrived at the location.”

The story was of course picked up by the AP and is running absolutely everywhere, but no one has managed to explain to me whether the hikers were walking on the dam or the lodge, and what exactly constituted the “attack”. I wish I was hired as an attorney for the defense. Near as I can tell these hikers got scared by the beaver approaching, fell into the water and got poked by some sticks from the dam.

Which, as far as I’m concerned, serves them right. Because I hate when humans walk on the dam.