Archive for the ‘Creative Solutions’ Category

The ultimate one has finally arrived.



Another round of “Blame the beaver” in Massachusetts

Posted by heidi08 On April - 8 - 2014Comments Off

The driveway at 26 Mount Jefferson Road all but washed away after a beaver dam on a small pond nearby let go Sunday afternoon, causing a damaging torrent of water to race down the road. (T&G Staff/CHRISTINE PETERSON)

Breached beaver dam closes Mount Jefferson Road in Hubbardston

HUBBARDSTON — The breach of a beaver dam Sunday along Mount Jefferson Road wasn’t bad, unless you live in Marjorie Filleul’s house at No. 26.  “The water came from the street into our front yard. It ruined our driveway and made a couple of ponds in the back,” Ms. Filleul said. Some of the water ended up in her basement, as well.

 The flooding closed the road as crews worked to plow away the rocks and debris that landed there, she said.  Photographs from the scene show damage to the roadway and swaths cut across yards by the rush of water.

Never mind that there was about 5 inches of rain last month in Hubbardston and more in April. It’s gotta be the beaver’s fault because who else can you blame? At least there WAS a beaver dam in beaver-challenged Massachusetts. People who let it stay near or on their property. Although that might not happen again, after this story.

Because driveways never flood without beavers.

A nice article on identifying active beaver lodges after snowmelt from naturalist Mary Holland. Of course it’s absolutely no use at all in Martinez, but you’ll enjoy it anyway.

Beaver ponds have finally started to melt, making it easy to determine whether or not there have been beavers living in any existing lodges over the winter. The tell-tale sign is floating de-barked sticks and branches. During the winter, beavers leave their lodge and swim out to their underwater food supply pile and haul branches back into the lodge where they chew them into foot-long pieces for easy handling. The bark is removed and eaten as the beaver holds the stick and turns it, much as we consume corn on the cob. When little or no bark remains, the stick is discarded out in the open water. These sticks remain hidden underneath the ice on the surface of the water until warm weather arrives and the ice begins to melt. At this point the sticks and branches become visible, and often extend several feet out from the lodge. These sticks will not go to waste, but will be used for dam and lodge repairs. (Photo taken standing on lodge.)

Nice tip, Mary! I will make sure our sierra beaver friends see it. Mary has the brilliant attention to detail and observation skills that has turned into a very successful website and several well-respected books. I am always thrilled to see what she has written and photographed.

Still, our beaver friend and photographer Ann Siegal and myself both had the same reaction about the last line. “Ack! Don’t Stand on The Lodge!” we both said instinctively when we read that. Maybe because we’re used to beavers in more urban areas where there are many more curious feet to worry about. Or maybe we’re just beaver-centric. I admit, I’ve seen footage of bears, cougars, beavers and other heavy things standing on the lodge and not falling through. But she saw a high school student fall through one! Why risk it? Just imagine if baby beavers were sleeping inside and you crushed them!

When I went to her site I saw that she just published a children’s book on beavers so of course you know what I did.

CaptureAlong a stream a dam pops out of the water. Beavers are busy at work! These aquatic mammals have unique traits that aid them in building the perfect lodge to raise young beavers and keep predators away. Mary Holland’s vibrant photographs document the beavers’ activities through the course of a year. Do these beavers ever take a break? Follow along as they pop through the winter ice to begin the busy year of eating bark, building dams and gathering food just in time for winter to come again.

Someone get me a cup of tea and a cozy chair, I know just what I’m doing for the next half hour! Mary kindly wrote me back that same day:

What a great event and poster you have, for such a worthy cause! I have forwarded your email to my publisher and asked if they would send you a copy of THE BEAVERS’ BUSY YEAR. If they don’t, I will – I’ve asked them to let me know, but if you don’t hear from them within a week or so, would you let me know and I’ll put a copy in the mail to you. Congratulations on the success of your project! Mary

 Thanks Mary! The publisher wrote me this morning and is sending a copy forthwith. If you can’t wait for summer to get your own, go here to support her lovely work. Mary lives in Vermont, the same state as Skip Lisle who installed our flow device, which we are not at all surprised about. The same state as many good beaver articles. Let’s hope we get another lodge some day to be careful of, and just remember that it never hurts to ask…


International Beaver Day – From NY to AZ

Posted by heidi08 On April - 7 - 2014Comments Off

International Beaver Day

From Beavers:Wetlands and Wildlife

April 7 was chosen as International #BeaverDay because it is the birthday of pioneering naturalist and wildlife advocate Dorothy Richards. She was born on this day in 1894 in Little Falls, NY and founded Beaversprite Sanctuary just upstream near Dolgeville, NY. She lived well into her 90s, and she would have turned 120 this year. You can order a copy of her inspiring autobiography, “Beaversprite: My Years Building an Animal Sanctuary,” from BWW’s website.

Nice! A great day to  remember Dorothy and the good  work beavers do. Of course, when I see reminders of beaver day I honestly think to myself, “Just a day?” Our beavers celebrated Beaver day by not showing up last night OR this morning. I’m sure there are many, many cast parties for them to attend, but a little visit would have been polite.

It was rumored into my ear that the trailer for the beaver believers movie would be released today. Sadly, there is nothing so far. I imagine Sarah on the floor in her film closet with a pencil behind her ear buried  in Final Cut making last minute changes. Maybe later today? Until then enjoy this lovely film from Arizona of Walt Andersen from Prescott University. I think Walt needs to be a Worth A Dam friend very soon.

BS With Highest Honors, Wildlife Biology, Washington State University, 1968
MS, Wildlife Biology, University of Arizona, 1974
PhD Candidate, Resource Ecology, University of Michigan, 1976 (all but dissertation)
Walt is an expert in field identification of plants and animals, in teaching ecological concepts and natural history, and in group dynamics. He has written manuals for tour guides and safari guides for clients. He co-founded the West Butte Sanctuary Company and founded the Sutter Buttes Naturalists, which evolved into the Middle Mountain Foundation in the Sutter Buttes of California. He was one of the pioneers of ecotourism in the US and internationally (led first US ecotourism trip to national parks of Brazil, first trip to Madagascar for major donors of the World Wildlife Fund, etc.). He also has experience with publishing and is a compulsive and detail-oriented editor. In addition, he is a wildlife painter and illustrator and has published hundreds of photographs in many places. He loves using his images and words to interpret nature for audiences of any size.

Beaver Paths

Posted by heidi08 On April - 3 - 2014Comments Off

This morning there’s a collection of beaver news on the horizon. The first comes from CSU which reminds us that wolves aren’t the single magic bullet in Yellowstone.

New study shows Yellowstone’s ecosystem dynamics more complex than previously understood

Since their reintroduction in Yellowstone National Park, wolves have been heralded as the controversial savior of Yellowstone’s ecosystem. However, new research by ecologists at Colorado State University’s Warner College of Natural Resources proves that many diverse variables must be taken into account to fully understand how ecosystems respond to changes in food web structures.

 This research, funded by the National Science Foundation, was a large-scale study that extended across the entire northern range of Yellowstone. The study was a follow-up to more than a decade of research by CSU scientists in Yellowstone, including a 2013 paper that concluded beaver dams’ impact on water levels were equally responsible for vegetation health as herbivore browsing increases caused by the removal of wolves.

 I don’t wanna say I told you so, but…

A nice column and an amazing photo from Simon Jackson at Ghostbear photography, who writes (apparently reluctantly?) about an exciting close encounter of the beaver kind. He’s a wildlife photographer whose life will only improve when he spends more time with beavers!

 Never get between a beaver and its tree

The rotund, lumberjack beaver, apparently, had a predetermined route for his tree branch and was not going to take the long route to the pond, just because some inconsiderate photographer was blocking the path. The beaver was, no doubt, going to wait me out.

Apparently, a beaver must go where a beaver must go. And if you block its passage, it’ll just wait you out, treating you like the person double parked on a busy street during rush hour. Never say you weren’t warned.

Nice! Simon you say this is your last post about beavers, but I hope you’ve been bitten by the beaver bug and will visit again soon. Maybe in time for the new kits to emerge? It will be a wonderland.

Cheryl just pointed out something I missed! This beaver is a nursing female! That means where ever in Canada this was taken they have kits on the scene. No wonder mom was making a beeline!



Alberta and Saskatchewan have at least two of the smartest beaver researchers in the world, massive collective beaver intelligence, and easily the most beaver-dissertations generated anywhere. Still they hate beavers with a fiery passion. I’m not sure why. Maybe there was a nasty voyageur incident in their past. But Dr. Hood can prove that beavers dams are the only areas that have water during drought, Dr. Westbrook can prove that beaver dams are the only areas that don’t flood in heavy storms, and a student can film beavers tap dancing to the hallelujah chorus, and it doesn’t matter. Alberta and Saskatchewan still hate beavers.

 Look to the beaver for flood prevention

When the rain hit Kananaskis Country, Alta., last June, unleashing a torrent of water and flooding dozens of communities, it washed out a large beaver dam being monitored down in the valley.

 But several others remained intact and even stored water.

 ”For the majority of the event, we actually had a lot of storage in the system,” said Cherie Westbrook, an associate professor in wetland ecohydrology at the University of Saskatchewan who’s been studying beavers in the Sibbald area of Kananaskis since 2006. “There was actually quite a lot of ability to retain the flood waters and slow them down as they were moving down the valley bottom.”

 Her team, including some university students, ended up getting trapped in the field when the deluge hit. But they learned a lot about how beavers could help in a flood.

 ”Beaver ponds were pretty empty prior to the event happening,” Westbrook said. “The larger one, the one most downstream, became overwhelmed with water and it ended up blowing a 10-metre section of it out so we had some flooding, but not massive flooding.” Flooding was much worse in other southern Alberta areas, making the 2013 event the worst natural disaster in Canadian history.

 Oh my goodness, the area  has been the site of research that proves beavers mitigate flooding AND drought. Hmm, the two things that we know will happen as our climate changes. I wonder if they’ll start to look at beaver differently – this multipurpose solution with paws. Will there be “Come to beavers” meeting soon?

Don’t hold your breath.

As the Alberta government looks at ways to mitigate against future floods, focusing on infrastructure such as diversion canals and dry dams, scientists suggest the province should also consider nature’s top engineer: the beaver.

 But Nikki Booth, a spokeswoman for Alberta Environment, says the province isn’t considering any natural solutions.

 ”We’ve been focused on flood mitigation through infrastructure,” she said. “The nature piece and beavers specifically have not come up.”

No No No, says the minister of the environment. We don’t need beavers. We need bigger drains! Wider gutters! More concrete! Beavers are icky.

I’m starting to think we don’t need any more scientists or research to prove that beavers are good for water or salmon or birds. It’s been done. Well done. Stick-a-fork-in-it done. What we need is more ‘convincers’. People who can change minds one argument at a time, neighbor by neighbor by neighbor, fisherman by fisherman, one service club after another.

What we need is  a million Worth A Dams.

Three restoration

Let’s not do it the easy way!

Posted by heidi08 On March - 27 - 2014Comments Off

Sacramento County approves plan to restore channel to natural creek state

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

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

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

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

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

Cover VII

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

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

straight train


Report from the Beaver Patrol

Posted by heidi08 On March - 17 - 2014Comments Off

Remember the story out of Juneau about a beaver patrol protecting Dredge creek and worrying because the beaver dams were ripped out? Well, it turns out a member of that patrol (Patricia O’brien) is a friend of the beaver management group on facebook and she sent us this:Capture1


Dredge Creek runs through a U.S. Forest Service recreation area adjacent to a residential neighborhood. The creek heads near the Mendenhall Glacier Visitors’ Center. From its headwaters to Dredge Lake is only about one mile. Downstream from Dredge Lake it runs only about a third of a mile before emptying into a small holding pond before joining the Mendenhall River. Dredge Creek features coho salmon, Dolly Varden char, and cutthroat trout.
Beaver dams exist throughout Dredge Creek’s length. However, those dams have the potential for flooding trails. Below Dredge Lake, major trails are near the creek and the elevation of the trails is only slightly higherthan the creek. This area is heavily used by hikers, and dog walkers. Above Dredge Lake much of the terrain is rugged, and the area sees fewer hikers.
For about five years the U.S. Forest Service has agreed to allow a volunteer group (the Beaver Patrol) to work inthe recreation area. Additionally, a Boy Scout Weblos troop works with the Beaver Patrol, and the troop does most of the work in the creek above Dredge Lake. Except for months when ice limits beaver activity, the Beaver Patrol works in the area twice each week, and sometimes more. A goal of this partnership is to manage water levels to minimize trail flooding, while maintaining much of the habitat provided by the beavers. The Beaver Patrol has built; and maintained devices; to control water levels, even if beavers continue to add material to their dams. Where fish migration is encouraged, those devices are designed to allow fish to pass.

Excellent resource from Chuck! Thanks for putting this together. Every part of this is worth reading, but I especially liked this.

Obstructions to Migration

The first reaction for many viewing salmon in a stream with beavers is that the dams must be blocking salmon migration. Yet salmon have spawned upstream from several beaver dams in many watersheds for thousands of years. Often salmon may be seen mingling below a beaver dam until after a rain raises a stream’s level. One article commented that coho had no problem getting past beaver dams that were as high as two meters.Other articles observed no problems with coho getting past beaver dams. Steep steam banks allow beavers to build a much higher dam. Intuitively, it seems shallow water immediately downstream would make it more difficult for coho to jump over a beaver dam. Deeper water below an obstruction should enable coho to more easily jump over it. The higher the obstruction the deeper the takeoff pool should be. While the studies reviewed for this article did not cover this topic, the Beaver Patrol routinely clears material that would reduce the depth of areas below obstructions in Dredge Creek.

And what are their conclusions about beavers and salmon?

Pools created by beaver dams provide tailout areas preferred by coho for spawning. Since the Beaver Patrolclears impediments to fish passage twice each week when Dredge Creek in not frozen, it is unlikely that
spawning habitat will be a limiting factor to coho populations in Dredge Creek unless:
-people destroy redds after coho spawn
- construction causes sediment cover or otherwise degrade potential spawning habitat, or
- pollution degrades water quality.
Beaver ponds add summer coho rearing habitat in Dredge Creek. At least as important, by increasing water temperature and slowing stream velocity, beaver dams improve the winter survival of coho salmon in DredgeCreek.

Oh yeah, I guess that crazy researcher from the rogue agency NOAA has been right for all these years.



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Bonus points this morning: Best. Headline. Ever.

CaptureSay it ain’t so, Mr. Beaver!