Archive for the ‘Educational’ Category

Rolig bäver skämt!

Posted by heidi08 On December - 6 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

Apologies in advance for using google translate but my Swedish is -er- rusty. Yesterday I received an email for the owner of an ecotour company in Sweden asking me what the best beaver tours were in the west. Could I recommend some for his itinerary through the western states? I politely explained that I had friends dotted around that could show him local colonies but as far as I knew there were NO professional tours in the US. He was surprised and said that there were at least 20 in Sweden!

calvin-and-hobbes-laughIt took a while to catch our breaths again after the hearty chuckle to think that of the day when California (about the same size as Sweden) sported 20 professional  beaver tours. (That would be like four in the bay area alone!) I, of course, went to check out his website.

captureThe1 tour runs 5 hours and costs around 150 dollars per person. It is lead by strapping young wildlife guides who know what to look for and are wonderfully fluent.   The tour includes an outdoor meal by the lake and advice on how to get thcapturee best photographs. Their website says that beavers are seen most nights and often feed near the boat.

Just like a visit to the footbridge in Martinez except fewer homeless and 150 dollars a head.

Marcus thought it odd that there were no tour programs and suggested he might be able to help us start one? Just our luck because we’re such fools in Martinez we’ve been giving free tours to 500 people a year at the festival and on call when we could have been making top dollar! (500 x 150 x 10) adds up to nearly  a million dollars!

calvin-and-hobbes-laughCertainly we know in Martinez that folks are interested in Beavers and appreciate the chance to see them or see evidence of them. Jon could tell you how eagerly folks listen to his many tours and crowd for a chance to see a chewed tree or dam. Maybe there is a future for us in beaver tourism? Ahh Marcus, you have made us dream of the possible and reach for the stars! Thanks for that!

Speaking of glimpses of rare wildlife I was particularly moved by this short celebration of reintroducing fishers on Mt. Rainier tribal land this Saturday. Fishers were all trapped out like beavers for their rich fur and hadn’t been seen in hundreds of years. We know from our beaver mileage that sometimes the easiest way to get around the feds and bring back a species is to just do it on sovereign land where federal rules have no jurisdiction. Then wait for the successful animals to reintroduce themselves over the borders.

Umwelt und Bieber

Posted by heidi08 On December - 4 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

captureThis is a really fun article written by grad student Kathleen Onorevole for UNC-CH Marine Sciences Graduate Student Blog. She writes very intelligently about a dissertation being dramatically changed by some stubborn beaver activity in Huntley Meadows in VA. (Where our good friend Ann Cameron Siegal has been photographing for years.)

What this author doesn’t suspect is that dissertations were also changed by beaver activity for Dr. Glynnis Hood (who was trying to research drought when beaver ponds kept ruining her data), Dr. Suzanne Fouty (who had a nice hydrology study arranged which beavers ruined),  Dr. Michael Pollock (whose salmon research was ‘falsely’ inflated by beavers and recently for Dr. Arthur Gold who was just trying to research Nitrogen when beavers kept moving in and messing up his study.

I’m not an grad student, so I don’t know the fancy German word for it. I just say: beavers change things. It’s what they do.

Maybe Kathleen thinks this has never happened before. We could show her many times where smart researchers either hop on the beaver train, or get off the tracks. Right? This is a fun article and I plan on quoting her heavily! You should go read the whole thing, though. It’s well worth it.

When Animals Take Over (Restoration Projects)

beaver face ann

Beaver at Huntley meadows: Ann Siegal

Most productivity gurus say that when you hit a wall, you should switch tasks.  This is how I ended up reading a paper about beavers who managed to hijack a wetland restoration for their benefit.  So congratulations!  You’re in the right place to learn some fancy philosophy terms and think about wetlands from a whooole new perspective.

The wetland in question is Huntley Meadows Park, a Fairfax County Park in Alexandria, VA, just south of DC.  The 1500-acre park is surrounded by a busy metropolitan area and bordered by I-95, but you wouldn’t know it from the photos.  .  In the early 1990s, restoration plans began, prompted by a decrease in rare bird sightings coupled with the realization that intervention was necessary to maintain a functional wetland.  This is where the beavers come in.

This was news to me, I knew something about the history of Huntley Meadows and have even met the former beaver director there, who’s now the director of Laguna de Santa Rosa. But I didn’t know that a dissertation was done on HM by Dr. Gwendolin McCrea. And I didn’t know this term, which fascinates me:

 The second idea is umwelt, an animal’s view of the external world.  Umwelt strikes me as the framework that makes stories like Watership Down possible: animals are assumed to have narratives of sort as they respond to and navigate the world on their own terms, unaware of human motivations.

Suffice it to say that the beaver umwelt vision of the park was different than the park planners with their charts and research. They wanted a path to go here and the wetlands here, and you know what beavers wanted.

beaver back ann

Beaver from the back: Ann Siegal

Maybe the solution is to kill all the beavers?  Nope, park visitors like them and would not be happy.  Huntley Meadows also couldn’t outsource them to other local wetlands, who already had their own beaver communities.    This brought up a catch-22: the beavers had been partially responsible for people’s attraction to the park, but the wetland couldn’t persist with the beavers present.  The solution, it turned out, was to “manage beaver behavior without managing the beavers themselves.”  A team from Clemson University developed a pipe system that dispersed water flow, lessening the environmental stimulus that would normally prompt beavers to create dams.  As McCrea explains, the pipes accounted for the beavers’ umwelt– and exploited it.  One problem solved!  The beavers could continue to live in Huntley Meadows, building fewer dams and therefore not damning the wetland.

Yes, so they installed a flow device. And it altered the beaver effect enough that the park could exist and the beavers exist. I guess in Virginia it is worth a dissertation, but sheesh, it happens all the time. It even happened in Martinez.  That’s no reason to start using German words to describe it.

So humans were the power brokers in that scenario, but the tables were about to turn.  When planners were designing observation trails, they identified a key value of the dispositif: visitors loved watching the beavers putter around, meaning that the beavers had to be visible for those people to continue visiting.  This led to restoration elements designed just for the beavers, including a dam [SHE MEANS LODGE]  that encroached on the boardwalk and a stand of trees that was fenced on a rotating basis.  In McCrea’s words, the accommodations “enroll[ed] the beavers themselves as an element of the governing dispositif directed toward the creation of environmental subjects.”  Translation: the beavers were calling the shots now.

I have to say I like the idea of protecting a stand of trees on a rotating basis so that the public can see the chewing but the park can keep some trees.  I like the idea that people’s interest in beavers shaped public planning, and ahem, can we think of where else that happened?

The author is not totally sold on the idea of not killing all the beavers but she thinks it’s interesting. She ends with a reference to the dissertation.  Do you think we’re in the reference section? Bob Kobres is their anyway you can find me a copy?

McCrea, Gwendolin. 2016. Castor canadensis and urban wetland governance- Fairfax County, VA case study. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening 19: 306-314.

Final thoughts? The stated point of Huntley Meadows was to promote biodiversity. And the planners were worried that the beavers were going to ruin that. Ahem.




Things that shouldn’t be and things that should.

Posted by heidi08 On December - 2 - 2016Comments Off on Things that shouldn’t be and things that should.

Some things just shouldn’t happen. Really. And I say that as a woman with a lot of patience for ridiculous things. But some things just shouldn’t even exist. Like this, for instance.

Rogers Mayor pardons “Bart the Beaver”

Rogers Mayor Greg Hines pardoned “Bart the Beaver” in a comedic Facebook post Wednesday.

“Mayor Hines and Councilman Kendall met with Bart the Beaver tonight to talk about the trees at Lake Atalanta,” the post reads.

“Bart decided to turn away from his life of crime, and was given a full pardon. We wish you the best of luck, Bart! #RogersRocks

The post referenced a satiric Facebook page called “Save Bart the Beaver,” which has gone viral in the wake of an investigation at Lake Atlanta.

Tuesday, the city and police held a press conference saying someone used a hatchet to chop down trees around the lake.

But Wednesday, Ben Cline with the City of Rogers said experts came in and determined a beaver or multiple beavers could possibly be to blame instead.

“We had Arkansas Game and Fish come down here and take a look, and they found some more evidence there might possibly be some beavers down here at Lake Atalanta.” The city said it’s not ruling out vandalism just yet.

The city planted thousands of trees in the park, so the cost was relatively low because they bought in bulk. But it could still cost thousands of dollars to replace those trees, White said.

Lake Atalanta was closed for a year of renovations. It was reopened with a ribbon cutting celebration on October 30th.

If our mayor posed for this photo, Jon would be deciding whether to pay my bail. There’s no question about it, because I would have created a crime. Would you like to see the evidence their ‘experts’ can’t identify definitively? You know you would, so don’t even bother answering. Here’s the head-scratching crime that leaves all of Alabama confused about the cat burglar’s identity.

Gosh, I wonder what that could be? Apparently the hatchet-wielders took down several trees that same night. They obviously were trying to show off for each other.   Almost like a gang activity. Sheesh. Just so you know in advance, if holes ever show up in your trees Atalanta think woodpecker, and if all the leaves suddenly fall off, think AUTUMN.

Meanwhile the Mendenhall beavers will be at the Mendenhall library Wednesday night along with our old friends Bob Armstrong and Mary Willson. We’re so proud of the wonderful work he’s done with the beaver patrol. Our own Lory met Bob in Juneau and he showed her around.  If you can’t make it yourself you should really just look at the book on the left margin.  It remains my favorite collection of beaver photos and my screen saver to this very day.

Wildlife Wednesdays: beavers at Mendenhall

The Alaska Wildlife Alliance presents its speaker series, Wildlife Wednesdays, at the Mendenhall Valley Public Library from 7-8 p.m. on Dec. 7. The presentation “Beavers of the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area” will feature guest speakers Mary Willson, Bob Armstrong and Chuck Caldwell.

Wildlife Wednesdays are free and open to the public. Willson, a retired professor of ecology and columnist for the Empire, and Caldwell, Vice President of Juneau Trout Unlimited, both volunteer for Juneau’s “Beaver Patrol,” a group of naturalists and concerned citizens who have been working in the Dredge Creek and Dredge Lake area for about seven years. Armstrong is a photographer, author and retired fisheries biologist.


Beaver dam at Mendenhall glacier: Bob Armstrong

Giving to Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On November - 30 - 2016Comments Off on Giving to Beavers

Yesterday was giving Tuesday, and Worth A Dam received another donation from Jeanette Johnson’s PGE grant, which was awesome. Also in addition to listing various hospice, housing and rescue charities,  beavers were mentioned in the fine article describing all the local charities you can donate too in the upper parts of the state.

North State Giving Tuesday profiles: Know your local nonprofits for Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday is an opportunity for locals to show their support for the nonprofits in their area, and this year’s event is happening on Nov. 29.

Today, the Siskiyou Daily News is running descriptions of Siskiyou County’s nonprofits in their own words so you know what they are all about. Giving Tuesday profiles also ran in the Friday edition of the Daily News.

Scott River Watershed Council

Originally established in 1992, the Scott River Watershed Council became a nonprofit in 2011. We cooperatively seek solutions to enhance local resources and facilitate community collaboration on watershed issues.

SRWC provides leadership to support science-based restoration in Scott Valley. SRWC brings research, education and discussion on natural resource issues to the community, and implements restoration projects based on community and ecosystem needs.

“Where there are beavers, there is water,” says a local rancher. Water has never been more important. Using beavers and Beaver Dam Analogues (BDA) are some of the innovative restoration techniques that Scott River Watershed Council have been utilizing to try and bridge the competing needs for water of wildlife, fish and humans.

California’s first BDAs went in 2014 and ever since then, the interest in this type of restoration tool has been fierce. SRWC needs funds to continue to provide the science to move this technique through the onerous permitting and regulatory process. There has never been a more important time to support efforts, such as this, that will truly help mass areas such as California and beyond.

It is important that California, the West Coast and any region adjusting to climate change, to have tools that will help mitigate the effects, and hopefully ease the negative ramifications. Many, including SRWC, believe beavers and/or BDAs can contribute significant beneficial factors.

A BDA is a added to a stream to function like a beaver dam in the hopes that an actual beaver will be encouraged to try a real dam on site and take over the operatioin. Large trees and other snags help beavers get better footing in flashy streams that haven’t had beaver speed bumps for a century. We are happy not only that their wonderful organization might get financial support, but also that it gets publicity and talked about as a legitimate goal for restoring creeks.

Beaver Good News!

Posted by heidi08 On November - 29 - 2016Comments Off on Beaver Good News!

The rule is, if you’re 20 miles from Mike Callahan and have own a telephone machine, you better at least try co-existing with beavers, or have a dam good explanation why you didn’t. But this story is a delight to read above and beyond the standards.

Buddies with beavers: Quonquont Farm in Whately enjoys its hard-working neighbors

llison Bell, left, and wife Leslie Harris, right, explain how a “beaver deceiver” on Quonquont Farm works on Thursday. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

WHATELY — The farmers who own Quonquont Farm and the beavers that live there have a special and rare friendly relationship.

But it wasn’t always like that: “They’ve made a lot of converts,” says Allison Bell, the manager of the almost 100-year-old farm. Bell, who has authored a few books on New England mountain summits for the Appalachian Mountain Club, helps run the farm along with wife, Leslie Harris, and co-owner Ann Barker.

Bell is standing at the headwaters of Dingle Brook, the edge of a small beaver pond — one of several on the farm’s 140 acres — a stone’s throw from a farm store and a few hundred yards from a converted barn used for special events like weddings. Across a narrow path, an apple orchard — Quonquont Farm’s primary crop — stretches up and over a small rise into a sky streaked in pastel hues. It’s a beautiful late-fall evening.

Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo A beaver on Quonquont Farm in Whately Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

Around four years ago, the beavers moved in to stay. Within a short time, they’d dammed up the spring-fed brook, which flows through the property, and created a pond, threatening a blueberry patch. At first, Bell says the farmers panicked; however, after installing a “beaver deceiver” — a drainage system installed by Mike Callahan, who owns Southampton-based Beaver Solutions — water levels receded. The system was funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant and keeps the beaver pond to a specified size.

“It’s been quiet here for a while, but the beavers have made some renovations,” she says, pointing out a mud dam along the shore, noting that the water level has risen about half a foot over the summer — despite the drought. “You can see signs of them. They’re very active, taking down our willows for us. They’re volunteers.”

We love Allison AND this story. Even the names sound like a quaint new england novel about persistant love in the face of overwhelming odds. Quonquont farm in Whately decorated with amber apple orchards in the fall sun. I’m so glad you’re getting this right!

orks on Thursday. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo Evidence of beavers on Quonquont Farm in Whately, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

Over the years, she’s become a subject-matter expert, studying the beavers’ habits with wildlife cameras, which are installed throughout the waterway-network, and researching their behavior norms.

“They’re just the most industrious creatures,” says Harris, who’s touring the “beaver’s domain” along with Bell. “People say ‘busy as beavers’ and they’re not kidding around.”

Suddenly, a small brown head pokes out of the water near the lodge. It’s the oldest: a one-eyed, large beaver that swims with a slight list on the right side and that has a particular taste for apples. Soon, a few others emerge, drifting like wet logs near the middle of the pond.

Usually, the beavers are most active at night; today, however, Bell says they’re curious about the activity on the shore. Bell discovered the beaver’s love for apples because of a well-worn path that led out of one of the ponds to a wild apple tree a few summers ago.

Since then, she’s observed the beavers scurrying out of the water, grabbing a fallen apple, and scurrying back.

“Otherwise, I wouldn’t have known they have a sweet tooth,” she says, pointing out where the path was — leading from the brook, which the beavers dug out into a deep canal.

apple-pastaA decade of extensive research in Martinez has suggested to me ALL beavers have a penchant for apples, its just that some beavers are more inclined to risk their necks for it than others. As you can see beavers are particularly fond of apple peelings.

“We come down every evening and watch them,” Bell says while watching the old beaver come out onto the dam and gnaw on a twig, adding, “it provides a really interesting look into their lives.”

Yes it does! And our own, if you think about it. Your musings really make me think there might be an Allison beaver book in your future, or at least a cup of coffee with author Patti Smith (Beavers of Popple’s Pond) and a discussion of what it’s like to watch beavers.

Now if only Ian Timothy has some friends near this mall in Kentucky, today could be a perfect beaver news day!


Beaver Victorious

Posted by heidi08 On November - 25 - 20162 COMMENTS

thistleYesterday was a RED-LETTER day in beaver fortune, as the ministry of the environment in Scotland finally handed down her judgment on the fate of their beavers. And it was GOOD news!

Beavers to remain in Scotland

 24/11/16 14:59

Species set to receive protection, but will require careful management.The Scottish Government is minded to allow beavers to remain in Scotland, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has announced.

Ms Cunningham has said the species will have to be actively managed, in line with practices in other European countries.

Work has now begun to ensure beavers can be added to Scotland’s list of protected species as soon as possible. It will be the first time a mammal has been officially reintroduced to the UK.

Scottish Ministers have agreed that:

  • Beaver populations in Argyll and Tayside can remain
  • The species will receive legal protection, in accordance with the EU Habitats Directive
  • Beavers will be allowed to expand their range naturally
  • Beavers should be actively managed to minimise adverse impacts on farmers and other land owners
  • It will remain an offence for beavers to be released without a licence, punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine

“I have been determined to find a pragmatic approach, which balances the biodiversity benefits of reintroducing beavers with the obvious need to limit difficulties for our farmers.

“I want to put on record my appreciation of the efforts of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, NFU Scotland, the Royal Scottish Zoological Society, and Scottish Land and Estates who have worked in partnership to set out a way forward.

“Beavers promote biodiversity by creating new ponds and wetlands, which in turn provide valuable habitats for a wide range of other species.

“We want to realise these biodiversity benefits while limiting adverse impacts on farmers and other land users. This will require careful management.

Management techniques to prevent beaver damage, such as controlling flow through dams, or protecting valuable trees can be carried out without a licence.

More intensive management techniques, up to and including lethal control, are permitted under the Habitats Regulations for specified purposes and subject to there being no other satisfactory solution, and no adverse effect on the conservation status of the species.

The Scottish Government will provide advice and assistance to farmers in understanding their options and helping them implement mitigation and prevention measures.

The truth is, that if I had sat down and written a wish list of things the Scottish government would decide in determining the fate of the beavers, that is about pretty darn close to what I would have written. Beavers get protected status, check. Both the fancy official trial beavers in Argyll and the scrappy free beavers on the river Tay, check. People can use Mike Callahan’s training to install flow devices without a license, check. And farmers will receive education and assistance to manage problem beavers, check. If lethal means are needed they need to get approval √√√√!

Pinch me I’m dreaming!

Ohhh and guess what else? The beaver as been afforded ‘Native Status’ in the country, which it apparently lost after being absent for 5oo years. To which I’m pretty sure a beaver wold reply,
Mighty white of you, indeed” Ahem.

The good news was 1907433_10153301580531388_4434474127587187905_nblasted on the BBC and Guardian yesterday, and I’m sure several whiny farmers had very unhappy afternoons. But our good friends Paul and Louise Ramsay were thrilled, and their beaver group facebook page rang with congratulations far into the night. Paul ran a photo of a special shirt they’re taking orders for, and you might want one I think.

I, of course, had to mark the occasion with my own beaver braveheart FREEDOM speech, which I’m sure is more amusing to Americans than to Scots.

Honestly, this website has been so attentive to the beaver dilemma in Scotland for so long this victory feels personal. All the way back since the days when we were thrilled about the Argyll beaver trial  to the sad day when they decided they were going to catch all the ‘free beavers and put them in zoos’ to the woeful death of Eric in the Edinbur0 zoo, to the great news they were going to stop trapping while they made their decision, to the story of the first secret beaver conference abroad! I got my only strike on youtube for sharing a fantastic video that ran on Nature Nuts there, and made friends with so many of the heroes in this fight. Including professor Lavelle who wrote me yesterday over the moon with the good news!

I can’t believe all the campaigning, letters to MPs and MSPs ‎has finally paid off! Who knew politicians sometimes listen? I am so excited I will not sleep for the next week. This is the best political news of the year. Well, it would be the best news of any year, but given the disasterous year we’ve had this is even more welcome.

Forward brave beavers of Scotland!

Suilin xo

Dr. J. Suilin Lavelle. 
Lecturer, Philosophy, 
University of Edinburgh.

It was our second beaver festival when the children’s parade placed the clay beavers they had made on the map of Scotland, which I had signed by the minister I met when he visited the  John Muir site. It’s touching to see this now and remember how far we’ve all come.


And a child shall lead them…

Posted by heidi08 On November - 24 - 2016Comments Off on And a child shall lead them…

Mike Callahan posted these photos on the Beaver Management Forum page. This is a first year robotics team called the “Greenheads” with a leader that employed Mike recently to install a flow device and unflood a trail in Massachusetts. Vance the leader blogged about it nicely which I’ve excerpted. You can read about the whole project here:

This fall The Greenheads are taking on the Animal Allies Challenge.  The challenge is composed of Core Values, Project and Robot Game components.  For The Project, they were tasked with:

  1.  Identifying a problem when people and animals interact.
  2.  Designing a solution that makes the interaction better for animals, people, or both.
  3.  Sharing the problem and solution with others.

The team began by conducting some online research.  This led them to consult with beaver expert Mike Callahan from Beaver Solutions.  During their interview, Mike explained that beavers are a Keystone species and their work is critical for biodiversity.  He did a great job describing how the work that beavers do can be a nuisance for people but how simple solutions can be deployed to remediate common problems seen when people and beavers interact.  The kids proposed their idea of building a bridge to replace the current planks on trail 75 and Mike offered feedback on the pros and cons of such a bridge, along with the materials that could be used.

I couldn’t be more proud of The Greenheads.  Their teamwork was first-class, they had a lot of fun, and they learned a great deal about the importance of human and beaver interaction.  Their solution is certainly an improvement over the previous one and hopefully their efforts will improve the alliance between people and beavers by allowing the beavers to continue to improve biodiversity and water quality in the area while permitting people full access to the trails throughout the year.  The team is now sharing their work with the community and preparing for their upcoming robotics event later this month.  Go Greenheads!!!

They went on to teach other teams and their class mates what they did and why beavers matter. Look closely at their lovely folded beaver display because you might recognize one of the photos. (And no, I didn’t photo shop it in!)

15094490_10207721030807646_3424192691888347207_nFrom Vance G. in Ipswich, MA: “Just a quick update. Thought you’d like to see some pictures from their event this past weekend. They did a great job educating the judges and other teams about beavers.”

student-displayno-martinez-keystoneThat’s right, with a decade of blogging and designing, we’ve created a trickle down beaver economy that will keep pollinating itself long after we’ve gone! That’s my graphic in the middle using Scott Stolsenberg of Ohio’s awesome photo and about 20 other artists silhouettes because creation requires collaboration.

Even without beavers in residence I guess there’s still lots to be thankful for this year. Have a wonderfully thankful day!

thanksMORE TO BE THANKFUL FOR! This just in: Beavers approved in Scotland!

Beavers to remain in Scotland

The Scottish Government is minded to allow beavers to remain in Scotland, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has announced.

Ms Cunningham has said the species will have to be actively managed, in line with practices in other European countries.

Work has now begun to ensure beavers can be added to Scotland’s list of protected species as soon as possible. It will be the first time a mammal has been officially reintroduced to the UK.

Scottish Ministers have agreed that:

  • Beaver populations in Argyll and Tayside can remain
  • The species will receive legal protection, in accordance with the EU Habitats Directive
  • Beavers will be allowed to expand their range naturally
  • Beavers should be actively managed to minimise adverse impacts on farmers and other land owners

It will remain an offence for beavers to be released without a licence, punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine

Research has shown beavers, which were native to Scotland before being hunted to extinction in the 16th century, provide important biodiversity benefits.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

“I have been determined to find a pragmatic approach, which balances the biodiversity benefits of reintroducing beavers with the obvious need to limit difficulties for our farmers.

We are soo SOOO happy for our Scottish beaver friends. I know for a fact it was a heck of a lot of working protecting them in a single city. Imagine how much harder it was to protect them in the entire COUNTRY!!!! Congratulations Paul and Louse et al al al!!!!