Archive for the ‘Creative Solutions’ Category

You will Thoreau-ly enjoy this story, I’m sure!

Posted by heidi08 On July - 22 - 2016Comments Off on You will Thoreau-ly enjoy this story, I’m sure!

Yesterday was puppet day, and we got a lovely load of wildlife puppets from generous Folkmanis for the silent auction. Also the brochures are back from the printer and look lovely. We saved some money by trying out a new printer and are pretty happy with the results. Now there’s more good news, this time from Mike Callahan and Thoreau!

It’s nature vs. Thoreau at Fairyland Pond in Concord

There weren’t many beavers around back in Henry David Thoreau’s day. To the dismay of the great naturalist, though society proclaimed admiration for these brilliant and industrious creatures, beavers had been all but exterminated locally, for their luxurious pelts.

But bAR-160729572.jpg&MaxW=650eavers are back in Concord now, and their wonderful intelligence has put one specific beaver in direct conflict with Thoreau himself, or at least, with one of Henry David’s favorite spots.

hdtThe problem is, the stream being dammed is fed by Brister’s Spring, which is really just a trickle of water seeping out of the rocks of Brister’s Hill (part of Walden Woods. Some of that water, it is believed, originally seeped into the rocks from nearby Walden Pond itself.) The spring creates a little wetland and tiny stream that runs a few hundred yards and through a pipe under a trail in the town forest and then into the Fairyland Pond. The beaver built its dam just as the stream enters the pond, so when the water backs up, and it has already started to, it will flood the trail, the wetland, and Brister’s Spring. Anybody who’s walked around Fairyland Pond in the past few weeks knows that the trail is already flooded. The wetland and Brister’s Spring are next.

Luckily they are on good terms with Mike Callahan who’s coming out to help them meet this particular beaver challenge.

EP-160729572.jpg&MaxW=650&MaxH=650The third option is, fortunately, what the town’s Natural Resources Department is considering; running a narrow pipe at the bottom of the stream, entirely underwater, and literally through a hole drilled in the base of the beaver dam, so the water flows from the Brister’s Spring through the wetland, into the pipe at the bottom of the stream, through the dam, and finally into Fairyland Pond, without making any noise. That’s the key. The diverter lets the water flow through the underwater pipe silently. The noise of rushing water is like a “BUILD DAM HERE!” sign to beavers. It’s what attracts them in the first place.

That proposal comes from Mike Callahan of Beaver Solutions, Inc., who has helped Concord (and communities throughout southern New England) humanely resolve beaver/human conflicts for years. He built the diversion system at the open end of Fairyland Pond, where it drains, when another beaver started to dam that a few years ago, and has also installed “beaver deceivers” at Punkatasset Pond.

“I love doing this work,” Callahan said. “It’s humane. It allows the animal stay around, at least until its food supply runs out, and it preserves a lot of the beneficial aspects of their work for the environment.”

Fantastic! We here at beaver LOVE to read stories like this! Congratulations to Mike for using his good work to win over the local DNR, and congratulations to that young beaver who as crafted an expert pond in historic real estate. I’m sure Mr. Thoreau would be impressed! (But white pants to fix a beaver mud problem? Really?)

Speaking of impressed, I received a note from the Coyote Brush Visitors wednesday who stayed a little while after we left and happened to film this. Two beavers. Mom in the foreground and littler Dad on the right. Together again apparently!

A Present for Rusty

Posted by heidi08 On July - 14 - 2016Comments Off on A Present for Rusty

I never thought I’d ever really appreciate the noisy art of chainsaw carving. Clearly I was wrong.

The evolution of a beaver

Mr. “Rusty” Beaver was raised in a 12-metre (40-foot) spruce tree on a quiet residential street in the Canadian prairie town of Beausejour, Manitoba. After 78 years of slow growth in sandy soil, his journey west began when the lives of his mom, sisters and brothers came to an abrupt end in favour of a new residential development.

Fortunately for Mr. Beaver, he was rescued by Beausejour resident Russ Kubara, retired school teacher and chainsaw carver extraordinaire. Then it all came together. A new roof on Ron’s house decommissioned the flagpole that launched off the eave and a date for a road trip to Russ’s new home in Beausejour was confirmed.

Day after day, the 180-kilogram (400-pound) log was whittleCaptured down to a manageable 90 kgs (200 pounds). A large hole was bored through from top to bottom and an eight-metre (25-foot) flag pole already waiting with the Canadian flag mounted was inserted.

It was so fitting – Canada’s mascot at work chewing a tree at the base of the Canadian flag.

Ron thoroughly enjoyed seeing Mr. Beaver come into existence as he emerged from the spruce log formerly laying prone in Russ’ back yard. He is now securely fastened to a buried concrete base in his new home at the front of Ron and Lynne Kubara’s house in Surrey.

Mr. Beaver now has been christened Rusty – named for his creator.

You can’t imagine how longingly I’m looking at my front yard waiting for a beaver flag pole holder to appear! We of course need two: (one American one British). The creative process and repurposing is very impressive. And to think that lucky beaver is named for our own Napa photographer extraordinaire obviously! He sent this last night as a demonstration of beavers creating habitat for turtles.


Turtle and Beaver: Rusty Cohn


My buddy at NCHEMS helped with a  very odd request yesterday. This is a map of all the places in California that issued ZERO depredation permits last year. We can infer what that means, right? California is missing a lot of beavers.

no permits 2016But I of course saved the REAL news for last. Guess who was cheerfully swimming around Ward Street today enjoying that felled willow? Two lovely beavers as comfortable in that big pool as you please.

The habitat is so rich up there my lens apparently got distracted by a moth, but never mind. We know who that was.

There was no activity at all at the old dam, where we started the morning at 5. Does that mean they moved? Does that mean their vacationing? Does that mean they’ll build a dam at Ward Street when the rains start? I can honestly say, after a decade of beaver watching, and dedicated study that I have absolutely no idea.

Stay tuned and we’ll see.


Guess what’s good for steelhead?

Posted by heidi08 On July - 9 - 2016Comments Off on Guess what’s good for steelhead?

beaver phys

Dam good! Beavers may restore imperiled streams, fish population

Utah State University scientists report a watershed-scale experiment in highly degraded streams within Oregon’s John Day Basin demonstrates building beaver dam analogs allows beavers to increase their dam building activities, which benefits a threatened population of steelhead trout.

Bouwes is lead author of a paper published July 4, 2016, in the journal Nature’s online, open access Scientific Reports that details the seven-year experiment conducted in streams within north central Oregon’s Bridge Creek Watershed. Contributing authors are Bouwes’ USU colleagues Carl Saunders and Joe Wheaton, along with Nicholas Weber of Eco Logical Research, Chris Jordan and Michael Pollock of NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, Ian Tattam of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Carol Volk of Washington’s South Fork Research, Inc.

When Lewis and Clark made their way through the Pacific Northwest in the early 19th century, the area’s streams teemed with steelhead and beaver. But subsequent human activities, including harvesting beaver to near extirpation, led to widespread degradation of .

Bouwes says these activities may have also exacerbated stream channel incision, meaning a rapid down-cutting of stream beds, which disconnects a channel from its floodplain and near-stream vegetation from the water table. He notes beavers build dams in the incised trenches, but because of the lack of large, woody material, their dams typically fail within a year.

“Our goal was to encourage beaver to build on stable structures that would increase dam life spans, capture sediment, raise the stream and reconnect the stream to its floodplain,” Bouwes says. “We expected this would result in both an increase in near-stream vegetation and better fish habitat.”

What really impressed us was how quickly the stream bed built up behind the dams and how water was spilling onto the floodplain, Bouwes says.

The researchers also documented increases in fish habitat quantity and quality in their study watershed relative to the watershed that received no BDAs and saw little increase in beaver activity. The changes in habitat in the watershed receiving BDAs resulted in a significant uptick in juvenile steelhead numbers, survival and production.

Go read the original research here. Maybe I have a simple mind but this graph makes me very happy.

Many  beaver fans have been talking about this for over a decade, but it took until 2016 for this work to be published at the watershed level, showing large scale advantages. If you want to know how long this has been in the oven, here’s a reminder.



This film was made in 2010, so you know the work was started before that. It takes a long time to document the effects that beavers have in creeks. Fortunately for us, this work just keeps attracting more and younger minds along the way, which means it can continue however long it takes to finally convince folk that beavers are  good news for fish.

Oh and I received my beaver festival hat yesterday, so I’m all ready.

Friday is beaver achievement day

Posted by heidi08 On July - 8 - 2016Comments Off on Friday is beaver achievement day

It’s always feast or famine around here at beaver central. A trickle of news stories thru the week and then a DUMP of beaver news all at once. Maybe it’s something about Friday being less important than the other news days, but buckle up because we have lots to talk about.

The first is the long-awaited story from Charlotte North Carolina, and I dare say the most progressive look at beaver in that part of the South since I’ve been on  the beaver-beat. Wen the article appeared it aired with a very  special photo which I of course captured for your viewing pleasure before I made sure it was corrected.


On a quiet fall night on the Catawba River, a beaver dam stopped a potential disaster. The dam was all that stood between a sewage leak and the river that supplies much of Charlotte’s drinking water.

“A beaver dam strategically located contained the spill,” the utilities report stated. Beavers were the heroes on this day, and can benefit local ecosystems, but they are not always so helpful.

Beaver trappers in Mecklenburg County say that the rodent can become a nuisance. One beaver dam, for example, covered up the manholes to underground pipelines, preventing repair crews from entering. To curb their effects, the state has a beaver trapping season. A beaver is typically killed in the trap.

Hmmm fine beginning and intriguing angle linking it to the sewage spill. Now lets get to some more discussion of this issue.

Sharon Brown, a biologist from Beavers: Wetlands and Wildlife, a national beaver advocacy group, said that once a colony of beavers is removed, a new colony typically will move in sometime in the near future.

Some towns, like Martinez, Calif., near the San Francisco Bay area, have petitioned local governments to install flow devices to curb beavers’ negative effects. These devices steal water away from the beavers, lessening their impact. But it allows the beavers to still keep their dam.

“(The city council) was kicking and screaming” because they initially didn’t want to pay, said Heidi Perryman, who runs a beaver blog in Martinez.

Christopher Newport University, in Newport, Va., released a study comparing the costs of keep or removing beavers. The study looked at 14 dam sites, and compared the costs before and after flow devices were installed. It found that before the devices, it costs around $300,000 to remove beavers and to repair the surrounding areas. Often a new colony moved right back in.

The price over the same period of time with the devices was around $44,000 because the beavers’ damage is permanently controlled. “People don’t realize the benefits of beavers are hidden,” Brown said.

Beaver dams filter water, which helps contain urban runoff and water pollution from spreading downstream. They also create new ecosystems, as animals come to the slower water around the dam. Beaver removal can destroy these habitats.

In Martinez, the community ended up saving their town’s beavers, even creating a yearly festival to celebrate the beavers’ continued survival.

“There has been a strong push to coexist,” Brown said.

Ta daa! Positive beaver quotes from North Carolina! And a powerful 1-2 punch from Sharon and myself – why and how to live with beavers, my favorite topics. Of course Sharon gets extra respect for being a ‘biologist’ and Worth A Dam doesn’t even get a MENTION, but it’s okay, I’ll make sure we’re a household word eventually. Hrmph.

Back to Massachusetts now, where Mike Callahan might get hired to save some beavers in Mendon.

MENDON – Officials are looking into installing a beaver flow device in the Mendon Town Forest, where beavers are causing flooding.  According to Community Preservation Committee and Land Use Committee Chairperson Anne Mazar, a beaver dam located in the Town Forest is causing flooding in the area. She and Bill Dakai, volunteer Mendon Town Forest Land Steward, showed the dam to Mike Callahan of Beaver Solutions, who said a beaver flow device could be installed there to solve the problem.

“A flow device lets the beavers live at the pond and build their dam, but the device lets water flow under the dam undetected by the beavers,” said Mazar.

Over the years, Callahan has successfully installed hundreds of the devices around the country, including one in Mendon at Inman Pond that Mazar said “works well.”

It is a long-term cost-effective and humane way to control beaver flooding,” she said. “Trapping and dam breaching is costly and not permanent.”Many towns, she said, spend thousands on culvert repairs because of damage from beaver flooding.  Mazar said the device costs about $2,000 to $3,000.

If the site is right for the flow devices, towns can save time and money,” said Mazar.

If the name Mazar sounds vaguely familiar, it should because it was just a month ago we wrote about her when the town agreed to kill beavers in Lake Nipmuc.  As you’ll remember, those conditions weren’t ‘suitable’ for a flow device and the beavers were killed. Of course I’m unhappy with that explanation, but Mike thinks like a businessman and never wants to stake his reputation on a situation that doesn’t look favorable – he needs that city to maintain faith in him down the line so they hire him again and save some other beavers.

Which makes sense, I guess.

In the meantime, we’re happy these beavers in the forest get saved, and wish Mike and Anne all the luck in the world.  And I must remind everyone that the conditions weren’t exactly favorable in Martinez either, and look how we turned out!

Now you’ve been very good so I’m saving the best for last. I’ll spare you the silly article about the golf course being bewildered how a ‘baby beaver just showed up there lost one morning’ because I assume that EVERY READER of this website knows why orphans appear at golf courses. You definitely want to make this one ‘full screen’.

From the sublime to the ridiculous!

Posted by heidi08 On July - 6 - 2016Comments Off on From the sublime to the ridiculous!

Global beaver citizens that we are, I woke up with an email from the Edinbugh professor and regular reader of this website J. Suilin Lavelle, who said she just ran into Roisin Campbell at the mammal conference on the weekend! Roisin told her she had a lot of fun on her visit to Vermont meeting Patti and Skip. (Which I wrote about a few days ago because, honestly that’s how small the beaver world is.) The beaver champions of that nation are currently in a Brexit-induced panic because the Scottish government had dragged their beaver decision out for so long, and now the insanity over the EU vote might delay or derail everything.

You probably didn’t realize that Brexit was bad news for beavers too, did you?

Meanwhile, there’s a nice bit of news from the Mendenhall Glacier beaver cam this year, which I was recently alerted to by a US Forestry friend here in Vallejo.

Thousands Around the World Tune In to Snoop on a Beaver Den

Watching the beavers sleep has kept thousands of viewers occupied since June 28, when the US Forest Service installed an infrared camera in the den to record in real time the beavers’ activities. As nocturnal creatures, that means sleeping most of the day and getting up periodically to stretch, eat, or relieve themselves. Recommended viewing is between 7 AM and 7 PM Alaska Standard Time.

Natural resource specialist Peter Schneider and fisheries biologist Don Martin initially set up a beaver camera in 2004 to satiate their curiosities about a collection of food outside the beaver lodge on Steep Creek. To monitor the beavers’ activities, they set up a camera outside the lodge and even had it insulated throughout the winter.

Are you keeping track of the mileage with your atlas at home here? The beaver story has gone from Scotland to Vermont to Juneau to Vallejo to Martinez so far. Some 2500+miles and counting. Not bad for a morning’s work!

And just so we don’t feel too smugly accomplished, here’s a glimpse of how far we have yet  to go courtesy of the silliest research ever published.


Yes. that photo is what you suspect it is; because you, dear reader are smart and this article is stoo-pid.

As more beaver colonies form, the rodents have an adverse effect on the climate by changing levels of methane gas. This happens because beaver colonies are formed in ponds constructed by the beaver dams. These tend to be pockets of shallow water (no more than 1.5 meters high.) Within this oxygen-poor standing water, methane gas levels build up and the gas, because it cannot dissolve in the water, is eventually released into the atmosphere.

According to Professor Colin J. Whitfield (University of Saskatchewan in Canada), compared with 100 years ago, 200 times more of greenhouse gas is released into the atmosphere from beaver colonies. This has come from a study into beaver colonies in Eurasia (the Castor fiber species) and North America (the Castor Canadensis species.)

The model suggests beavers currently contribute 0.80 teragrams (or 800 million kilograms) of methane into the atmosphere. Interviewed by International Business Times, Professor Whitfield suggest this problem not going away anytime soon unless action is taken: “Continued range expansion, coupled with changes in population and pond densities, may dramatically increase the amount of water impounded by the beaver…[this] suggests that the contribution of beaver activity to global methane emissions may continue to grow.

Truly the reporter selected the IDEAL photo to accompany this groundbreaking research, it really communicates the level of intelligence of those involved. (Nutria) See Dr. Whitfield is from the university of Saskatchewan which is famous for the kill contest they held this year.  He teamed up with Dr. Cherie Westbrook of Alberta who was probably just happy to publish something without the name Glynnis Hood on it, and I’ve been told that she regrets how this study has been misused. But I spare her no mercy and want this supposedly seminal research to be the beaver albatross around her educated neck. She should have known that folks would be only too happy for another bogus reason to blame beavers.

Let me explain this again for those who are mislead, yes beaver dams release methane, which is one of the green house gasses we are not really worried about. It dissolves in 2-3 years, unlike carbon, which we are VERY worried about, which lasts for decades.  (When you drive to work your car doesn’t release methane.) Along the way beavers increase the water supply which we are going to need as carbon numbers keep rising. Beavers also aid biodiversity, which we need in on a planet that is rapidly losing species. (I of course tried to write the editor yesterday about the photo, but it appears they are obviously not overly concerned with accuracy.)

Oh and did you know that we successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit  after the fireworks on independence day? We’re on a 20 month rotation studying a planet at 540,000,000 miles away. And the five year mission predictions were accurate to within 1 second.

Welcome to Jupiter!

Beaver Gossip

Posted by heidi08 On July - 4 - 2016Comments Off on Beaver Gossip

Scotland visits our friends in Vermont to learn how to coexist with beavers.

The View from Heifer Hill

Willow, the beaver whose life I have been documenting in this column for many years, had a visit from a special guest a couple of weeks ago, Roisin (pronounced RoSHEEN, she’s Irish) Campbell-Palmer, Field Operations Manager for the team working on the reintroduction of beavers to Scotland.

The project in Scotland has been one of the most carefully controlled reintroductions of a native species anywhere. Over the course of the five-year study period, five family groups from Norway were released in a forested area in the center of Scotland. These beavers were introduced as a trial, and their probationary period ends this year. Roisin and the other researchers involved have demonstrated that the beavers can survive in the landscape of modern Scotland, and bring the many blessing beavers bring, including a greater variety of habitat types, greater numbers and types of plants and animals, and increased economic revenue from beaver watchers. With flood and drought becoming increasingly common, beavers are also valued as an ally in retaining water on a landscape, and reducing the impact of floods.

While this carefully monitored project was going on, an illicit beaver reintroduction occurred in another part of Scotland, a more agricultural area. Roisin is now also part of a team studying the impact of beavers there, and because the beavers in the farmland have not been as welcomed by the locals, she travelled to Vermont to find out how we manage conflicts with these industrious creatures.

Illicit beavers! Somhow I kinda doubt that there could be a population of 150 if it had only happened during the sanctioned trial. Don’t you? Still it’s nice to read about our beaver friends from the other side of the world visiting the other side of the nation.

Naturally, she sought out Skip Lisle of Grafton, proprietor of Beaver Deceivers International. Skip has been solving beaver conflicts for years, and has learned how to modify beaver works in ways that allow them to do their wetlands restoration without causing undue damage to human property.

I joined Skip and Roisin on a visit to one of Skip’s job sites—a picturesque site with an old red cape, a striking view to the south, and cows grazing tranquilly on the hillsides. The three of us agreed that the best part of the scene was the series of beaver ponds tucked into the middle. When we arrived, we watched one of the resident beavers towing a bundle of fresh plants to the lodge, a good indication that kits were inside. We went down to the roadway to inspect the device Skip installed to keep the beavers from damming the culvert. All was working as expected, and not only kept the beavers on the landscape, but saved hours of time and headaches for the Halifax road crew. As we admired the scene, a mink loped past us, another of the beneficiaries of the work of Skip and the beavers.

At dusk we hiked into the woods to visit Willow. Because it is Roisin’s job to trap, measure, weigh and take samples from the beavers in Scotland, she had never met one that was happy to be with people. She was delighted to meet old one-eyed Willow, who flopped down beside us to eat an apple and offer herself for comparison to the Eurasian beavers.

Now, back in Scotland, Roisin is awaiting the final decision on whether or not the beavers will be allowed to stay. Willow and I are optimistic. In fact, I can almost hear the ceremonial bagpipes welcoming the beavers back to their ancestral lands.

How exciting to read about Roisin’s visit with Skip and Patti! I’m sure the solutions to Scotland’s disgruntled farmers won’t be hard to find. The funny part is that there has always been a weird, salty competition between Skip Lisle of Beaver Deceivers Int’l (Vermont) and Mike Callahan of Beaver Solutions (Massachusetts). Even though they started as buddies, and Skip trained Mike, things went wrong somewhere along the way when Mike either helped or stole a client (depending who you talk to) and now the two most important men to the beaver-saving campaign can barely stand each other. This is how Martinez  (in the middle of nowhere) found itself so quickly in the middle of everything (because Skip was our hero in person and installed the flow device and Mike was our virtual hero online and gave us tons of advice along the way). It probably was no accident the two coincided, since both happened to be interested in the high profile case of the other.

I don’t know the much about original grudge, Suzanne Fouty at the beaver conference last year was ready to try an ‘Intervention’ to get them to shake hands and be friends – for the sake of the beavers if nothing else!  I’m thinking its entrenched by now like Gaza or the beginning of Fiddler on the Roof. The shouting crowd of ‘Horse’ ‘Mule’ is the defense of the people who have stood on one side or the other. We are all the ‘villagers’ and now the feud has extends overseas because our friends of the Tay invited Mike out to do a training in Scotland, and our friends at the official trial went to Skip to learn the trade. Tradition!

Never mind though, because my position has always been that we all need to get along. There aren’t enough beaver defenders in the world, I always say, to pick and choose the ones you ‘like’. We all have to get along and do our part if this is going to have any chance of working, right?

Happy Fourth of July from the beavers, btw from our forefathers. Play safe out there! Ameribeaver
I always am eager for an excuse to post this, which I think represents a window between technology and legislation that opens once in many lifetimes.


Posted by heidi08 On July - 1 - 2016Comments Off on Milestones

Our friends at Occidental Arts and Ecology Center just released their new ‘beaver guide’. It’s well done and beautifully presented. You can download your free copy here, or pick up a hard copy for 10.00.  It’s definitely worth checking out!


Sometimes I see glossy productions like this and feel guilty that Worth A Dam hasn’t done more of lasting value that you can hold in your hands. But then I remember than maintaining a beaver website for a decade and literally flooding the internet with information ain’t nothing. And then there’s that other thing we do. The part that makes me laugh is at the end where they list ‘what can you do to help’. I especially like the last one.

CaptureHeh heh heh. Been there. Done that. Literally have the tee shirt.

compare faceSpeaking of new releases, Love Nature just released a beaver video for Canada Day with a photo of a nutria, so I made them this helpful graphic. Unfortunately the video can’t be embedded, but click on the link if you’re curious.  I expected better from a country with a beaver on their money! (I bet no one has nutria on their money.)

WATCH: Historic footage of magical animals returning to the English countryside

The endearing youngster with its lavish coat was filmed swimming in Devon’s River Otter, marking an important milestone to bring the rare creature back to the countryside. 

Beavers were hunted to extinction in Britain 400 years ago but conservationists are striving to see them return to quiet waterways and play a positive role in natural cycles. 

In CS Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, a family of beavers help save the lives of four children transported to the magical world of Narnia. 

Footage captured by wildlife expert Chris Townend shows how the endearing creatures are themselves being nurtured through an reintroduction project to establish them back as native British mammals. 

His delightful clips show a nursing mother and her cute kit, one of the triplets she has recently produced.

Triplets! So exciting. I want beaver triplets! You know when I first posted the beaver kit news article on the english facebook beaver group they asked me to take it down, because they were worried about the media bringing foot traffic. I said, okay but um, cats outta the bag? Use this moment to educate people about how to behave around wildlife? But they were sure the story was in a tiny paper and would die down.

I think they forgot that baby beavers have been missing from the english countryside for 4oo years and are going to make news.  The video first shows mom grooming and then the kit hurling himself indelicately underwater.

It’s July First! And end of Map day! Who hoo, after rearranging and squeezing I’m finally done arranging the festival map, and any one else who comes just has to tag along at the edge and deal with being unlisted. We are about as big as we can be anyway. See for yourself.
map2016Oh and Suzi Eszterhas is donating an archival quality matted print to the auction. And guess what which one she is choosing?

suzi auction