Nobody told me there would be days like this! With a fantastic news story from our friends in Port Moody AND a wonderful article about a Brooklyn teacher leading her class in beaver education from the National Wildlife Foundation. For the first time I can remember I’m spoiled for choice. I can’t decide which to share with you first. But I will go here because it’s just so DAM cute!
Emily A. Fano
In December 2017, Diane Corrigan – a wildlife enthusiast and early childhood science teacher at PS 179 in Brooklyn – came upon an article about how a family of beavers were “wreaking havoc” in the Staten Island neighborhood of Richmond. Department of Environmental Protection officials came out during the day and cleared a two-foot hole in the dam. The beavers – known for being skilled engineers – repaired the hole overnight. At the time of this writing, the fate of the Staten Island beavers is unknown.
This human-wildlife conflict with New York State’s official animal piqued Corrigan’s interest. She decided to use it as a teachable moment with her first graders, not only to help students learn about beavers and the many wild animals we share our city with, but to explore an important question: Can wildlife and humans co-exist in densely populated urban areas like NYC?
Beaver pond levelers were successfully used in two beaver ponds in Utah to prevent flooding of a Walmart parking lot without disturbing the beavers – a win for wildlife and humans. Could this be tried in Staten Island?
In December 2017, Corrigan gave her students an assignment: If you were a beaver and had to build your home, what would your lodge and dam look like?
Although many people consider them a nuisance, they’re actually a keystone species that provides many ecological benefits. Beaver ponds, for example, improve water quality, create habitat for many other species, reduce erosion, and recharge groundwater reserves.
Aaaandddd scene! What a wonderful teaching moment, about beavers, empathy, problem-solving and ecology! The fate of those Richmond beavers just got instantly less gloomy. Come share your work at the beaver festival and you will meet SO many like minds. Diane Corrigan, there are precious few things I’m sure of in this crazy world, but this is definitely one:
And on to Port Moody where the valiant struggle and sadness has turned into a victory lap. The heroes Judy and Jim have already told me will be making the pilgrimage to our festival, and I can’t wait to meet them in person!
The city of Port Moody will develop a beaver management plan after the death last December of a beaver kit during efforts to relocate its family from a storm sewer pipe in Pigeon Creek.
Coun. Meghan Lahti said such a plan will help the city rebuild trust with residents, particularly in the Klahanie neighbourhood through which the creek runs and who had become fond of the creatures.
One of those residents, Judy Taylor-Atkinson, said a proper management plan “will open the channel to good science” and make it possible for the beavers to thrive.
She said the ponds of quiet water created when beavers build dams improve the survival rate of juvenile salmon, attract bugs and the birds and bats that feed on them, as well as salamanders.
“Beavers can’t make rain but they keep water on the land,” Taylor-Atkinson said.
“It is important to understand the nature of beavers in order to determine the best management of them,” Lahti said in a report presented to council Tuesday.She said the animals are a “keystone” species that play a crucial role in the local ecosystem.
She said implementing a beaver management plan should “use innovative techniques for dam management where applicable” while avoiding extermination or relocation whenever possible.
Music to our ears! Mark this day on your calendar because it isn’t ever morning that I get to write about two such pride-inducing stories. Judy and Jim who worked SO hard and ended their vacation leaving Arizona early to face a slew of bad faith just wrestled this heifer of a story until they got everything on it’s feet again. I am so impressed with your hard work and the help of your neighbors. I try not to say the obvious things, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.