Archive for the ‘Earth Day’ Category

Conservation Awareness

Posted by heidi08 On April - 17 - 2015Comments Off on Conservation Awareness

What a great article from Troy Alabama. I won’t say of all places because Alabama is the site of the most important fine EVER for removing a beaver dam and destroying the habitat of the rare watercress darter. Looks like the city of Troy learned nothing from their northern cousin’s misfortune.

Dam destruction raises concern

The city of Troy tore down a beaver dam beside McKinley Drive near the walkway that connects the Edge apartment complex to campus.

Vaughn Daniels, environmental services director for the city of Troy, said the city worked with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to make sure the dam removal was environmentally safe.

 The beavers were not killed, Daniels said.  According to Daniels, the dam was a threat to the road.

 After the beaver dam was removed, the pond it created drained.

 Members of Troy University’s Environmental Club moved animals from the remains of the pond to the Lagoon.

 “In one day out there doing a visual survey, we saw 3-foot grass carp, sunfishes, red-winged blackbirds, belted kingfishers, musk turtles, pond sliders, gray and green tree frogs, Eastern garter snakes, as well as a huge female great horned owl,” said Tanner Stainbrook, a senior ecology and field biology major from Huntsville and a member of the Environmental Club, in an email. 

Members of the Environmental Club have voiced concern about the effects tearing down the dam will have on the area.  “The big thing is that this eliminated the major wetland ecosystem in the area,” Stainbrook said. “This mud hole, in two days, will be just that. There’ll be no water left.”

Group members said they were concerned that this may harm the great horned owl’s habitat, as the owl fed on the frogs in the pond.

A university, an environmental club, and a sympathetic reporter. Something tells me these beavers might be making a splash. I spent time yesterday tracking all the major players so I could make sure they new about solutions and consequences of dam removal. I haven’t heard anything back, but I’m hopeful. And it gave me a new idea for responding to these stories. Since we review every beaver report that’s written every year, we may as well give notice to the best and the worst beaver articles of each caagory. Gradually notify contenders that they’re in the running and pick the winners in January. I already got Robin excited about the idea and she’s going to help! I took the liberty of inspiring myself for the project with some graphics this morning. Hahaha! Aren’t they fun?

best beaver bylinebad beaver byline

A less pleasant article came out of Norway yesterday about one of the many hazards of beaver life. It’s nice to see it written about respectfully though  (except for the headline).

Timber! Beaver crushed by tree it was felling


The unlucky beaver trapped under a birch. Photo: Beate Strøm Johansen

A beaver in Norway has been crushed to death after misjudging which way the tree it was gnawing down was going to fall.

 Beate Strøm Johansen, a Zoologist at the Agder Natural History museum in Kristiansand on the southern tip of Norway, was called to the scene after a local logger stumbled upon the unfortunate animal.

 “This beaver has been extremely unlucky,” she told The Local. “I hope it’s not something that happens very often for the beavers’ sake.”

 Johansen said that beavers normally have an uncanny ability to predict when and where a tree is likely to fall.

 “When the tree is falling they have to jump aside so the tree doesn’t hit them. Instinctively, they should know where it is falling, but sometimes they don’t know which way to jump,” she explained.

I might be strange, but it seems almost kind of sweet to read this article. As if it mattered that a beaver was killed by a tree when we all know sooo many are killed on purpose. Yes trees are unpredictable, and I’m not sure beavers have any uncanny abilities to know where they’re falling except practice and luck. As the old saying goes, that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Now it’s time to invite you to the birthday Earthday event at John Muir tomorrow. The event information is here for you to print. The guest speaker is going to be Beth Pratt for the wildlife federation, the winner of the conservationist of the year is going to be our friend Camilla Fox, and the non-profit of the year is going to be our friends at the River Otter Ecology Project. My congressman is getting a lifetime legacy award, which we hope he will be able to pick up in person. At the moment my office is literally surrounded with art supplies for our ‘build your own totem’ project. Rusty from Napa is coming to help with our booth and 57 other environmental exhibits will be on hand to celebrate the day. Plus Frank Helling as John Muir, which is sooo appealing. Whatever your planning tomorrow stop right now and plan to come. It will be an amazing day.

awards 2014My graphic for the award winners will be a big sign. The background is Muir’s letter to Enos Mills congratulating him on his conservation work and inviting him to the house. See for yourself.

Muir letter









Some good beaver news that might pass unnoticed…

Posted by heidi08 On February - 28 - 2015Comments Off on Some good beaver news that might pass unnoticed…

The first is a new article from Rochestor Minnesota where the outdoor reporter has surprisingly nice things to say about beaver.

 Chris Kolbert: Beavers create havens for trout — and anglers


  Beaver ponds are one of my favorite places to fish trout, and studies have shown that they can enhance trout and salmon populations. The large rodents are engineering geniuses, building dams to deepen the water, creating habitat that allows them to survive harsh winters.

 Just upstream, a beaver lodge, made of logs and branches, was built into the stream bank to create an impenetrable fortress in which the animals could live. As is typical for beavers, a food bed of freshly cut saplings was buried in the pond, with only the tips of the branches rising above the ice.

 I moved out of the willows and cast into a shallow riffle below the beaver dam. As the line passed a large boulder, another fish picked up the bait. This time, it was a spunky 12-inch brook trout that gobbled up the nightcrawler.

 The mid-day sun beamed down on the water as I turned back. For a short time at least, I’d cured my case of cabin fever — and I had a few beavers to thank for that.

The photo is a dam on a trout stream in northeast Iowa creates a deep pool that’s perfect for trout. Beaver dams can cause problems for landowners, but they can be an angler’s best friend.

(Except in Scotland and Wisconsin where they are terrified of them.)

Thanks Chris for reminding us of yet ANOTHER reason to appreciate beavers. We always need more. Although I won’t post this article anywhere near our beaver dam, because the last thing we need is a beaver snagged by some fishing tackle or tangled in line!

More good news from Ohio because Sharon Brown sent me the article on Mason we missed when I was away conferencing.

Controversy Builds Around Beaver Dams

ONow there’s a story you don’t read every day from Ohio. They are still hard at work deciding if they can stand learning such new things and co-existing with beavers, but I’m thinking with BWW on their side and some very concerned residents they have a dam good shot at success! Go here to read the full article with has only 1 or 2 things I’m scratching my head over.

For example it says there are “30 beaver families” in this park. Where on earth does that stat come from? Do they mean 30 dams? Hopefully Owen and Sharon will explain that one dam doesn’t equal one family. Our family maintained as many as four at one time. People have all kinds of complicated statistical methods to infer beaver population, but honestly. The only way you’re going to know for sure is just by watching.

And remember, it was Scott Stolensberg of Ohio’s perfect Glass Farm Beaver photo that gave me permission to use his photo and do this.

Keystone Beaver Arch

Photo by Scott Stolensberg, artwork by Worth A Dam

Now I’m off to record a post-conference interview with Furbearer Defender Radio, to talk about what was learned at the State of the Beaver. Hopefully it will be up and share-able sometime soon. Wish me luck!


Beavers, Saltwater and Salmon

Posted by heidi08 On February - 16 - 2015Comments Off on Beavers, Saltwater and Salmon

If it’s February, it’s time for dispersers! This story is from Burien Washington.

IMG_6445-500x375Meet ‘Valentino,’ a Beaver rescued at Three Tree Point on Valentine’s Day

One local resident quipped, “It takes a village to heal a beaver.” For several hours on Valentine’s Day afternoon, nearby neighbors gathered around a large beaver that was beached, likely injured, at one of the public access points just north of Three Tree Point.

 Big questions circulated:

imagejpeg_0-3-357x500 -How did this fresh water-inhabiting mammal end up on the salt water shoreline?
-Where did it come from?
-Was it sick, injured, in shock, in pain?
-Would it survive?

 Some imagined that it had been a stowaway on a barge and somehow got dumped into the Sound. Others thought it had been washed down one of the local streams. No one remembered having ever seen a beaver in this area.

We know the answers to those questions, right? That beavers disperse at this time of year to find their own habitat, and that these fresh water animals often use salt water passages to get around. Three tree point is an easy 1 mile  swim across Puget sound to or from Vashon island. And there’s a lake and stream nearby as well. I’m sure he was fairly docile to pick up. Beavers usually are. (Unless you’re from Belarus.)

Two great ‘finally’s this morning, the first some new research out of Australia examining the fact that wetlands actually sequester carbon. (I believe the word your looking for here in response is “Duh!”) And the second a story I’ve been waiting for since Maria Finn contacted me way back in October. Apparently it’s been so long in the making that all sign of Worth A Dam’s contribution has been eroded from the story but trust me, we’re in there!

Leave it to Beavers

Once considered a pesky rodent, the animals are busy saving California’s salmon populations.

In an unexpected twist to California’s drought saga, it turns out that beavers, once reviled as a nuisance, could help ease the water woes that sometimes pit the state’s environmentalists and fishermen against its farmers.

 In California, where commercial and recreational salmon fishing brings in $1.5 billion a year, and agriculture earns $42.6 billion annually, farmers and fishermen have long warred over freshwater from the Klamath and Sacramento rivers. Dams built for reservoirs on these rivers have cut off many salmon from their breeding areas, which has severely depleted the populations. Typically, up to 80 percent of the diverted water is used by agriculture, much of it sent to the arid Central Valley region where moisture-demanding crops like almonds are now being intensively farmed.

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.

In addition, the dams often reduce the downstream transport of egg-suffocating silt to the gravel where salmon spawn, and create deeper, cooler water for juvenile fish and adult salmon and steelhead. The resulting wetlands also attract more insects for salmon to eat. In ongoing research that covered six years, Pollock and his colleagues showed that river restoration projects that featured beaver dams more than doubled their production of salmon.

 Can the animals help bring back the Coho salmon? “Absolutely,” Pollock says. “They may be the only thing that can.”

Hurray for Pollock! And hurray for beavers! Now let’s get this story picked up in more places and keep repeating the message until even Trout Unlimited stops ripping out dams! Maria said her original article was intended for the Guardian, but I guess there was beaver saturation with all the reporting in Devon so they never wanted to follow through. Of course SATURATION is the point. Ahem. And the point that California should care about.

But don’t worry, there are still the usual nay-sayers.


Photo: Márcio Cabral de Moura

But California Department of Fish and Wildlife environmental scientist

Matthew Meshriy says North America’s largest rodent is still often unwelcome in the state’s agricultural areas, particularly the Central Valley, where their dams can interfere with the complicated water infrastructure vital to farms. “If we had a more natural system and grew things appropriate to the land and at an intensity level that was sustainable for the long term,” says Meshriy, ”then a beaver could be a powerful part of it. But that’s not the case here.”

 Despite such resistance, beavers are enjoying a comeback in California, even building dams in downtown San Jose, Martinez, and Napa. And interest is increasing elsewhere: Pollock has been hosting standing-room-only workshops on the benefits of beavers in salmon watersheds all along the West Coast.

 “Fishermen welcome beaver dams much more than the human-built dams on salmon streams,” says Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “If beavers are allowed to do their jobs, they’ll help the fishermen keep salmon on the plates.”

It would be wonderful if more fishermen in California knew enough to thank beavers. When we’re done with the pacific conversion, and the midwest conversion, then we can start working on the atlantic. Those anglers have a LONG way to go!

Tidings of Beaver Comfort and Joy

Posted by heidi08 On June - 26 - 2014Comments Off on Tidings of Beaver Comfort and Joy


 Backyard beaver

Living on Bear Creek, we take great pleasure in watching the wildlife. A few days ago, my partner, Tom, came running in shouting, “Beaver! Beaver in the river!” He grabbed his binoculars and raced to the back window.

I grew up in a big city and thought beavers were ancient, extinct creatures seen only in picture books. I was shocked to actually see one in my backyard.

She was standing in the water on her hind legs, reaching for leaves on a tree that had fallen across the creek. Through the binoculars, I could see her chubby, brown belly and her tiny little hands carefully picking the leaves and stuffing them into her mouth. After she had eaten everything she could reach, she let go and floated down the river.

 The image of the beaver stayed with me all that day and into the next. It felt like a gift meant to be treasured. I kept telling myself: Don’t forget the beaver. Hold on to the image of her in your mind.

 The Daily Tidings is a charming media group out of Oregon and Jessica Bryan’s joyful descant on having a beaver in her backyard is a welcome change. You might want to go read the whole thing so they can count your traffic as evidence that beavers sell subscriptions! In the mean time, I will just think about what we’ve all learned from keeping beavers in our minds.

Yesterday I received a pressured email from Michelle Roberts of NBC Bay Area wanting to talk about beavers and turtles – she said she saw an article where I discussed (I can’t imagine?). We set up an interview that got eclipsed by several fires and arrests in the South Bay, so I introduced her to Beaver friend Leslee Hamilton of the Guadelupe River Park Conservancy and she did a short interview at the end of last nights news, which I sadly can’t find online. You might have seen it? I also spent the day fixing our paypal link and learning about Paypal Here which will let us take credit cards at the beaver festival!

Cheryl took this awesome photo Sunday night with our new festival team members after our cheerful, productive dinner. Clearly the beavers were grateful for our hard planning work and decided to put on a show. If you made a paper bag beaver puppet at Earth Day you know that kits start out with white teeth which turn orange as they grow because of the iron in their diet. This teenager shows us he’s well is well on his way to the bright orange badge of adulthood. See for yourself for yourself:

Yearling 2014

Yearling shows off 2014 his growing up teeth – Cheryl Reynolds

Word is out about the 2015 State of the Beaver Conference. Leonard is happily lining up presenters and sponsors. He has asked me to present again on our famous urban beavers, and we found the perfect house by the river belonging to his friends which we can rent that will take the dog. (No WIFI though, so you may have to live without my dulcet ramblings for a few days.) Maybe I can dash something out at the hotel during the breaks!10410848_665549646856966_2127178050104604478_n

I’m thinking the poster for such an important conference might need more pizazz. So I dressed it up a bit…too much?

leonard 2

Full Circle

Posted by heidi08 On June - 11 - 2014Comments Off on Full Circle

Apparently Channel 7’s news agreed that Moses footage was the cutest thing ever. I shared it with the reporter who interviewed me on the bridge earlier this year, and she passed it to the team. Good credits for Moses! I can’t embed it but click below to get to the story – and tell me btw another feel-good story that has a shelf life of 7 years?

CaptureApparently it took a team of engineers to solve the problem! Who knew? I thought it was one shirtless man with a shovel?


A series of lovely ponds created by beaver dams in Alberta is shown to us in “Hiking with Barry“, a breath-taking blog about the trekking adventures of a hardy Canadian.

It’s wonderful to imagine beavers having all this space to themselves. This particular adventure goes through old beaver habitat in pristine country and pieces together what must have been a multi-family beaver operation. What we know is that beavers are smart enough to use the bitter-tasting furs for building material and the leave the delicious Aspens for dinner!

But maybe it wasn’t entirely left to the beavers, because there’s a gravel road, a near by research facility and he finds this rusting near a pond:

Looks to me like a ‘beaver baffle’ which is a Canadian invention meant to protect culverts from beavers. Maybe that gravel road needed some protecting. Then again, maybe the fact that it’s lying here and there are no more beavers left with a pristine road means someone gave up on the baffle idea and took matters into their own hands.


Still its a lovely look at lovely habitat. Go check it out here:

Last night’s beavers did not disappoint – although they are clearly thinking we don’t yet deserve to see the baby head at a reasonable hour. I think we counted all 6 beavers. At times it was hard to know where to film. There were beavers to the left and right and more emerging and diving every moment.  Nancy Jones from the Blue Heron Preserve  in Georgia was enormously impressed. She is a former high school art teacher who created the preserve after a particularly ill-intentioned developer lost the land, (which is a story I love very much).

The Lake Emma Wetlands property was added to the Preserve due to an EPA action in 2002. The developer owner, filled the original stream channel, a violation of the Clean Water Act and also diverted the water flow into a new hand dug channel. The Army Corps of Engineers permitted him to lower the level of the dam that held the original lake waters and all of these actions combined accelerated the demise of the wetlands.

She is dedicated to the health of her slice of ‘nature in the city’ and has the good sense to realize that beavers are a big part of that. She wanted to come to Martinez to see how we managed. She and her friend were amazed to see beavers swimming right under them, and even hear them at times. Her preserve is right in the middle of Atlanta but she has been thrilled and excited to watch their progress. She showed me the photo of the beautiful island lodge they have and talked about wanting to make starter dams to encourage them to build in more of the preserve. She couldn’t believe how anti-beaver all of Georgia was, but she was loving learning about them and trying to get others to do the same. Did the beavers need trenches dug for them through the channels so they could be sure of more water?

I smiled, hardly believing that such beaver benevolence could happen in that particular state. Remember, this is the state where I first read about the shocking tail bounty when I was a young and tender-hearted beaver reporter. I was so upset by the story I sent the original children’s drawings from our very first Earth day event directly to the commissioners who made the decision. (Even better, I arranged for the friend of a friend who lived in Georgia send them herself, so I could be sure they would be opened!) Remember these?


Now here I was, talking to a woman from Georgia on our bridge who was asking me if the beavers she cared about needed trenches dug for them?

Trust me, I smiled. If the beavers need trenches they will dig them all by themselves.

Making a beaver army

Posted by heidi08 On April - 27 - 2014Comments Off on Making a beaver army

WORKING7It turns out that convincing people to think new ways about beavers doesn’t take prestigiously published papers, tables of data, award winning researchers, or successful salmon. It doesn’t mean lectures or slides or documentaries. I hate to break it to the universities and fellowships but people aren’t persuaded by science. Just look at climate change or evolution. It doesn’t matter how much you prove it or disprove it. People are persuaded by engagement. A personal experience that touches them and takes their own energy and thought.

And yesterday at John Muir’s Earth Day these children (and their parents) were engaged.

amy3Yesterday 5 lbs of buttons for eyes, 400 forks, 250 kit tails and nearly 300 adult tails were turned into a paper bag beaver army, carefully designed to halt the enemy with a round of “AWWW” so that the subtle weapon of CARING could be neatly slipped in between the steel ribs of indifference.

BUSYWe were so busy all day that we were grateful for the few momentary lulls in traffic. We saw children and parents talking about beavers, learning about beavers, understanding why adults have orange teeth, and making beavers with their own unique flair. One little girl made a pirate beaver. One boy made a cyclops. And one delightful beaver was lovingly crafted with a belly button.

cute kidwithkit2

Beavers were celebrated, clarified, and personalized. Adults who thought they ate fish were righteously corrected by their children who explained that they ate willow. One little girl crisply clarified that they ate “CAMBIUM”.  Martinez residents  wondered how its beavers were doing, where dad had found a new wife, where the young beavers dispersed to, and why other cities didn’t have beavers.


Jon and Jean were consumed most of the day, passing out bags, selecting ears and letting the spirit of the beaver take over the hardworking craftschildren at the table. Since our artist FRO couldn’t be with us this year, it was left to Jon and Jean to supervise the masses. Jon said he surprised himself by how much fun he had. Cheryl  as usual was busy behind the camera taking these wonderful photos. And I was schmoozing about beavers at the booth.

 jonworkingAUNTIE JEAN

HEIDISeveral times during the day, someone walked up to the booth to thank me for the festivals and the beavers. Sincere moms and Dads described how their children kept their necklaces from the beaver festival and looked forward to it year after year. One mom said that her daughter had never gotten the idea of ecosystems and species interaction until she made the keystone species necklace and now she completely understood.

heidimuirmASTERLots of families had seen the beavers in person, and lots more had plans to come back and look for them. John Muir stopped by and decried that horrible Hetch Hetchy dam  they had built and reminded that the only dams needed in the Sierras were beaver dams. Some thanked us for saving the beavers, and gladly asked for their photo to be taken with their creation.

Highlights of the day were the young woman who said her friend was working on a proposed beaver management plan for the entire country at Oregon State University and would I like to connect with him? Council woman Delaney saying how much she appreciated all the work I had done for the beavers. Congressman Miller’s aide stopping by to talk beavers and ask about the next festival.    Councilman Mark Ross coming by later to appreciate my “How to live with beavers” poster. He smiled sheepishly and said that I should have included a photo of the retaining wall.

signsTo which  I laughed back honestly  and said “You probably wouldn’t want to see the poster I would make about the sheet pile”.

SCARVESAn excellent day all in all with remarkable children, patient parents, curious teens, 10 trekking scarves sold, inspiring conservation award  winners,  no rain and very little warmth and even a special visual event in the sky.

Muir’s Birthday Miracle ~ 2014 from Alhambra Hills on Vimeo.

In case I haven’t given a good enough description here’s a taste of the day:

kids with adults kids with kits

making an army

I could write on and on. But it looks like I’ve come to The End.


Remembering an Important birthday on Earth day

Posted by heidi08 On April - 22 - 2014Comments Off on Remembering an Important birthday on Earth day

John Muir at his desk as imagined by Ian Timothy

John Muir was born in Dunbar Scotland 176 years ago yesterday. He was the third of eight children born to strict Presbyterian parents who felt that time spent outdoors in nature was a distraction from time learning the bible. In fact, by the time Muir was a young man he could recite most of the old and and all of the new testaments by heart. When he was 11 the family immigrated to Wisconsin, and Scotland’s native son became America’s treasure. After adventures from Canada to Florida, Muir at  40 fell in love with Louisa Strenzel in Martinez in 1880 and settled into a partnership with her physician father managing their 2600 acre fruit ranch, some of which is still producing today. It was in this house that Muir had his office (“scribble den”) and  wrote his seminal works. It was in this house that Muir received countless dignitaries and inspired guests, including the author of the most important beaver book ever written, Enos Mills.

Mills Muir Martinez.jpgSome 169 years later.Ian Timothy, of the most famous beaver animation series “Beaver Creek” ever crafted also made a pilgrimage to Martinez with his parents. He squeezed Muir’s hometown in right between his homage to Pixar and his appearance at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival in Nevada City.

Kentucky meets CaliforniaA  life long admirer of Muir’s message and work, so it’s hardly surprising that his Freshman year film project at Cal Arts’ is a piece about Muir.

Looking at the stills, I for one can’t wait  to see it.

1978716_4104302143156_489321074155510479_nOh, and if you want to celebrate Muir’s birthday and legacy in person, you should join the party on Saturday.1911896_506523056125273_551774769_n