Archive for the ‘Creative Solutions’ Category

Anonymous restoration work

Posted by heidi08 On August - 28 - 2015Comments Off

Where cutthroats swim and cattle roam

A watershed restoration project on private and public land near Elko, Nevada, is benefitting threatened Lahontan cutthroat and the cattle of the Heguy family. The Susie Creek project has been highlighted by the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association and the Elko District of the Bureau of Land Management in the first of a series of articles showcasing ranching conservation projects on Lahontan cutthroat trout streams in Nevada

Susie creek. Maybe you’re thinking, “Susie creek, Susie creek…I know that name….” and you’d be right. Because you do. Because it’s the remarkably restored creek filmed in this part of a certain documentary that we all watched last year.

(That initial clip is of susie creek NV being assessed by Suzanne Fouty and Carol Evans.)
Clearly they know what’s saving these trout and the stream. And the author Brent Prettyman is a major beaver benefit reporter from way back, so he knows what’s going on too. But this article definitely hides the beaver light under a bushel.

It’s like everyone is afraid of saying the B-word.

The Heguy family allotment includes 37,000 acres of public land and 13,000 acres of private. Restoration work was done on the entire allotment and included help reseeding native vegetation from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after a wildfire, water developments to draw cattle away from riparian areas and a pasture to manage timing and duration of grazing on the land.

Um okay, you got a lot of money to plant willow and build fences to keep the cows out. Yeah, that is a great start. Then what happened? Did the trout just magically appear? Did it rain trout? Or was there several middle steps. Actors that enriched the soil, increased the invertebrate community, and stored the water over time. HMMM? Speak up, I can’t hear you?

The benefit for the threatened trout is colder water and more of it, as well as critical streamside vegetation. The evaluation showed riparian vegetation in the entire Susie Creek Basin increased by more than 100 acres. There had been no beaver dams in the system and there were 139 when the evaluation was done. More water was visible on the landscape and well monitoring showed an increase in shallow aquifers.

Okay, so we kept out the cows and planted willow and then these fish and beaver dams just started magically appearing! We have no idea why! I mean there just HAPPENED to be 139 beaver dams by the time  the creek was restored? That’s soooooooo random.  What an incredible coincidence.

What a bunch of beaver sissies! They just can’t admit how important a role they played can they?

The most amazing part of this article is that Carol is able to work with this rancher and get him to keep the cows out of the creek and manage to get a grant for it. All the while knowing full well that she can’t say the name of the heroes responsible or she’ll raise hackles. Plus the feds would never fund a BEAVER project!

Carol Evans is a magician, a talented tight-rope walker and I salute her for that. Here’s her additions to this article from her response this morning,

Well, thanks for this. Is it great, but there are a few things I would like to clarify. The Heguy Allotment is at the top of the watershed above the area where beaver have colonized. The majority of the Susie Creek basin is grazed by Maggie Creek Ranch. Cattle were never removed from any portion of the watershed or stream; rather we just work with the ranchers to manage grazing (basically the magic formula is to reduce frequency and duration of hot season grazing over time; the recovery areas are still grazed spring, fall, summer – short duration, etc.). Also, willows were not planted; recovery just happens here when you remove the stressor (too much hot season grazing) and let nature do her thing! This is happening in many places in NE Nevada.

 On another note, myself and several ranchers have been invited to speak on the subject of livestock management=riparian plants=beaver=water (!) at a conference on Restoring the Water Cycle at Tuff’s University in Boston in October. Cool that this important story continues to gain attention!

 As a side note, in the Maggie Basin, where prescriptive grazing has been in place for about 25 years, active beaver dams went from 100 to 270 in four years (from 2006 to 2010)! We have some similar type info in another basin. Remote sensing is a great way to look at all of it. The next step would be to quantify the water storage. Some day . . .

 Thanks for your work in telling the story!

Carol Evans
Fishery Biologist,Tuscarora Field Office
Elko District, BLM
3900 E. Idaho St.
Elko, NV 89801




With friends like these…

Posted by heidi08 On August - 20 - 2015Comments Off

 Humane Society to offer advice on Fargo beaver problem

FARGO (KFGO-AM) — The Fargo Park District will get some advice from the Humane Society of the United States on handling beavers chewing away at trees at city parks along the Red River.

 The park district caused an uproar last spring among animal lovers when it announced plans to hire the USDA to trap and kill the beavers, which have caused thousands of dollars in damage to trees.

 The society’s Dave Pauli says he has been working on similar problems for 30 years and may have some options when he comes to Fargo next week.

He says a solution is “always complicated”

Always complicated? The HUMANE society says that wrapping trees is always complicated? How complicated can it be? You cut the wire and wrap it loosely around the tree and close it up with a bread tie or something. Then you walk to the next tree and repeat the whole process.

Or go to home depot, buy a gallon of paint and a few lbs of mason sand. And throw a pizza party for all the boyscouts in Fargo if they spend half the morning painting trees. It’s not rocket science.

Honestly, maybe this is what progress in North Dakota looks like, but shouldn’t the representative from the HUMANE SOCIETY sound a little more hopeful? “You could try neutering your dog, but that’s pretty hard, and then he won’t have balls.

I think I need to know what Mr. Pauli gets paid, because even in North Dakota they might do better.

I suppose it’s always possible that he was misquoted by some doubting reporter. Maybe he said “It’s never complicated” and they didn’t believe him? Of course the AP picked this story in all the world of beaver news to pick up so I’m seeing it run everywhere including the SF Gate. I guess it’s national news that it’s complicated protecting trees with wire. I’m sure it wasn’t national news when it worked all those times.


Here’s a story to calm us down after all that excitement. It’s a sweet reflection on a half chewed beaver tree. Enjoy.

Radio Diaries: Beaver Tree




Nuts for Scottish Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On August - 17 - 2015Comments Off

Rhona Forrester

CaptureSo ITV is the Un-BBC in the UK with slightly more hip programming. “Nature nuts” stars a famous gay (they say ‘camp’) comedian traipsing about the country looking for and learning about wildlife. In the most recent episode he went to Scotland and visited Bob Smith of the Free Tay Beaver group.  Bob brought him by canoe out to the beavers he’s been following, and the host brought along a camera man from David Attenborough to catch the first signs of the kits.  Here they are discussing strategy. The host is on the stump throne, and Bob is seated with the canoe paddle.Of course I wanted to watch it right away, but the cruelty of nationality forbade me. It’s online there but it tells you you need to be in the UK to partake. Sigh. I knocked desperately on a few doors and begged as heartily as I could and was kindly sent a copy by a fairy godmother who warned me against sharing. I thanked my lucky stars and settled down for the treat. And what a treat! Beautiful photography, fun interactions and a beaver setting to envy. Of course the camerman captured the new kit and of COURSE I wept to see him swimming peacefully along in such pristine habitat. I assume this will be available outside the UK eventually and I will make sure to post it here, because you need to see it!


Rhona Forrester

Some of the folks from the free Tay beaver group turned out for the shoot, you can see Paul Ramsay in the middle there. Everyone was excited by the final episode, which you can see by looking at the Save the Free Beavers of the River Tay facebook page.

The habitat is so different from ours I was gripped with envy I can’t fully describe. A huge traditional lodge of sticks and a hanging forest to forage. No trash or homeless. And a beautiful pond to canoe across and see the beavers from their element.


Rhona Forrester

I’m so proud of what Scotland has accomplished this last decade. They overturned centuries of beaver ignorance and pushed their ecosystem value onto center stage. Both with the formal trial and the informal wild beavers. They generated interest and appreciation for a species that hadn’t been seen since the 1600′s. It has helped beavers not just in the UK but in every country by changing, informing and enriching the ecological conversation.

I’m especially honored to have met Paul and Louise and played a very small part in helping them coordinate support and generate media attention. I just read this morning that Paul is currently working on a book, which I, for one, cannot WAIT to read!  Their beaver work is truly and EPIC TAIL.


Mum & Kit on the Ericht: Bob Beaver-Boy Smith

Cute Beaver Ideas that are not mine…

Posted by heidi08 On August - 9 - 2015Comments Off

I couldn’t help browsing around to see what other fantastic beaver ideas there were in the world. I came across this adorable kickstarter project that is very near its goal. Lucky for us, we still have time to help.

little beaverLittle Beaver Builds a Bed is a short, illustrated children’s book focused on the importance of making things by hand, doing things well, and working together to get the job done. This book will be beautifully hand-illustrated and will be great for kids on an age 3 – 5 reading level. Through the book I hope to connect more kids with the craft of woodworking and introduce them to the value of making things with your hands.

 In this delightful story, you’ll follow Little Beaver as he follows his curiosity about the amazing things his father builds in his woodland shop. Little Beaver will learn a lot about patience, making something from scratch, and will get to build a special project with his Dad.

Gd2de62a3afe8ab80152efcdbf634b424_originalo here to help Katie bring this project to fruition, because we need some copies for our silent auction next year. The children of Martinez have certainly learned something about creating with their hands. These fuzzy little illustrations by Kristen are adorable. They should be prints as well because I bet I know where they would sell nicely.

Meanwhile here’s some fantastic children’s artwork by Caroline Brose, a young artists featured on the Ink and Snow website. I think this needs to be a t-shirt, don’t you?

BroseTrapToon402Big smile for Caroline. Thank you!

I idly thinking how to make our awnings more beaver-y and wondering about whether we might let kids paint our art table awning next year. Since awnings are waterproof it’s a pretty sticky proposition to try and paint one. Look how this artist solved the problem. Jeanette Janson did a beautiful job setting her artwork display apart from all the others at the vintage fair. She’s an artist who got tired of her plain white display canopy used at fairs, etc. So she painted her own.

6a00d8341ddb4253ef01a511aea1f4970c-600wi 6a00d8341ddb4253ef01a73db9d3d0970d-600wi

There were 48 birds by the time she was done and it took her an entire weekend or longer. She ended up with something truly awesome that made her booth completely visible and unique. It was a lot of work. Because if you do the math it’s 40 feet total (10+10+10+10).

But it would be a lot easier with 100 children to help, right?






Detonation of Dams: The De-watering of America

Posted by heidi08 On August - 8 - 2015Comments Off

Every now and then you encounter decisions made by theoretically informed individuals that are so egregious and devoid of common sense, that you just HAVE to write about it. This story about an airforce base in Louisiana fits the bill.

De-watering demolition defends against flooding

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. — Airmen from the 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight detonated explosives under two troublesome beaver dams in the east reservation on Barksdale Air Force Base, July 29.

The process of removing beaver dams is called “de-watering” and is necessary to keep the environment healthy and safe.

 ”Beavers will expand their habitat as far as nature will allow, and they will keep building their dams higher and higher if not stopped,” said Gibson. “By controlling the beaver population, we can help prevent flooding and damage to infrastructure. The flooding also drowns the trees. We lost around 10 acres of trees here because of flooding due to beavers dams.”

That’s right. Even though our tax dollars are paying Michael Pollock to do research proving that beaver dams are good for trout and erosion. They are also paying for soldiers to keep their hand in between military assaults by blowing up beaver dams. To keep the environment healthy. Because nothing is healthier than mud, sticks and fish blasted into the air.

It seems instructive to me that no matter what youtube video you watch of blowing up a beaver dam (and there’s a bushel to chose from, believe me) that the blast is ALWAYS followed by hoots and whoops of excited men.

Blowing up beaver dams is the cialis of watershed management. Boys just LOVE it.

Calling this procedure a technical term like the “De-watering” is particularly annoying. As if this extreme action was really for the good of mankind. It’s like calling the economy collapse of 2009 the ‘de-mortgaging.” Or your health insurance rejection a “De-benefitting”. Or  your company firing you a “De-employment” Just don’t come to FEMA for drought assistance when all your water dries up, okay?

Just because you put a DE in from of it doesn’t mean it’s not a stupid idea.


I have to mention that this time last week we were already exhausted in a good way from the best beaver festival ever. Honestly, it seems like a world away, but the calendar swears it has only been a week. This year we had most of our expenses paid for with grants, so were pleased that we not only held a very well attended event, but also generated funds for the next one. We have only one final item from the silent auction to get to its owner, and everything is organized and put away.

(Mind you, I have a shrink talk to give at the BAR at the end of the month, so I have to start working now and hope I can remember anything at all except beavers when the time comes.)


Beaver Sneeches

Posted by heidi08 On August - 6 - 2015Comments Off

Beavers busy damming Cumberland Land Trust property

TRUST beaver signCUMBERLAND RI – It was just about a year ago when members of the Cumberland Land Trust figured out that flooding on their Atlantic White Cedar Swamp trail wasn’t caused by heavy rains.

This trail off Nate Whipple Highway utilizes a colonial-era cart path along the side of the swamp that crosses a stone culvert thought to have been installed 200-plus years ago.

At first trust members poking around the flood waters last summer simply cleaned out the culvert crammed with mud and twigs.

“Then we came back the same afternoon and it was all plugged up again,” says member Frank Matta. “We thought at first it had been vandalized.”

It was about then that someone suggested beavers. “It hadn’t dawned on us until that moment,” Matta said this week.

Oh those beaver rascals! Plugging the hole you dug in their habitat so that all their precious water didn’t  escape.  You do know that their are answers to this kind of problem, right?

The group has also called in Michael Callahan of Beaver Solutions in South Hampton, Mass. He’s proposing a piping system that will allow drainage through a hole in the dam. The company claims to have resolved more than 1,000 beaver problems in the United States since 1998 by installing flow devices that keep water draining without alerting the beavers. The Cumberland Land Trust is looking at spending about $1,700 for the installation plus a yearly maintenance fee.

Whooohooo! Rhode Island hires Massachusetts! I don’t think we’ve ever had a positive beaver story from there. But here’s a grand example! Remember that RI is an island so the article says that after beavers were trapped out these ones swam through the Atlantic after being reintroduced in Connecticut. Cool.

And I haven’t even shown you my favorite part of the story. Ready?

East Sneech Pond Brook connects the town’s Sneech Pond Reservoir to the swamp then flows east to Pawtucket’s southern reservoir in Arnold Mills.

Sneech pond? Really? Dr. Seuss would be so proud.

And an awesome letter from Ontario in Parry, I’ll reprint here in full.

Not necessary to destroy beavers, reader

I read with interest the article that appeared in the July 20 issue of the Parry Sound North Star regarding the washout on Clear Lake Road. According to the article, the washout was caused after the nearby resident beavers were killed, as evidenced by the photos of a dead adult in the ditch and a drowned young.

As an individual who has had some experience with beavers, who are often labelled “nuisance animals” I feel compelled to write.

Beavers are nature’s engineers. They live peacefully in family groups of an adult pair, their last year’s offspring as well as up to three to four infants born early in the spring. The young learn how to create and maintain a dam by mimicking their parents.

It is an acquired skill and one that is learned by trial and error over time. When one or more adults are trapped, as it appears to have happened in this particular case, the young are not yet at a stage where they can maintain a dam properly.

As a result, the dam becomes unstable and breaks, resulting in a tremendous amount of water being rapidly let loose, causing flooding.

Beavers and the role they play in our ecosystems are widely misunderstood.

They create wetlands (which are rapidly disappearing throughout Ontario); beaver activity creates critical habitat for so many other species including fish, otters, muskrat, herons, osprey, moose, bears, ducks, etc. etc. Beavers contribute to biological diversity and regional plant succession regimes; they control the kinetic energy of streams, raise the water table, create canals and generally increase water storage capacity of watersheds.

Mr. Rob Marshall, Seguin Township public works foreman, claims that they hire a trapper to prevent washouts from “nuisance beavers”; however, it would appear that just the opposite happened on Clear Lake Road. Because the adults were trapped and killed, the dam could not be sustained and consequently broke, causing the washout.

In addition, I was informed that a large culvert intended to assist in road maintenance had lain in the ditch for over a year; had it been installed, when the dam broke, there could possibly have been little or no damage done. Instead, I can only guess at the expense involved in the repair of the road and excavating of the culverts; this is taxpayers’ money spent needlessly.

I visited the property of Diane Dow on whose land the beavers had been living peacefully to see for myself the devastation caused by the breaking of the dam.

The site is where three separate watersheds combine into what had been a very large pond – home to many species of fish and animals.

What I saw was muck; I saw a muskrat desperately swimming in a very tiny pool; I saw a mother duck and her ducklings forced to sit in the open and prey to any predators; I saw dead fish; I saw dead water lilies & other vegetation; I heard herons crying desperately searching for fish in the once-abundant pond. The peeper frogs are gone; the turtles are gone. And of course the entire beaver family is gone, either drowned in the washout or trapped. It was heartbreaking.

Quite apart from the environmental destruction, there is another factor involved in this situation (and probably similar ones within the township and elsewhere). The traps were laid in the ditch along a well-used public road and very near a public beach, often travelled by neighbour children and dogs. What would have happened if one of these had encountered the trap instead of the hapless beaver? And the dead beaver was left to rot for three days over the long weekend in July.

To quote from the website of the Fur Bearer Defenders, “Often these issues result in municipalities hiring trappers to kill families of beavers. And while lethal trapping may seem effective, it is only a short-term solution. More beavers will soon come into the area to fill the open niche. This is an especially tragic decision because there are many cost-effective, non-lethal options to prevent flooding from beaver dams”.

As it happens, representatives from Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary and Muskoka Watershed Council are in the process of organizing a workshop for municipalities regarding successful alternatives to control undesirable flooding that may occur due to beaver activity.

The two groups have invited an expert in this regard to head the workshop. The beaver deceiver, beaver baffler and other easily installed devices have proven successful in many regions of Canada and the United States. Last year, one of the programs appearing on The Nature of Things entitled “The Beaver Whisperer” highlighted the vital role that beavers played in our ecosystem and also demonstrated the devices mentioned.

I would respectfully urge the Seguin Mayor and councillors to seriously consider sending representatives to this workshop so that you, as well as other adjacent municipalities can work on implementing long-term solutions that truly work.

It is not necessary to destroy beavers – Canada’s national symbol – and I sincerely hope that this letter will provide more of an understanding of the vital role that this animal plays locally as well as nationally.

Marilyn Cole, Seguin Township


“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