Cheryl sent out our announcement for the beaver festival to exhibitors last night. We immediately had two confirmations! One from JoEllen Arnold of Nor-Cal bats, and the other from Alana Dill of face painting by Alana. Off to a good start, that always makes me happier.
(Plus a good start with actual beavers! Did you see the footage yesterday? Scroll down to view our new mascots.)
With all the commotion, I’ve been waiting for a space to talk about Rick Marsi’s latest column which ran as part of USA Today, intriguingly titled:
So much for the State of the Union address. It is time for the State of the Swamp.
Loyal readers may remember I gave a State of the Swamp address some 15 years ago. The big news back then was beavers. They were everywhere, building dams, cutting trees, flooding roads, reproducing like crazy.
Much debate as to their worth ensued. Bipartisan rancor ran rampant. Pro-beaver forces saw good overshadowing evil. Our region’s influx of beavers had created countless new wetlands, they said. These wetlands, in turn, had created nesting habitat for mallards, wood ducks and other waterfowl.
Flooded trees had succumbed. Downy, hairy and pileated woodpeckers were chiseling nest holes from their decaying wood. Herons had benefited from all the new water created by beaver dams. Frog and dragonfly numbers had spiked, supporters insisted.
“Wetland, schmetland!” the other side shouted. All those beavers were cutting down trees in their yards, killing timber stands, clogging road culvert pipes with their clutter.
It was quite a debate. I stand here to report that it still rages in some quarters. While it does, beavers are holding their ground. Because of their presence, the state of the swamp remains good.
Pro-beaver forces! I like the way that sounds! A noisy debate over whether beavers are of value or a nuisance. That sounds like every day since this website first breathed it’s life 10+ years ago. I’m always interested in how the argument ends.
Waterfowl numbers have reached the highest levels in recent memory. Great blue herons appear everywhere. The trilling of toads provides deafening noise every spring. More wetlands also have created additional rainwater impoundments.
During thunderstorms, runoff can do one of two things. It can rush unimpeded to rivers and streams, depositing in them potentially damaging sediment. Or, it can flow into a wetland, deposit much of its sediment there and run on toward the river much cleaner.
The latter is clearly the scenario of choice. I am pleased to report local wetlands continue to help keep our waterways clean.
After praising beaver wetlands he goes on to mention the less wonderful “crafted wetlands” installed by developers who need to restore some nature after their big creation. He says they’re nice enough, but nature (BEAVERS) do it best. He ends the column with:
Go forth strong of purpose and always remember: A swamp is a wetland, and we all know a wetland is good.
Sounds right to me.