Archive for the ‘Creative Solutions’ Category

“Are you a good witch? Or a bad witch?”

Posted by heidi08 On May - 23 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

The “Beaver Patrol” in Juneau understands how beavers are important to salmon. It was started by our friends Bob Armstrong and Mary Willson years ago. But obviously beaver beliefs are still forming and changing up there, because the forest service isn’t so sure about them. The reporter still thinks they live in the dam, and even one of their volunteers needs to look up the word “Destructive” in the dictionary, I think.

Coho habitat destroyed by beaver dam dismantler

Last summer was a great year for coho salmon returns to Dredge Creek. Unfortunately, salmon redds in the creek below Dredge Lake have been negatively impacted by someone it appears was trying to help them, says the Beaver Patrol.

The “Beaver Patrol” is a group of volunteer Juneau naturalists and concerned citizens who have been working in the Dredge Creek and Dredge Lake area — U.S. Forest Service Land — for about five years. They and the Forest Service manage the dams and have improved salmon habitat in the stream, said member Chuck Caldwell.

Another factor helping Dredge Creek’s coho rearing? Beavers.

Caldwell had taken note of three different redds — nests of pebbles where salmon deposit their eggs — just above a beaver dam. A fourth was outside the main channel and needed a nearby dam to maintain its water depth. The destruction of the dam lowered the water and this winter that area froze, he said.

“He was tearing (the dams) out once or twice a week. Clearly he just hated beavers. He also wanted to dig in the stream to make a nice, deep channel. He dug through two of the redds,” Caldwell said.

The digging and the dismantling of the dams destroyed all the salmon redds he had observed in that area, Caldwell said.

In the first half of November, Beaver Patrol member Jos Bakker ran into and confronted the man when he was in the process of destroying a dam. The man doesn’t appear to have come back after that, but the damage was already done, Caldwell said.

The Beaver Patrol emphasizes beavers’ positive impact on salmon rearing.

“If you look back a couple of decades, people used to think that if you got the dams out, the fish could move back easier,” Caldwell said. “That’s not the limiting factor in the coho population. The limiting factor is having a habitat the juvenile cohos can live in.”

“By and large, it’s a safe bet that beaver dams do provide excellent coho rearing habitat,” Schneider said. “They can cause major problems for adult cohos to access fish habitat, and that’s probably what gets most folks in the public tempted to tear out dams. It has to be a fine balance, like anything else … In a normal setting, you would have these major flood events on occasion. It would rearrange them and keep them in check. You’re not going to get that in Dredge. On top of that, there are not normal predator levels that you would find in a normal wild setting.”

Dams’ impact on adult salmon in a setting like Dredge is something about which the Beaver Patrol and the Forest Service are not in complete agreement. Member Mary Willson says 90 percent of the time beavers are actually helpful to coho populations. Schneider disagrees.

When he and the cub scouts notch the dens, they use specific techniques and tools to ensure muddy debris doesn’t end up covering redds.

Beaver management does require a balance, Miller said.

It’s one of those interesting situations,” he said. “It’s true that habitat is being created, but at the same time, beavers are very destructive.”

In areas where beavers might create an aesthetic issue, the patrol has put a cloth around the trees that will keep the beavers from gnawing them, Miller said.

In my old days back before my time as a psychologist we used to call that “they’re good, they’re bad, they’re really good, they’re really bad” kind of messaging ‘schizophrenogenic’.  Meaning if it kind of makes you crazy. Of course now they no longer think schizophrenia is caused by parenting BUT I would argue the term still applies to beavers. Just look at the dedication of folks in a very small area on both sides of the fence. Bob Armstrong even got the forest service to bring out Mike Callahan to talk about flow devices in 2009, but they never let him install one. The breadth of understanding of beaver benefits there is razor thin. But still a lot thicker than some places.

Here’s what Michael Pollock said to me in our podcast interview. “Does some particular beaver dam ever prevent some particular salmon from getting over at some particular time? Sure. But that’s asking the wrong question”.

Beaver dams are doing so much good for so many salmon it balances out.

Here’s my own unscientific variation: “Do people ever get hit by ambulances? Of course they do. Does that mean we shouldn’t have ambulances? Absolutely not.


Beaver Dam at Mendenhall Glacier: Bob Armstrong

Beaver Deceivers Meet The Press

Posted by heidi08 On May - 6 - 2017Comments Off on Beaver Deceivers Meet The Press

Remember that Mill Creek beaver project in Washington? I heard from Ben about this yesterday, clarifying that it was a single walled pipe that went over the dam, not under. (Also he’ll make changes to link to our site soon, thank you very much.) Looks like they’re getting a lot more press this week, which is great.

Mill Creek tries new tactic to prevent beaver dams from flooding nearby roads

MILL CREEK, Wash. – Beavers in Penny Creek are in for a surprise.

In an attempt to solve a perpetual flooding issue that causes traffic delays, the City of Mill Creek has commissioned Beavers Northwest to build a “beaver deceiver.” The system of pipes has no formal name but the idea is to let beavers co-exist with humans and end the flooding issue.

This is a great story, and will someone please pinch me because I’m obviously dreaming at the public works quote?  Great work by our friends at Beavers NorthWest. This is really good coverage and fun to see. The reporter was obviously having a delightful time getting to use new tools that day, he even filmed the install with a go pro and tweeted about it, but you have to go to the article to see that, because I can’t embed it here.

Meanwhile, we’re off to the Mother’s day event at Wild Birds Unlimited in Pleasant hill. Always a fun day, and it will be a great chance for you to meet Gary Bogue and Joan Morris who inherited his column! (And for some unknown reason Chuck Todd is listed as a guest…I don’t exactly understand, will birds be on Meet the Press this sunday?) Jon and I are there the first half of the day, and Cheryl and Lory will see it close. Come see the bald eagle, stock up on bird seed and stop by and say Hi!

Beaver Fireside Chats

Posted by heidi08 On May - 2 - 2017Comments Off on Beaver Fireside Chats

Three beaver stories you don’t see every day…from places you truly expect to know better. The first is from Maine where a man believes he saw castoroides in person. Yes, really. He doesn’t want to give the location to make sure no people want go hunting for him.

Maine Man Claims to Have Witnessed Giant Beaver

A man from Maine claims to have seen a gigantic beaver. His estimations of size were about 14 feet long and weighing over 350 pounds. The man didn’t want to give away the exact location, for fear someone would try to harm the giant rodent.

“It was about 30 years ago,” he told Crypto Crew researcher Thomas Marcum. “It was a very general geographic area,” he added.

The anonymous eyewitness says he doesn’t want to give too much information about the area of the alleged sighting in order to protect this “rare animal” from “unwanted” human activity.

The man believes the rodent was about 14 feet long with an estimated weight of 350 pounds. It is believed that giant beavers, also known as Castoroides, went extinct about 10,000 years ago.

You saw a giant beaver 30 years ago? That’s nothing, a mere 47 years ago I could fly down stairs! I carefully explained to my disbelieving sister that I could only do it when no one was watching, because mysteries must be protected you know. Which I think makes my story more believable. To be fair, people were certain the ivory billed woodpecker was extinct until someone found one lurking in the back woods. I guess it’s theoretically possible castorides could be hiding in Maine.

Well, maybe not Maine.

Onto Montana where a wastewater staffer who has been told to protect the precious levys by killing beavers. A lot of beavers.

Pat Brook has nothing against beavers, but Hurricane Katrina forced his hand

Up until six years ago, though, Brook says, he’d never given beaver a second thought.

“Why would I?”

The answer is Hurricane Katrina. After New Orleans’ levees failed in 2005, FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began reevaluating other levees across the country, identifying deficiencies and tasking local officials with fixing them. When Missoula’s time came in 2011, the feds found that beavers were burrowing into a portion of the levee stretching from California Street to Russell. Their directive: Get rid of the beavers. And so, over the past six years, Brook has trapped 21 beavers near the California Street footbridge with the help of Dave Wallace, a Kila-based private contractor who specializes in wildlife control and removal.

“Let’s face it, you’re right on a primary corridor there,” Wallace says. “Basically, trapping is just preventative maintenance.”

Even so, Brook hates to call what they do trapping. It’s a practice he doesn’t support. “I mean, what’s the word I’m looking for? Barbaric?” From day one, he’s bucked the advice he says he received from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to simply kill the critters. Instead, he’s insisted on releasing the captured beavers at either Kelly Island or Fort Missoula, the two sites that FWP, which issues his permits, instructed him to use for relocation. Keeping the beavers alive carries an additional $50-per-beaver charge, and Wallace says Missoula is “the only place [in the state] where that’s carried out.” Brook sees it as money well spent.

“It sucks, but I gotta do it,” he says. “There’s a reason I’m here doing it, but I’d rather leave them alone.” According to Brook, the city’s bill for beaver relocation since 2011 totals $15,023.03.

City officials haven’t exactly been keen to discuss their approach to the beaver problem, fearful of how the trapping might play with the public. In fact, Brook found himself at the center of a dust-up in early April after two women confronted Wallace while he was setting cages. Brook says the situation escalated rapidly, drawing in both Missoula police and FWP.

The April incident has made increased public awareness inevitable. So Brook is now crafting a new plan, one that calls for installing large beaver-resistant rocks, or rip-rap, along the threatened stretch of levee. The project will have “a hefty price-tag,” he says, and would have to get the OK not just from city administrators, but from the feds as well.

I don’t know about you, but I’m still scratching my head about this article even though there not a word I disagree with. The waterway would be full of beavers using it as a freeway on their way to disperse, and killing every single one and throwing away the skin isn’t ‘trapping’ by any stretch of the word.

But the odds of him getting approval for  the rip rap plan are pretty slim. Just  like the odds of relocated beavers dumped in a neighboring lake surviving are also pretty slim. The army corps of Engineers were always crazy about their levies, and since Katrina they’ve become downright levy nazi’s. Remember a couple years back when they told California that if vegetation was left standing on a levy it wouldn’t be treated as their responsibility in a flood?

Sure, more erosion. That’s what levy’s need.

Well I wish Mr. Brooks all the luck in the world on his quest, and wrote him some advice about cost saving arguments to wield. In the meantime we should just all appreciate the fact that there is at least ONE wastewater operator in Montana that thinks endless depredation of beavers is cruel and pointless, and that’s something.Capture

Finally, CBC radio is fondly remembering one of their most famous stories today. Apparently this story was listened to and shared more than any other. The narrator is a mild-mannered canadian man who apparently wished the beaver no harm, and holds no grudges. I found the whole thing grizzly in the extreme, but I was somewhat touched by his comments at the end. Listen if you dare.