Archive for the ‘Educational’ Category

That exciting beaver news must have excited EVERYONE EVERYWHERE because today it’s on the BBC, the Washington Post and National Geographic. Sadly, this means it has completely squeezed all other beaver stories out of the news, because no self-respecting paper can run TWO beaver stories on the same day, (heaven forbid).

That’s okay though because the Smithsonian one has nice details that are worth sharing.

Ancient Toothy Mammal Survived Dino Apocalypse

Though small, the mammal is an exciting find, the researchers said. It belongs to a group of rodentlike mammals called multituberculates, named for the numerous cusps, or tubercles, found on their teeth. Multituberculates lived alongside dinosaurs, but managed to survive the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period. They lived for another 30 million years before they, too, went extinct, the researchers said.

So THAT”S what multituberculates means, many cusps! I don’t think any other source explained that fact, This is the part I especially loved.

Spectacular teeth
Researchers named the newfound species Kimbetopsalis simmonsae, in honor of the area in which they found it, Kimbeto Wash, New Mexico. The Greek word “psalis” means “cutting shears,” a reference to the creature’s magnificent teeth, and the species name, “simmonsae,” is a nod to Nancy Simmons, a researcher at the American Museum of Natural History renowned for her work on multituberculates.

Magnificent Sheers! That sure sounds like a beaver to me. I had to go look up Nancy Simmons and her famous work on the cuspadors. She’s home grown and graduated from UCB. Here’s what else I found:

Dr. Nancy Simmons

Faculty and researcher at the American Museum of Natural history, Dr. Simmons specializes in the morphology and evolutionary biology of bats (Chiroptera). She works with both living and fossil species, and is interested in patterns of speciesdiversification, biogeography, the evolution of dietary habits, higher-level bat relationships, early Tertiary fossil bats, and the evolution of flight and echolocation. A morphologist by training, she works with data gained from museum specimens and high-resolution CT scans, combining these with DNA sequence data generated by collaborators to build and test phylogenetic and evolutionary hypotheses. In addition to her work on bats, Dr. Simmons is part of team working on further development of tools for managing large-scale morphological projects (e.g., build the Tree of Life).


Another example of what bats and beavers have in common! Corky would be so proud.

Imagine getting a species of beaver named after you…I admit,  I’m kind of jealous. Do you think they’ll ever be a city dwelling beaver named after us?


The truth about the tooth

Posted by heidi08 On October - 4 - 2015Comments Off on The truth about the tooth

Jack Laws
Speaking of people drawing beaver teeth inaccurately – guess what I just noticed! The amazing see it and draw it in nature John Muir Laws, who sketched our beavers lo these many years ago, did a portrait last month on how to tell beavers and otters apart. This was in the July – September issue. And it took me a while to even recognize what I was seeing.


Can you say chip monk? Or bear with beaver teeth? How could such a talented man forget everything he learned here in Martinez? He needs a dose of beaver watching STAT! I’m writing a letter. You see for yourself whether this portrait he did in person isn’t more accurate.

It’s in the bag!

Posted by heidi08 On September - 28 - 2015Comments Off on It’s in the bag!

Suzi at workOhhh it’s so nice to be back on the HUGE familiar pc screen where everything is still broken in the usual ways. You might have to hear more from me as a result, I’m sorry to say. I thought I’d share some photos from the beaver art project taken by Suzi Eszterhas. Other photos taken that day might make it to the Ranger Rick story but she said I could share these and they’re a great introduction to a fun use of Susanna Street park.


This is Ethan who is  wearing an original Martinez beaver shirt that he made himself. He’s proudly showing his Father and son beaver bag puppets. If you wish you  could make some of your very own, the patterns are here. The paws are wooden forks. The tails and hind feet are from Dugmore’s Romance of the Beaver, but don’t forget it was Heidi’s endless labor that got them to print double sided. (The hope is that since the book is 101 years old now it will be public domain-y enough for Ranger Rick to print our pattern. And we really MIGHT have an army of beaver puppets across America.)


Bella made a beaver kit and her own frog original puppet. She knew just about everything about the bebellaavers and explained to the other children why they should use orange teeth on the older puppet. Towards the end of the event she got a little restless and went around the park picking up large sticks for her beaver to eat. It was pretty adorable.

This is Brynn who wore two charm necklaces from the past beaver festivals. She also finished thebrynn buttons this year but said that her favorite festival was two years ago when she was able to bring her best friend. If you peek to the left of the kits tail you can just make out the dragonfly and mom’s tail charms. Imagine growing up with beaver festivals. She’s been coming since she was 4.

For some reason I didn’t get photos of April and Alana from Suzi to share, but they were a dynamic duo of beaver information. April posed her beaver kit with a Fennel stalk and explained how Mom beaver liked to eat it when she was pregnant. Alana described how it might have been the salt water that killed the kits. They were both very attentive to details and asked through their grandmother if they could have their own children’s booth at the festival next year. No, really. Since I don’t have their photos to share, I will share this clip from when we met on the footbridge after the PBS beaver documentary aired. They had this feedback for the Canadian producer Jari Osborne:

Jari, btw, was delighted when I sent her this clip and wrote back on youtube:

Thank you so much, April, Alana (sp?) and Heidi!!!
Girls, I am so delighted to know you watched, enjoyed and cared about what you saw on Leave It To Beavers. It means so much to me to hear from you! ~Jari

Ethan Heidi

Which just goes to show you that beaver puppets can swim a long, long way into many people’s hearts. You’ll see. Just watch.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Posted by heidi08 On September - 24 - 2015Comments Off on Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Oh sure. No beaver news for 5 whole days and then an EXPLOSION of stories to share. Well, we have to start with this, because I told you it was coming 10 days ago.

Beaver: Back to the Future

Beaver, whose dams help slow the flow of water, play a key role in the health of our forests. They create wetlands, reduce the force of floods, and expand riparian habitat for wildlife. In our new 13-minute video “Beaver: Back to the Future,” four Forest Service employees and a retired Regional Forester eloquently and enthusiastically praise the power of beaver to beneficially restore and manage national forest water flows in the face of climate change.

Beaver: Back to the Future from Grand Canyon Trust on Vimeo.

Wasn’t that awesome? Everyone did such a fantastic and compelling job. And Trout Unlimited funded. How long must we wait for it to catch on. The smartest beaver folk in three states. Now only 47 more to go!


Maybe Coca cola can help. Beaver: the paws that refreshes!

Coca-Cola Leaves It to Beavers to Fight the Drought

What do Coca-Cola and beavers have in common? It sounds like the setup of a bad joke, but the fates of beavers and bottlers look increasingly intertwined. Coke is funding the deployment of beavers in the United States to build dams and create ponds that can replenish water supplies for local ecosystems and ultimately, people.

Coke’s deployment of engineering rodents has a similar goal: getting water into the ground. Before Europeans’ arrival on the continent, beavers lived in nearly every headwaters stream in North America, and they shaped the continent.

“They were everywhere and having a huge impact on the landscape and the hydrology,” said Frances Backhouse, a Victoria, British Columbia–based author whose book, Once They Were Hats, about the history and environmental role of beavers, will be published Oct. 1.

“Beavers mean higher water tables and water on the landscape throughout the dry seasons as well wet seasons,” she said. They are, according to Backhouse, “the only animal in the world that can rival us in terms of engineering the landscape.”

The funding repairs stream crossings and restores streams damaged by wildfires in California, New Mexico, Illinois, Michigan, and Colorado. It is helping to pay for the beaver project, which seeks to boost water retention in the Upper Methow River watershed in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Washington state.

Natural solutions like deploying the beavers are a good value, said Radtke. An earlier project in the Sierra Nevada Mountains used heavy equipment to install a series of plugs to contain water so it could seep into sediment. “It was fantastic,” he said. “It was working. But it cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

The Upper Methow Beaver Project, a joint effort of five organizations, accomplishes the same thing for less. Coke’s investment in the project in 2014 was around $40,000. Total project cost for that year was $271,000.

“It turns out that beavers work cheaper than big, heavy, yellow equipment,” said Radtke.

Ya think?

Alright, credit where credit’s due, relocating beavers to save water is MUCH better than killing them, and kudos to Coke for having the sense to fund a winner. But really the ideal place for beavers to be improving water is everywhere there is water and people to drink it, and I’ll be happiest when they are allowed to relocate themselves.


Smiling beaver kit by Cheryl Reynolds

Update on the little munchkin at Lindsay who survived the night and was looking healthier today. He’ll be ready to leave in a couple days, and if they can’t locate his family he’ll go to our friends at Sonoma Wildlife Rescue to mature and learn to be a beaver. This morning Cheryl and Kelly went out looking for his family and may have seen another kit and some chewed tulles. Fingers crossed he’ll be reunited with loved ones soon.


Posted by heidi08 On September - 22 - 2015Comments Off on Papyrus

This weekend someone commented on our logo with the perfect sentence “Oh because beavers are the KEY to the creek, right?” And it got me remembering how it all came together.

Once upon a time, many years ago, Worth A Dam needed a logo. I fiddled with logo picsome primitive images and asked around the best I could and got the suggestion to look for a volunteer on Craig’s list. I was told to advertise for a “Free gig” and say what we needed.

The truly amazing thing is that I immediately received more than a dozen offers. I actually had to review applications for an unpaid job drawing a beaver logo. It was 2009 and the time the Martinez Beavers were bigger news than they are now. I reviewed cute graphics, manly graphics and gothum graphics. I got offers from the Southbay, the Northbay and San Francisco.

The woman that finally intrigued me was Kiriko Moth, a graphic artist in the city. She’s has gotten bigger and her website is amazing if you want to catch a peek. She had just finished some lovely illustrations for a book on bees that compelled me. We had a conversation about my ideas and she sketched a host of designs which I liked – including one with children’s faces. I wish I had the sample sheet she sent just to remember. But at the time I asked her to think about incorporating the key idea, and maybe a stream.

She came back with a stream dividing the beaver (in blue and reversed with the wide part at the top). I suggested we do uncolored and offered the idea of flipping it so it looks like you’re looking into the distance. Then we chose fonts to go around it. And Voila the logo was born. When mom died she was kind enough to notch the tail.

legacy_logo2lgOne thing she said as we were discussing fonts was to avoid papyrus. She said TOO many non profits used it already. I thought at the time that was an odd thing to say, because I happened to love papyrus. Maybe you do too. But now years later I have seen over and over that she was right. Here’s a little sample, but keep your eye out and you’ll find millions.

papyrusI have to ask myself what quality we all possess that draws us to this font? Even many of the logos that were professionally designed and avoided the danger of using the font actually chose fonts that look LIKE papyrus.

Apparently the advice NOT to use papyrus has to be sternly administered from lots of sources. It is all over google.

There’s a psychological paper there just waiting to be written.

A day in the life of a beaver advocate

Posted by heidi08 On September - 21 - 2015Comments Off on A day in the life of a beaver advocate

Yesterday in Sonoma was hot. hot. hot, with surprises of the nice variety. There were many many people who knew that beavers create habitat because they had watched the documentary, read a book or heard my talk at Santa Rosa Audubon or Kate’s talk at Pepperwood. And the booth right next door was the executive director of Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation who had formerly been the beaver management guy at Huntley Meadows in Virginia! He happened to know our friend Ann Cameron Siegal, who has been taking jaw-droppingly beautiful photos there of beaver life for years.

Crazy small world.

Beavers on ice 2 002I came home thinking about the idea of the beaver as an ecosystem engineer, and wondering whether our next activity at the festival could help children understand that concept.

An ecosystem engineer is an organism that modifies, creates or destroys habitat and directly or indirectly modulates the availability of resources to other species.

Wouldn’t this make a cool activity for kids to earn from the different booths if we can figure it out? You know like each car links together to make the train bracelet?


Two awesome beaver birthday cards came to me yesterday that I really need to share. Love the beaver strategy meeting especially.

beaver strategy meeting cutest

Ohhh and just in case you’re interested, here’s what I thought yesterday about turning 50.

Beaver Class Reunion

Posted by heidi08 On September - 17 - 2015Comments Off on Beaver Class Reunion

First things first. Mike is sending this letter in response to the editorial I posted yesterday.

To the Editor,

The 9-15-15 Gazette editorial regarding the Lake Fitzgerald beaver issue failed the public miserably. In addition to incorrect information about the chain-link fence, the editor chose to mock the efforts of a committed group of Broad Brook Coalition and UMass volunteers, city officials and myself, with comments such as “Callahan cooked up the idea “, “beavers pretty much made sawdust of Plans A through C” and “start working on Plan E”.

In 18 years of solving over 1,200 human-beaver conflicts with water control devices I have never seen more ingenious beavers than those at Lake Fitzgerald, nor such an amazing coalition of dedicated volunteers and city officials. It is sad that the editor did not celebrate the efforts of these local citizens, but rather chose to mock them.

Also, it’s been over a month since the rocks were installed and our creative solution is working fine. The lake level remains normal and the beavers have been unable to block the drain. So editor, please avoid negative, uninformed, mocking opinions. The public gets enough of that from Donald Trump.

Michael Callahan, Owner
Beaver Solutions LLC


Take that snappy beaver critique editor! I hope it gets printed because it deserves to be read.  People shouldn’t go around insulting valiant effort. Especially when it keeps getting better and better and folks are just trying to do the right thing.

Personally, I kind of love when the big players get called into the game. Like remember that time that paper dissed our historic research as a misinterpretation of the evidence in a footnote and I got happy that he was getting Rick’s dander up.

Speaking of Rick and our historial research this was released yesterday, and is the hard work of Greg Kerekes for the Guadelupe RCD. There’s someone in it you’ll recognize but I had just gotten back from another speaking job and think I sound like a lunatic with a cold. If you don’t have time to watch it now watch it later, it’s really informative and well done.

How much do you love that footage? And those under/over shots. Rick is such a great teacher, I want to read our paper again right now! Greg is doing an awesome job in the South Bay spreading the beaver gospel through his non profit (Urban Wildlife Research Project). If you don’t remember him from the festival you probably remember his wife dancing in the beaver costume a couple years ago. She was awesome.

greg's wife

Goodness we’ve been in this business a long time. In fact we’re about two weeks away from our 3000th post. Which is a lot of things for one woman to say about beavers. Our website has been around so long and has SO much info it’s starting to stretch at the seams so I was thrilled to hear from our webpage designer Scott Artis yesterday that he will help us get back to sailing velocity. He has his hands full with a paid environmental  job now but I think he noticed the long nonprofit list for Sunday’s event and saw that his group (Audubon Canyon) was the Alpha and WE (Worth A Dam) were the Omega, and was prompted suddenly to write back.  So HOORAY for updating websites!

Yesterday I immersed myself in this project, which I should share at a later date because we already have one film on this post, but I have no delayed gratification. Or very little. And I’m feeling proud.