Archive for the ‘Earth Day’ Category

Helping the Helpers

Posted by heidi08 On April - 22 - 2016Comments Off on Helping the Helpers

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.

Dam kind words

Posted by heidi08 On April - 17 - 2016Comments Off on Dam kind words

David Scholz of the Martinez Tribune gave Worth A Dam and beavers a very nice article yesterday. The John Muir Earth day celebration is quickly approaching, and we will be there with volunteer help making the RIGHT kind of beaver hats with the kids.

‘Worth A Dam’ to be honored by Muir Association

MARTINEZ, Calif. – More than eight years after one woman spearheaded an effort to address the plight of one fury creature from demise in Alhambra Creek, that effort subsequently generated national interest and has given more attention to the health and welfare of beavers everywhere.

Worth A Dam founder Heidi Perryman. (HEIDI TAING / Courtesy)

Worth A Dam founder Heidi Perryman. (HEIDI TAING / Courtesy)

This Earth Day, April 23, at the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, Heidi Perryman and the organization Worth A Dam will be honored with the Environmental Education Award from the John Muir Association.

TRIBUNE: When was your organization founded and how many members are currently part of it?

PERRYMAN: Worth A Dam was founded in March of 2008. And our core membership is eight. But we have several folks that play an important role and are helpful to our projects.

TRIBUNE: What was your reaction to receiving the honor?

PERRYMAN: Delighted that Worth A Dam could be recognized for showing how and why cities can learn to live with beavers. California needs more “water savers,” not less!

TRIBUNE: How has the perception of beavers changed through the years as a result of the attention your group has given to their plight?

PERRYMAN: The national publicity of the Martinez Beavers showed countless other cities about beaver benefits and how conflicts could be managed. Back when Martinez was first facing this issue there were three websites on the entire Internet about humane solutions.
That was part of the motivation for our website, which had very broad readership. With our help it is much easier to find information about why to live with beavers and how you can.

TRIBUNE: How might the health of beavers be a barometer for the health of the Martinez area creek system?

PERRYMAN: Beavers are one of the hardiest species in the creek. They can manage in places where plenty of other species can’t. The amazing thing is they improve those places to make it more habitable for others.

Founded in 2008 by Perryman, Worth A Dam is a nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to the value, importance and contributions of beavers in the ecosystem. Perryman, through Worth A Dam, focuses her educational approach on the fact that co-existing with beavers ensures the strength of the overall ecosystems of creeks and surrounding areas. Worth A Dam’s co-existence model has been adopted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and, most recently, Napa has adopted the model. Perryman has co-authored numerous published articles regarding beavers. Worth A Dam founded the Martinez Beaver Festival, now in its eighth year, with a wide breadth of wildlife and conservation groups, which helps raise awareness of protecting wildlife and preserving healthy environments and ecosystems.

Well, to be honest when I heard we won my first thought was ‘Sheesh! About dam time’.  And if we’re being honest, Fish and Wildlife has never done anything I wanted except grudgingly send a stack of depredation permits to a FOIA request, not to mention that two articles hardly count as ‘numerous’ but the festival is in its NINTH year so some things he exaggerated and undersold some others, right?

Honestly, this article makes Worth A Dam sound so influential and the recognition of beaver importance so universal that I’m proud to be a part of it all! It makes us seem way more successful than we actually have been.  Of course people are still killing beavers ignorantly and lying about their being no other way all the time. But I take comfort from the thought that –  if we haven’t been able to make things as easy for the ‘good guys’ as we’d like –   we’ve at least made things a little harder for the ‘bad guys’.

And that’s something!

New multi necklace, and this one with a secret message just for California that makes me very happy.IMG_0852IMG_0854



Beaver Believers Far and Wide

Posted by heidi08 On March - 12 - 2016Comments Off on Beaver Believers Far and Wide



This document is so packed with information it will take a while to upload but I thought it deserved to be browse-able. To  download your own go to their website. You won’t regret it!

Incredible new achievement from our friends at Cows and Fish in Alberta. They are smart persuaders of beaver benefits for some pretty tough customers. And this really well-designed document covers all the issues and then some. Honestly, these are some of the finest beaver illustrations I’ve seen (besides Amelia’s of course!) I had to show you this one especially. Doesn’t that just say it all?

water graphicThe whole document deserves a solid read and reread on a rainy day by a window. Click here for the link to it on their website, and please pass it on!Capture

And just in case that news isn’t exciting enough, try this new research from the forest service, to be published next month in the Journal of Fresh Water Biology.

Beaver activity increases aquatic subsidies to terrestrial consumersCaptureSummary

Beaver (Castor canadensis) alter freshwater ecosystems and increase aquatic production, but it is unknown how these changes influence the magnitude and lateral dispersal of aquatic nutrients into terrestrial ecosystems.

We examined differences in abundances of dominant aquatic invertebrates, wolf spiders (Lycosidae), and deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus), at beaver and non-beaver sites. We used stable isotopes to track aquatic-derived carbon in terrestrial consumers and linear mixed-effects models to examine the importance of beaver presence and distance from stream channel on the percentage of aquatic-derived carbon in terrestrial consumers.

Sites with beaver activity had >200% higher aquatic invertebrate emergence rates as well as 60% and 75% higher abundances of spiders and deer mice, respectively, relative to non-beaver sites.

More beavers mean more bugs. Haven’t I always told you that? The USFS has been kind enough to count how many. And then look at all the happy spiders and deer mice who get to eat them. Hurray! I can’t wait until the entire article is available but this is a great place to start. Thanks!

Yesterday we worked on the project for this year’s Earth day and made stencil’s for these. Jon was kind enough to model, but just imagine 100 kids walking around with these on the day. We just found out that two of our hearty regulars won’t be able to help out that day! Maybe you are free on April 23rd and want to honor the spirit of John Muir by helping beavers? If you might, email me and I’ll make it sound even better! It’s a beautiful day, lots of ecologically minded folks, and beaver-admiring children. Persuaded yet?

Recently Updated1


What John Muir thinks about beavers…

Posted by heidi08 On February - 25 - 2016Comments Off on What John Muir thinks about beavers…

JMA awardI’m officially allowed to announce our good news today, so of course I’m thinking of John Muir’s friend Enos Mills, who was invited to his house and came to Martinez in 1908. One of the many books he wrote was the very famous “In Beaver World“, all about our favorite subject matter, and whose very last chapter is titled thusly.

titleI’m very very proud to imagine that Worth A Dam has possibly been considered as good a educational conservationist as the beaver is. Congratulations to everyone and all of Martinez who made Worth A Dam happen in the first place.

Speaking of the many species beavers assist in their award-winning Keystone capacity, here’s an awesome photo from the Tulocay Napa beaver pond taken yesterday by Rusty Cohn.

rusty turtle

Turtles at Tulocay Beaver Pond: Rusty Cohn

Now I think we should all write than you notes to the Scottish Goverment for being so enormously stubborn the world keeps getting headlines like this over and over again.

Give beavers permanent residence – we’d be dam stupid not to

Beaver benefits

None of this is about nostalgia. Beavers are often referred to as “ecosystem engineers” and herein lies much of the reasoning and controversy behind their reintroduction. There is extensive evidence from Europe and North America that wetlands created by beaver dams benefit everything from water plants, dragonflies and amphibians to fish and ducks to song birds and bats. In Knapdale, damming by beavers transformed a small pond into a wetland of a type and complexity probably unseen in Britain for centuries.

Beavers can also restore habitats without the need for a bulldozer or planning permission. On the Bamff estate on Tayside, we found that grazing by beavers trebled the number of wetland plants over a nine-year period. Where raised water levels saturated a meadow thanks to damming of ditches, the number of plant species increased by 49% and the multitude of habitats created increased the total diversity of aquatic invertebrates by almost 30%. Indeed the benefits were even further reaching. We found that the beaver dams also acted as a sink for agricultural pollutants, and may also help to reduce the risk of flooding. Individually these findings are not that surprising, though it is unusual to demonstrate them all in parallel.

Go read the whole thing. And thank the famously stubborn scots for needing a lot of convincing on the subject!

“Like beavers that pass in the night…”

Posted by heidi08 On February - 22 - 2016Comments Off on “Like beavers that pass in the night…”

This video shows a young European beaver being released back into the stream. It was posted by Bob Smith of Nature Nuts on the occasion of his retirement from the board of trustees on Scotlands Wild Beaver Group. The best laid plan of mice and men gang aft a’gley I guess.

Most likely you know of him from this program which was very delightful and well received. He lead hundreds of  tours and field trips over the years. And was a staunch defender of the beavers. But wildlife advocates don’t always make the best team players. I assume there were personal reasons for the resignation. I’m aware there were factions on the Tayside beavers too, just as, over the many years, there were reasons for Worth A Dam to shuffle its membership.

The funny thing is, I always expect beaver relationships to last forever, you know like marriages, and am always surprised to learn that people get frustrated, grow apart or decide to do their own thing, (you know,  like marriages).

I guess you never know who is a friend-for-life and who is just passing through. I wish we did. I wish people had clearly marked expiration labels on their foreheads so that you’d know “this person is going to provide a valuable service and then move on and you will never see them again.” Or “don’t get too annoyed about this person because they’ll be gone in a month”. I can’t tell you how many friends and strangers have helped with the beaver festival over the years, and I thought Oh good! Finally, we connected and now I can ask them for help again next year, only to realize they had passed on to other shores.

Clearly they weren’t married to beavers. Just dating.

Well, odds are, if you’re still reading this, you’re married to beavers too. So I can tell you the good news. Worth A Dam has been named the Environmental Education group of the year by the John Muir Association. Which is a nice acknowledgment of all our hard work and much appreciated. It means we get recognized at the upcoming Earth Day event and can carry the title proudly. Technically I don’t have the blessing to make this public yet, so I won’t broadcast on FB or press releases. But only friends read this website, so I can tell you, right?

I kept it secret for three whole days, though. That’s a lot for me`.

JMA awardconservation award

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!