Archive for the ‘Creative Solutions’ Category

Just when you think you’ve seen it all…

Posted by heidi08 On April - 16 - 2017Comments Off on Just when you think you’ve seen it all…

Time for some new beginnings on this Easter Sunday. Are you sitting down? This article is about Buda, Texas.

City of Buda Takes Innovative Approach To Solve Beaver Problem In Retention Pond

“This innovative approach will protect the wetland, wildlife and the neighborhood,” said Mike Bodenchuk, Texas Wildlife Services Director.

When it comes to the weather in Central Texas, you never know what you’re going to get. One of the biggest threats in our area is torrential flooding.

You’ve probably noticed several rainwater retention ponds throughout the City, or even in your neighborhood.  Although many homeowners view these structures as pleasing aesthetic features that add a touch of nature to their neighborhood, the true function of a retention pond is to hold and distribute rain runoff, which in turn helps prevent flooding. One of these retention ponds is located on Garlic Creek Drive in the Garlic Creek Subdivision. Recently we’ve been faced with a dilemma.

The Garlic Creek Retention Pond has become an attractive home for beavers. The problem? The beavers have built a dam that is blocking the pond drain. This compromises the function of the retention pond to hold and distribute rain runoff, posing a potential flooding threat. So therein lies the dilemma. How do we address this problem and protect the beavers at the same time?  We’re taking an innovative approach.

The City of Buda is partnering with the Texas Cooperative Wildlife Services program to install a beaver-friendly flow control structure in the retention pond.

“What it does is it extends a pipe out to the middle of the retention pond and pulls the water underneath their dam and puts it farther out to where they don’t hear the water trickling anymore, “ said Jennifer Hall,  Buda Animal Control Officer. “By bypassing their actual dam, it causes the beavers not to be able to hear the trickling water.  When they hear the trickling, they pull the dirt and all the debris from underneath. They patch it and that causes the water to rise.”    

The structure is made up of a series of pipes which will extend through the beaver dam. This will allow water to continue to flow through the dam during periods of high water, while maintaining the pond level as designed.

“This innovative approach will protect the wetland, wildlife and the neighborhood,” said Mike Bodenchuk, Texas Wildlife Services Director.

Personnel from the Wildlife Services program and the City will install the structures during the week of April 10th.  The structures have been specifically designed for the Garlic Creek Retention Pond. Wildlife officials say the installation should only take a day.  

“We will evaluate the structures and if they perform as designed, the design may be included in future retention ponds to prevent the risk of floods while maintaining wetland characteristics,” said Bodenchuk. “Because the approach is relatively new, we will also work with wildlife groups to use this as a demonstration site for community coexistence with wildlife.”  

In Buda “Breathe Easy Here” isn’t just a slogan. It’s a way of life. We strive to take a proactive and disciplined approach in our planning process to ensure that Buda’s quality of life, environment, and family-friendly culture are preserved.  

Buda is the fastest growing suberb of Austin and I’m beyond curious how they came to the decision to use this tool. Of course I’m a naturally suspicious person and I had a hard time imagining the head of WS using Mike Callahan’s DVD or watching Adrian Nelson’s webinar, but alert reader Bob Kobres found the news real and I’m pretty impressed with the beaver education component. The funky looking pipes make me nervous but I’m going to hope for the best until we learn otherwise. Meanwhile, congratulations Texas for installing what might be your VERY FIRST flow device.  This is pretty exciting.

CaptureThis week we received a LOVELY donation for the silent auction from our good friend Daniel Dietrich of Pt. Reyes Safari’s. In addition to offering guided treks to wildlife viewers and photographers from all over the world, he makes a living selling some of these fantastic images on metal prints. Daniel knows every nook and cranny of the park and is able to take stunning photographs of every badger, bobcat and bunting to be found. bobcatThe print he gave us is 12 x 18 and as beautiful a use of the autumn color palate that I have seen.
Thanks Daniel!  There are plenty of bobcat fans to bid on this image at the festival. And maybe someday soon we’ll get you some beavers to photograph too.

Now it’s EasteIzzy easter eggr and you deserve this picture of my adorable grand niece Isobel Watt hunting her first ever eggs at the San Mateo Apartment where she lives with her techie father and extra crafty mother. Say thank you.


And they say one person can’t make a difference…

Posted by heidi08 On April - 15 - 2017Comments Off on And they say one person can’t make a difference…

You know sometimes, your hard work gets ignored or something you wrote and really feel proud of gets tossed aside as “grey literature”, or a program you really hoped would say good things advises folks that flow devices never work and they should eat beavers, and you think, maybe this is just too hard. Maybe saving beavers is too much work. Maybe it can’t be done or if it can be, it needs some one better than me to do it. And you think about throwing in the beaver towel once and for all.

And then you see something like THIS and it changes your whole attitude.

Draper homeowners fight to preserve backyard wetlands despite flood risks

DRAPER — Dozens of students from Oakwood Elementary gathered in the backyard of a Draper residence Friday to see a beaver dam that may soon disappear.

Kris and Kelly McAdams are hoping their backyard wetlands ecosystem can stay, despite calls to remove the natural beaver dams behind their home. While the McAdams see the wetlands as a beautiful feature that adds value to their property, Salt Lake County Flood Control officials are concerned that a failed beaver dam could clog man-made drainage downstream.

 The McAdamses received notice from flood control engineers on Christmas Eve, asking them to remove an “unauthorized deposit of materials,” the beaver dams that they say have been around for years.

“They say the beaver dams are unstable structures, although these have been here for at least 20 years and they have withstood hundreds of high-water events over that time,” Kelly McAdams said. “The dams are well-built here and rather than removing them, they could fortify them, and I suggested putting in a grate system downstream.”

Despite his assertions, county flood control officials worry that debris from the dams could flow down Willow Creek, clog a culvert and cause flooding to nearby homes.

Alyson Heyrend, communications director for Mayor Ben McAdams, said Salt Lake County’s Flood Control authorities have the responsibility of keeping streams and channels clear of any obstructions.

She said a compromise was offered to the property owners near the dams to support the wetland features while removing the dams, but Kris and Kelly McAdams have maintained their opposition to the removal.

They have appealed the notice to remove the dams and have rejected the compromise offer, taking their case before an administrative law judge, who will rule in early May on whether the beaver dams will be removed.

Rep. Carol Spackman-Moss, D-Holladay, also arrived to lend her support to the property owners.

The county needs to look at the bigger picture, and see the effect that it would have on the wetlands,” Spackman-Moss said. “For these students to come out here and see what they have been studying and get a sense of the damage it would do and how this would all disappear, they would lose something so valuable.”Confe

Spackman-Moss said the county would need to address the issue, and said council members for Salt Lake County ought to come see the property for themselves as they address property and public issues.

Confession coming: either tears of joy are streaming down my face or I just climaxed twice. (Or possibly both). Oh my goodness! This is POWERFUL stuff. Spackman-Moss is a democrat from the 37th district, life long teacher and grandmother. And the class full of fourth graders are FOURTH graders who wrote save the beavers on their hats!

I need to sit down.

In my conversation with Kelly on Saturday I had lots of praise for what he was doing. And two learned-the-hard-way pieces of advice. Have his attorney talk to Mitch, and BRING CHILDREN. “We didn’t know it would be so powerful” I told him truthfully. But it always is. Kelly’s a father with grown sons. But I told him to find some youth. Boy scouts, kindergarten, daisy princesses, and have Allison work with them to draw pictures, make hats, what ever activity that looks cute enough for the media to take photos of.

And guess what?

Kelly you are doing an awesome, awesome job.  I’m so impressed with your ability to pull this together, not get intimidated or overwhelmed and still seem so very reasonable. You are a credit to your state and a true kindred spirit of Martinez. I would only offer one criticism at all, and that is that last Earth day OUR hats were a little cuter. :-)



Oh and for those who might be interested I sent these comments and corrections to the edible beaver program Outside/In yesterday. Felt good to get it off my chest and even if it changes no one’s mind, I dare say someone will definitely read it anyway.

“Beavers are the cure we don’t want to take.”

Posted by heidi08 On April - 8 - 2017Comments Off on “Beavers are the cure we don’t want to take.”

You’ve heard of a red letter day? Well yesterday was a red-beaver day. Here at beaver central we are good at picking up trends and regional changes. We’re usually at the front of the line when it comes to hearing good news. But I’ll be honest, I never expected this.

Draper Fight Centers On Beaver Dams, Wetlands, Flood Control

Two, small beaver dams lie at the heart of a quarrel in Draper. County flood officials are ordering residents to take them down. But the homeowners say the dams protect the wildlife and value of their homes.

Kelly McAdams says the notice of violation letter came on Christmas Eve.

“Inspection by Salt Lake County Flood Control,” he says, reading from the letter, “has indicated that fallen tree limbs and debris have been deposited in the form of a beaver dam into Big Willow Creek, a county-wide drainage facility, without authorization.”

Next month, McAdams goes before an administrative law judge and expects to lose, considering beavers and wetlands have no standing in county law. But he and his wife are set on preserving this patch of habitat for the beavers and all the other creatures that rely on this wetland wonderland.

CaptureMake sure you listen to the story which made NPR this morning and sign the petition, then check out SLTribune.

Leave it to beaver? No way, says Salt Lake County

Draper • Big Willow Creek bends and meanders behind Kelly McAdams’ Draper home and her backyard steps down into an urban wildlife preserve.

Thanks to a string of beaver dams, the creek pools into wetlands teaming with life. Ducks and geese nest on the banks lined with cattails; herons and pelicans visit to dine on the 18-inch carp and catfish. Neighborhood kids also fish the ponds.

But where McAdams, his wife, Kris Burns, and neighbors on Dunning Court see an ecological sanctuary, Salt Lake County sees “unauthorized modifications to a countywide drainage facility.”

The county Division of Flood Control has ordered them to remove the dams or face a $25-a-day fine, even though federal wildlife officials say these dams enhance the water quality, hydraulics and riparian habitat

The waterways and channels need to be clear and run and serve their purposes. There is a balancing act,” Graham said. “The county has demonstrated many times it balances wildlife habitat on creeks and waterways as they run through the city.”

Graham has overruled McAdams’ appeal, which is slated to go before an administrative law judge on April 26.

Because my life is just like that I had already heard about this case from the real estate agent representing them who contacted me on April 1 looking for supportive letters to the court on the issue of beavers, water storage, and biodiversity. I put out the usual appeal for help to our beaver friends in Utah but with this new flurry of news I heard this morning from Mary Obrien who is on it. Joe Wheaton is in Europe but I’m hoping he can contribute or at least assign a student to do so. I also heard from our retired attorney friend who won the famous Lake Skinner Beaver case at the appellate level that he would be happy to talk to them and has some ideas to pursue.

“You have all these ecosystem services that keep the entire stream corridor functioning as it should,” said Jones, with the Wild Utah Project. “Many other municipalities across the county are starting to allow beavers back to perform this critical engineering service.”

Meanwhile I know Worth A Dam will write something and mention how a Contra Costa County Flood Control Specialist was on our beaver subcommittee and approved the flow device that controlled flooding and washouts for nearly a decade. I have personally contacted everyone I can think of that might help ‘circle the wagons’ in this case, but more is always needed. If you  want to help, email me and I’ll give you contact info.  The entire Tribune article is excellent and even talks about flow devices but y requires a little persistent to get past their subscriber wall.

Meanwhile, completely independently but not unrelated, I heard from Michael Pollock yesterday about this prayer-answering article from the unlookedfor source of BeefProducer newsletter. No seriously. It is beautifully written by Editor Alan Newport and he starts out with one of the VERY best lines I’ve ever read. Send this article to every old curmudgeon you know who won’t listen to reason.

In defense of beavers

 To reverse streambed erosion the hated beaver is the most likely candidate.

Beavers are the cure we don’t want to take.

No matter how much we improve our grazing, no matter how many water-control structures we build, our streams and other watercourses will cut deeper and deeper into the landscape, robbing us of soil and drying out our pastures and fields.

It took me many years of study and observation to come to this point in my thinking, but today there is no longer any question in my mind. Read on and you’ll learn why I say so.

I’m almost 60 years old and throughout those years I’ve watched the streams cut deeper and deeper into the soil near my home. On my uncle and aunt’s farm, the little rocky crossing we walked across and drove tractors across and rode horses across without a thought disappeared years ago into a gulch. The entire creek today is much deeper than it was, and so is every other creek, stream and wash I know of.

So the question, I reasoned, was what process had previously stopped this from being a natural course of events that outpaced the normal upturn of new soil through movement of the earth’s crust?

In North America, the only answer I‘ve ever found was … beavers! They once lived by the millions in every state in the union, and new evidence says their homeland stretched across much of Mexico and into the arctic tundra of Canada. I have more recently learned beavers also were common across Europe and Asia.

With all this in our knowledge base now, it seems if beavers were the agent of change and good in streams for hundreds of thousands of years before we arrived, then they could be and should be again. They work day and night, like the cow, without us lifting a finger.

I understand that beavers are a pain in the neck, but so is erosion and droughty land.

 I have no particular love for beavers, but I do love the land and God’s creation. It’s my understanding we are to be stewards in His image. So here I stand, saying kind things about one of the most hated creatures in the world of agriculture.

Go read the whole article. And then read it again. It’s really well written and contains an impressive amount of research. It’s even more impressive when you realize that Alan is the editor of BeefProducer and lives in Oklahoma.  Meanwhile I’m going to be busy thinking up a graphic for that AWESOME first line and writing my amicus brief to the court in Utah.