Archive for the ‘Educational’ Category

Beavers win Badger-Spirit Award

Posted by heidi08 On September - 1 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

2014 Badger Spirit awards are presented to:

Occidental Arts and Ecology Center and WATER Institute in Occidental, CA, for their work in conserving natural resources, sustainable agriculture, respect for the environment, and the WATER Institute’s national outreach to “Bring Back the Beaver” and restoring Coho Salmon to watersheds programs. More info: www.oaec.org, and oaec.org/water-institute.

Worth a Dam, Martinezbeavers.org, based in Martinez, CA, for conservation, outreach and educational programs on behalf of Beavers in the United States and stewardship and protection of the Martinez Beavers in Martinez, CA. More info: Martinezbeavers.org

sfbaywildlife.info, an innovative and contemporary internet resource, for San Francisco Bay Area information about wildlife, places, activities and resources. More info: sfbaywildlife.info

Many thanks to Susan and the Paula Lane Action Network for recognizing beavers with this years awards.  We even got mention in the local Press Democrat.

 Award for Bring Back the Beaver program

The group Worth a Dam which also works to educate the public about the value of beavers in restoration and conservation of natural resources was also recognized. The group holds an annual Beaver Festival in Martinez where beavers have become a tourist attraction as well as providing a habitat for other wildlife..

 The much maligned animal has proved its worth in preserving valuable salmon runs, and in water conservation. Bring Back the Beaver and Worth a Dam are working to educate the public and change state policies about the beaver which date back to 1942 and are founded on inaccurate data.

susanA beaver-maniac like me is thrilled to accept the honor. I first wrote Susan close to 8 years ago when she was a writer for Sonoma Press Blog and had written about our beavers. When I learned about her badger affinity I told her that through a weird series of coincidences my earliest fiercely loved toy had been an actual stuffed badger the neighbor had thrown over the fence. I had loved its soft fur and sharp claws, and imagined that its badger spirit had shaped my adult life, making me unwilling to give up on much of anything including the Martinez beavers.

Thank you PLAN for recognizing the badger spirit in us! And we look forward to badgering people about beavers for years to come!

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Rolling with the Punches

Posted by heidi08 On August - 25 - 2014Comments Off

It was bound to happen, that awkward moment when your day job as a legal secretary for Lerner and your evening passion of playing drums in a alter-punk club collide. Surprising at first to have your boss see you hammer the snares with a stud in your nose, and then unbelievably liberating to finally have it all together in one place.

I’m very proud of this interview. I never was allowed before to talk so much about my experience on the beaver subcommittee and it was so healing to do. For me this is a vibrant red poppy growing on the dusty battlefield where much blood was spilled 7 years ago. I think it starts slow, but you have to at least listen to the John Muir part. That story relaxed me and it gets a lot better.

Episode 145: The emotional lives of advocates

You may know Dr. Heidi Perryman as the beaver believer from Martinez, California, or the defender who hosts the MartinezBeavers.org Worth a Dam website and podcast series. But between her evenings of working with municipalities, landowners and the general public on beaver protection, she’s a successful clinical psychologist.

 Dr. Perryman joined Defender Radio for a unique conversation on these emotions, what they mean to us and how we can manage them in our day-to-day lives as advocates.

Capture

Cheryl sent this lovely photo of our kit on vacation at Ward street.

Wardofthestate

2014 Beaver kit: Photo Cheryl Reynolds

And speaking of emotional lives, just in case you wondered, this is what resilience looks like: courtesy of Meadow Lane in Napa.

Too many updates

Posted by heidi08 On August - 23 - 2014Comments Off

Lots of beaver news this morning, I heard from Scott Artis the designer of this website that he would be happy to do an update for us. Now he’s local again and working for Audubon Canyon and displayed for his new non profit Urban Birds Foudation at the festival.  I, for one, can’t wait until this tired old jalopy is transformed back and into a sleek cyber  Mercedes. Thanks Scott!

Congratulations to Cheryl who just found out yesterday that her lovely photo of two kits will be in the 2015 watershed calendar. It’s the loving work of artist John Finger with snippets of photos all through the dates, and useful information scattered throughout. We are especially proud because in addition to being a beautiful calendar. it hangs in every public works department and county supervisors office for the entire year and reminds them to be nice to beavers.

(And believe you me, most of them need reminding!)

 

Here’s the fantastic photo that will appear some month in the future. She is between computers at the moment and lacking funds so if a reader of this website just happened to get a big inheritance you might think about helping her get back to full photo capacity soon. You can even ear mark it as a donation thru Worth A Dam and get a tax deduction?

Think of the children!

Cheryl ReynoldsIMG_7316

Now many county supervisors need reminding but apparently not all. Yesterday the county supervisor/former mayor of Napa wrote me that he loved the beaver information I sent, passed it along to everyone,  and he was so excited he was asking flood control to put together a ‘beaver symposium’ next year!

Someone pinch me, I think I’m dreaming.

arch canvasI have been strangely afflicted with planning at the moment, and can’t seem to stop scheming for next year’s festival. I want to hit up the fall grant cycle for funds and was trying to think of an art project that would be educational enough to open their tightly closed purse strings. Around 4 in the morning on Friday it hit me. Our indefatigable artist FRo could paint an archway on a canvas tarp and then kids  on the day could paint in the animals with the beavers as the keystone! It teaches a complicated ecological concept, honors kids contribution, involves the community and it would be sooo cute! And then afterwards when its all dry and finished. We could use it as the backdrop in our display for years to come! FRo and I chatted about the idea yesterday, and she gave me a list of materials and how it would need to be prepared and stored.

Keystone arch here we come!

archbrochure

I’ve been bothering lots of people lately.  I even wrote Ian Timothy’s mom to see if I could lure her into sketching something. Remember Karen Boone was the designer behind the stunning Kentucky Derby graphic pictured below.  Can’t you just imagine the suggestion of a beaver head and beaver tail on a flag or a t-shirt? Me too. I have the dream but not the talent. So I thought maybe I’d write her.

Thinking about your beautiful Kentucky derby art, I’m wondering if you ever considered a beaver outline sketch? We would love to do a tshirt some year that was a beaver head on front and tail on back, but can only imagine the artistic wonders of a minimalist sketch outline? Maybe someday you’ll be inspired to give it a shot?

Karen Boone  wrote back this morning. “I would be happy to do that for you! Plenty of work in, but will put it on my fun to do list.”

Thank you so much Karen for putting us on the FUN list! That is really exciting and would be so full circle if it works out!

On a final note, the friend of a friend who agreed to process our depredation permit stats turns out to be the very respected statistician for Acorn, a psychometrics firm usually handling important questions like does cognitive behavior therapy reduce symptoms more quickly than Lexapro? But now, amazingly he’s committed to handling beaver data. He asked for me to include stats on population density, acreage and sq miles of water so he could run a full regression analysis. It took every waking spare moment I had this week but I finished the updated list yesterday at 3.00 pm and I’m sooooo excited. This means we can partial out effects like how much water an area has, or how densely packed the human population is,  and just zoom in on how murderous the CDFG officer was who signed the permit. Which means I can write the Chuck Bonham with our findings and specify with greater credibility the changes he needs to  make.

I can’t wait.

Baffled Beavers!

Posted by heidi08 On August - 22 - 2014Comments Off

Thomas Tamayne, Stephen Sangle, and Gary Oppenheimer (l to r) investigate the beaver pond that is flooding the wetland at West Milford’s Mary Haase-Roger Daugherty Environmental Center. The members of West Milford’s Environmental Commission plan to install a beaver-proof device to drain the wetland back to normal levels.

West Milford Environmental Commission has new weapon for beaver battle

The local Environmental Commission is employing a new weapon in its battle with the environmental boardwalk’s beavers.

Called a beaver baffle, the device being prepared for installation by the West Milford commission at the Mary Haase-Roger Daugherty Environmental Center near Maple Road School is designed to act as tap on the backside of the beaver dam. Once operational, it should lower the water level in the dammed wetland enough to make it unsuitable for beavers, forcing the current residents to relocate, and protecting the recently-renovated boardwalk from further damage, according to commission Chairman Stephen Sangle.

“It looks promising and maybe one or two more days of work should finish the project,” Sangle said Sunday.

Last weekend, commission members set the project’s groundwork by scouting the area to find a suitable place for the upstream end of a pipe that will serve as the tap. The spot has to be deep enough and large enough to contain a trapezoid-shaped cage made out of epoxy-coated mesh that will prevent beavers from clogging the pipe, Sangle said.

 Let’s hope the reporter got this wrong. They sometimes assume the point of installation is to make beavers move. Why else would anyone bother? But you and I know that if the beavers did move, the conservation commission would have wasted its time and money. The idea is that you compromise and the beavers stay and keep others from moving in and doing it all again.

I thought it was funny they described installing a beaver ‘baffle’ – and wondered if this had anything to do with the Unexpected Wildlife Refuge just 3 hrs away, also in New Jersey. Or whether they were just using the term ‘baffle’ generically, like ‘deceiver’ which they also use. The baffle isn’t often employed. But here’s an interesting project I found on beaver bafflers I think is a few years old. The video will show you how they work – or rather how they don’t work actually, because I think that tiny cage is never going to prevent beavers from feeling suction and they will quickly cover the entire thing with mud.  Just watch the video to see all about the Vermont cooperative beaver baffle project. Capture

Beaver Baffles

From Outdoor Journal Vermont PBS

When it comes to making things out of wood no animal is more persistent and more proficient than the beaver. Beaver dams provide valuable wet land habitat for several species of fish and wildlife. But these same dams can cause a lot of damage to roads and septic systems. In this segment, we look at a unique project called the “Cooperative Beaver Baffle Demonstration Project” that uses water control structures to properly manage beaver dam water levels.

Good luck with that.Oh and just in case you don’t believe beavers could mud that entire cage around the perforated pipe, here’s what one did to Mike Callahan’s single intake once.

plugged filter

6 foot filter entirely plugged with mud.Photo – Mike Callahan Beaver Solutions

Catching a tiger by the tail

Posted by heidi08 On August - 14 - 20142 COMMENTS

Ranchers’ Friend and Farmers’ Foe: Reshaping Nature with Beaver Reintroduction in California

Steven M. Fountain

The twentieth-century project to restore animals to their former ranges often relied on the common support of sportsmen’s groups, wildlife managers, and biologists. Beavers were common but controversial subjects of early reintroduction programs throughout the North American West. In California,rapidly expanding industrial agriculture created a particularly intense conflict over the fate of remaining beaver habitat. Advocates turned to higher elevation ranch lands to relocate problem beavers, emphasizing the economic benefits of raising water tables and reclaiming the potential resource repositories of the foothills and mountains. These habitat extensions were a novel means of commoditizing an animal whose status shifted from harmful to beneficial depending on location and situation.

Reading the title and the abstract don’t you feel almost hopeful? Finally an intelligent article that discusses beaver relocation in California and their potential value! But reading through you see that he based his review on where beavers belong entirely on Grinell and Tappe’s 1930 report. Which as you know, says beaver weren’t in the Sierras because the mountains were too pointy.

Unsuitable riparian vegetation, rocky banks, and steep fast-flowing streams combined to keep beaver largely confined to the lowlands that have been their range for millennia.

Never mind about the beaver in the Rocky’s. And never mind about beavers loving Aspen. Oh, and never mind about that paper published in 2012 by Lanman et al, because he mentions in a footnote:

Richard B. Lanman, Heidi Perryman, Brock Dolman, and Charles D. James, “The Historic Range of Beaver in the Sierra Nevada: A Review of the Evidence,” California Fish and Game 98, no. 2 (2012): 65–80, also misreads several historical documents.

We misread? Who knew? Obviously we did it wrong, (as in we wore our THINKING caps rather than our FAITH caps). Sheesh. The author has slightly more interest in the carbon dated beaver dam, but he’s willing to ignore the fossil record too.

Far more convincing is Charles D. James and Richard B. Lanman, “Novel Physical Evidence That Beaver Historically Were Native to the Sierra Nevada,” California Fish and Game 98, no. 2 (2012): 129–32, which discusses pre–Gold Rush beaver dam remains on upper Feather River tributaries.

Never you mind about carbon half-lives. He has a point to make. In fact it’s so unimportant to his thesis he doesn’t even bother discussing it in his precious paper. Our work issn’t important enough to challenge or actually point out problems. He won’t bother to argue. Dismissing it only requires a footnote.

The outrage of having our years of work marginalized to a footnote got all our attention, but I am happiest that it got Dr. Lanman’s because he put on his most medical-researchy  tone and went straight for the author. I can’t think of a single better person to politely challenge his ruthlessly irresponsible bullshit.

I’m easy to insult but it’s probably not every day that Rick gets accused of ‘misreading’. I’ll keep you posted on what happens.   This is the picture that springs to mind.

I guess this means we are officially at the second part of Gandhi’s stages of opposition. I hope I packed enough trail mix.

First they ignore you.
Then they laugh at you.
Then they fight with you.
Then you win.

Appreciations

Posted by heidi08 On August - 6 - 2014Comments Off

It’s been a week of treasures and it’s only Wednesday. Yesterday I received this email from a family we met at the dam two weeks ago. They were from Long Beach and eager to see the famous Martinez beavers. Of course our mascots did not disappoint. Since our visitors were so delighted with the show I suggested they might write the mayor and let them know how pleased they were.

Yesterday Michelle sent  the  entire city council this:

Dear Mr Mayor,

My name is Michelle Lee and I live in Southern California with my family. We’ve done a couple of great American Road Trips in the last twenty years, but this year, we were privileged to witness one of the most emblemic of all Northern American wildlife: the hardworking, family-oriented and stoical Martinez Beaver.

Prior to setting out on our trip this summer, a few weeks ago, we had only ever seen American beavers on film in movies. There is apparently one homed in the Singapore River Safari theme park, but knowing beavers to be highly social animals, we were disappointed but not surprised when we failed to spot it in its enclosure during our visit last year. Imagine how thrilled we were, then, to discover, while researching for our summer trip, http://www.martinezbeavers.org, the Worth a Dam web site put up by Heidi Perryman. We have beavers, thriving in their natural environment, right here, in our own backyard!

Martinez was immediately included on our itinerary. Your location was perfect, for us visiting college towns like Stanford, Berkeley and Davis. You have one of the best Thai restaurants in all of California, north through south: the Lemongrass Bistro. Muir Lodge, which provided us with a most tastefully decorated and comfortable room, was just what we needed for our layover. Sal’s Family Kitchen was the perfect breakfast wake-up in the morning.

And you have the beavers. And they were wonderful. We waited at the secondary dam right by the Amtrak station on 14 July 2014, around 6:30pm, and managed to see three beavers, including the kit. Not knowing as much as we could about the habits of these nocturnal mammals, though, we were pretty bummed we didn’t stay till 8 :-( That said, the beavers we saw kept us entranced for a good hour or so, just swimming about, nibbling in the rushes, doing generally beaverly things.

Now that we’re home, and able to more fully process our summer vacation, which included visits to the Carlsbad Caverns and the Grand Canyon, we can honestly count the Martinez Beavers as one of our most satisfying wildlife experiences. We in Southern California are used to the arid desert, even in this ongoing drought, with our well-watered landscaped city and suburban lawns, so it was quite distressing to see how devastated the land around us was while driving through NorCal. Those tenacious beavers, as corny as it sounds, gave us hope that this drought will eventually pass. Our only regret was we were not able to spend longer in your lovely town than one night. Now, our true regret is having missed this year’s Beaver Festival!

The fact that Martinez has a Beaver Festival indicates that many people do share our fascination with these enchanting animals. However, we were a little surprised, that, of the people we talked to in town, only one person was able to point us in the right direction to the beaver dams, because you have a real treasure in the beavers, and in Worth a Dam. This is such a unique situation you have in Martinez that people are able to observe outside of the artificial and expensive set up of a zoo. We are hopeful that continued education and increased appreciation for the Martinez Beavers will be encouraged to perpetuate and grow. We cannot thank Worth a Dam enough for their information-packed web site. We came from Long Beach just to see this happy beaver family!!

Thanks for taking the time to read this!
Michelle Lee, with Kevin Traster and Loyalty Traster-Lee
Long Beach, California
5 August 2014

Now tell me that wasn’t the best letter you EVER read! Not only did it remind the mayor that the beavers and Worth A Dam are an asset, it must have made those little dollar signs appear in his eyes like on cartoons. She did such a good job that I told her to share it with the local papers so I’m hoping we see it again very soon.

The only part that kind of bugged me was that only one person in town could tell her where the dam was. But when I thought about it I realized that’s actually wonderful. In 2007 when every shop owner on main street was terrified of being flooded every, Susie, Stacey or Sam could have told them. Now the fact that the story isn’t news anymore means that the beavers are no longer a threat and that’s just what we wanted to happen. I thought of Carl Sandburg,

 Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work—
I am the grass; I cover all.
 
 And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?
 
I am the grass.
Let me work.

Carl Sandburg

Well, I suppose the grass has worked in Martinez. Even I can barely remember the injuries of a city who wanted to destroy its treasures. Now I simply bask in the glow of a job well done and a chapter well written.

And this delightful epilogue about “Joe” made me smile.

Martinez Beaver Festival celebrates beaver family living in downtown creek since 2006

Dam fun

 Children parade to the strains of Bruce Maxwell’s bagpipe, above, at the start of the seventh annual Beaver Festival on Saturday, in Martinez, that celebrates the beaver family that has been living in Alhambra Creek since 2006. The event, sponsored by Worth A Dam, attracted visitors from everywhere for activities, music and tours of the beavers’ environment by Joe Ridler, right center.

 They don’t show the photo on line, but something tells me I’ve seen Joe before.

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.