Archive for the ‘Educational’ Category

Cheap and Cheerful Beaver Webinar

Posted by heidi08 On February - 16 - 2017Comments Off on Cheap and Cheerful Beaver Webinar

I know, I know. Folks are jealous they don’t get to attend the State of the Beaver conference and listen to 24 hours of brilliant discussion about beaver ecology in the middle of a ringing and buzzing, smoke-filled casino in February. You might even be saying to yourself, why does Heidi get to drive 8 hours through the snowy steep grade traffic and eat hotel food just because she will be rambling on about beavers yet again?  I understand.  I realize how fortunate I am to be going at all, and your much-expected envy is the weighty burden of the lucky, I know. But there’s something everyone can do instead. And it means only a click of a button.

webinarThis webinar is scheduled for Mar 22, 2017 12:00 pm US/Eastern.

CaptureStream and riparian area degradation is widespread across the Intermountain West, yet restoration resources are limited. Relatively simple and low-cost alternatives are needed to scale up to the scope of the problem. A renewed appreciation of the role of the once widespread beaver has revealed insights about how this ecosystem engineer affects stream hydrology, geomorphology, riparian vegetation and habitat for other species with its dam building activities. Drawing upon lessons learned about how nature heals degraded systems, conservationists are increasingly seeking ways to recreate beneficial effects associated with beaver dam-building activities where appropriate to achieve a variety of stream and riparian recovery goals. Beaver Dam Analogues (BDAs) are one low cost, ‘cheap and cheerful’ technique used in beaver-assisted restoration to mimic natural beaver dams, promote beaver to work in particular areas, and accelerate recovery of incised channels. This webinar will provide a brief overview of beaver ecology and hydrogeomorphic feedbacks, beaver-assisted restoration, BDA design and application, and NRCS planning considerations and resources.

A “Join” button will appear on THIS WEBSITE for the conference the 15 minutes before it begins. There is no need to register and attendance is free. You can check if your tablet or PC has everything it needs to participate by clicking here. Course credit is offered for Forest Managers and more. So check if it applies to you. This course is offered in conjunction with the USDA.

If I have my way, someday soon the entire State of the beaver conference will be available online so folks from everywhere can benefit from the instruction. If Tufts can manage it, I’m sure Oregon State can do it eventually. Until then, I will do what I can to keep everyone posted.

beaver strategy meeting



Skip tells the truth about beavers

Posted by heidi08 On February - 13 - 2017Comments Off on Skip tells the truth about beavers

This is a fantastic article about Skip Lisle’s upcoming beaver ecology presentation in Maine. It says everything about beavers you ever wanted to read in print – pointing out their importance to wetlands and wildlife, and challenging folks to be smarter than a beaver and save money by doing it.  In addition to all this it permanently lays to rest the age-old question as to whether the  man that Martinez secretaries once clustered to the windows to watch install a pipe shirtless has, in fact, matured well.

The answer is, yes.

Beaver ecology talks set for Belfast, Liberty

Beaver expert, inventor and entrepreneur Skip Lisle of Beaver Deceivers International will speak in Belfast and Liberty on how to install deceivers and other devices designed to protect human infrastructure, wetlands and beavers.

The assumption is that we cannot outsmart beavers so we have to kill them,” Lisle said in a news release. “I’ve spent my life inventing and installing a number of devices that permanently outmaneuver beavers. I’ve helped communities across the country and in Poland save huge sums of money, and wetlands in the process.”

Lisle’s talk will demonstrate how towns can save thousands of dollars by permanently protecting roads and culverts from beavers. He will also cover the history of beavers in Maine, and the essential role they play in creating habitat and maintaining healthy aquatic systems.

“I don’t know how many people understand just how important beavers are ecologically,” he said. “Without beavers, we basically wouldn’t have wetlands. We can coexist with them; it just takes some creativity and commitment.

“Many people do not know that wetlands are one of the richest habitats, with a greater density of life than anywhere else on land,” Lisle said. “We have to approach the problems we have with beavers intelligently. It is our obligation as stewards. But, we also need to be smart with our money. The human and machine hours it takes to constantly repair roads, destroy dams and kill beavers is really a squandering of public funds. And it never solves the problem because beavers will always return to the site.”

Ahh, Skip, you do this so well. It seems like just the right things to say tumble effortlessly out of your lips at exactly the moment when people need to hear them. The reporter covering this story was obviously impressed because got the entire story down beautifully. Come to think of it, it’s kind of amazing that at both ends of the country there will be important beaver ecology discussions happening on February 22. Now if only we could just get some started in the middle.

This has to be my favorite part of the article:

Of the hundreds of conflict sites where he has worked, Lisle has yet to find one he could not solve. Consequently, he has never had to kill, or recommend killing, a single beaver. Skip serves as a selectman in his hometown of Grafton, Vt., where deceivers are a line item in the budget, and all roads are fully beaver-proof.

Did you read that? I didn’t know Skip was a selectman. When did that happen? I need to pay better attention. But in Grafton EVERY ROAD HAS CULVERT PROTECTION!!!  This is a beaver utopia that we can only fantasize about. In fact I’m fantasizing right now. If it could happen in Grafton, why not all over Vermont? Or New England? Or the country?

“Many people do not know that wetlands are one of the richest habitats, with a greater density of life than anywhere else on land,” Lisle said. “We have to approach the problems we have with beavers intelligently. It is our obligation as stewards. But, we also need to be smart with our money. The human and machine hours it takes to constantly repair roads, destroy dams and kill beavers is really a squandering of public funds. And it never solves the problem because beavers will always return to the site.”

Sometimes I just get that contented feeling of being a child asleep in the back seat after a long day at the beach  on the car ride home. The happy adults are in the front seat and totally have everything under control. There is nothing I need to do, and everything is going to be okay. Ahh
Since I don’t need to be mature right now, I’m going to surrender to the very inappropriate impulse to post this for obvious reasons:

Beaver Kindness and Beaver Ignorance

Posted by heidi08 On February - 12 - 20171 COMMENT

bob n janeYesterday, our beloved field-researcher Bob Kobres, (the retired UGA librarian who’s always up to date on the latest eco-science) offered to man the website while I’m away beavering in Oregon. You must provide him with every opportunity to entertain, and greet him enthusiastically.  Here is Bob and his wife Jane with Jon when they came to Martinez for the beaver festival a few years ago. I am certain whatever arises in my absence you will learn much and  it will surely not be misspelled. Thank you Bob for stepping up to the plate!

Now we’re off to Scotland for a ridiculous story I hope doesn’t gain altitude. Our friends assure is that it is a year old, and was a non-event when it actually happened (which explains the sunny conditions in the video). It’s in the Daily Mail which is not afforded any regard. Anyway, remember: do not try this at home.

Chef is attacked by a wild beaver after going to investigate a mysterious brown creature on the grass verge

Ross Smith was attacked by the beaver when he investigated the brown creature.Wildlife experts yesterday issued a safety warning – after a chef was attacked by a wild beaver.

Ross Smith was driving along a country road with his friends when they spotted a mysterious brown creature on the grass verge. When the 20-year-old got out of the car and went to investigate, the animal turned nasty and, snarling, leapt at him.

The 3ft long beaver is believed to be one of a colony of the animals living wild in Lintrathen Loch, near Kirriemuir in Angus. xtraordinary mobile phone camera footage of Mr Smith’s encounter now been posted on the internet, prompting a leading academic to warn the public not to approach the furry rodents.

Although it is not clear what provoked the beaver to attack, one of his friends can be heard asking: ‘Is that a platypus?’ Mr Smith, who works in a cafe in Edzell, captured the encounter on his mobile phone and shared it online.

facepalmFirst of all. A platypus? Really? Just how drunk WERE you? And second of all, did you notice that the animal was cornered between you and the hedge? Did you never think it might be a poor decision to corner an animal who has teeth sharp enough to take down trees? And third of all, “the wildlife experts issued a warning?”REALLY? Who exactly are these experts that understand risky beaver behavior? I mean they must be a little long in the tooth themselves since your country hasn’t had beavers for 500 years. Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for just making up a sentence like that?

Let’s leave that silly article behind us and talk about Sunday gifts, shall we?  Just in time for their pub crawl story there was a generous donation from a delightful shop called “Cast of Characters” out of Portland Oregon. The artist (Mary Ann Dabritz) does brass creations of animals as door knockers, drawer pulls, etc. And she very kindly sent us this beaver bottle opener which I know will be in a bidding war of its own.  You should go peruse her shop and see the wonders! Thank you Mary Ann.

Back in December I told you about the very special tile I received as a present showing a beaver on a lodge and a couple canoeing. It was made by the very impressive Natalie Blake Studios who do textured stunning Wall Art. Their are hired to do museums and public spaces and their backsplashes and pottery are breathtaking. I wrote them how much I loved the piece and the woman who made it (Cynthia, the second from the left in this photo) actually wrote back. The studio is in Vermont. And she said how her 5 year old son loved beavers, how in preparing  herself for making my tile, she went on a beaver trek with Patti Smith (author of The Beavers of Popple’s Pond) and actually met the old blind beaver Willow and fed her apples.

CaptureIs everyone in Vermont wonderful? This seemed like a sign that I should inquire about a possible donation. It was a long shot, since their tiles are much in demand and expensive to ship. But her son loved beavers, so it was worth a shot. After a little discussion they sent me a lovely 8×8 botanical tile. Honestly the photo doesn’t do it justice. The surface is textured and rippled, and demands to be touched. You will have to come see it yourself. This is very similar to the grouping shown on the left which sells for over 1000 dollars. Here is the tile. It’s only flaw is that it pairs beautifully with the one I was given, which means I might need to bid on it myself.donated tile




Castor Gratia Artis

Posted by heidi08 On February - 7 - 2017Comments Off on Castor Gratia Artis

CaptureOSU is getting ready for it’s grand “Showtime” reception for the Beaver Tales art exhibit this Thursday. They are already getting a nice flurry of attention as folks begin to see beavers in a newway. Organizer Charles Robinson sent their event poster you can see here.

Beavers offer inspiration in ‘Beaver Tales’ art exhibit

The exhibit, now on view at Giustina Gallery in LaSells Stewart Center, is the creation of volunteer curator Sara Vickerman and president of The Wetlands Conservancy, Ester Lev. The two wanted to promote more appreciation and understanding about the important role beavers play in ecosystems, Vickerman said.

“We thought sometimes environmental politics just make people tired and angry,” she said. “That’s not what we want here. We want people to have some fun and enjoy looking at this art.”

 Some artists took field tours provided by OSU to the North Coast and Portland to observe beavers in their habitat.

“People were just amazed. Here they (beavers) are living among us, working quietly and not so quietly,” Vickerman said, and laughed. “The artists went out and started looking for beavers on their own.”

About 125 pieces are displayed in the exhibit. Featured mediums include photography, clay, fused glass, stone mosaics, and wood pieces.

“There is everything from people who paint with watercolors, oils and acrylics to sculptures, even a woman who paints on cross-cut saws,” Vickerman said.


“My Oregon home” by Jen Richmond is a beaver painted on a cross-cut saw that is mounted on barn wood.

She was also impressed with photographs of beavers taken in Alaska by retired OSU professor Sharon Rosenkoetter and her husband, Larry.

The beauty of photographing beavers in Alaska is you don’t have the problem of them only coming out only when it’s dark, and you can’t get decent pictures. They have pictures of beavers taken in daylight that are just incredible,” she said.

The exhibit is part of SPARK, OSU’s year of Arts and Science.

“Charles Robinson (College of Liberal Arts faculty, coordinator of SPARK-OSU Year of Arts & Science) got us space at OSU for the exhibit. He thought it was the perfect illustration of the intersection of art and science, because people are doing research at OSU,” she said.

A percentage of the sales of art pieces will benefit The Wetlands Conservancy and other conservation groups, Vickerman said.

I have to admit, I’m having castor envy. I especially LOVE the idea of a beaver painted on a saw blade. Jen that is beautiful work!  Something like this is a huge undertaking. They were in the early stages back when I went to present in May. There are so many moving pieces to coordinate, and so many details to keep track of, all my hats are off to them. It’s so exciting that folks will gather to see this art and think about beavers differently – maybe for the first time!

(It was nice of the beavers to win the Civil war this year, that will probably help even more with attendance.)

I would feel like a total beaver slacker by comparison but last night Suzi Eszterhas approached me about the upcoming feature in Ranger Rick and asked me if she could give my contact info as a “Beaver expert” for information and resources in the article. You know the one coming up that will be mailed to children in every state and beyond. Would it be okay to give her editor my phone number? They’d like someone to be able to check for accuracy and verify details about our story and beavers in general?

I must have beamed around the living room for a full 20 minutes before I floated back to the keyboard and assented. “Oh alright” I typed, scowling contentedly,

You can give my name“.



Riverlords! I like it!

Posted by heidi08 On February - 6 - 2017Comments Off on Riverlords! I like it!

The Germans are tired of the UK having all the good beaver stories. They want some of their own to talk about why beavers matter. Hence this report from DW, which was also published under the headline; “Beavers on the Rampage“. Go figure.

Beavers: Lords of the rivers

When it comes to erecting remarkable structures, few animals are as talented architects as beavers. Almost hunted to extinction in Europe, the creatures are now bouncing back. Few animals create such impressive structures or alter their environment so dramatically as the beaver. Few, except for humankind.

“Beavers are like the architects of our waterways,” says of Iris Barthel of German conservation group Nabu. “They build dams, burrow, gnaw and fell trees and shrubs. In this way, beavers have shaped our riverscapes for millions of years.”

But despite – and sometimes because of – a shared propensity for reshaping the landscape, humans and beavers don’t always make good neighbors.

“The beavers aren’t aware of property ownership. They see the riverbank as a place they can dig their burrow,” says Barthel. “They see tasty food in fields or orchards. So it can happen that a tractor breaks a beaver lodge or a beaver fells a favorite apple tree.”

She adds that beavers have been accused of burrowing into dams and dikes, disrupting manmade flood defences, but says there are well-practiced defenses against this kind of damage.

If beavers are pilloried by politicians, it’s primarily to distract from their own failures in flood prevention,” says Barthel.

Lords of the Rivers! I like it. Shorter than Lord of the Rings and less stompy than Lords of the Dance! I love that last line. It’s true, that the first thing cities do after their culverts fail is blame beavers.  And power companies  when their service fails. And internet companies when their cables go out. (And fisherman when whatever). Often without any reason. Take Mountain House for instance, built out of landfill and roadways eroding. They ripped out the real creek to make room for a planned one. They are sure beavers excavated large cavernous tunnels that sucked their precious pavement into sink holes. Or at least that’s what they alleged until they got challenged.

Biologist Jessica Dieckmann told DW that part of her role as newly-appointed commissioner on beavers for the German city of Hamm was to help deal with conflicts arising between homeowners and their beaver neighbors.

She explained that because injuring or killing beavers or damaging their dams and burrows is forbidden in German, “a solution has to be found tactfully.”

“A solution could be that landowners sell a 20-meter-wide (66-foot-wide) riparian strip and make it available for nature protection,” says Dieckmann.

Her other tasks as beaver commissioner include finding out whereabouts beavers are in Hamm and how many there are, to know how best to deal with the creatures in the future.

Beavers usually live in burrows in the river bank accessed by an underwater tunnel. The dam ensures the water is deep enough to hide the entrance to their “lodge” beneath the surface.

But while human construction often runs at complete odds with the needs of other living species, beaver dams bring benefits to a whole host of other species.

“They create small ponds, deadwood, marsh areas or open up areas of soil,” says Barthel. These provide habitats for dragonflies, amphibians and reptiles, for fish and birds. “Where humans have to spend a lot of money on preserving biodiversity, the beaver helps out for free.”

“At the same time, it contributes to the cleanliness of water, re-natures rivers and supports natural flood prevention.”


The editors at DW think this is a beaver. But it’s NOT. This is a nutria (Or coypu Myocastor coypus). It’s BAD for the environment and the UNbeaver

Hurray! We love Jessica and Iris. There are smart beaver thinkers in Germany, and some of them are coming to the State if the Beaver Conference at the end of the month.   The language and knowledge has taken root on foreign soil. Or maybe started there and is taken root on American soil. I don’t care who gets the credit. I just care that we all get the knowledge.

Oh, and that papers stop running THIS photo and pretending to believe it’s a beaver. You can even see the TAIL in the back. And look at those nostrils and white whiskers! What’s the matter with you?


Planting Swords into Plowshares – Willow Version

Posted by heidi08 On February - 4 - 2017Comments Off on Planting Swords into Plowshares – Willow Version

IMG_6174Only good news on Sunday’s right? Well, yesterday’s planting party surely applies. 14 people showed up from Martinez, Napa, and Oakland and Berkeley to put some magical willow cuttings in the banks of Alhambra Creek.  (I say magical because at the right time of year willow can be cut from trees and turned back into trees. Imagine that!)Planting 2017The willow was trimmed from our own prodigious trees downstream and hauled back to be bundled into fascines IMG_6296or trimmed into stakes. The fascines were lovingly layed in trenches and staked in place. Study lone stakes were tapped into rain soaked soil where they will sprout. They planted at both Henrietta and Escobar streets. Everyone felt the conditions were ideal for an IMG_6279excellent planting. Ann Riley from the SF waterboard is always an outstanding teacher and Friends of Alhambra Creek Volunteers turned out to hear what she would say. As you can see, Cheryl was on hand to snap some wonderful photos of the moment. And you might recognize beaver-inventer BIMG_6337ob Rust even without his beaver bicycle! But if you need reminding, check the video below. Here’s Riley showing how a fascine is laid in trenches.  Afterwards most of the folks came to try out the wrap sandwiches and they must have been adequate because they were gone! All in all it was an excellent way to spend Saturday morning. I happen to be very fond of this lovely close-up of Riley and Jean bundling. I like to imagine they are wrapping very delicious beaver Christmas presents. Good work team beaver!IMG_6273



This week’s mail delivered a bevvy of beaver bounty for the silent auction. Starting with an adorable sterling silver beaver necklace from “Stickman Jewelry” in Montreal, Canada. The charm itself is even cuter because it is so tiny.  I anticipate rabid bidding on this cherishable trinket so start saving your pennies now.

The other glories came from artist Deborah Hocking in Portland. I didn’t even realize she was the brilliant artist behind the children’s book “Build beaver build.”   I just really, really liked this print she was selling on etsy.

I wrote her about the beaver bicycle Bob Rust made for our festival and she was immediately hooked. She ended up donating 8 prints and a copy of her book!  She might even  design something for the festival! Sometimes the best part of asking isn’t the things you get, but remembering that there are like minds all over the globe.

Listen to your Elders

Posted by heidi08 On February - 1 - 2017Comments Off on Listen to your Elders

I was surprised to come across this yesterday in my search for donations. I hadn’t seen this site before and knew nothing about it, which is rare for beaver news so close to home. Thinking about the Tuleyome website from yesterday, I suspect similarities. The two names aren’t actually linked anywhere I can find, but their location is, and the websites are very similar. Either they have the same technician or they are staffed by a handful of similar people.

Either way, I like them.


The Elder Creek Oak Woodland Preserve is a private preserve soon to be protected by conservation easement that encompasses 233 acres of primarily steep hills of blue oak woodland containing dozens of old-growth manzanitas. This preserve is located in the Elder Creek Watershed, which covers about 150 square miles and ranges in elevation from over 8000 feet to about 250 feet above sea level. Over 72 miles of streams and creeks make up the watershed, making it one of the longer ones on the west side of the northern Sacramento Valley

What we do to encourage beavers on Elder Creek:

• Never kill beavers and encourage others to join us in protecting them.
Regularly comment to California Fish and Wildlife to prioritize restoration of beaver populations.
• Build small, beaver-like check dams and baffles in the creek in mid- to late spring (depending on flow).
• Leave cottonwood and willow along the creek, occasionally removing dead wood and coppicing some of the willow.

Imagine stumbling across a website like this by accident! I can assure you it made my afternoon.

According to Westbrook, 85 percent of all watercourses in the United States — and a comparable, though unquantified, percentage in Canada — are headwater streams and, therefore, small enough to be dammed by beavers. This continent-wide network of fine blue lines represents a wealth of potential beaver habitat. “We’re talking about beaver in nearly every headwater stream across North America prior to European colonization,” says Westbrook. (from Canadian Geographic)

Beaver streams resulted in:

  • Reduced stream sedimentation and erosion
  • Stream temperature moderation
  • Higher dissolved oxygen levels
  • Overall improved water quality
  • Increased natural water storage capabilities within watersheds, including recharge of ground water aquifers
  • Reduced stream velocities, which means a decreased number of extreme floods
  • Removal of many pollutants from surface and ground water
  • Drought protection through increased year-round stream flow
  • Improved food/habitat for fish and other animals, including 43% (according to one source) of the endangered species that the US Department of Fish and Wildlife is mandated to protect

All these benefits from one little rodent! (Or several million, actually) Beavers are proudly promoted by our new BFF’s at Elder Creek Preserve. Thank you for doing this important work sharing the beaver gospel. Let’s hope is saturates Woodland and begins to sink into Sacramento. (And I mean both the region and the governing bodies it houses.)

On monday we were contacted by a beaver supporter who wanted to donate her grand mother’s old beaver fur coat for us to use in education or rehab. Certainly it’s nothing we have ever considered for ourselves. I have always mocked a very widely used and un-admirable activity folks practice in schools of allowing one student to ‘dress up like a beaver, with a fur coat, goggles and flippers’ to teach them about their adaptions. We would never do that as it seems way more stunt-y than teach-y. And why not teach kids the amazing things about beavers while you have their attention?

But it occurred to me maybe we could teach about the fur trade and the toll it extracted on our streams and wildlife? We never really tried to do that kind of education at a festival, but why not? And maybe while we’re at it teach the martinez story and our creek response with series of display panels folks can look at their own pace.  I have been working on a graphic we could use for a poster with the display. trappedI will say, that Jon and I were both very surprised how soft the coat was. I always imagined beaver as more wiry. And you can definitely see how protective and thick it is. You can’t even see where the individual hairs separate.  It also occurred to me that orphan beavers in rehab might like to snuggle up to beaver fur, so I’ve asked our beaver rehabber friend if that’s true and we will consider donating it to Sonoma where they do most of the beaver rehab work.

We like fur coats best of course ON the beaver, but it might be okay to put it to good use now.