Because the beaver isn't just an animal; it's an ecosystem!

The Martinez Beavers

Category: Earth Day


IMG_9753Yesterday was an extravaganza of beaver support from a huge Earth Day event at the John Muir House. The activity of creating a ‘Martinez Loves beavers’ locket was so popular that we ran out of our 150 supplies by 11 and had to restock by sending Jon home to get backups which we nearly ran out of all over again. The beaver annIMG_9804iversary card was hugely popular and literally signed by hundreds and hundreds of people. Including two city IMG_9939council members.

Our volunteers were hardworking, cheerful and thank goodness had the stamina to keep up with demand. Champion Leslie Mills maintained her inviting cheerfulness long after the rest of us were worn out and ready to pack up the day. As always, Cheryl’s great photos recorded glory perfectly.IMG_9935

Our beaver as Ecosystem posted was a big hit, John Muir and the park superintendent wore their locket all day, April an Alana did beaver puppet IMG_9868shows in addition to drawing some amazing beaver art, and someone told me that they had learned all about beavers from reading friend Rob Rich’s article in the Earth Island magazine!

I talked to a woman who had attended my talk in Portland, children who knew more about beavers than I did when they moved into Martinez, a teacher who worked was the colleague of the mother of the artist doing our art project this summer, and  someone who reported seeing a beaver in San Ramon creek! I thought you would appreciate seeing some  photos of the wonderful, jubilant, exhausting day.

I was planning to share the cool beaver pendants we were donated for the silent auction, but good lord I’m still tired an that’s enough good news for one day. Mean while Brock Dolman and Kate Lundquist of the OAEC were marching for science!

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Let me start right off by being all meta and saying might just notice something new this morning. It’s the appearance of our ‘links’ which was kindly updated by a new beaver friend who happened to cross our paths. Christopher R. Scharf is a web designer and avid wildlife photographer who contacted me after the recent Times article hoping to photograph beavers. I introduced him to Rusty took him on a beaver trek and afterwards suggested he might not be adverse to lending a little hand. So Chris spent a couple weekends peering at the funky CSS on this site and tweaking the way links appeared (like that one right back there, watch what happens when you scroll over it with your cursor) so they would be easier for you, the very important readers of this page, to follow.

Because beaver friends come and many mysterious packages. Thank you, Chris!

Websites and technology are so important when it comes to saving beavers. Just look at this film which was made of the recent 4th grade visit to the Draper Utah wetlands by the Mapps lab with the Childrens Media Workshop. They even incorporate our favorite clip from Leave it to Beavers with our friends Suzanne Fouty and Carol Evans. Ahh, Jari Osborne’s masterpiece really is the gift that keeps on giving!  Looks like Kelly visited the classroom first, then students visited his property to learn about the wetlands in Draper, Utah.

I particularly love the teachers in this video, who are patient, cheerful and informed about all the way beavers matter. Not to mention the students, who all deserve to attend their very own beaver festival soon. On Earthday the McAdams family will allow visitors to their property to see the wetlands for themselves. He is doing an expansive, admirable job to keep what matters. Here’s another video slideshow made about the day and sent by the class System Support Coach, Patti White. Why not leave some nice comments so they know how wonderful this is?


You know sometimes, your hard work gets ignored or something you wrote and really feel proud of gets tossed aside as “grey literature”, or a program you really hoped would say good things advises folks that flow devices never work and they should eat beavers, and you think, maybe this is just too hard. Maybe saving beavers is too much work. Maybe it can’t be done or if it can be, it needs some one better than me to do it. And you think about throwing in the beaver towel once and for all.

And then you see something like THIS and it changes your whole attitude.

Draper homeowners fight to preserve backyard wetlands despite flood risks

DRAPER — Dozens of students from Oakwood Elementary gathered in the backyard of a Draper residence Friday to see a beaver dam that may soon disappear.

Kris and Kelly McAdams are hoping their backyard wetlands ecosystem can stay, despite calls to remove the natural beaver dams behind their home. While the McAdams see the wetlands as a beautiful feature that adds value to their property, Salt Lake County Flood Control officials are concerned that a failed beaver dam could clog man-made drainage downstream.

 The McAdamses received notice from flood control engineers on Christmas Eve, asking them to remove an “unauthorized deposit of materials,” the beaver dams that they say have been around for years.

“They say the beaver dams are unstable structures, although these have been here for at least 20 years and they have withstood hundreds of high-water events over that time,” Kelly McAdams said. “The dams are well-built here and rather than removing them, they could fortify them, and I suggested putting in a grate system downstream.”

Despite his assertions, county flood control officials worry that debris from the dams could flow down Willow Creek, clog a culvert and cause flooding to nearby homes.

Alyson Heyrend, communications director for Mayor Ben McAdams, said Salt Lake County’s Flood Control authorities have the responsibility of keeping streams and channels clear of any obstructions.

She said a compromise was offered to the property owners near the dams to support the wetland features while removing the dams, but Kris and Kelly McAdams have maintained their opposition to the removal.

They have appealed the notice to remove the dams and have rejected the compromise offer, taking their case before an administrative law judge, who will rule in early May on whether the beaver dams will be removed.

Rep. Carol Spackman-Moss, D-Holladay, also arrived to lend her support to the property owners.

The county needs to look at the bigger picture, and see the effect that it would have on the wetlands,” Spackman-Moss said. “For these students to come out here and see what they have been studying and get a sense of the damage it would do and how this would all disappear, they would lose something so valuable.”Confe

Spackman-Moss said the county would need to address the issue, and said council members for Salt Lake County ought to come see the property for themselves as they address property and public issues.

Confession coming: either tears of joy are streaming down my face or I just climaxed twice. (Or possibly both). Oh my goodness! This is POWERFUL stuff. Spackman-Moss is a democrat from the 37th district, life long teacher and grandmother. And the class full of fourth graders are FOURTH graders who wrote save the beavers on their hats!

I need to sit down.

In my conversation with Kelly on Saturday I had lots of praise for what he was doing. And two learned-the-hard-way pieces of advice. Have his attorney talk to Mitch, and BRING CHILDREN. “We didn’t know it would be so powerful” I told him truthfully. But it always is. Kelly’s a father with grown sons. But I told him to find some youth. Boy scouts, kindergarten, daisy princesses, and have Allison work with them to draw pictures, make hats, what ever activity that looks cute enough for the media to take photos of.

And guess what?

Kelly you are doing an awesome, awesome job.  I’m so impressed with your ability to pull this together, not get intimidated or overwhelmed and still seem so very reasonable. You are a credit to your state and a true kindred spirit of Martinez. I would only offer one criticism at all, and that is that last Earth day OUR hats were a little cuter. 🙂

i-dont-need-teethCAITLIN


 

Oh and for those who might be interested I sent these comments and corrections to the edible beaver program Outside/In yesterday. Felt good to get it off my chest and even if it changes no one’s mind, I dare say someone will definitely read it anyway.

proof


One of the artists who donated to the silent auction (Sara Aycock) sent tiny little business cards that were SO adorable I had to go see about designing our own. Turns out they are ‘mini’ cards designed by MOO, about half the size of a regular card. Right now you can design 100 for under 20 and chose a different back design for EVERY ONE. I ordered the cheapest kind just to see if I liked them.

cards So I picked four different designs with three each of Cheryl’s great photos on the back. They arrived yesterday and were AMAZING – but there was a mistake on the logo. I wrote them and they’re reissuing for free. Which means we have 100 adorable unusable business cards to use as an art project. Hmmm…

Now I’ve been trying to think up our Earth day art project and hadn’t yet hit on an inspiration. It’s the beavers 10th anniversary in Martinez and I wanted it to be special. But of course not too complicated for kids and volunteers and not to previewexpensive for us. And nothing we’ve already done before. I already came up with a giant card folks can sign wishing them Happy Anniversary. Wasn’t there something that could be done with these perfect little photos?

LOCKETS!!! Little photos of things you love go in LOCKETS!!! A little locket kids make themselves…and can wear on a string around their necks at the event so everyone can see them. One side could be a photo of our most beloved beavers (beautifully printed on card stock from my failed cards), and the other side should be a photo of something that represents Martinez….since the two are “Married” forever more…..

Beavers and Martinez…hmmm…(You know I considered a photo of the mayor just because I’m troublesome that way)….but I really wanted something more wholesome.

Something that represents Martinez…and it’s for an Earth day celebration at John Muir’s House….and he’s the greatest conservationist and beavers have been called the original conservationists….I think we have  a match made in heaven!16938893_10208977203533577_6242861908722332437_n

earthday locket

We even have all the supplies left over from other art projects! Glue sticks, scissors, card stock, string, and lovely keys to your heart. I’m so excited I’m wearing mine right now. This is the perfect way to say “Happy Anniversary” to our beavers. And its all because of a lucky mistake.

Which the beavers kind of are anyway.

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Tomorrow is Earthday Birthday celebration at the John Muir Historic  site and the AWARD WINNING nonprofit Worth A Dam will be on hand to answer beaver questions and do a fun beaver activity with the children.  Here is a noble volunteer demonstrating said activity.IMG_0768IMG_0770

 

Now usually our activities are run by a handful of loyals who form the backbone of Worth A Dam. But this year  two of our core members are literally out of state, and FRO has gotten so busy being an artist that we only get her for the festival, so I got a little panicky and started asking for help. I asked Deidre of Oakland who runs the silent auction at the festival. And she was doing another event in the morning but was happy to come in the afternoon. Then I thought of these charming girls and their hardy grandma. They have been beaver supporters since the very beginning, know everything about them, and even asked about doing a children’s booth at the next festival. Here they are on the footbridge after watching Jari Osborne’s “Leave it to beaver’ documentary on PBS. They will be helping in the morning with their intrpid grandma!

Not fully staffed yet, I thought I’d reach out to Caitlin McCombs of Mountain House.  She was very interested in learning about how to help and agreed to come all day! She even had the courage to be exited about it! So I felt pretty confident we could carry the day off well.

It never rains but it pours, they say. Yesterday I got an unexpected message from someone I never met who’s a student at UCB ‘naturalist’ program named Leslie. She lives in town, works for the city, and wondered if she could help in preparation for a presentation she’s giving in May that needs a service component. Surprisingly, she is coming to help us unload and staying all day tomorrow.

Well, okay then.

I figure if we end up with more volunteers than actual children, I’ll talk April and Alana to being undercover agents and get them to recruit.  Or just pretend their doing the activity and having ENORMOUS fun and make other kids come investigate. So it will all work I’m sure.

Or, we can leave it all to their capable hands and Jon and I can just drive to Reno. 🙂

Just to keep us all on our toes, there was another dramatic story of a beaver attack yesterday. This one from Latvia. It hasn’t received multiple reports yet, but I’m waiting.

Beaver attacks Latvian man, who couldn’t be helped because police thought his report was a prank call

Inna Plavoka, editor at the local Seychas daily newspaper, told Latvian Radio 4 that the man, who was referred to only as Sergei, was walking outside late at night when a beaver ran up out of the bushes and bit him in the leg. Knocked to the ground, he tried to get up and run away, only to be bitten again.

The beaver then stood guard, refusing to let him get up. In the words of the Latvian Public Broadcasting report: “The beaver was in effect holding Sergei hostage.”

Sergei attempted to call police for help, but was hung up on because they believed he was making a prank call. So he then tried a friend, who also believed him to be joking, until Sergei finally convinced him he was in peril.

Then the beaver was holding him HOSTAGE and he couldn’t get away. His friend sped to the police to get help and was pulled over for speeding. When he told them what he was doing they thought he was drunk and asked him to submit to a breathalyzer.

I think I’m drunk just because I’m typing this BS.

So a beaver, leapt in the to attack a TWO MEN, bit one twice, and then HELD that man hostage?  And the police didn’t believe it because it was unbelievable? And the article reports its true but only manages the first name of Sergie? I find myself unable to offer a comment on this claim. I’m going to have to rely on my good friend Monty to help.