Archive for the ‘Environmental’ Category

Beavers head for Belly of the Beast

Posted by heidi08 On April - 20 - 2015Comments Off

CaptureNo rest for the beaver-y. Now I have 6 whole days to get ready for my upcoming talk at SARSAS  next monday. SARSAS stands for Save Auburn Ravine for Salmon and Steelhead. I met the founder/director Jack Sanchez at the Salmonid restoration conference in Santa Barbara last year, and he asked me to be part of the dynamic and packed  list of speakers they host. (In fact he mentioned that they already had a beaver expert but she wasn’t very positive about them, and I knew at ONCE who he meant.

highlighted permitsJack accompanied me to the meeting we had with CDFW last November after a review of depredation permits showed Placer issued 9 times more permits than anywhere else in the state. I am thrilled to be marching boldly into enemy lines to deliver the beaver gospel. We might even have a few friendly faces at the meeting as Sherry, Ted, and Janet aren’t far away.

 This is from the Placer County E-Newsletter:

April SARSAS Meeting

I’ll relax when we get the TIME CORRECTED. (Sheesh!) And if it’s not corrected I’ll just stay there and give the talk again to anyone who shows up! In the meantime I am busily working on graphics for the talk. I especially like this one. Don’t you? The background is the beloved drawing of a series of dams in a gorge from Morgan’s book. Overlaid with swirling column of fish.

salmondsNice video from Rusty this morning of beavers eating their spring diet. Enjoy!

Conservation Awareness

Posted by heidi08 On April - 17 - 2015Comments Off

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









“More Killy – Less Frilly!”

Posted by heidi08 On April - 15 - 2015Comments Off

It wasn’t an accident that the poet said “April is the cruelest month”. Have you noticed how everyone and their cousin is deciding to trim their trees and hedges right during nesting season? It’s as if no one looks outside all the rest of the year but as soon as they want to barbecue they have to start killing some nature to make the yard nice. Apparently, it’s true for beavers too.

Beaver bounty considered for 2015-16 budget

 BOLIVIA — The Brunswick County Board of Commissioners has been asked to consider a beaver bounty for Brunswick County.

 Stephanie Lewis, director of operation services, proposed putting $10,000 into a pilot program to remove beavers and clear their dams that cause trouble throughout the county.

 Lewis added that while trappers would remove the beavers, the county is already removing the beaver dams except when explosives are required to clear them.

 Commissioner Frank Williams said he receives more calls about beavers than any other types of calls in his district.

 “Where are we in the curve? Are we ahead? Are we caught up?” Commissioner Marty Cooke asked regarding how the county has handled problems with beavers.

 “Right now I’d say the beavers are winning.”

They’re definitely winning in the IQ contest, I’ll give them that. And why on earth would you call a town in Prince Edward Island “Bolivia”? It makes zero sense. Which, is perfect I guess. Because paying more money to get more of something that’s not working is pretty senseless.

To save trees, Park Board approves beaver cull

FARGO—Experts will begin trapping and killing beavers living along the Red River this fall or next spring, in an effort to spare trees from the animals’ teeth.

The Park Board on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve the cull, which will be handled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

 Beavers have been chewing into too many trees, causing financial damage and much consternation, park officials said.

“Ever since I’ve been here, we’ve known there’s been beaver damage to our trees,” Parks Director Dave Leker told the Park Board. “It’s just gradually, over the past five years, getting worse.”

 Roger Gress, executive director of the parks district, said thousands of dollars have been lost due to beavers chewing into the city’s trees.

 ”We’ve planted new trees,” Gress said, “and then they’re gone.”

 Expert trappers, led by the USDA’s John Paulson, will handle the cull, which will take place at Lemke and Trefoil parks, at a cost of about $1,000.

 Paulson’s team will start by analyzing and locating the beaver colonies before laying the traps.

Yes, first hire  the hitman and let him figure it out. Never mind about those crazy beaver-huggers saying you can wrap the trees or protect them with paint. They don’t know how much easier it is just to kill them. Bring in the traps!

Dead animals discovered at Charlotte neighborhood park

At least this park in Charlotte North Carolina has the good sense to be mortified by the site of these grisly deaths. Which is almost like being appalled that they happen at all.Something tells me they’ll be more discrete in the future.

King County crews work to clear beaver dam breach

And let’s end on a slightly more positive note because Washington is refreshingly good to beavers. If I were one of our flat-tailed friends I would swim north until I crossed the Columbia River and then start looking for a place to settle down.

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding

A little life with dried tubers.

T.S. Eliot The Wasteland

Remember to watch Episode 2 of animal homes tonight on Nature PBS for first ever seen footage inside beaver lodges!

Lifetimes and Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On April - 13 - 2015Comments Off


The California Roadkill Observation System is operated by the Road Ecology Center at UC  Davis. Our friend Eli worked to get it to show the incidence of beaver deaths around the state caused by drivers, which is a grimly useful tool for getting a handle on population. We can infer where there are breeding colonies and where beavers decided to disperse. The interactive map tells you what was seen and where, The one near San CaptureJose is from highway 1 at Pescadero, which is  a colony we know about. The one that makes me sad is the yellow one (meaning a large beaver) which was trying to cross highway 37. This means he or she VERY nearly made it on his way to colonize Marin, which might be harder to do than we realize with all the lethal motorways in between.

I like knowing there is a resource to report these deaths at least. I’m especially troubled by highway deaths when those lethal spacers block the center of the roadway. There is no place for the animal to get through and they just are forced to wander aimlessly looking for an opening.

This is a depressing conversation for a monday, so I’m going to give you a LARGE DOSE of cheer.

Napa River restoration begins a new phase Upvalley

OAKVILLE — After 13 years and $21 million, restoration of 4.5 miles of Napa River banks in the heart of Napa Valley is complete, offering improved habitat and reducing flood damage.

Federal, state and local leaders celebrated the accomplishment Thursday as they prepared to launch phase 2: 9 miles of bank restoration from Oakville to Oak Knoll costing another $21 million.

Almost 100 people turned out for the by-invitation morning event along the rivers bank at the Opus One Winery in Oakville, including Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St Helena.

“This river is part of what makes Napa County the iconic landscape that it is,” said Samuel Schuchat, executive officer of the California Coastal Conservancy. “I strongly believe this is the future of river restoration in California.”

One of the most exciting things at the Salmonid Federation Urban Streams Workshop I attended, was this talk

A “Living River” Runs Through It, The Napa Creek Flood Management Project – Leslie Ferguson, San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board

which described the 20 year job of restoring the Napa River. No kidding, 20 years of involving stake holders, wooing business leaders, and politicians. 20 years of weekly meetings to talk about letting the river return to some of its natural state, which means vintners had to agree to give up some of the most valuable land in the entire country.

 More than a decade ago, vineyard owners in the group called The Rutherford Dust Society started the effort. The result is the newly completed Rutherford Reach project between Zinfandel Lane and Oakville Cross Road.

 Twenty-eight landowners participated in the $21 million project. The county’s Measure A flood control sales tax provided $12.5 million, with federal and state agencies contributing $7.9 million. Landowners gave up 30 acres of vineyard land worth an estimated $9 million and agreed to pay a maintenance assessment.

Davie Pina of the Rutherford Dust Society and Pina Vineyard Management has seen a difference with wildlife along the river. He’s seen beaver dams and ospreys and Swainson’s hawks.

 “Things are coming back, and we are doing the right thing around here,” he told the gathering.

Once again, the arrival of beaver dams are recognized as a reward for the very hard restorative work done.  I say ‘again’ because I was lucky enough to once have a lovely conversation with the revered Hughlet Hornbeck about just this topic in terms of cleaning up the Marina, Granger’s Wharf and the mouth of Alhambra Creek in a sustained effort of 50 years that lead to the arrival of our beavers. He said the beavers were a reward for their effort. He wanted to meet the young lady who had “scared the city council” into letting them live.

( A memory to treasure until the end of my days for sure.)

Back to the topic at hand, learning about the marathon efforts at work in Napa have helped me understand just why their response to the beavers has been so uniformly idyllic. They are river-smart in Napa because they spent literally decades studying. Meeting every week, arguing with landowners, persuading the thick-headed and zealous over patient dialogue, compromising and never getting half of what they wanted. They did a remarkable thing,

We should all hope to be a part of something beautiful that is so long in the making.

Beaver Spring

Posted by heidi08 On April - 3 - 2015Comments Off

We need a real beaver update first off. The secondary dam (name to be changed soon) is HUGE. And one of our new stakes is already sprouting! Jon spied a mother with 12 baby ducks yesterday and we went down to beaver watch this morning. Our kit (almost yearling, birthday in May) was swimming back and forth in front of the hole where they live, and a parent swimming up from down stream after a night feeding. She had to CLIMB up over the monumental dam before heading to sleep for the day. A great beaver morning.

I’ve been waiting forever to share this great new research from Dr. Ellen Wohl. There is so much happening lately there’s never time to catch up. If you want to remind yourself who she is listen to this short clip. It remains the single most pithy description of beaver benefits I’ve ever heard. Photos courtesy of Worth A Dam, of course.

CaptureCaptureSee how she just slips in the good news about beavers along side the already largely accepted news about wood??? Her research has made a huge difference in the way folks look at beavers, and I’m sure there’s more where that came from. Go read the whole thing here:

Bring-the-Kids-to-Washington-DCs-Cherry-Blossom-Festival--f630c1399fd04849bbe91183f25cc6dfIt’s Cherry Blossom Festival time which reminded to share an old story. A while ago some patriotic beaver started chewing down the National trees, and the decision of whether to kill them or not caused a bit of a stir. Now the  trees have their own mascot to protect them. Paddles the beaver, which reminds visitors not to pick blossoms.

5741842234_5bbed33ed5CaptureThere’s a new resource for beaver restoration in the world, compiled by Rebecca Haddock of the Miistakis Institute of Alberta. She attended the state of the beaver conference and liked what she learned. This is what I would call a great start, although it is missing info on several key players like the Lands Council and/or Methow Project in Washington, The Beaver Advocacy Committee in Oregon, Sherri Tippie in Colorado, even more locally to them Cows and Fishes in Alberta! -)Not to mention you know who in California…) The full report is online at OAEC here.

And as our beavers get more visible, the ones in Napa do to. Here’s footage Rusty shot yesterday of Mom and Dad swimming together.

Lastly, I just got a request from Mountain Lake in NY to use Cheryl’s photo in a podcast they were releasing about beavers. They gave us a very nice plug, Go see for yourself.


This is NOT April Fools!

Posted by heidi08 On April - 1 - 20151 COMMENT

Folks you know might play tricks on you today, and tell you you’re shoes untied or there was an eviction notice on the porch. But not me. I am only going to tell you the absolute truth. It just seems unbelievable.

Greenbelt bucks beavers with tree plantings at Buddy Attick Park

Jamie Anfenson-Comeau/The Gazette
Greenbelt residents Lynne Cherry and Gergory Rankin wrap a wire cage around a tree at Buddy Attick Park on Saturday to protect it from beaver predation.

Over 50 volunteers braved chilling wind and 40-degree temperatures to plant new trees at Greenbelt’s Buddy Attick Park and wrap cages around trees to protect their bark from the bite of local beavers.

Saturday saw the largest volunteer turnout ever, according to city officials.

 “In Greenbelt, we’re really passionate about our tree canopy, and to see so many volunteers coming out for this is a reflection on the dedication and passion all of you have,” said Greenbelt Mayor Emmett Jordan.

 Volunteers planted white oak, spice bush, black oak, persimmon, paw-paws and other trees, and they placed wire mesh cages around many of the young trees to protect them from beaver predation.

 In addition, the red twig dogwood was planted specifically to feed the beavers, and next year — when the dogwoods have settled in — the cages will be removed, said Greenbelt horticulturist Brian Townsend.

Not only are the smart volunteers in Maryland wrapping trees instead of killing beavers, they are actually PLANTING TREES FOR THEM TO EAT  in the future! How wonderful is that? Apparently they have some university volunteers as well as their own Americorp coordinator, and they’re even using the right kind of wire. I couldn’t be happier.

Unless it was in Texas.


What was made by man over a decade ago has evolved into a natural habitat.

“It’s a constructed wetland to replace a creek that was where the mall is now. It looks so natural,” Dianne Wassenich with the San Marcos River Foundation said. “It’s amazing and it has crawdads, it has beaver, it has lots of birds. It’s a great habitat now.”

Normally, the creek is a narrow strip of water, but a beaver dam has caused the water to pool. The beavers have been seen coming in and out of their home, but things aren’t always beautiful.

“With the creek coming under the freeway, the trash coming off of the freeway, and then any stuff blowing in from the outlet malls or people leaving the outlet malls, it tends to accumulate trash,” Kirwin said.

 For the second time this year, volunteers have cleaned the site, hauling dozens of bags of trash out of the water.

 Click on the image for a nice video about the work and habitat. Apparently folks could even get excited about beaver in Texas. I’m reminded of the Detroit river when they were sooo happy to see beaver come back on the landscape. Beavers are slightly better than pollution, for a while but just wait. The cynic in me says they’ll be complaining about them in no time.

How about some surprising news closer to home?

Tracker Finds Beaver Sign in Humboldt

In March 15, Kim Cabrera, who runs a website devoted to tracking, spotted beaver sign on the South Fork of the Eel River.

 Rain had softened the sand where the impressions were discovered south of Dyerville but Cabrera, an experienced tracker, is confident that the signs belong to a beaver. (See photo to the left.)

 Cabrera says that even though no beaver dams have been spotted in the area doesn’t mean that there aren’t beavers. According to her website,

 ”Beavers do not always build dams. They can live on a river and use burrows and eat vegetation without building any structures. Look for their tracks and signs along sandy river banks. You might find areas where limbs have been dragged into the water. Beavers will come ashore and gnaw off branches then take these back to eat later. Look along the shores for branches showing the tooth marks of these large rodents.”

Great news! Kim is a facebook friend and I asked about this. She said she’s been hiking the area for 20 years and this is the first beaver sign she’s seen!

This is a range expansion. Beaver have not been on the South Fork for many kimyears. In my 20 years of tracking along this river, it is the first find of a beaver track here. I was so happy when I found it!It was the weekend before last. I am really hoping that they continue to disperse up the South fork! It would be so awesome to see them coming back!

Ready to welcome beavers with open arms. (Much better than firearms.)  Thank you to Kim who spread the word and Eli who sent the article my way. I’m always happiest when folks think beavers are good news rather than the contrary.

Mind you, beaver footprints, (especially REAR foot prints), are very rare. In 8 years of watching our beavers that we know are present every day I think we’ve seen clear rear tracks a handful of times.  Which might suggest that just because you haven’t seen them in 20 years, it doesn’t mean they’re not there!

Ohh Alright! I’ll give you ONE April Fools Headline. I was honestly so excited when I saw this:

Trip for Beaver psychology students yields unexpected results

Where do I sign up to study beaver psychology? That sounds amazing!


Almost making the point

Posted by heidi08 On March - 25 - 2015Comments Off

CaptureBeaver Trapping Leaves Environmental Damage Legacy

CaptureA Beaver trifecta from Oregon Public radio. This one informed by Stan Petrowski who, along with Leonard & Lois Housston,  organizes the state of the beaver conferences. It’s a fine 2 minutes to think about, but honestly my favorite part is the title. Because it doesn’t say ‘historic’. And it turns out to be just as true today.


Speaking of trapping, Robin-the-intrepid received records on her FOIA inquiry from USDA for beaver depredation over the last 10 years. Remember, USDA executes about a third of the depredation permits overall. Unlike  other private trappers, they are required to report method and take. And unlike CDFG their records are pretty meticulous. It took them almost no time to send her this.

WS beaver killed by yearRobin points out that the list was compiled March 3 so the 2015 numbers are just for January and February. She wonders ironically if USDA will kill the most beavers of all during the very year of California’s worst drought. And that seems like a good question to me.

Speaking of drought, have you seen the beautiful new web campaign the Nature Conservancy just launched about water?  I wish I could embed it but you are just going to have to click on it to see for yourself. Honestly, it’s gorgeous. And must have cost a mint.

It prompts what may be an age-old question: Is the Nature Conservancy just made of money? And whether they are or aren’t, why don’t they do more for beavers? There are places on the east coast where they’re trapping them to save trees.

I took the liberty of fixing one of their ads. I’m sure they’ll appreciate the improvement.

If water is life