Archive for the ‘Environmental’ Category

Beavers are SO cool

Posted by heidi08 On July - 30 - 20141 COMMENT

Last night was one of the best beaver nights I ever filmed. My fingers are literally aching to make a movie, but there is too much to finish before Saturday. Humor me and play the soundtrack while you watch the clips. Its practically required.


Last night we came to the secondary dam and saw a fairly large breech from the tide, the entire secondary pond was down by a few inches. The beavers were sleeping above the primary dam upstream 150 feet away from the break. I’ve seen their wake up routine a million times but I’ve never seen this.

As soon as they got up a yearling came straight down to see what the problem was, noticed a new snag exposed by water loss on the way, swam to the dam and started putting mud on the hole.

Don’t believe that beavers can remember what their pond looks like both on top of and under the water? Check out this double take.

Now Heidi, maybe you’re saying, don’t anthropomorphize this. Maybe he thought it was food. Maybe he was checking to see if was another beaver’s dam. Maybe it was a fluke.

Fluke? Here’s Dad with kit 5 minutes later.

And another double take.

(It’s funny because we have particular sticks we watch to see if the water is higher or lower, and now it really seemed like they did too! “Oh that’s exposed? We’ve really got a problem”Then Mom Dad and new kit came out of the lodge and made a bee line for the damage. Remember, in winter when all kinds of debris float downstream, we get to see beavers swim past new branches that were never there before. They are sometimes idly curious about them, or snuffle to see what’s good to eat. That’s not what was happening.They were seeing a log above water that used to be submerged.

It was never so clear to me that it’s not just running water that triggers beavers working, they obviously have some other cues, like maybe the opening to the lodge being uncovered, or the drop down from one pond to the next – they know how deep the pond should be and what and what snags belong where.

They must.

The extremely hard work paid off and the whole was quickly patched. Mom and Dad did several applications, a yearling pitched in and even our newest kits sat in the middle and pretended to help.

All of which reminded us, as if we needed to be reminded at all, that

BEAVERS ARE COOL.

Yesterday the Huffington Post, The Nation and Mother Jones decided to play our song.

The Original Geo-Engineers

 During a long career with the Bureau of Land Management, Sage Sorenson saw firsthand how beavers created rich green habitat out of overgrazed and burned-over land. Now retired, he calls himself a “beaver believer” and devotes his days to monitoring and protecting scattered “remnant” beaver colonies in our region. Quietly but persistently, he advocates for their reintroduction onto stressed landscapes that need their services.

 Beavers are the original geo-engineers. It’s no exaggeration to credit them for their major role in building the North American landscape. In pre-colonial times, there were as many as 400 million of them. They used their big buckteeth and tough paddle-tails to build dams across every stream imaginable, spreading water to a Noah’s Ark-worth of creatures that thrive in the wet habitats they create. Now, of course, they are mostly long gone from the land, and conservationists want them back.

 Go read the entire article. It’s awesome, and share with everyone you can possibly think of. Then comment so that everyone knows beavers generate attention and let’s hope Chip Ward writes me back and supports the beaver festival.

Oh, and always remember whatever happens, we loved beavers LONG before they were ‘trendy’. (Sheesh.)

Will introducing beavers onto wounded watersheds save the world? The answer is: yes. That and all the other acts of restoration, protection, and restraint, small and large, individual and collective, taken together over time. Sure, it’s not the same as the US taxing carbon or China abandoning coal. Restoring a watershed doesn’t curb the corporations that reduce communities to commodities. But in addition to the global goals we support, our responses to ecological crisis must be grounded in the places where we live, especially in the watersheds that nourish our bodies.

 Rewilding tattered land is holistic because it sees and honors connectivity. It trades hubris for humility by acknowledging complexity and limitations. Its ultimate goal is landscape health and resilience, not the well-being of a small handful of stakeholders.

 If we want to construct a healthy and resilient world for ourselves and our fellow creatures, we could do worse than look to the lowly beavers for hints on how it can be done. They build a vibrant world for themselves and so many others by weaving one small limb into another, stick by stick by stick.

 

 

A picture’s worth 1000 words…

Posted by heidi08 On July - 29 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

Capture

Aquatic life near a mine pit lake underwater beaver lodge

Steve Kohl

Brainerd Dispatch staff phtographer (and diver) Steve Kohls filmed the aquatic life near a mine pit lake underwater beaver lodge. See suspended sunfish, thousands of minnow and lurking bass all hanging out in their aquatic underworld.

The powers that be will not let me embed that video, so click on the picture and go see it yourself. Honestly, it’s worth it. Just look at the biodiversity of life near that beaver lodge, and remember the amount of mud and soil beavers excavate to maintain a lodge or access a food cache in winter. Beaver digging makes diverse invertebrate communities which make divers FISH communities.

Now remember that this is the Cuyuna Mine Pit lake in Minnesota. Cuyuna was a mine dedicated to excavation of iron ore which like most mines has all kinds of pollution fallout – including something charmingly called “acid mine drainage”. Could Cuyuna do anything better to restore those damaged pits? I think not. Thank you Steve Kohl, for this great proof of beaver biodiversity!

Castor Anglicus took my advice and set Adrian’ Forester’s recording to photos. Love the headlines and the awesome images.  I’m wishing it had some video and slicker editing, but I’m very picky and the news stations should leap at this.

Speaking of news, yesterday I met with ABC channel 7 down at the dam to talk about beaver, water, and drought – as well as plug the festival. It was one of those fun interviews where the interviewer started out disinterested and nonplussed by his assignment, and ended up eager and fascinated, running up and down the creek photographing birds, talking to onlookers, and asking for a bumper sticker.

I hope his conversion means there will be a nice segment on prime news, but you never know. He kept shaking his head and saying “You’re amazing on camera! You answered every question so succinctly!”Which made me smile a little and think of the old Paula Poundstone line….

“Last night’s show was an amazing crowd. I did an hour and a half. I could have done more, but the club had really bad security and a lot of the audience got away”.

I’ll let you know when it’s airs. Hopefully Thursday.

Oh, and in the mean time you need to see this. Honestly. You. Just. Do.

 Public Works: The Amazing Self-Powered Garbage-Trapping Machine

Meet the trash-collecting contraption that’s cleaning up Baltimore’s harbour.

 

 Invented by Clearwater Mills LLC, the Interceptor floats at the mouth of the Jones Falls river, through which garbage used to flow into the inner harbour. Now booms (floating barriers) direct debris towards the 4.3-metre-tall garbage collection machine. Spring-charged rakes claw the refuse onto a conveyor belt, which is powered by a water wheel spun by solar-powered pump. The belt carts the garbage into a dumpster, which, once full, is dragged by boat to a waste-to-energy conversion plant.

How awesome would this be at the Marina? Some adaptions would let it run on tides twice a day. Shell could pay for it, New Leaf Academy could promote and maintain it, and Martinez could be the east coast premier of another dam good idea.

Every day, from here to there, Beaver things are everywhere.

Posted by heidi08 On July - 24 - 2014Comments Off

There is glorious news this morning, but before we appreciate its warm glow we need to pay attention to this bit of horrific gristle from Calgary. Mind you this is about 300 miles south of renown beaver researcher Dr. Glynnis Hood, 400 miles west of experienced flow device-installer Adrien Nelson and Fur-Bearer Defenders, and 500 miles north of beaver management expert Amy Chadwick of Montana. Calgary is surrounded by intelligence, but it apparently just isn’t sinking in.

Animal lover furious after beaver found trapped in Calgary park

CALGARY- An animal lover who came across a disturbing scene in a popular park has gone straight to the city to complain.

 Linda Lelonde says she and her husband were walking in Fish Creek Park on Tuesday evening, when they came across a beaver struggling in a trap.

 “I just happened to see the beaver laying in the grass in the ditch, and I said to my husband ‘something’s wrong, his tail is flapping.’”

 A jogger happened to come by moments later, and that’s when they realized the animal was in trouble.

 “[He] came up and was horrified, and told us [the beaver] was biting off his leg and was basically bleeding to death,” Lalonde remembers.

It’s not known if the beaver survived, as it was not in the trap when city workers showed up to collect it.

Why are city workers checking the trap anyway? Isn’t that the trappers job? Are you saying the city workers set the trap? That’s a horrifying thought. No offense, but I would have night mares if someone gave public works in Martinez a conibear. Are there any trapping regulations in Alberta at all? The article goes on to say that the beaver was blocking the culvert and baby strollers could have been blocked on the path if they didn’t do something. No, they didn’t think of installing a culvert protection fence, why do you ask?

The good news is that it was a sufficiently horrifying demonstration of trapping that folks are upset and there are many comments and a lot of interest in alternatives with the article. Keep at it Calgary. You’ll get there if enough people worry about their pets to push for change. And when your ready to change, we’ll help you get started.

Speaking of which, this new film of Urban Beavers was made by Daniel Pinker, Americorp intern for the Gresham Department of Environmental Services, just east of Portland. danielsDaniel wrote me a while ago asking if I might be willing to share footage of urban beavers for a film he was working on about beavers in cities. I’m sure you can guess what I answered.


This is an excellent place for my footage to be, but I had to fight waves of territorial reflex when I first watched it, especially dad coming over the primary with kit, and the tiny kit glimpsed in 2012. (They were such emotional moments after mom died!)

But it’s impossible (even for me) not to share with such an enormously pro-beaver message. This is really effective work. I only wish the film specifically said “Cities can live with beavers, in fact all the images you are watching happen to be  from one smart city that DID”.  I want this played at every city council meeting along the pacific states. And Daniel was very nice to add this.
more creditIt’s 1,274 miles from Calgary to Martinez. But you spanned the distance  this morning with a few short sentences.

Beaver Countdown

Posted by heidi08 On July - 22 - 2014Comments Off

There are an insane number of last minute details to take care of. It’s truly astonishing how many things we have crossed off the list only to see a mountain of details remaining. I feel like a worm that ate through half an apple. I’ll never get out unless I exercise all that effort all over again.

Apparently even the beavers understand what its like because some stopped off at a store in Idaho to pick up a few things.

140721_beaver_winco1Mamma beaver, baby nabbed trying to get inside Eagle WinCo

A mamma beaver and its baby were captured Monday after trying to “shop” inside an Eagle area grocery store. The Ada County Sheriff’s Office says the beaver and its kit tried to repeatedly walk into the WinCo store Monday morning.

 The beavers were first spotted at about 6 a.m. when they were shooed away by customers, the sheriff’s office said. A deputy arrived soon after and tried to get the beaver on its way with a plastic rake.

 No luck. The beaver and its baby weren’t moving.

 Later, however, the Idaho Humane Society arrived and put them in cages. Animals in Distress officials planned to take the beavers up along Highway 21.

 ”There is some wonderful willow and aspen bark where they are going north of Idaho City,” said Toni Hicks, a longtime volunteer with Animals in Distress.

I’m glad the volunteers will find them a nicer place. Obviously someone is trapping family members down the street and these refugees were seeking asylum.  Why else would beavers go to a store? Unless they read that sign that said “Willow Bundle”. Ba-dum-tsss.

Animal Wonders wrote me back yesterday, apologizing for the nutria error and asking permission to thank me with the correction. Another infamous stock footage snafu.They have a long list of projects  to get to before they consider a beaver ecology film, but they were definitely interested.

Hello Dr. Perryman,

 Jessi Knudsen from Animal Wonders forwarded me your corrections for the beaver video we just put up on SciShow.

 Thank you! I made a mistake in trusting the titles of a stock image company we sometimes use, and I greatly appreciate you spotting those mistakes and pointing them out.

 I’ve updated our cover photo to a new one of beavers and I’ve annotated that the pictures you pointed out are nutria, and not beavers. With your permission, I’d like to give you credit for spotting these mistakes for us in our video description and point people to your website. Would that be alright with you?

 Right now, with our schedule, we can’t rerecord the video to add more information about beavers and their positive effects within their ecosystem, but I’ll gladly tell our head writer that there’s interest in an episode about that. He wrote this episode and has a special place in his heart for beavers so I’m sure he’ll be excited to hear that.

 Finally, I wanted to make sure it’s clear Animal Wonders and SciShow are two separate channels. SciShow produced this episode about beavers without input from Jessi or Animal Wonders. Because the two channels have a relationship and try to support each other, SciShow included a shout-out to Animal Wonders because the content was related.

 Obviously, we probably should consult Jessi on our animal content because she has actually helped us avoid mistakes like this in the past in episodes she’s been a guest on.

 Thank you again, Dr. Perryman. One of my favorite aspects of sharing information on YouTube is that we hear from people when our information is not correct. While we try to make sure that is very rare, when it happens, the best we can hope for is that someone will be considerate enough to tell us.

 So thank you,

Caitlin

 Caitlin Hofmeister
SciShow Producer
caitlin@thescishow.com

How nice! You can never tell when people will care about the truth (or when they will be indifferent to it) but this is a nice surprise. If I made all the world a little terrified about mislabeling nutria photos as beavers I would die a very happy girl.

In the meantime I plan on dying a very busy girl. The charms arrived yesterday so there are necklaces to create, display flags for the charm booths to make, and info sheets to finish. Then it’s mounting signs,  planning tables, and making lists of what we can’t possibly forget to pack for the day.

At times like these I like to remember the old riddle that sustained me through graduate school.

“How far can you walk into a deep forest”
“Only halfway. The other half you’re walking out.”

 

 

 

 

Beaver Beatitudes

Posted by heidi08 On July - 21 - 20145 COMMENTS

Let’s start Monday right with some good news for a change. How about this story from Oregon of a culvert repaired to allow salmon passage. Don’t worry, it gets more interesting.

Easier migration for salmon in east Multnomah County’s Beaver Creek: $500,000 fix for troublesome culverts

A coho salmon nears the end of its life’s journey in the spawning gravel of Eagle Creek, a tributary of the Columbia River in Oregon. Salmon and steelhead trout have trouble reaching their historic spawning grounds in Beaver Creek because of a culvert that makes it difficult for fish to swim or jump upstream. (The Oregonian file photo)

Culverts are box- or pipe-shaped openings that roadbuilders install to allow streams to pass underneath, but often their configuration makes it difficult for fish to swim or jump upstream. Fish ladders built into culverts to help can break over the years.

Metro awarded the county a $579,500 Nature in Neighborhoods grant July 10 to replace a culvert under Cochran Road with a bridge, allowing fish to more easily reach areas upstream from Mt. Hood Community College’s Gresham campus.

Roy Iwai, the county’s water quality manager, said a variety of local government and nonprofit groups are working together to make the creek more hospitable to its 13 species of native fish.

The water upstream from the culverts also includes plenty of natural dams from the creek’s namesake beavers, but those are passable for fish and beaver ponds provide ideal rearing habitat for young coho salmon, Iwai said.

Ohhh Oregon! You are so much smarter than most. We are all inspired to see Mr. Iwai understanding the importance of beavers to salmon. From scientist to city worker, you know that beavers are Worth A Dam. It’s so impressive. California can only hope to get there one day. Well done Beaver State!

Now we’re moving East towards Montana where they are getting a bit smarter as well.

Animal Wonders is a fully licensed and insured educational outreach organization. We provide educational presentations with live exotic animals for schools, summer camps, community events, birthday parties, and other special occasions. We travel to your location with some of our very special animal ambassadors to teach about wildlife, conservation, and a love of nature.

As you may have guessed, I am not a huge fan of slick operations that bring live animals to elementary school auditoriums to teach them an “appreciation of Nature”. I think children (and animals) are better served when  we open our front doors and let them go see for themselves – say by standing on the footbridge and watching the Martinez Beavers. (Of course it helps if folks don’t kill everything that wanders into their town so there’s things to see.) But this video,  SciShow made by Animal Wonders (because the young people like those abbrevs). isn’t bad. In fact it doesn’t have one fact I disagree with.

Just two photos. (See if you can play “Spot the Nutria”.)

Well? Did you find them? I can only hope they bring the right animal for their costly presentations! I wrote them about the mistake and said if they re-edit to include how important beavers are to fish, water and birds, we will give them amazing photos of actual beavers for free! (If you’re still puzzled, look for stiff white whiskers and narrow eyes.)

Last night our kit was up early, and out at the secondary on his own for a while doing very beavery things. Several people got to see him, including visitors from Golden Gate Audubon that missed the Wednesday walk but wanted to see for themselves. Dad beaver even showed up to take the little one past the secondary and down to where he was chewing willow. He swam along side adorably and even rode on his back for moments. Then let Dad go on his own and came back upstream to forage.

We thought how heartening it is to see Dad be so nurturing after at least seven years of kits. Apparently he still feels paternal even after all these years and 20 youngsters.

Oh we also thought it was great to see the new kit embracing prohibition and rejecting the wicked influences of alcohol.

2014 baby

2014 Kit – Heidi Perryman

Welcome to the ‘Hood

Posted by heidi08 On July - 17 - 2014Comments Off

I give up. It’s impossible to prioritize or organize today’s beaver news into  one well-rounded serving. I’m just going to have to lump them together like a very disorganized (but tasty) potluck. Enjoy. Of course I’ll start with what’s most important:

City installs pond system to offset beaver activity

So as part of the city’s Beaver Management Program, two pond leveling devices were installed on July 9 in two beaver dams located near the Augustana Campus by 48th St.

 Two 20 feet long High Density Polyethylene, or HDPE, pipes were installed through the dams to allow water to flow through the ponds. The pipes are placed at a level that will allow water to balance out between the ponds. Each end of the pipe has a cage made from hog fencing to ensure blockage will not occur.

 The devices are the first of their kind to be installed in Camrose.

 “Essentially, it is a piping system that acts like a syphon,” said Glynnis Hood, associate professor in environmental science at the University of Alberta – Augustana Campus, who is spearheading the project.

 “Anytime the water gets above the level of where the pipe is placed in the dam, the syphon system starts to work and keeps the water at a consistent level rather than having the pond flood above its banks,” Hood said.

Hurray for Glynnis and her merry band of [burly] students! Hurray for Camrose and flow devices in Alberta! And Hurray for beavers who will stabilize that stream and improve conditions for fish and birds.

Hood added that her research shows the leveling system will result in significant time and monetary savings because there is less need for ongoing maintenance compared to traditional methods such as a dam removal or beaver trapping.

 Each pond levelling system cost approximately $600 in materials and about $200 for labor.

 Hood said, “It seems like a large initial cost but what we’ve found is that very low maintenance is required thereafter and it makes up for the rental of a backhoe which is about $200 to $300 an hour, not to mention the staffing that goes into it.”

 The new pond leveling system will also allow the ecosystem to thrive as there will be fewer interruptions to the area in the form of dam removals.

 Hood said, “The beavers can stay. They tend to just pack more material on top of the pipe and that actually helps our installation because it protects the pipe even more. These devices are designed to keep the pond intact, albeit at a lower level than beavers probably want them to be.”

Dr. Hood is one of the brightest stars in the beaver firmament. Every time I read about her successful persuasions with science I get a glorious feeling that one day we might actually cross the finish line. In the meantime, we still have some laps to do in our Martinez relay. Audubon enjoyed a very successful field trip last night and we have a festival to plan.

Debossed charms in silverThe brochure is finished (Thanks Amelia!) and the  charms are done (Thanks Mike!). I had a great interview with the CC Times tuesday and we are in Patch today.

Beaver Festival VII Coming Soon to Martinez

The Seventh Annual Beaver Festival in historic downtown Martinez is set for August 2, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Beaver Park, at the corner of Marina Vista and Castro Streets.

Bring the family to this free, unique Bay Area landmark event.

 The Beaver Festival features live music, wildlife exhibits from seven counties, children’s activities and beaver tours.

 Learn how and why every city should co-exist with beavers. The first 100 children earn a Wildbryde charm necklace.

 Everyone will find something special at this one-of-a-kind celebration of local nature and its most famous grassroots civic success story! To learn more about Worth A Dam (MartinezBeavers.org), follow this link.

Thanks Patch! Oh and just in case you wondered about DEFRA, England is still woefully stupid, but their feet are getting closer to the fire. The story was on British TV last night and  in Indian newspapers this morning.

But, don’t worry, the English aren’t always foolish. This, for example, was a brilliant decision.

London Celebrates The Monty Python Reunion By Putting A 50-Foot Dead Parrot In Potters Field Park

Go read the article, it’s that fun.

Oh and today just needs this, I can tell.

Birds and Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On July - 15 - 2014Comments Off

Tomorrow night our own Cheryl and Jon will lead a Golden Gate Audubon “Birds and Beavers” walk. It’s a wonderful way to show off the great relationship between these species, and encourage folks to come back for the beaver festival!

I’m trying to limit my hopes to three things:

  1. They get to see baby-head.
  2. A lovely night heron, egret, kingfisher and and/or green heron
  3. They remember to mention THIS article!

coppice color F

Birds & Beavers in Martinez — FAMILY BIRD WALK
Wednesday July 16, 7 p.m.
Anthony DeCicco, adecicco@goldengateaudubon.org

 This is part of a series of GGAS Summer 2014 bird walks geared to families with children or to more experienced young “junior birders,” and led by our expert Eco-Education staff. Join us as we look for wetland birds near the Martinez Regional Shoreline — such as Green Herons and Belted Kingfishers — on our way to visit the famous beaver dens along Alhambra Creek. We hope to see the beaver kits born this year! Advance RSVP required. For details and directions, please see goldengateaudubon.org/kidsbirdwalks.

Good luck team beaver! And if all this talk of Audubon and research is too lofty for a Tuesday morning, here’s something to appeal more broadly.

VIDEO: here’s Rob Ford as a muppet beaver

For the past little while, Rob Ford–based comedy has been a story of diminishing returns. Late-night hosts have had their fun with the mayor, leaving the wreckage of his term for lesser satirists to pick over. But there’s something about this clip from No, You Shut Up, a Jim Henson Company talk show that airs on American cable TV, that makes us remember what it was like before all this “crack scandal” stuff became as irritating and omnipresent as refrigerator hum. This time, Ford is a muppet beaver being interviewed by comedian Paul F. Tompkins. The beaver’s Ford impression is actually quite good. And that’s all you need to know.