Archive for the ‘Creative Solutions’ Category

Beavers, water, & the learning curve.

Posted by heidi08 On March - 26 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Another red-letter day for beavers. They’ve been  happening so often I’m going to start calling them red beaver days! The first from NBC.


Beavers Are Great for the Environment. As Neighbors, Not So Much

The dam-building rodents are getting a boost across the West, thanks to their signature water-blocking homes that, it turns out, can have a positive effect on the local environment, and have gained the critters support from local tribes and wildlife biologists. Their dams hold back water flow in elevated regions, propping up groundwater supplies in areas hit by drought and reduced snowpack. They provide habitats for salmon. And while there are other, less natural ways to achieve the same effects, there’s one big advantage to beavers: They work for free.

 A team led by Kent Woodruff, a U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologist, has spent eight years refining beaver relocation in Washington’s Methow Valley. The goal: Make sure that the beavers being brought together are compatible. Think of it as a for beavers.

The target areas are mostly public lands at higher elevations — exactly the areas that supply much of the water for humans across the West. “We’re desperate for water storage,” said Woodruff, and “that’s easily enhanced by beavers.”

Okay, first the good Heidi. I absolutely LOVE when beaver benefits get highlighted in a major NBC story. Kent has done great work in the Methow and I’m thrilled to see that project get the flagship recognition it deserves.  Now the not so good Heidi. More beaver stories saying  we care about water so we’re moving beavers into the mountains instead of killing them? Really? Hmm. Mighty white of you.

Will someone please tell Miguel the reporter that ‘good neighbors’ are like good marriages. They don’t just happen but are made every day by people who care. Like the people in Martinez for example.  And maybe next time you should make a report about that.


Onto more good press for the Beaver Believer documentary. This time Sarah’s on PRI.

Beavers are being looked at as little climate change fighting machines

Sarah Konigsberg is documenting the efforts of six people across the US who are working to bring the big-tailed and bucktoothed beavers back to lakes and rivers across the country.

Like beavers themselves, the human subjects of Kongisberg’s documentary, The Beaver Believers, are climate change activists.

“The Beaver Believers” features the stories of people who share the common passion of restoring the beaver in the West by trapping and relocating the animals to habitats that could use a beaver’s touch.

Beaver dams change the landscape of the waterbed. Whole ecosystems with rich, biodiverse habitats and species build up in the area around a beaver dam, Kongisberg explains.

Streams are slowed and deepened, which allows the water bodies to grow and widen. The dams hold back sediment, raising the water levels for vegetation growth. The slowed water seeps into the ground and recharges aquifers.

“It basically creates a much more varied habitat for many, many more animals to live on,” she says.

The grand filmmaker  actually made a stop last night to refilm some urban beavers and their guardians in Martinez.  She was staying nearby in Pt. Reyes and thought the earlier footage she got when her crew came to the festival two years ago just wasn’t good enough. She’s been excited by the response and thinking the film would be ready for music and final touches this summer. I, for one, can’t wait.


What news stories will there be about beavers tomorrow? I wonder. It’s a little harrowing trying to keep up. That’s the very best kind of harrowed, I admit. But we need a treat this morning, and Cheryl just posted this to my timeline on facebook, so I thought I’d share. Brace yourselves, this is alarmingly cute.


Western Arkansas Wild Rescue Alliance


Beaver Fishery Enhancement

Posted by heidi08 On March - 19 - 2015Comments Off

CaptureNature at work for you – Beavers help fish, wildlife and people

Beavers are industrious engineers, constructing dams and lodges for shelter and food storage. Beavers actively modify streams and surrounding woodlands, improving the health of a watershed by creating lush ponds or wetland habitat for a variety of fish and wildlife. By damming water, beavers create a refuge for juvenile and overwintering fish. These ponds provide homes to aquatic invertebrates (fish food), amphibians, reptiles, waterfowl, songbirds, and mammals.

Benefits of Beavers in a Dry Climate

• By building dams, beavers are able to slow spring runoff, reducing the potential for flooding and erosion.

• Beaver dams spread water onto the floodplain and reconnect side channels allowing for greater water storage.

• Beaver ponds provide a continuous water supply that percolates into the ground, recharging aquifers.

• Beaver ponds trap sediment and filter out toxic materials providing cool, clean water for downstream water users.

Beaver-dam-1024x379A pretty wonderful beaver benefit broadcast from the Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group. It even ends with a discussion of beaver conflicts and where to go for resolutions. The Mid-Columbia is centered in the middle of Washington State (beaver mecca, from which all wisdom flows) and has good team members like project manager Melissa Babik who heads the heaver relocation project for Yakima that we read about everywhere last fall. I tend to think a river group does serious restoration when they are divided into head, mid and lower. But check out this map for Regional Fisheries Enhancement Groups in Washington. Created by the voters in 1980 it is no wonder why Washington is so good at managing streams and advocating for beavers.

One thing they don’t have is links to us, Beaver Solutions, The Land Trust, the Grand Canyon trust or Joe Wheaton in Utah, Beavers: Wetlands and Wildlife,  or Skip Lisle, to name a few. Don’t you think they should? I’ll see what I can do.

And some good cheer from Tundra sent yesterday by Rickipedia and Art Wolinsky….


Tales of Tails

Posted by heidi08 On March - 9 - 2015Comments Off

Into every life a little rain must fall….

a dam washoutI love this photo, sent by Paul Ramsey of Scotland of the beaver dam on his property washing out during a storm while we were all busy conferencing. Doesn’t look like the cover of a novel you can’t wait to read?

I’m sure that novel would mention that sometimes, after it rains you get things like this:


I spent yesterday organizing 200 x 20 buttons for the keystone species project at the beaver festival. Mark Poulin and his amazing staff finished the order and shipped it this weekend. Kids can ‘earn’ these at the many different exhibits and get a grand tail to display what they know. Honestly if you live anyhere in California or even the west you had better plan a visit on August 1st, because if your child misses out on this delightful opportunity they will never let you hear the end of it. Mark designed each button for us personally and even borrowed a larger machine to make a slightly bigger beaver! Thank you so much Mark for your creativity and hard work!

After which they can add all those buttons to a burlap beavertail that will eventually look like this:
new tailNow I’m off to settle the account for this magical effort. Let’s hope the K.E.Y.S.T.O.N.E. project grant is funded by our friends at the fish and wildlife commission. Don’t you think it deserves to be?

Keep it Rural – with beavers!

Posted by heidi08 On March - 6 - 2015Comments Off

Chalk this up to the list of things I never expected. Maria Finn’s smart beavers and salmon article was just picked up by the Daily Yonder of all places. It’s based in Tennessee and Kentucky and focused on rural living.


The California drought, now in its fourth year, has put a hurtin’ on wild salmon populations in the Sacramento and Klamath rivers. Enter the beaver. Once thought to hinder the salmon’s upstream migration, the role of the tree-downing, dam-building mammal is being reconsidered.

 Beavers, which were almost hunted to extinction in California during the 1800s, can help restore this watery habitat, especially in drought conditions. Fishery experts once believed the animals’ dams blocked salmon from returning to their streams, so it was common practice to rip them out.

 But, consistent with previous studies, research led by Michael M. Pollock, an ecosystems analyst with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shows the opposite: wild salmon are adept at crossing the beavers’ blockages.

 Beavers are tireless workers (and work for free) that raise the sparse water tables.

 ”One of our largest expenses is electricity for pumping water. With beavers on the land, the water tables are higher, and we’ve had a 10% to 15% reduction in pumping costs.”

 Along with saving money, Plank now boasts 76,000 Coho fingerling (very young fish) and 35,000 Chinook fingerling in his property’s rivers.

 So rejoice, fishermen and environmentalists. And respect your new buck toothed friends.

 PS – Beavers are fascinating, FYI.

The blurb links to the full article AND the PBS beaver documentary. How’s that for surprising range? I’m sure people interested in rural living are hurt by drought just as much as salmon, so lets hope they tuck this away and remember it next time beavers make a nuisance of themselves down that way.

The Water Institute at Occidental Arts and Ecology Center has a shiny new website you’ll enjoy checking out. Why not pay them a visit? You’ll especially enjoy the beaver mapping project with Eli Asarian and maybe you can even add some sightings of your own!



Looks like we got ourselves a horse-race!

Posted by heidi08 On March - 5 - 2015Comments Off

Beaverton beaver dam causes park to flood

Nancy Freeman’s home backs up to the park, and her deck has a view of one of the beaver dams. She loves watching the wildlife, and hopes what THPRD says is true.

 ”So much has been displaced because of development. Our animals, the creatures that were here first, we sometimes forget and want to displace them because they inconvenience us.”

 The options are to create a wildlife viewing area, construct a new trail around the flood water or build a bridge over it.

 A date hasn’t been set yet, but THPRD says it will hold a public meeting in April to get feedback on the options. Officials have already been hearing from park visitors.

Hmm, the Beaverton story is shaping up to have all the ingredients of a beaver polity. You remember, like we had in Martinez a few years back. I got several emails from the reporter and the natural resource guy yesterday, and there were a ton of responses to the article. Now I don’t like to gamble, but I’m going to guess that there’s a good chance the park will accommodate the beavers.  I heard from the park yesterday that trapping them out is NOT being considered.

Readers say ‘Go, Beavs’ as THPRD ponders options for beavers at Greenway Park

The Greenway Park beavers are pulling in some interesting and funny comments from folks, most of whom support the beavers.   The comments:

 thomasg86 As a frequent user of the park, I have noticed this transition over the last few years. The “main route” is still mostly clear, except when passing under Scholls Ferry Road… a lot of the flooding seems to be on the “secondary loops” north of there. A big attraction with this park system is the eight or nine continuous miles through the heart of Tigard and Beaverton… that’s a pretty cool resource. So if we have to avoid a couple side trails to make peace with the beaver, I’m okay with that.

 Jimmy Carter Just change the name to Peopleton and everything will be okay.

 kpu7m Long live the beaver state….learn to coexist.

 Values Voter Humans have dammed nearly every major river in North America and flooded the homes of billions of animals. Who is the bigger and far more destructive beast?

 outersepdx Guess this is the only place where the Beavers (OSU) can get a win??? ;) I’m guessing it’s duck fans who want to take the dam out.

 sangre_naranja Go Beavs!!

I’m thinking we should just sit back and watch this one.  It promises to be good.

Ohhh and two stories this morning you might not read anywhere else. The first that a 185 year-old gold beaver coin sold yesterday to a collector in Eugene:

 Eugene dealer snares 165-year-old Oregon ‘Beaver Coin’


Nelkin bought the $5 gold coin in August from a private collector, who had paid $257,000 for it at an auction three months earlier.

 The coin was made in 1849, a decade before the Oregon Territory became a state.

 It’s unknown how many of the Oregon gold coins remain in existence. But fewer than 50 out of the 6,000 $5 coins made in Oregon City in the 19th century have been certified as authentic, Nelkin said.

 Ooh a beaver coin valued at over a quarter of a million. That seems about right to me. Beavers are almost as valuable on a coin as they are in your creek! Amazing!

And this last story has nothing to do with beavers (probably), but blew my mind and I know will interest you. Get ready for a fast ride.

Weasel Rides Woodpecker in Viral Photo—But Is It Real?

Can weasels fly? According to an image captured by amateur photographer Martin Le-May, they can if they hitch a ride on the back of a woodpecker.

The picture shows a least weasel (Mustela nivalis) clutching on the back of a European green woodpecker (Picus viridis), likely as a result of a predatory attack gone awry. (Watch: “Hoarders: Acorn Woodpeckers.”)

Le-May told BBC News he snapped the photo Monday afternoon while visiting Hornchurch Country Park in East London. In fact, his presence may have saved the bird’s life.

 ”I think we may have distracted the weasel, as when the woodpecker landed it managed to escape and the weasel ran into the grass,” he told the BBC.

I know what you’re thinking. Is this a photoshop fake? National Geographic doesn’t think so.

But is the photo now known on Twitter as #WeaselPecker a fake?

 Hany Farid doesn’t think so. Farid is a professor of computer science at Dartmouth College, in New Hampshire, who researches digital forensics and image analysis.

 Farid said that while the image’s low resolution makes performing a detailed analysis difficult, there are several other factors to consider. For starters, because the weasel is virtually hugging the woodpecker, forging such an image would be extremely challenging.

 ”This would have required a nearly perfect and coincidental alignment of the two animals in their original photos so that they could be composited together,” said Farid. “This type of forgery is therefore more difficult to create than, for example, two animals simply standing side-by-side.”

The fact that Le-May has posted several other photos of the scene is another indicator that the images are probably real, because it would be even more problematic to consistently alter two or more photos.

 Finally, Farid said there doesn’t seem to be any obvious lighting, color, focus, or quality differences between the weasel and the bird.

 ”Combined, I don’t see any evidence that the photo is not real,” he said.

That is one lucky weasel. And considering he was probably pouncing for his meal, one lucky woodpecker to boot. The photo is one in a million, but honestly, I couldn’t get this song out of my head all day…

No Irony in Ironytown

Posted by heidi08 On March - 4 - 20152 COMMENTS

-a7c07872c273858bMan vs. beast: Beavers blossom at Greenway Park, dams flood Fanno Creek Trail

Greenway Park used to have a beaver or two living along Fanno Creek, which winds through the area, and the park-goers and animals lived in harmony.

 But now a family of beavers calls it home and they’re flooding the park. The beavers have dammed Fanno Creek, and Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District gated off a section of the flooded trail at least six months ago.

 Even after several days of dry weather, the trail remains underwater. A secondary loop takes walkers and bikers around the high water but, lately, it’s been flooding, too, when it rains, said James Wilson, a frequent trail user.

 Wilson said he has watched the park, which has playgrounds, basketball courts, tennis courts and disc golf as well as an extensive trail system, transform into a lake over the last three years.

 ”Beavers are cool animals but you can’t let them destroy the thing,” he said. “This is not a lake, it’s a park.”

That’s right, beavers are ruining a perfectly good city park with their mucky nature activities. That certainly doesn’t happen in BEAVERTON anyway. I’ve already written the park and the press about flow devices and Bruce wrote me back concerned that the city attorneys have warned the that changing the stream will leave them open to lawsuits. I told him what we did and said that removing beavers also opens you to lawsuits and we’ll see what happens. There are some smart beaver champions out that way and let’s watch and learn.

THPRD was waiting to see if Fanno Creek would wash away the dams, said Bruce Barbarasch, superintendent of natural resources and trails management. But that hasn’t happened, and the park district is considering other options.

 Barbarasch said THPRD could let nature run its course and make a portion of the park a wildlife area. Other options could include rerouting the flooded trail or building a boardwalk or bridge over the area.

 Building a new trail or a boardwalk, however, is expensive and the park district doesn’t have funding for it at the present time, he said.

 Nearly 100 percent of Greenway Park is in a flood plain, Barbarasch said.

One helpful commenter on the article suggested changing the name of the town to Peopleton. Problem solved! Failing that, they all need to watch this video over and over.

Here’s an update from our friend Rusty Cohn at the Napa beaver dams:

two m

Hooded merganser males, crest lowered – Rusty Cohn of Napa

Message Delivery

Posted by heidi08 On February - 27 - 2015Comments Off

Indiana University researcher reports that isolated wetlands matter a great deal – just not the things that make and maintain them.

Isolated wetlands have significant impact on water quality

Geographically isolated wetlands play an outsized role in providing clean water and other environmental benefits even though they may lack the regulatory protections of other wetlands, according to an article by Indiana University researchers and colleagues.

 Given those benefits, the authors argue, decision-makers should assume that isolated wetlands are critical for protecting aquatic systems, and the burden of proof should be on those who argue on a case-by-case basis that individual wetlands need not be protected.

 ”Geographically isolated wetlands provide important benefits such as sediment and carbon retention, nutrient transformation and water-quality improvement, all of which are critical for maintaining water quality,” said lead author John M. Marton, assistant scientist at the IU Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs. “We demonstrate that continued loss of these wetlands would likely cause serious harm to North American waters.”

 Yes it’s true, wetlands are really important, especially when they’re in unconnected areas that aren’t attached to other wetlands.  Our top notch researchers think they’re so important that people should be prevented from ripping out those wetlands. And the government should play a roll in making them.

We don’t have the foggiest idea of how those wetlands get there, but we know they’re important.

Yes, webs are important but spiders don’t matter at all, nests are invaluable but we aren’t sure what makes them. and eggs are vital but who cares about chickens?


Oh alright, maybe you’re getting the football very close to the end zone and it’s up to some other researcher or environmental attorney to get it over the line. Certainly this lays a certain foundation. And I would know JUST where to look for argument if I were trying to save beaver in Indiana.

Citing research literature, the authors say geographically isolated wetlands are highly effective “biogeochemical reactors” that improve water quality. They often retain water longer than protected waters, such as streams and wetlands that are directly connected to navigable water. And they have a higher ratio of perimeter to area, allowing more opportunities for reactions to take place.


This morning a quick update from beaver friend Lisa Owens Viani, the founder of RATS, who guest posted this article on 10,000 birds. Apparently the raptor-killing fiends of the world have come up with the excellent idea to name their new rat poison “HAWK”, because you know, hawks kill rats too, get it?

22Hawk.22-2-400x280It takes a lot of nerve—or something that can’t be printed here—to name your rat poison after the animals that so effectively and efficiently control rodents but that are also being poisoned—as “non target” animals—by your product. The label on Motomco/Bell Lab’s rodenticide “Hawk” even sports a drawing of a hawk getting ready to pounce. But “Hawk”’s active ingredient, a deadly second-generation anticoagulant, bromadialone, has been implicated in the deaths of Red-tailed Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, and other raptors: American Kestrels, Barn Owls, Golden Eagles, Great Horned Owls, and Turkey Vultures. These birds are being poisoned after eating rodents that have been poisoned by products like “Hawk.”

You can read the entire article here. I told Lisa not to worry because this was such a tone deaf marketing decision they could easily turn it to their advantage. Instead of writing outraged letters or presenting them with a cease and desist letter. send the most flowery thank you card you can find, and say how much you appreciate their help in  linking rat poison to hawks, reminding every single buyer who the real victims of their products are. That kind of branding is invaluable. It’s hard work doing it yourself and billboards are very expensive.

Ask when their similar products of OWL or BOBCAT will go on the market, and say you appreciate their help in this matter. If you thank them sincerely enough, I said, that label will disappear.