Archive for the ‘Educational’ Category

You otter see this…

Posted by heidi08 On December - 16 - 2014Comments Off

Our beaver-watching friends in Napa are keeping a close eye on the pond to see what the rain does to the beavers. I got this yesterday from Rusty.

I was checking on the Beaver Pond today around 2 p.m. and was excited to see what at first I thought were two beavers. Turned out to be two river otters which wasn’t so bad,

otter Rusty

River otter fishing Napa beaver pond.: Photo Rusty Cohn 12-14

I told him our mantra and suggested he send it to the paper.

Beaver ponds increase invertebrates
More Bugs mean more fish
More Fish mean more otters and mink

I also told him to make an otter spotter report since he caught this video:

This morning our retired librarian friend from Georgia sent me new research for the “Blame the Beaver Campaign”. This one about Methan Emmissions.

Beaver-mediated methane emission: The effects of population growth in Eurasia and the Americas

Abstract

Globally, greenhouse gas budgets are dominated by natural sources, and aquatic ecosystems are a prominent source of methane (CH4) to the atmosphere. Beaver (Castor canadensis and Castor fiber) populations have experienced human-driven change, and CH4 emissions associated with their habitat remain uncertain. This study reports the effect of near extinction and recovery of beavers globally on aquatic CH4 emissions and habitat. Resurgence of native beaver populations and their introduction in other regions accounts for emission of 0.18–0.80 Tg CH4 year−1 (year 2000). This flux is approximately 200 times larger than emissions from the same systems (ponds and flowing waters that became ponds) circa 1900. Beaver population recovery was estimated to have led to the creation of 9500–42 000 km2 of ponded water, and increased riparian interface length of >200 000 km. Continued range expansion and population growth in South America and Europe could further increase CH4 emissions.

Did you catch that? By recovering after we killed them earlier, the rebounding population of beavers are making dams and creating wetlands that emit CH4. Methane is the most prevalent Green house gas.  Greenhouse gases cause global warning Because lord knows its not the cows, or the landfills or the cars or the power companies that are causing global warming.

It’s the beavers!

Be a BRAT!

Posted by heidi08 On December - 8 - 2014Comments Off

Joe Wheaton’s BRAT (Beaver Restoration Assessment Tool) tool has been successfully applied in Utah, Oregon, Washington, Colorado and New Mexico. He was one of the very first respectable professors to support this website. And we recently had a wonderful argument about the difference between being a ‘beaver advocate’ and a ‘beaver benefits advocate’. (You can guess which one I am.)  Wonderful because Joe listened and heard my point of view and understood it, and then it turned out that the thing I was worried about didn’t even happen and we were both relieved!) I was surprised to stumble across this on youtube, and you’ll probably enjoy it.

I was especially happy with the sections on stream incision and dam washouts still restoring aggredation, and the fish research from the work  they’re doing with Michael Pollock at John Day. Here’s a happy take away that you can employ to silence any annoying fisherman who objects to beavers. The tall one represents beaver ponds.
Capture

You can totally tell how old this film is by how long Mary’s hair is. Get your ruler.

Town Rallies to Save Beavers in Connecticut

Posted by heidi08 On December - 7 - 2014Comments Off

Essex Beavers Will Live Another Day

Thanks to an outpouring of opposition from local residents at the Dec. 4 Essex Conservation Commission meeting, the beaver family that has currently taken up residency at the Viney Hill Brook Park, will not, as originally—and controversially—decided by the commission, be trapped and drowned.

Upwards of 150 residents, young and old, filled the meeting room at the Town Hall, ready with written statements and heartfelt speeches about why the beavers should be allowed to live freely at the park
“The beavers were here before people came in; it’s more their land than ours,” said 11 year-old Jack Simon who attended the meeting with his mother Laura Simon, a representative from the United States Humane Society.

The elder Simon explained that she would be more than happy to work with the town to come up with a viable solution that doesn’t involve trapping the beavers.

“There are simple alternatives such as wrapping the trees and painting the trees,” Simon said. “These are great community service and boy scout projects.”

This is just the kind of story we love best to hear at beaver central! John Ackerman was a resident who started asking questions on the beaver management forum a while back. I gave him all the advice and inspiration I could, but honestly, I needn’t have bothered. John is apparently adept at being creative and engaging on behalf of beavers all by himself!

“I think we should let the beavers do what they do best, build dams and create wetlands,” said 13 year-old Essex resident Jake Klin. “Viney Brook swimming hole was a mistake for humans, but great for the beavers. Please don’t drown the beavers.”

 “I personally would like to see the beavers stay. I think they can be lived with,” said former first selectman and current State Representative Phil Miller.

 “Instead of being negative about the beavers, why don’t we see them as an opportunity for education? They are a keystone species in Connecticut. We should be working with them not against them,” said resident Megan Schreider, who works at the Denison Pequot Nature Center in Mystic. “This town instilled in me my love of nature growing up and I hope it continues to that for future generations of children. Keeping the beavers alive is one way to do that.”

When I read something like that I am so excited I can hardly stop grinning. The town will bring in Mike Callahan to review the situation and make recommendations. And public works will start wrapping trees. Congratulations John and the people of Essex! You did something extraordinary and should be enormously proud of yourselves. I almost wish Martinez could go back in time and save our beavers all over again! Fantastic work. The meeting wasn’t filmed or photographed unfortunately, but I’m sure this is what it looked like.

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sonomabirdingNow it’s bird count morning! Tom and Darren will be busy in the field today with the first of their two highly successful bird counts for kids. If you miss this one, you can still catch the 18th. In the meantime if you need to remember who they are the photo from the beaver festival might help. Tom and Darren have helped us get our footing every step of the way,  They have made sure to include us on many of their ground-breaking events, the Duck Stamp art show, the Optics and Nature fairs. the celebration of the wilderness act in California. Tom and Darren won the John Muir Conservation award last year, and have been invited to Canada and Washington D.C. to implement their ideas. we couldn’t be prouder of them or their friendship

Christmas Bird Count for kids

Calistoga families looking for a fun, outdoor activity that doesn’t involve a ball, but does involve a little math and education, may want to consider the Christmas Bird Count for Kids this winter.

There will be two nearby opportunities for citizen scientists to take part in the National Audubon Society’s Annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC). On Sunday, Dec. 7, a CBC will be held at Connolly Ranch in Napa, and on Sunday, Jan. 18, a CBC will be held at Sonoma Community Center in Sonoma.

 Tom Rusert and Darren Peterie of Sonoma Birding launched Christmas Bird Count for Kids (CBC4Kids) in 2007.

Oh, what a relief it is!

Posted by heidi08 On December - 2 - 2014Comments Off

When I sat down with the numbers of depredation permits issued in California, one fact in particular kept catching my eye. The number of permits issued for Placer county. Contrary to expectation, it doesn’t have more water, or more people, or more culverts.  It consists of seven towns (Auburn, Colfax, Lincoln, Roseville, Rocklin and Loomis) and about 20 unincorporated areas which all have more permission to kill beavers than anywhere else in the state. Nearly 7 times more, which turned out to be significant at the p =<.02 level. This, in case you didn’t take statistics, pretty much means it ain’t random.

So I thought I’d write the two charming representatives from Placer county who wrote them and say, hi my name’s Heidi and I’ve been looking at the depredation permits for beaver in California and I’m curious why you issued a third of them.  Any thoughts? And I was more polite than I wanted to be, but still expected to hear nothing back.

To her credit, the most active member of the beaver-killing squad wrote back. She said Placer county has grown faster than any other region in the state, and permits to kill beavers are issued under 4181 which says that when property is damaged or (threatened)

The department, upon satisfactory evidence of the damage or destruction, actual or immediately threatened, shall issue a revocable permit for the taking and disposition of the mammals under regulations adopted by the commission.

 She said we assess the situation and educate where we can and grant permits when necessary. What she did not say, and which I was dying to know, is what consisted of satisfactory evidence (a site visit? A photo? A phone call?)  and how often did she actually turn down the request, telling the property owner to try something else?

(I’m guessing it’s a round number.)

She also thanked me for the resources I sent but said she already knew all about “beaver relievers” [sic] (Cross my heart – RELIEVERS she called them.) And I was sure it was a typo, or an UH-OH, but when I wrote Sherry Guzzi she pointed me to this paper by Colorado USDA scientist Nicholas Gerich, who (back in 2003) wrote a paper called “Working with beavers”, in which he outlines the pros and cons of several flow devices which he calls (wait for it!) “beaver relievers.”

YOU WILL ALWAYS HAVE TO DO REGULAR MAINTANCE!

Many of these solutions work well only if regularly cleaned. When these devices are not regularly inspected and maintained, they will fail with potentially disastrous results. Too many people think that once the device is installed that everything is solved and they can walk away from it.

 It seems Nick was not very impressed with their success rate and said they had to be onerously maintained to even have a hope of working. But given his location I was curious if he’d ever met Sherri Tippie so I emailed him and asked. He said he had taken a class with Sherri shortly before that was written, and had gotten interested in the work when the beaver population “exploded” after the 1996 law. (Deja Vu much?)

exploding beaver

In his experience flow devices “worked in some places” but “not in others”.

Now I know exactly how much maintenance our flow device has required, (none) but I didn’t know if it might have worked less well in Tahoe or Colorado, so I asked Mike and Skip. I particularly liked what  Skip said,

As for the “physics” of the issue, beaver behavior and the properties of moving water are largely the same everywhere.

Now as to that exploding beaver population, I was particularly interested since I had learned that very refrain in Massachusetts many times. You can imagine how happy I was to see this in the paper yesterday from the Prescott Peninsula beaver count

 The beavers are all right: Data returned from survey at restricted Prescott Peninsula

Researchers from the Department of Conservation and Recreation, along with affiliated volunteers, conducted the annual Prescott beaver survey Nov. 16 at the Prescott Peninsula — an area usually off-limits to humans. The survey data, which was compiled last week, shows 15 active inland beaver sites.

 And they ran this:

Real numbers in MA

I know graphs can be hard to read, but that high pointy part on the left shows the highest density of recorded beaver population in 1980. For us following along at home that was 16 years before voters insisted on those pesky humane traps.  The population went up a little after 1996 but settled out with much lower levels than it used to support. Mind you this is just a particularly lush, inaccessible region in the state. Not the whole state. But knowing how beavers feel about trees, water and privacy we can guess its at least equivalent to what we would see all over if anyone was looking. Which means that every single person who tells you that the population of beavers exploded after they made conibear traps harder to use, should look behind them to see if their pants are on fire:

BECAUSE THEY’RE LYING.

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Glass Farm Beaver YS Ohio – photo Scott Stolensberg

A final update from the photographer Scott Stolensberg who graciously gave permission for me to use the photo and was so supportive he wants to donate to the silent auction! Thanks Scott!

Hurry! Only 12 days left to call WS liars!

Posted by heidi08 On November - 18 - 2014Comments Off

Well, I’m sure you’ll have plenty of other opportunities, but this is an important one. Before we get down to work and roll up our sleeves, let’s have dessert first.

Searching for beavers on the Quabbin Reservoir’s restricted Prescott Peninsula

About 20 DCR biologists and volunteers stomped to shake off the cold Sunday morning, standing in a ring outside a small shack on the Prescott Peninsula as Clark set the plan for the annual beaver survey. Teams would split off, tramp through the woods to follow their respective streams, take down data on any active beaver lodges, then return to the shack for lunch.

Beavers were non-existent in Massachusetts for more than a century due to hunting and trapping, plus elimination of habitat. After the valley was flooded in the late 1930s, the beavers returned.

Clark said that after the beavers came to the reservoir, the population followed a pattern typical of reintroduction — explosive growth, followed by a crash as the habitat is oversaturated, then a steady leveling off.

No way, are you suggesting that the population actually regulated itself? Without trapping? Even when the Massachusetts voters imposed new restrictions on trapping in 96 and the population was supposed to explode? This is pretty outlandish stuff. Just how long have you been collecting this spurious data?

The first Prescott survey was held in 1952. The survey has been annual since the early 1970s, and some of Sunday’s searchers have returned every year for 30-40 years.

Holy Guacamole Batman. You mean they have 62 years of data on beaver population? And the effect of conibear restriction is somewhere in the middle? You know a statistician worth his pocket calculator could easily whip those numbers into a regression analysis that disproves the accepted lie about beaver population exploding after the new rules were applied? You do know that, right?

Well, maybe the reporter got that wrong. He seemed really distracted by the meat balls. He does say that people aren’t normally allowed in the area because it’s in the watershed. Ahem. (News flash:Every place on this planet is part of a watershed. Just so you know.)

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Everyone ready? It’s November 18th so that means you still have 12 days left to tell Wildlife Services that their rodent management plan is ridiculous, oblivious  of the environment or science, and barbaric in the extreme. But those are just my words. You’ll find your own. Here’s Mike Settel from Idaho talking about what’s needed.

In Wildlife Service’s newest justification for ridding us of beaver you can find that bit of humor and others in a recent request for public comment on Wildlife Service’s “Aquatic Rodent” EA for North Carolina.

Don’t attempt to e-mail your comments because, according to their deputy director for environmental compliance Alton Dunaway, receiving comments only by FAX and snail mail will “modernize” their public involvement process. I recommend Faxing comments to (919) 782-4159…However, an e-mail you may find useful is for that of the author, Barbara Schellinger. 

Even though it is a North Carolina document, the rationale proposed sets a precedent for mis-information and obfuscation regarding wildlife management. Please FAX your comments and request that WS includes non-lethal mitigation as beaver solutions, provide current data showing beaver harm salmonids, and prove that beaver dams increase sediment pollution (there are other spurious claims that are suspect or dated, but you should read those for yourselves). Regards, Mike

Thanks Mike for putting us on the right track. Remember, what they get away with in North Carolina will become precedent everywhere. I will share just a little bit of their ignorance, but you should really go read the report for yourself here:

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources guidelines for management of trout stream habitat stated that beaver dams are a major source of damage to trout streams (White and Brynildson 1967, Churchill 1980). Studies that are more recent have documented improvements to trout habitat upon removal of beaver dams. Avery (1992) found that wild brook trout populations improved significantly following the removal of beaver dams from tributaries of some streams. Species abundance, species distribution, and total biomass of non-salmonids also increased following the removal of beaver dams (Avery 1992).

Beaver dams may adversely affect stream ecosystems by increasing sedimentation in streams; thereby, affecting wildlife that depend on clear water such as certain species of fish and mussels. Stagnant water impounded by beaver dams can increase the temperature of water impounded upstream of the dam, which can negatively affect aquatic organisms. Beaver dams can also act as barriers that inhibit movement of aquatic organisms and prevent the migration of fish to spawning areas.

Wow. Give it up for the USDA and author Barbara Schelllinger who was willing to dig back through 47 years of research to find the  completely bogus paper she just knew to be true! This woman is no slacker when it comes to bravely lying about beavers. Good lord, the letter almost writes itself. Although I personally feel that Issue 7 deserves the lion’s share of our attention.

Therefore, the breaching or removal of a beaver dam could result in the degrading or removal of a wetland, if wetland characteristics exist at a location where a beaver dam occurs. The preexisting habitat (prior to the building of the dam) and the altered habitat (areas flooded by impounded water) have different ecological values to the fish and wildlife native to the area. Some species may benefit by the addition of a beaver dam that creates a wetland, while the presence of some species of wildlife may decline. For example, darters listed as federally endangered require fast moving waters over gravel or cobble beds, which beaver dams can eliminate; thus, reducing the availability of habitat. In areas where bottomland forests were flooded by beaver dams, a change in species composition could occur over time as trees die. Flooding often kills hardwood trees, especially when flooding persists for extended periods, as soils become saturated. Conversely, beaver dams could be beneficial to some wildlife, such as river otter, neotropical migratory birds, and waterfowl that require aquatic habitats.

beaver in barDingDingDing! I found the opening! (Well, one of many actually.)  See in their effort to say “it’s a wash, really” beaver dams HELP some species sure, but they HARM others. So getting rid of them is a zero sum game with totally justifiable consequences. Just take the darter for instance!

Darter!

Maybe we’re the only ones that remember there’s this famous case from Alabama in 2008 where the city of Birmingham was sued by The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (among others) for upwards of a million dollars over removing this beaver dam that was protecting  thousands of the rare endangered watercress darters. In the end the case cost the city some 4,000,000 dollars and dragged  out in court over 4 years. Am I ringing any bells, does this sound vaguely familiar?

The city “knew or should have known that removing a beaver dam and surrounding natural structures would potentially disrupt the water level of the Basin and its inhabitants,” the agency claims.

CaptureDam [sic],  this is gonna be fun. If you want to share your letters, send them to me and I’ll make sure they’re visible. I’m sure WS is hoping they can make it all the way to November 30th without hearing from you. Let’s disappoint them, shall we?

Last night, on the footbridge, I loved you best of all!

Posted by heidi08 On November - 16 - 2014Comments Off
I love her, in the springtime
And I love her in the fall,
But last night, on the back porch
I loved her best of all!

These shocking lyrics reflecting the moral depravity of our youth were published in 1923, some 89 years ago, before video games and ‘R’ movies. Maybe the fact that our house had already been around for a quarter of a century before the song was recorded had something to do with why, when I went to see the beavers last night, this was the soundtrack I heard in my head.

You see, our kit, (the 2014) model, has been living at Ward Street since August. And I’ve been getting more and more worried about his truant little runaway self. I talked with our experts, who had not seen it before but told me not to worry, advice impossible to follow. Beavers are very social animals, and they need face time with their parents learning beaver things for upwards of 24 months before they’re ready to hitch off on their own.

So guess what I saw from the footbridge last night, with Lory and Jon?

Our twentieth kit, climbing on mom’s tail, crunching on snacks, with 2 or three other beavers! (Maybe even dad?) Swimming, chewing, whining and acting like his little kitself again! I can’t tell you how much lighter our three moods were as we walked eventually back to our cars. The beaver family is together and everything’s right with the world.

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Now that we’re all in good moods, I will show you this treat that I stumbled upon yesterday. Look who has a new website! Now there are three great beaver resources to share with folks who want new ways to solve problems!

Capture

  We are a company dedicated to protecting our land and infrastructure, as well as allowing for creative remedies that improve habitats and end wasteful killing and spending. Our technology and practices are state-of-the-art, and have been employed domestically as well as internationally to mitigate the growing problems presented by the beaver population.

Finally! Skip Lisle’s website has hit the internet(s) running! Complete with great information and awesome photos showing off his skill. Go explore the sight, its lots of fun. I couldn’t be happier, although it was a little surprising to find this:

Skip Lisle offers that rare combination of “can-do” competence, creativity, and courtesy. He ably tamed our beavers with promptness and professionalism. Our California town, Martinez, still fondly remembers the man from Vermont, and his solution to save our Downtown!

Mark Ross
Vice Mayor
Martinez, California, USA

A testimonial from Mark Ross and nothing whatsoever from Worth A Dam? I suppose a vice mayor is slightly better advertising than a child psychologist, but it’s silly to overlook the beavers’ de facto press secretary. Well, the cat’s outta the bag now, I made sure everyone saw this yesterday, its on our beaver links, and in the future I will make sure that everyone knows your skills have a great website to promote them!

Too much good news?Guess what arrived in the mail yesterday. Approval from the Martinez Community Foundation for our grant application for the festival VIII art project! They paid 100% of the amount requested. No fooling, money from Martinez, for the beaver festival. I’m still pinching myself.

CaptureThank you Martinez Community Foundation for helping us teach children about ecosystems at the beaver festival! And thank you artist FRO Butler who will be doing the lion’s share of the work, prepping and painting the canvas, purchasing the materials, and supervising the eager artists. I can’t wait till the whole thing comes together and we can use it at our displays in the future!

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The Beaver State Beckons

Posted by heidi08 On November - 14 - 2014Comments Off

conference 2014The agenda is out for the State of the Beaver Conference 2015 and it looks amazing. Starting with the Keynote speaker Lixing Sun, the co-author of the most famous beaver book yet written. (Books really, because it’s so popular there’s a second edition.)

 Now maybe you’re thinking”why should I care” or “I hate Oregon in February” and “I don’t need to hear the latest beaver research”. But if you were thinking that you’d be thinking wrong. I’m going to assume that whoever you are you drink water, live on a rapidly heating planet, and are a citizen of a government with limited resources for fixing those things. The world needs beavers, and the only way it’s going to get them is if people like you stand up and teach people why they matter and how to live with them. This conference will make you better at that and you’ll hear from great minds like,

Instream Salmon habitat restoration and unintended benefits for west side beavers Robert Nichols, USDA Forest Service Fish Biologist

NWRC Beaver Research Update: From the Beaver State to the Heart of Dixie Ph.D. Jimmy Taylor,National Wildlife Research Center

Mathematical Ecologist, NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center Ph.D. Chris Jordan

Flow Devices – Controlling Beaver Dam Flooding, and Facilitating Salmon Passage Michael Callahan, Beaver Solutions Inc

Beaver Restoration in Urban Creeks Ph.D. Heidi Perryman, Worth a Dam, Martinez Beavers

 Not to mention that it looks like this morning I just managed to get Derek Gow from Cornwall on the schedule. So you’ll be personally updated on the most famous beavers in the world. As well as a watershed-beaver introduction by this persuasive gentleman:

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The conference is truly one-of-a-kind, inexpensive, and ecologically  invaluable. The hotel is nice and beaver friendly, the casino thinks beavers are good luck, and you will meet amazing people that will become amazing friends. Register here and I’ll see you in Canyonville!

2015 SponsorsNow there is lots more to say, including beavers being threatened in BWW’s home town, (if you can believe it) and moderately good news from DEFRA about the Devon beavers. but I wrote this post this morning at 7am, worked on the graphics for leonard and promptly  lost it the entire column in the ether so had to do EVERYTHING again.

This beaver reporter needs a break.