Archive for the ‘Creative Solutions’ Category

New website and old complaints

Posted by heidi08 On April - 29 - 20161 COMMENT

From the ridiculous to the sublime. Let’s start the day with the appropriate mocking of Mr.  Settlemeyer of Bladen County North Carolina. And believe me, his complaint is a doozy.

Carver’s Creek running over with beavers

Settlemeyer said when he first saw beavers on his land back in the 1970’s he thought the critters were kind of cool. “The first time I saw a beaver I said, ‘Oh man this is wonderful, we got beavers!’” Settlemeyer said.

But that opinion quickly changed when he said the rodents took over. In fact, Settlemeyer said if he were to guess he’d say there are about 200 of them on his property. “It’s good for the ducks, good for the turtles, but it’s not good for your timber,” Settlemeyer said.

He said some of his roads have been washed away because beaver dams prevent water from flowing the way it naturally would. He said there is little he can do to stop them.

“Back before 9/11 we could go buy dynamite. We dynamited the beavers. We’ve got heavy equipment and dug the dams out, we’ve trapped, we’ve shot them, but they’re so prolific we’re not gaining any ground,” Settlemeyer said. “It’s an aggravating problem. They’re like fire ants and coyotes, they’re here to stay. I don’t know what kind of alternative we have.”

He said almost every stream in the Carver’s Creek community has a beaver dam in it and it’s causing big changes to the ecology of the area.

Just for clarification, Bladen county is in the lower right corner of the state with 874 sq miles of land and 13 sq miles of water. Even assuming his property runs that entire length of the creek, and allowing 7 beavers to a colony, he is alleging he has  a beaver family every .15 miles of water, which, if it were true, would deserve a federally funded research project and a documentary. It is far more likely that he found 10 dams on is land and just calculated in his folksy way that there were about 20 beavers to a dam, don’t you think?

Love the part where he blames 9/11 for keeping him from blowing them up though. I guess they’re right, every great tragedy still has a silver lining.

On to the sublime. Let’s welcome our friends at Sierra Wildlife Coalition to the beaver website neighborhood! They just launched a very lovely new sight with excellent info and Sheri Hartstein’s fantastic photos. Take them for a test drive and enjoy the view. Click below to visit their site and help them establish some links, but don’t get so dazzled you forget who sent you there. (Remember to notice who is listed as the FIRST resource on their contact page.) Ahem.




Busy as a you know what!

Posted by heidi08 On April - 26 - 2016Comments Off on Busy as a you know what!

We are FINALLY paintbrush-ready on the mural project. Mario will come today to start priming, but tomorrow there are supposed to be thunderstorms so more delays are imminent. I’m just happy the city was able to finish all the contracts, waivers and ryders necessary to undertake the dangerous painting of a two foot wall of concrete. Hurray for beavers not giving up!

about timeThe timing works out well enough because on Wednesday I’m back to the SF Waterboard to talk more about urban beavers! New folks heard my talk was so good they wanted it too so I’ll be with strangers on a different floor than last time. I think I’m ready, but it’s a little harrowing going to that tall building and through security on yet another rainy day!

waterboardsAnd it never rains but it pours, because I just got the event flyer for Portland, which looks amazing. The final PDF will have working links and go out soon. But I thought you deserved a preview. In between events I’ll be talking to Kiwanis and watching our Mural unfold. And then it’s time to start getting ready for the festival! Isn’t that exciting?

portland flyer

Those Nobel Prizes are a SMOKESCREEN

Posted by heidi08 On April - 20 - 2016Comments Off on Those Nobel Prizes are a SMOKESCREEN

Beavers Returning to Sweden’s Capital Can Be a Dam Nuisance

Walking along the Swedish capital’s famous shores and canals, you can see its presence in the gnawed trunks of large willows, surrounded by fresh wood chips, and the stumps of damaged trees cut down with chainsaws.

The Eurasian beaver is back.

Though the furry urbanites had an ideal base to explore the city, it took decades for them to get established in Stockholm.

“From the late ’90s to 2011, we didn’t see very [many] beavers … about three or four a year in the whole Stockholm area,” says Tommy Tuvunger, who, as Stockholm’s viltvårdare, or game warden, is tasked with keeping tabs on the city’s wild residents. 

In the last four years, “the population has exploded.” 

But the beaver boom has a negative side: The rodents have done extensive damage to the city’s trees.These teeth-carved trees are a safety risk, especially in a city with so much green space. 

“People are going there with small children, walking dogs, jogging,” Tuvunger says, adding that a gust of wind could bring a weakened tree down on someone.

In addition, there have been two reports of beavers biting people in Stockholm—one of which occurred after a man took a picture of the animal with his phone.

In their efforts to keep the public safe, Tuvunger and his colleagues have shot about 10 beavers over three years. (See “Killing Wildlife: The Pros and Cons of Culling Animals.”)

“Keeping a very low profile, we use silencers, so the public don’t know what were are doing,” he says.

 Surprised GirlThat’s right. Arguably the smartest country on  the entire planet, that takes it upon themselves to hand out awards for the most brilliant scientific minds across the globe, kills beavers for chewing trees with a SILENCER because they can’t possibly discourage chewing by wrapping them and they don’t want to upset the public.

It’s not surprising that Stockholm’s beavers have bounced back, the experts say.

“Beavers are like all rodents—they are really good at reproducing. If they have a good environment and good opportunities, they do well,” Jennersten says.

If the sight of Castor fiber swimming around in central Stockholm is the ultimate proof of success, Hartman is heartened by this latest chapter in its comeback story.

I’m tempted to hate the author of this story very much, but when I read those sentences back to myself it occurs to me that he might be deliberately not getting in the way of the Swedes making themselves look bad. Not because he agrees with them – but because Mr. Owen assumes the public won’t. You know, kind of like that famous Sarah Palin interview.

Anyway, this was an annoying way to start the day, which is already  annoying because of the unecessary mural delays and the first reviews coming back on the urban beaver chapter – one of which edited MY section with a red pen and said it was “Poorly worded“.

Hrmph. Poorly worded!

Lets cheer ourselves with some good news, shall we?

Poplars popular with Seine River beavers

 The beaver is one of the few species on Earth that modifies the environment to suit its needs. Unfortunately, the beaver’s needs sometimes bring them into conflict with people — especially in cities.

Beavers cut down trees for one reason — survival. They use large branches to build dams across streams. This creates a beaver pond, where the water becomes deep enough for the beaver to survive the winter.  They use some branches and mud to build a lodge. The lodge has a central chamber where they are safe from predators.

 Beavers also eat the trees’ inner bark. They stockpile branches in a food cache at the bottom of the pond. While beaver eat many aquatic plants during summer, their main winter food is the inner bark of trees. Their favourites are aspen, poplar, cottonwood, willow, birch and alder. Beaver do not hibernate, so the pond must be deep enough for them to swim from the lodge to their food cache beneath the ice.

My advice to anyone living near the river is to wrap the bases of the trees that you treasure. A few dollars of mesh can protect your $140 tree. Hardware cloth (with a square mesh) is tough enough to deter beavers.

Don’t wrap every tree. Wrap some of the larger trees and newly planted trees of all sizes. Leave the rest for the beavers. After all, the beaver is a Canadian icon.

This year, let’s celebrate the beavers that share our urban rivers. Take pictures of the amazing river engineer that we commemorate on the “tail” of our nickel. Post them on the Save Our Seine Facebook page. Volunteer to wrap some trees or join the SOS team as a 2016 River Keeper (job posting on the SOS Web site).

Did you know that Winnipeg was smarter than Stockholm? Fantastic article and fantastic idea for encouraging folks to appreciate urban beavers. Now a final piece of better news to cheer those of us waiting impatiently for better days. Jon  took these photos yesterday down stream. Sure starting to look familiar isn’t it?

IMG_0862 IMG_0865

Dam kind words

Posted by heidi08 On April - 17 - 2016Comments Off on Dam kind words

David Scholz of the Martinez Tribune gave Worth A Dam and beavers a very nice article yesterday. The John Muir Earth day celebration is quickly approaching, and we will be there with volunteer help making the RIGHT kind of beaver hats with the kids.

‘Worth A Dam’ to be honored by Muir Association

MARTINEZ, Calif. – More than eight years after one woman spearheaded an effort to address the plight of one fury creature from demise in Alhambra Creek, that effort subsequently generated national interest and has given more attention to the health and welfare of beavers everywhere.

Worth A Dam founder Heidi Perryman. (HEIDI TAING / Courtesy)

Worth A Dam founder Heidi Perryman. (HEIDI TAING / Courtesy)

This Earth Day, April 23, at the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, Heidi Perryman and the organization Worth A Dam will be honored with the Environmental Education Award from the John Muir Association.

TRIBUNE: When was your organization founded and how many members are currently part of it?

PERRYMAN: Worth A Dam was founded in March of 2008. And our core membership is eight. But we have several folks that play an important role and are helpful to our projects.

TRIBUNE: What was your reaction to receiving the honor?

PERRYMAN: Delighted that Worth A Dam could be recognized for showing how and why cities can learn to live with beavers. California needs more “water savers,” not less!

TRIBUNE: How has the perception of beavers changed through the years as a result of the attention your group has given to their plight?

PERRYMAN: The national publicity of the Martinez Beavers showed countless other cities about beaver benefits and how conflicts could be managed. Back when Martinez was first facing this issue there were three websites on the entire Internet about humane solutions.
That was part of the motivation for our website, which had very broad readership. With our help it is much easier to find information about why to live with beavers and how you can.

TRIBUNE: How might the health of beavers be a barometer for the health of the Martinez area creek system?

PERRYMAN: Beavers are one of the hardiest species in the creek. They can manage in places where plenty of other species can’t. The amazing thing is they improve those places to make it more habitable for others.

Founded in 2008 by Perryman, Worth A Dam is a nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to the value, importance and contributions of beavers in the ecosystem. Perryman, through Worth A Dam, focuses her educational approach on the fact that co-existing with beavers ensures the strength of the overall ecosystems of creeks and surrounding areas. Worth A Dam’s co-existence model has been adopted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and, most recently, Napa has adopted the model. Perryman has co-authored numerous published articles regarding beavers. Worth A Dam founded the Martinez Beaver Festival, now in its eighth year, with a wide breadth of wildlife and conservation groups, which helps raise awareness of protecting wildlife and preserving healthy environments and ecosystems.

Well, to be honest when I heard we won my first thought was ‘Sheesh! About dam time’.  And if we’re being honest, Fish and Wildlife has never done anything I wanted except grudgingly send a stack of depredation permits to a FOIA request, not to mention that two articles hardly count as ‘numerous’ but the festival is in its NINTH year so some things he exaggerated and undersold some others, right?

Honestly, this article makes Worth A Dam sound so influential and the recognition of beaver importance so universal that I’m proud to be a part of it all! It makes us seem way more successful than we actually have been.  Of course people are still killing beavers ignorantly and lying about their being no other way all the time. But I take comfort from the thought that –  if we haven’t been able to make things as easy for the ‘good guys’ as we’d like –   we’ve at least made things a little harder for the ‘bad guys’.

And that’s something!

New multi necklace, and this one with a secret message just for California that makes me very happy.IMG_0852IMG_0854



Words with Beaver Friends

Posted by heidi08 On April - 3 - 2016Comments Off on Words with Beaver Friends

12936767_10209561614975959_1889504955645627844_nAlexandria Costello is a masters student st Portland University studying the geomorphic influences of beavers in urban streams. She just came to the geology conference in San Francisco to present a poster session. Then went to Napa to meet Robin and Rusty and walk the beaver habitat. She posted this on Facebook and I asked for a closer look to share. Can I just say how much I love the idea that folks are talking about “urban beavers” at a conference?

urban beaverOh my goodness. I’m intrigued already. Aren’t you? It’s a funny thing to think about the educated, generous, ecologically-minded city of Portland learning anything at all from a stubborn ol’ refinery town like Martinez, isn’t it?

puppetsposterRecognize those puppets? I am so proud of us sometimes. I especially like the part where she says cities in Oregon should invest in similar programs around the state to help people learn about the benefits of beaver. You know like the city of Martinez invested in us with all the funding and sponsoring they did of our message and effort. Haaaaaaaaaa Ha Ha Ha.

Sorry, I just suddenly thought of this comic for some reason and needed to post. I’ll allow Alex to continue.

urban 2

I’m so impressed with this presentation, and with Alex for putting it together. Everyone had a grand time in Napa, and I am so pleased they connected. Apparently even WS is the best behaved it will EVER be in Oregon, under the steadying hand of Jimmy Taylor. I’m so grateful to have contributed to the story with our playful puppets.

While we’re on the topic of the successes of friends, I heard the other day that Wyoming beaver believer Amy Cummings, and Washington advocate Joe Cannon of the Lands Council are headed for an Idaho event sponsored by our beaver friends at Watershed Guardians. The event is cleverly called A Reverse Rendezvous, and is held on the day the trapping season ends. (History lesson: The original rendezvous were gatherings of trappers where massive furs and goods changed hands, and where you could connect with a new company or glean some insights of areas that were trapped out.  There was lots of bragging, drinking and whoring too, I’ll wager. Probably more than a few fights or fatalities, as minimally socialized loners found themselves in a sudden crowd where impulse control was required.)

Anyway, this reverse one is going to be way better.

In the summer of 1826, the American Fur Company set up a small camp in the Powder River basin in western Wyoming to buy furs from various trapping companies and free trappers.  There were gifts, story telling, contests and music.  All to celebrate beaver that had been killed.    We’re going to do something similar but opposite at the Reverse Rendezvous.  On April 15th, 2016, we’ll be doing something similar, but with a twist.  We’ll be celebrating the beaver that WEREN’T killed.  Come join us!

Our story tellers are Amy Chadwick and Joe Cannon.  Amy is an environmental consultant specializing in rehabilitating damaged ecosystems.  Joe  Cannon is  part of the most successful beaver re-introduction program in history.   We are excited  and pleased to have them both.

I’m so jealous I won’t be on hand to hear all the stories. Maybe someone will be taping? Worth A Dam wishes you the hardiest of successes.

Meanwhile, I’m hard at work with an idea for this years festival. Over the years I’ve probably gathered every wonderful graphic, historical image or photo of beavers, now I just need to find some old scrabble games!

pendant 2

Not an April Fool’s Beaver joke

Posted by heidi08 On April - 1 - 20162 COMMENTS

On the river Isla: beavers’ bankside felling and stream damming creates a complex habitat that feeds many species. Photograph: Louise Gray

Beavers pool effort in watery DIY

The dipper bobbing along the top of the dam looks oddly smart in this drunken landscape, his clean white bib reflected in the water below. All around is chaos. The beavers have felled most of the bankside birch, sycamore and other trees they like to eat and use for their dams.

Beavers work at night. During the day it is only humans tap-tapping away with their hammers, building a hide above the Cateran trail to allow walkers to catch a glimpse of the creature that engineered this bog.

Pink-footed geese fly overhead on their way back to Greenland, rooks caw in the beech trees, a charm of chaffinches sing from the dead branches of an alder, and black-headed gulls follow a tractor ploughing in the distance.

Spraint smeared on a rock announces that otters are here too. They have a rather one-sided relationship with beavers. The otters benefit from the increase in fish and invertebrates around the dams. Come spring they will also hunt the vulnerable beaver kits, obliging the mother beaver, twice the size of the predatory mustelid, to patrol the lodge.

The dams, constructed of twigs and branches laid on top of one another, are constantly being repaired and rebuilt to create a series of pools and canals where the beavers can move safely undetected and build entrances to their lodges and subsidiary burrows underwater.

The Burnieshed has been re-braided: forced into narrow rivulets it rushes and tumbles, waiting in pools it fizzes and foams. On Baikie Burn, another tributary of the Isla, the beaver dam has been cleared away, but not before a field nearby was flooded.

A swath of winter wheat is dead, drowned and scorched by the sun. The only sign of life is the tracks of a roe deer pricked into the earth. The burn flows quietly now, past a mink trap and beneath the road.

This article by Louise Gray is a vibrant look at the beaver pond and the many creatures who benefit from it. Environmental writer to the Telegraph and freelance author, Louise has really captured the pond here. I couldn’t be more impressed.  She must have spent many hours at the Ramsey’s beaver pond or read this website over many consecutive days! Honestly, she hits every beaver improvement made, right down to the invertebrates and re-braiding rivers. This article is so well written and beautifully phased it reminds me of this:

Onto a slightly less informed but no less passionate article from the editor of the New Carlisle News in Ohio where a Wetlands is being monitored and attended to just outside the town of New Carlisle.

Group Promotes Appreciation for New Carlisle Wetland Species

So there’s a wetlands site in New Carlisle, and it’s kind of a big deal. Laden with unique and threatened plant species, the Brubaker Wetlands is hidden away just a stone’s throw from downtown, and I feel very comfortable calling it the city’s best-kept secret.

Tucked away just off the bike trail that runs through Smith Park, the wetlands truly are a separate microcosm within the city’s hustle and bustle, as the setting is somewhat surreal—full of strange, sometimes stinky plants popping up from the sodden ground—giving the visitor the impression that they’ve stepped far back in time.

One New Carlisle family is devoted to studying the wetlands and sparking an interest in the unique site among fellow residents. Having plans to schedule monthly cleanups along the trail and at the edge of the wetlands, as well as an upcoming snake survey, Nathan Ehlinger has lead the charge of bringing awareness to the unique site rich in biological diversity.

Ehlinger is a biologist who grew up in New Carlisle within sight of the wetlands. Now raising his own three children, he realized how significant the site is for its diversity and positive impact on the city’s drinking water, so he decided to promote it, hoping to instill appreciation for the wetlands in the younger generation.

Hurray! Appreciation for wetlands! In Ohio! A biologist who’s looking out for them! Monthly trail cleanups and classroom education! He invites the editor down to have a look at the outdoors he’s trying to defend.  I’m almost entirely thrilled.


He noted that the city even has its resident beaver, which has constructed at least five dams in one section of the wetlands. He pointed out that the beaver hasn’t caused any problems, but instead, works to control water levels and create open areas that are ideal for other animal species.

“The engineering of his den provides a habitat for migrating birds, and fish,” Ehlinger said of the beaver’s natural instincts to build.

Raise you’re hand when you see the worrisome part. I’ll wait. Read it again if you need to. “The engineering of his DEN provides habitat for migrating birds and fish.” That’s right. I just connected with Mr. Ehlinger and he assures me he was misquoted. He understands beavers don’t live in the dam and he’s very interested in what we’ve done in Martinez. It never ceases to amaze me, though how many people confuse the concept of lodge/den and dam. I would think some part of them would harken back to their days playing in the mud or building sandcastles as a child. How much water can you possibly hold back with a hollow wall? Beaver dams are solid. Nothing lives inside them, except some very happy invertebrates I guess.



Nothing succeeds like Beaver Success!

Posted by heidi08 On March - 31 - 2016Comments Off on Nothing succeeds like Beaver Success!

Excellent news from the great Beaver Beyond, where Sarah Koenisberg has been working hard putting the finishing touches on her Beaver Believer Film. I can barely remember years ago when she came to the the festival and filmed the long interview in my backyard. She’s been working nonstop ever since. And supposedly the film is ready to be released on the film festival circuit.

Beyond the Pelt

Washington-based filmmaker Sarah Koenigsberg was getting tired of all the apocalyptic doom-and-gloom climate change stories floating around the media circuit when she happened upon an unlikely glimmer of hope: beavers. After filming these ecosystem engineers for her own feature-length documentary, “The Beaver Believers,” she helped the Trust produce a short film showcasing three success stories of how the return of beavers has transformed public lands across the West. Here, we talk to Sarah about beavers, activism, and catching the slippery critters on camera.

Most people know beavers build dams, but how do they help address climate change?

Beaver dams create ponds and wetlands that collect precipitation, letting it sink slowly into the ground instead of rushing straight out to the ocean. In the arid Southwest, this water storage is incredibly valuable, as it recharges the aquifer and holds water underground until it can slowly trickle back into our streams. Local wildlife, spawning fish, and migrating birds also thrive in the pockets of diverse habitat that beavers help build. The list goes on!

What is next in the queue?

I’m in the final stages of post-production on my film “The Beaver Believers,” which is really exciting. I had something like 70 hours of footage shot over two years for this 50-minute film. You can learn more about that project and watch our trailer at We’ll begin entering it into film festivals this spring!

Martinefilmingz is part of those 70 hours and I’m hoping something of us made it past the cutting room floor!  I know that she included part of Mark Comstock’s beaver ballad because she wrote once that she had gotten it stuck in her head after editing footage with it again and again. Gosh, that seems like a long time ago. In 2013 we had three kits and one yearling from our new mom who had been around just over a year.

I remember that thursdmore filming - Copyay, they drove here after filming Suzanne Fouty  and Carole Evans in Nevada. I spoke at Kiwanis that day and came home to be interviewed Heidi Interviewfor another 7 hours before having them to dinner. Friday was the usual insane packing for the festival and I barely saw anyone at the event because we were all working so hard. They headed off in their movie-making horse trailer that evening. To hit the next target for inclusion.

And now the film is getting finishing touches and then shipping out. Go read the whole thing and learn how and why Sarah does what she does. I wonder if it is headed for the Wild and Scenic Film Festival in Nevada where Ian’s went. It would be fun to have them close to home and start a whole beaver genre to that event!

The Beaver Believers Kickstarter Trailer from Tensegrity Productions on Vimeo.

Yesterday, we heard the exciting news that Jeremy Fish’s amazing artwork was finished after being temporarily matted by founding member of the Martinez Arts Association  Cathy Riggs of “I’ve been Framed” downtown. She didn’t charge us a penny but clearly spent hours on it, using contrasting mats to pick up the colors.  I sent the photo to Mr. Fish who was very impressed. I know it will be a hot item at the auction, and you’ll probably want to come bid on it yourself. Thanks so much Cathy!