Archive for the ‘Creative Solutions’ Category

Victory comes in many forms

Posted by heidi08 On June - 27 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

I won’t force you to read this story with a soundtrack, but, (and I can’t stress this enough) you REALLY should.

Mom fights Shoreline School District about beaver and wins

The maintenance crew at Brookside Elementary in Lake Forest Park had a wildlife-removal firm set up traps to catch and kill a beaver at a creek by the school. Then they heard from moms and kids. The traps are gone.

It took less than three days for the Shoreline School District to capitulate to the moms and kids.  The order had gone out to trap a beaver that had arrived at Brookside Elementary in Lake Forest Park.

 On Monday, a sign from a firm called Northwest Nuisance Wildlife Control was placed at the creek bordering the school:


Left unsaid was that the trapped beaver likely would have been killed, with a shot to the head, as the state doesn’t encourage relocation. Relocated beavers have a poor chance of surviving.

 On Wednesday afternoon, the district backtracked with this mass email:

 “The traps are being removed from the area. The District will be researching viable approaches to manage this situation. We appreciate community support and insights we have received this week.”

Ohhh yeah! Martinez knows that victory comes when children carry signs and moms write letters. Hurray for Lake Forest Park and the heroes of Brookside elementary! And one mom in particular:

Meet Jenny Muilenburg, librarian at the University of Washington and mother to kids attending Brookside. On Monday morning, returning from a swim team practice, she saw the sign right across the road from her home. Peering from the edge of the road, she saw the metal traps.

This is how protests begin these days.

You take a smartphone picture of that sign. You post on Facebook. You send out news tips to media outlets.  You email, then have a phone conversation with the Lake Forest Park Stewardship Foundation.

 Its president, Jean Reid, then pays a personal visit Tuesday to City Hall, which is surprised to hear about the traps. Pressure on the school district mounts.

 Muilenburg writes, “Like many schools in the area, the school teaches environmental education, and each year releases salmon into the stream abutting the property … The kids love the beaver …

 “Can someone help us figure out why, when local and state governments and nonprofits and volunteers are all working year-round to improve our waterways and greenspaces to encourage wildlife, that a nondestructive, harmless animal that provides a learning opportunity for children and adults alike must be removed?”

 By Tuesday, neighborhood kids put up signs by the creek: “We love our beaver.” “Save the beaver!”

Joey Eck, 8, decides the beaver’s name is “Billy.”

 Free Willy, Free Billy.

Game. Set. Match.

Someone bring that woman a margarita because she deserves a little treat this weekend. Involving children always makes the difference, and living near the beavers and showing photos to the media doesn’t hurt either! I tracked Jenny down at the university and emailed her a ton of info when the article originally aired. She never wrote back but I’m going to assume it helped.

Now you just might want to click play on that video again for this story. Just sayin’

Two men rescued after Deschutes River beaver attack – Fell in water after climbing onto dam

BEND, Ore. – Exploring along the banks of the Deschutes River is usually a placid, familiar activity for locals and visitors alike. But two men, from Bend and Redmond, ended up seeking rescuers’ help Thursday evening when they climbed to the wrong spot – a beaver dam – got attacked by a protective beaver and fell into the water, authorities said.

The caller told dispatchers that Clayton Mitchell, 23, of Bend, had walked to his property from upriver and said he and his friend, John Bailey, 31, of Redmond, had been attacked by a beaver.

He reported his friend last was seen in the water, trapped amid some submerged logs, said Sgt. Bailey (who the department noted is not related to the Redmond man)

Sgt. Bailey said an investigation found the two men were exploring along the river when they climbed onto a beaver dam when they were “attacked by a beaver protecting his/her dam and both subjects fell into the Deschutes River.”

 “Mitchell was able to immediately climb out of the water, but Bailey was caught on some logs by his clothing,” the sergeant said. “Bailey eventually was able to climb out of the water as the first deputy arrived at the location.”

The story was of course picked up by the AP and is running absolutely everywhere, but no one has managed to explain to me whether the hikers were walking on the dam or the lodge, and what exactly constituted the “attack”. I wish I was hired as an attorney for the defense. Near as I can tell these hikers got scared by the beaver approaching, fell into the water and got poked by some sticks from the dam.

Which, as far as I’m concerned, serves them right. Because I hate when humans walk on the dam.


Best Beaver Day Ever?

Posted by heidi08 On June - 25 - 20152 COMMENTS

So yesterday morning, former Martinez resident LB sent me this story from an elementary school right outside Seattle trying to get rid of its beaver. Apparently the state with the smartest beaver management in the nation has  a few large pockets of ignorance.

Wash. school district looking to get rid of pesky beaver

On an elementary school campus? With kids who love the beavers and parents who care? In Washington? So LB and I wrote the principal and media spokesperson for the district, and I posted  about it on facebook. Mind you, this is in Kings county which had one of the only websites about flow devices when we were looking for answers back in 2007. Shouldn’t they, of all places, know better?

I learned that in addition to being worried that ‘the beaver” would attack the students,  one of the concerns was about the Lake Forest Park Stewardship Foundation which had just worked with students to hatch and release salmon eggs in the creek, and wouldn’t the beaver dam ruin everything?

No kidding. 12 miles from Michael Pollock’s office.

So I made sure everyone had a crash course in beavers and salmon and sent the salmon film and flow device information, and I added the LFPSF to the list of people I included in the little impromptu seminar. I sent along the kids power point presentation that I made for teachers to use in Contra Costa County and encouraged them to look at teacher materials on our website. And when I posted about this on the beaver management page several bold people actually CALLED the school to ask what the heck they were thinking-including an elementary school science teacher in WA who said he would love beavers on his campus to use in education!

And guess what? By midday the school had backed down and the traps were removed. Let me say that again. By midday the school had backed down and the traps were removed. The principal said he was  happy to know about flow devices. And this morning the director of LFPSF wrote to thank me for the all the information and said he was thrilled that when the reporters called this morning they knew much more than they did before about beavers and salmon and how to prevent flooding.

I think that makes yesterday the single most successful day we’ve ever seen on this website. I am so grateful so many people spoke up and they agreed to do the right thing. I have to admit I felt a little powerful yesterday. As if I had finally been doing this work long enough to make a difference.

ZUBR Beavers from Platige Image on Vimeo.

But that’s kind of silly. Honestly, I guess if you can’t save beavers near an elementary school just outside Seattle, you’re probably in the wrong line of work.

(H/T to RC from Napa for the ZUBR comercial. Which, in case you didn’t guess already,  is polish for Bison.)

Correcting the 400 year-old mistake!

Posted by heidi08 On June - 24 - 20152 COMMENTS

Watch Britain’s first wild beaver kits for 400 years take a dip

The first breeding colony of wild beavers to live in the UK for over 400 years has produced kits.

The birth of the babies was announced by the Devon Wildlife Trust and footage of the beavers was captured on camera by local filmographer Tom Buckley. It shows the babies taking their first swimming lesson and being helped through the water by their mother.

 ”My first sighting of this year’s new born kits was when I saw their mother swimming with one of them in her mouth to an area nearby where their father was waiting to greet them,” said Buckley. “One of the kits, however, seemed extremely unhappy to be out in the big wide world and as soon as its mother let it go it rushed back to its burrow. This was possibly their first experience of what lies outside of their burrow.”

Knowledge of the beaver colony’s presence in the Otter River in Devon first spread in February 2014. Several months later the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that it intended to remove the beavers due to the potential disease risk, but the Devon Wildlife Trust intervened, acquiring a license for the beavers to stay in January 2015. The creatures are now part of a wild beaver monitoring trial run by the Trust in conjunction with the University of Exeter, Clinton Devon Estates and the Derek Gow Partnership.

Watch it all the way to the end where that adorable little tail curls up. That is amazing footage by a man who obviously laid patiently in wait for a long time. Although this is running on literally every paper in england, youtube says it only has gotten around 275 hits because they’re all hosting it on their own sites. Let’s see if we can fix that shall we?

The exact location on the river where the kits are situated has not been disclosed, as the Devon Wildlife Trust wants to ensure the colony is left alone to raise its newest members. “The beavers have proved enormously popular with local people and we understand that many will now want to see the kits for themselves. But like all new parents, the beavers will need a bit space and peace at this time. So we ask that visitors take care not to disturb them. This means remaining on public footpaths, keeping a respectful distance from them, and keeping dogs under close control especially when near the river,” says Elliot.

This is a good idea, especially  when you consider what a hard time England had giving up the habit of swiping unhatched bird eggs for their collections. Watching that video I think mum had her own plans to keep their location secret. She’s obviously moving them from one den to the next, which is a very protective behavior that our new mother beaver has done every year, and our old mom never bothered with.

But first wild beaver born in 400 years? That seems questionable. What about last year’s kits? Weren’t they wild? A more accurate headline would read “First officially sanctioned wild kits” born in 400 years. Which is pretty awesome.

And just to remind you of the ever contrarian research-repellant voices, the fishermen chime in on the BBC article.

Mark Owen, from the Angling Trust, said the fact the young beavers would not be tagged or tracked meant the trial lacked any “scientific credibility”.

‘Irresponsible programme’

 ”There is an increasing prospect of a population explosion that could do considerable harm to other wildlife through the uncontrolled damming up of watercourses which can, among other things, prevent fish from reaching their spawning grounds,” he said.

First of all, that beaver has tags in BOTH ears. Second of all, fish DO reach their spawning grounds you big whiney fish-baby. And third of all. Mr. Owen’s obviously can’t spell: “programme?”

The BBC article has even more lovely footage if you’re interested. Congratulations Devon!

Wild beaver gives birth in England

A ‘Winters’ Tale

Posted by heidi08 On June - 22 - 2015Comments Off

Looks like the Putah Creek Beavers are getting some traction.

Winters in uproar over Putah Creek beavers, otters


 In this sleepy, orchard-ringed commuter town, a former newspaper reporter wondered aloud last week whether she ought to chain herself to a bulldozer.

 The source of her and others’ unlikely, new-found activism? A languid 1,000-foot stretch of Putah Creek and a group of beavers and river otters living inside a wide, deep pool.

 Some Winters wildlife lovers are pushing back against the last phase of a city stream rehabilitation project that will shoo the aquatic mammals away.

 Carol Brydolf was relieved. On Thursday, the former reporter had discussed with a fellow activist whether she had the fortitude to chain herself to a bulldozer to stop the project. She said Friday that the project’s managers were finally listening to their concerns.

 “They really, really blew us off,” she said.

The upheaval over the beavers and otters has spilled over into public meetings, newspaper letters to the editor, social media accounts and an online petition. City Manager John Donlevy Jr. said he is exhausted by the acrimony.

Donlevy said project managers have performed detailed scientific assessments and have gotten input from every stakeholder group, including the animal lovers. The beavers and otters won’t be harmed, he said. They just have to move somewhere else for a little while.

Oh is that all? They just have to pack the entire family in the station wagon and go to motel 6 for a while? I mean after the bulldozers make their roof cave in and they’re buried underground and a few lucky ones dig their way out and escape? As horrific as that sounds, something tells me they’re taking it to the next level in Winters. This article doesn’t even mention the piebald beaver, which means they feel better keeping their ace in the hole for now.


Click for video

Good, I wrote the mayor and city manager and maybe you should too. They need to be reminded that beavers are asleep during the day and that when their homes are crushed during their slumber they don’t “go somewhere else for a while”.

Unless they’re Uma Thurman, they suffocate and die.

Some opponents, including Tim Caro, a Winters resident and UC Davis wildlife biologist, are skeptical.

 Caro said it’s such a small section of the stream that the benefits to salmon likely will be negligible and not worth depriving residents of a fascinating window into the natural world from their neighborhood nature trail.

 “Schoolkids in the city of Winters could learn about biology by seeing these charismatic mammals,” he said.

For the time being, they still can. At least for another month.

School children, biologists, little old ladies. Just remember, you CAN stop city hall. But it takes many voices working together. Maybe that next meeting could look something like this.

Worth A Dam from Bill Schilz on Vimeo.

The ‘Art’ of beaver management

Posted by heidi08 On June - 21 - 2015Comments Off


The Beaver Pond – Part 1

A beautiful, warm April afternoon proved an ideal time to visit the beaver pond and photograph the work that the beavers have done. The beaver dam shown here is reportedly 300 feet long. The pond is located on private land and is the site of a pond leveler, known as a Beaver Deceiver.

The sound of running water attracts the beavers who diligently build a dam, often blocking culverts. This in turn causes flooding of roads and areas during periods of high water.

To combat this without removing or destroying the beavers, a device called a pond leveler is put in place. The leveler is essentially a pipe positioned at a level that will allow the pond to drain when the water level is high. It’s a little more complicated than described above, but that is basically how it works. The payoff comes by allowing people and wildlife to co-exist while providing a pleasant area for walking, relaxing and wildlife observation.

 Part 2 of the Beaver Pond to follow, showing the installation of the pond leveler.

If this story seems vaguely familiar, it should. This is the other side of Art Wolinsky’s condo pond in New Hampshire. He’s the retired engineer who used Mike Callahan’s DVD and advice to put in a pond leveler and save the beavers from being dispatched when they were blocking the culvert.  He’s since enjoyed watching and filming the beavers and wildlife in the area wither using night cams or filming in person. Here’s some of his work that I gratefully use in my talks.

Someday we’ll have a beaver advocate in every state, who can describe why they’re important and document the good they do while showing how to efficiently solve problems.  It will happen, trust me. Then they’ll be two in every state. Then five.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that Texas will be last, though.

Stop sucking our water, unless you’re making money off it!

Posted by heidi08 On June - 20 - 2015Comments Off

So you probably heard something about this in the news recently.

State regulators approve water restrictions to aid Sonoma County salmon streams

SACRAMENTO — With fish perishing in drought-diminished Sonoma County streams, state regulators said Wednesday they felt pressed to approve sweeping new limits on water use affecting thousands of rural landowners.

The emergency regulation will apply, starting July 3, to about 10,000 landowners on 130 square miles across four watersheds: Dutch Bill and Green Valley creeks in the west county, Mark West Creek north of Santa Rosa and Mill Creek west of Healdsburg. About 13,000 properties will be covered by the rules.

Residents and businesses, including wineries, will be prohibited from using water drawn from creeks or wells for sprinkling lawns or washing cars, while irrigation of other landscaping, such as trees and plants, will be limited as it is in many cities.

Irrigation for commercial agriculture is exempt from the water conservation rules, an issue that prompted harsh criticism from several county residents attending the meeting and was acknowledged by Felicia Marcus, the water board’s chairwoman.

So the new regulations mean you can’t draw water from wells along Dutch Bill Creek, Green Valley Creek, Mill Creek and Mark West Creek. Let’s reduce this to it’s simplest terms shall we?

  • Step 1) The water board admits our salmon are in grave danger
  • Step 2) The water board admits that drawing groundwater depletes the streams and elevates that danger.
  • Step 3) The water board finds that drip systems suck a lot of that water and says they have to stop.
  • Step 4) Commercial growers are exempt.

So we admit that our fish are hurt by the wells we allowed property owners to dig. That’s a start. calsodaOkay, now think of our state’s water table like a big class of soda at one of those 50′s drugstore counters with everyone crowded together drinking from it with their individual straws. And the board tells everyone to stop sucking from their straw – except for the big guys who are  making a profit from it. They should keep right on sucking. Maybe they can even suck more because they’ll be more left in the glass. And oh, we’d like everyone else to keep track of how much soda they drank, but we know the money makers are so busy counting they’re profits they don’t have time to do it, so don’t worry about that now.

Farming interests strongly protested the mandatory reporting of water use, a step that state officials have acknowledged could serve as the foundation for tighter restrictions.  The water board, sensitive to those complaints, agreed to postpone that part of the order until a series of public meetings is completed in Sonoma County in early July.

Ann Maurice, a west county water activist, asserted that the dramatic decline in Russian River coho salmon that began in the 1990s coincided with the advent of drip irrigation in Sonoma County vineyards.

The irrigation exemption for agriculture drew some of the sharpest public comments on the day.

 Woicicki accused the state of turning a “blind eye” as “grape growers have been sucking water out of our aquifer.” The apple grower said his well water level has dropped 20 feet in the last seven years as grapes were planted near his property.

Things have surely gotten to a tipping place in California when the grape and apple grower are at each other’s throats. But I’m thinking we should all sit down with cool glass of California Chardonnay and talk about this magical cure I know about that saves water, recharges aquifers, and  has been shown in research time and time again to help salmon and steelhead.

Can you guess how many times the water board or article mentioned this undervalued cure?


Beavers: the Unowners manual

Posted by heidi08 On June - 16 - 2015Comments Off

 Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.

John Muir

Go see the beavers.
Heidi Perryman


On the Trails: Outdoor therapy

One day recently, I was feeling quite grumpy, disgusted, annoyed, and getting down-hearted, so I decided to cheer myself up by thinking about ‘a few of my favorite things’ that happened in the past couple of weeks.

The beavers seem to have returned to Steep Creek, after an absence of several years. We had seen beavers visiting the lower ponds, but this time it looks more serious. The broken dams have been rebuilt and a friend watched a beaver collect a huge mouthful of grass and carry it toward the old lodge. This made me wonder if the grass might be bedding for a young family. There is hope, then, that the beavers may restore the upper dams as well, creating ponds that trap sediment, provide fine rearing habitat for juvenile coho and dolly varden, and good foraging habitat for birds. In the past, the sockeye and coho salmon that spawn in this stream proved themselves quite able to surmount the previous dams, and there were good populations of both species in the creek.

There, that’s a list of good things observed. Thinking about all that, I found that I was still grumpy, disgusted, and annoyed — oh yes — but it no longer got me down-hearted. Good stuff! — simple things for a simple mind, maybe, but equanimity was restored!

 • Mary F. Willson is a retired professor of ecology

Ahh Mary. How many bleary mornings or crabby evenings have been brightened for me by beavers! I couldn’t agree more. Mary is the author of the book on the left margin, and one of the beaver protectors of the Mendenhall Glacier.

Of course getting away in the middle of town is harder than it used to be. Alhambra Creek is no Walden pond.  Apparently the front page Napa story drew lots of people to Tulocay creek last night. Rusty chatted with an observer from Novato who says he reads this website every day! (Hi beaver reader!) It made me remember the old days in Martinez when the beavers were first making a commotion. I remember being so divided, first joyful that other people were enjoying what I had cherished alone for so long, and then annoyed, encroached and irritated that people were crowding out “my” beavers.

Eventually I noticed three very important things that changed my perspective forever.

1)   I was alone in the morning, and encroached in the evening. I adjusted my filming and sleep habits accordingly. I was never bothered by onlookers in the wee hours.  (At this time of year I still wake up at 5 whether I go see beavers or not. Maybe I always will.)

2)   Every single person gathered there in the evenings, excitedly explaining them to their mother or brother-in-law, wondering all the wrong things, if they ate fish or patted mud with their tails, all felt as if they were “their” beavers.

3)   This misplaced sense of ownership we all shared is the only reason why the beavers survived at all when the city decided to kill them.

Of course they aren’t my beavers, or your beavers. They are their own beavers. Living their own lives independent of us. And maybe the beavers themselves are like a mirror, reflecting back the beholder for the moment but happy enough to reflect the next person that comes along. That would explain why the good people liked them and wanted to save them. And why our most hard-hearted citizens disliked them and thought they were a disaster. They saw twisted reflections of  their nasty little selves.

A furry Rorschach, if you will.