Archive for the ‘Educational’ Category

Beavers head for Belly of the Beast

Posted by heidi08 On April - 20 - 2015Comments Off

CaptureNo rest for the beaver-y. Now I have 6 whole days to get ready for my upcoming talk at SARSAS  next monday. SARSAS stands for Save Auburn Ravine for Salmon and Steelhead. I met the founder/director Jack Sanchez at the Salmonid restoration conference in Santa Barbara last year, and he asked me to be part of the dynamic and packed  list of speakers they host. (In fact he mentioned that they already had a beaver expert but she wasn’t very positive about them, and I knew at ONCE who he meant.

highlighted permitsJack accompanied me to the meeting we had with CDFW last November after a review of depredation permits showed Placer issued 9 times more permits than anywhere else in the state. I am thrilled to be marching boldly into enemy lines to deliver the beaver gospel. We might even have a few friendly faces at the meeting as Sherry, Ted, and Janet aren’t far away.

 This is from the Placer County E-Newsletter:

April SARSAS Meeting

I’ll relax when we get the TIME CORRECTED. (Sheesh!) And if it’s not corrected I’ll just stay there and give the talk again to anyone who shows up! In the meantime I am busily working on graphics for the talk. I especially like this one. Don’t you? The background is the beloved drawing of a series of dams in a gorge from Morgan’s book. Overlaid with swirling column of fish.

salmondsNice video from Rusty this morning of beavers eating their spring diet. Enjoy!

Conservation Awareness

Posted by heidi08 On April - 17 - 2015Comments Off

What a great article from Troy Alabama. I won’t say of all places because Alabama is the site of the most important fine EVER for removing a beaver dam and destroying the habitat of the rare watercress darter. Looks like the city of Troy learned nothing from their northern cousin’s misfortune.

Dam destruction raises concern

The city of Troy tore down a beaver dam beside McKinley Drive near the walkway that connects the Edge apartment complex to campus.

Vaughn Daniels, environmental services director for the city of Troy, said the city worked with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to make sure the dam removal was environmentally safe.

 The beavers were not killed, Daniels said.  According to Daniels, the dam was a threat to the road.

 After the beaver dam was removed, the pond it created drained.

 Members of Troy University’s Environmental Club moved animals from the remains of the pond to the Lagoon.

 “In one day out there doing a visual survey, we saw 3-foot grass carp, sunfishes, red-winged blackbirds, belted kingfishers, musk turtles, pond sliders, gray and green tree frogs, Eastern garter snakes, as well as a huge female great horned owl,” said Tanner Stainbrook, a senior ecology and field biology major from Huntsville and a member of the Environmental Club, in an email. 

Members of the Environmental Club have voiced concern about the effects tearing down the dam will have on the area.  “The big thing is that this eliminated the major wetland ecosystem in the area,” Stainbrook said. “This mud hole, in two days, will be just that. There’ll be no water left.”

Group members said they were concerned that this may harm the great horned owl’s habitat, as the owl fed on the frogs in the pond.

A university, an environmental club, and a sympathetic reporter. Something tells me these beavers might be making a splash. I spent time yesterday tracking all the major players so I could make sure they new about solutions and consequences of dam removal. I haven’t heard anything back, but I’m hopeful. And it gave me a new idea for responding to these stories. Since we review every beaver report that’s written every year, we may as well give notice to the best and the worst beaver articles of each caagory. Gradually notify contenders that they’re in the running and pick the winners in January. I already got Robin excited about the idea and she’s going to help! I took the liberty of inspiring myself for the project with some graphics this morning. Hahaha! Aren’t they fun?

best beaver bylinebad beaver byline

A less pleasant article came out of Norway yesterday about one of the many hazards of beaver life. It’s nice to see it written about respectfully though  (except for the headline).

Timber! Beaver crushed by tree it was felling


The unlucky beaver trapped under a birch. Photo: Beate Strøm Johansen

A beaver in Norway has been crushed to death after misjudging which way the tree it was gnawing down was going to fall.

 Beate Strøm Johansen, a Zoologist at the Agder Natural History museum in Kristiansand on the southern tip of Norway, was called to the scene after a local logger stumbled upon the unfortunate animal.

 “This beaver has been extremely unlucky,” she told The Local. “I hope it’s not something that happens very often for the beavers’ sake.”

 Johansen said that beavers normally have an uncanny ability to predict when and where a tree is likely to fall.

 “When the tree is falling they have to jump aside so the tree doesn’t hit them. Instinctively, they should know where it is falling, but sometimes they don’t know which way to jump,” she explained.

I might be strange, but it seems almost kind of sweet to read this article. As if it mattered that a beaver was killed by a tree when we all know sooo many are killed on purpose. Yes trees are unpredictable, and I’m not sure beavers have any uncanny abilities to know where they’re falling except practice and luck. As the old saying goes, that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Now it’s time to invite you to the birthday Earthday event at John Muir tomorrow. The event information is here for you to print. The guest speaker is going to be Beth Pratt for the wildlife federation, the winner of the conservationist of the year is going to be our friend Camilla Fox, and the non-profit of the year is going to be our friends at the River Otter Ecology Project. My congressman is getting a lifetime legacy award, which we hope he will be able to pick up in person. At the moment my office is literally surrounded with art supplies for our ‘build your own totem’ project. Rusty from Napa is coming to help with our booth and 57 other environmental exhibits will be on hand to celebrate the day. Plus Frank Helling as John Muir, which is sooo appealing. Whatever your planning tomorrow stop right now and plan to come. It will be an amazing day.

awards 2014My graphic for the award winners will be a big sign. The background is Muir’s letter to Enos Mills congratulating him on his conservation work and inviting him to the house. See for yourself.

Muir letter









Lifetimes and Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On April - 13 - 2015Comments Off


The California Roadkill Observation System is operated by the Road Ecology Center at UC  Davis. Our friend Eli worked to get it to show the incidence of beaver deaths around the state caused by drivers, which is a grimly useful tool for getting a handle on population. We can infer where there are breeding colonies and where beavers decided to disperse. The interactive map tells you what was seen and where, The one near San CaptureJose is from highway 1 at Pescadero, which is  a colony we know about. The one that makes me sad is the yellow one (meaning a large beaver) which was trying to cross highway 37. This means he or she VERY nearly made it on his way to colonize Marin, which might be harder to do than we realize with all the lethal motorways in between.

I like knowing there is a resource to report these deaths at least. I’m especially troubled by highway deaths when those lethal spacers block the center of the roadway. There is no place for the animal to get through and they just are forced to wander aimlessly looking for an opening.

This is a depressing conversation for a monday, so I’m going to give you a LARGE DOSE of cheer.

Napa River restoration begins a new phase Upvalley

OAKVILLE — After 13 years and $21 million, restoration of 4.5 miles of Napa River banks in the heart of Napa Valley is complete, offering improved habitat and reducing flood damage.

Federal, state and local leaders celebrated the accomplishment Thursday as they prepared to launch phase 2: 9 miles of bank restoration from Oakville to Oak Knoll costing another $21 million.

Almost 100 people turned out for the by-invitation morning event along the rivers bank at the Opus One Winery in Oakville, including Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St Helena.

“This river is part of what makes Napa County the iconic landscape that it is,” said Samuel Schuchat, executive officer of the California Coastal Conservancy. “I strongly believe this is the future of river restoration in California.”

One of the most exciting things at the Salmonid Federation Urban Streams Workshop I attended, was this talk

A “Living River” Runs Through It, The Napa Creek Flood Management Project – Leslie Ferguson, San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board

which described the 20 year job of restoring the Napa River. No kidding, 20 years of involving stake holders, wooing business leaders, and politicians. 20 years of weekly meetings to talk about letting the river return to some of its natural state, which means vintners had to agree to give up some of the most valuable land in the entire country.

 More than a decade ago, vineyard owners in the group called The Rutherford Dust Society started the effort. The result is the newly completed Rutherford Reach project between Zinfandel Lane and Oakville Cross Road.

 Twenty-eight landowners participated in the $21 million project. The county’s Measure A flood control sales tax provided $12.5 million, with federal and state agencies contributing $7.9 million. Landowners gave up 30 acres of vineyard land worth an estimated $9 million and agreed to pay a maintenance assessment.

Davie Pina of the Rutherford Dust Society and Pina Vineyard Management has seen a difference with wildlife along the river. He’s seen beaver dams and ospreys and Swainson’s hawks.

 “Things are coming back, and we are doing the right thing around here,” he told the gathering.

Once again, the arrival of beaver dams are recognized as a reward for the very hard restorative work done.  I say ‘again’ because I was lucky enough to once have a lovely conversation with the revered Hughlet Hornbeck about just this topic in terms of cleaning up the Marina, Granger’s Wharf and the mouth of Alhambra Creek in a sustained effort of 50 years that lead to the arrival of our beavers. He said the beavers were a reward for their effort. He wanted to meet the young lady who had “scared the city council” into letting them live.

( A memory to treasure until the end of my days for sure.)

Back to the topic at hand, learning about the marathon efforts at work in Napa have helped me understand just why their response to the beavers has been so uniformly idyllic. They are river-smart in Napa because they spent literally decades studying. Meeting every week, arguing with landowners, persuading the thick-headed and zealous over patient dialogue, compromising and never getting half of what they wanted. They did a remarkable thing,

We should all hope to be a part of something beautiful that is so long in the making.

Beaver Spring

Posted by heidi08 On April - 3 - 2015Comments Off

We need a real beaver update first off. The secondary dam (name to be changed soon) is HUGE. And one of our new stakes is already sprouting! Jon spied a mother with 12 baby ducks yesterday and we went down to beaver watch this morning. Our kit (almost yearling, birthday in May) was swimming back and forth in front of the hole where they live, and a parent swimming up from down stream after a night feeding. She had to CLIMB up over the monumental dam before heading to sleep for the day. A great beaver morning.

I’ve been waiting forever to share this great new research from Dr. Ellen Wohl. There is so much happening lately there’s never time to catch up. If you want to remind yourself who she is listen to this short clip. It remains the single most pithy description of beaver benefits I’ve ever heard. Photos courtesy of Worth A Dam, of course.

CaptureCaptureSee how she just slips in the good news about beavers along side the already largely accepted news about wood??? Her research has made a huge difference in the way folks look at beavers, and I’m sure there’s more where that came from. Go read the whole thing here:

Bring-the-Kids-to-Washington-DCs-Cherry-Blossom-Festival--f630c1399fd04849bbe91183f25cc6dfIt’s Cherry Blossom Festival time which reminded to share an old story. A while ago some patriotic beaver started chewing down the National trees, and the decision of whether to kill them or not caused a bit of a stir. Now the  trees have their own mascot to protect them. Paddles the beaver, which reminds visitors not to pick blossoms.

5741842234_5bbed33ed5CaptureThere’s a new resource for beaver restoration in the world, compiled by Rebecca Haddock of the Miistakis Institute of Alberta. She attended the state of the beaver conference and liked what she learned. This is what I would call a great start, although it is missing info on several key players like the Lands Council and/or Methow Project in Washington, The Beaver Advocacy Committee in Oregon, Sherri Tippie in Colorado, even more locally to them Cows and Fishes in Alberta! -)Not to mention you know who in California…) The full report is online at OAEC here.

And as our beavers get more visible, the ones in Napa do to. Here’s footage Rusty shot yesterday of Mom and Dad swimming together.

Lastly, I just got a request from Mountain Lake in NY to use Cheryl’s photo in a podcast they were releasing about beavers. They gave us a very nice plug, Go see for yourself.


Beaver Cheer x3

Posted by heidi08 On April - 2 - 2015Comments Off

Ooh this is a fun day. There is so much good news to share, I’m like a kid in a beaver store! You will be too. Let’s start with a late April Fools from Canada that I received yesterday afternoon. I was excited by the headline, but you’re sure to be thrilled by the photo.

Beaver-deceivers to beaver believers

040115_beavers-590x433What started out as an ecologist’s dream ended up a nightmare mired in mud, myth and misery.

 Rainer Wasserman is a 38-year old ecologist at The Ohio State University of Ohio, whose work used to focus on wetland restoration and ecosystems.

 “When I first heard it, I didn’t believe it,” he said, shaking his head. He was referring to the first confirmed sighting of the Castorimorpha megaloenochae, a giant aquatic relative of the beaver, whose destructive power is equalled only by its orneriness. “I never saw one; neither did anyone else I’ve worked with over the years. Until recently, that is.”

 The almost mythical creature came to the forefront recently when a 3-acre detention basin along King Street flooded in 2014. Great piles of debris blocked a culvert that allows for the basin to properly drain. And though beavers were fingered as obvious culprits, no one, in the basin’s ten year history, had ever actually seen the animals in the act of building the dams.

Hahaha! It reminds me of what I often say about our Castoroides skull….THIS is the size of the problems the city thought the beavers were going to cause! YS Ohio has definitely stepped onto the beaver stage this year. It has swallowed their news cycle, just like it did in Martinez. Funny to read a giant beaver is ruining a retention pond. To tell the truth though, considering the untrue things you say about beavers all the time, this article really isn’t that special.

Now it’s time to thank Connecticut because they had enough state pride to promote their resident filmmaker’s  3-part series on CPTV  starting next week. I thought it was only going to show on the east coast, but when I called I learned that it  will air on all PBS stations. The second part airs on tax day and will be about beavers!

CPTV to Air New Three-Part Nature Miniseries from New Haven Filmmaker Ann Johnson Prum

Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) will premiere the new three-part miniseries “Animal Homes” from filmmaker Ann Johnson Prum of New Haven, Conn., as part of the long-running PBS natural history series Nature on Wednesday, April 8 at 8 p.m. Parts 2 and 3 of the series will air on Wednesdays, April 15 and 22, also at 8 p.m.

This three-part series provides intimate, never-before-seen views of the lives of animals in their homes. It investigates just how animals build their remarkable homes around the globe and the intriguing behaviors and social interactions that take place in and around them.

 Filmmaker Ann Johnson Prum, an avid outdoorswoman, has produced television documentaries for the past 20 years with a focus on the arts, science and nature. Her 2010 documentary “Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air” was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Nature Programming, and her film “An Original DUCKumentary” won the 2013 Emmy Award for Outstanding Nature Programming. Both films also aired on CPTV as part of the Nature series.

“Animal Homes: Location, Location, Location” (Premiering Wednesday, April 15 at 8 p.m.) – Finding a good base of operations is key to successfully raising a family. One must find the right stream or tree, the right building materials, neighbors and sometimes tenants. In the wild, every home is a unique DIY project, every head of household a designer and engineer. Cameras chart the building plans and progress of beavers, black bears, hummingbirds and woodrats, examining layouts and cross sections, evaluating the technical specs of their structures and documenting their problem-solving skills. Animal architecture provides insights into animal consciousness, creativity and innovation.

Whoohooo! More beavers on PBS! Thanks CT for the promotion, because I might not have known. I guess they were pretty happy with how Jari Osborne’s documentary did last year. You can read all about the upcoming miniseries here. Here’s a great promo to whet your appetite.

Something too look forward to on April 15th. How often can you say that?

Onto my favorite part of this trifecta of beaver cheer. It’s the just-spring update from Spring Farm Cares an animal sanctuary in New York. They’re good friends of Beavers: Wetlands & Wildlife. Their beavers have just broken through the ice to check for treats. They made sure they weren’t disappointed.

BP 3 30 15 22

Beaver under ice – Spring Farm Cares

BP 3 30 15 25

Breaver Breaks Through Ice – Spring Farm Cares

BP 3 30 15 43

Iceworld – Spring Farm Cares


BP 3 30 15 42
Beaver emerges- Spring Farm Cares

Aren’t those lovely? You might want to go see the whole thing for yourself here. Consider dropping something in their tip jar because they are doing wonderful things. There’s even adorable muskrats under ice photos. I’m very jealous that we never get to see beavers under ice, but there is one thing they photographed that Martinez has seen many, many times before.

which first

Leaving nothing to chance – Spring Farm Cares

This is NOT April Fools!

Posted by heidi08 On April - 1 - 20151 COMMENT

Folks you know might play tricks on you today, and tell you you’re shoes untied or there was an eviction notice on the porch. But not me. I am only going to tell you the absolute truth. It just seems unbelievable.

Greenbelt bucks beavers with tree plantings at Buddy Attick Park

Jamie Anfenson-Comeau/The Gazette
Greenbelt residents Lynne Cherry and Gergory Rankin wrap a wire cage around a tree at Buddy Attick Park on Saturday to protect it from beaver predation.

Over 50 volunteers braved chilling wind and 40-degree temperatures to plant new trees at Greenbelt’s Buddy Attick Park and wrap cages around trees to protect their bark from the bite of local beavers.

Saturday saw the largest volunteer turnout ever, according to city officials.

 “In Greenbelt, we’re really passionate about our tree canopy, and to see so many volunteers coming out for this is a reflection on the dedication and passion all of you have,” said Greenbelt Mayor Emmett Jordan.

 Volunteers planted white oak, spice bush, black oak, persimmon, paw-paws and other trees, and they placed wire mesh cages around many of the young trees to protect them from beaver predation.

 In addition, the red twig dogwood was planted specifically to feed the beavers, and next year — when the dogwoods have settled in — the cages will be removed, said Greenbelt horticulturist Brian Townsend.

Not only are the smart volunteers in Maryland wrapping trees instead of killing beavers, they are actually PLANTING TREES FOR THEM TO EAT  in the future! How wonderful is that? Apparently they have some university volunteers as well as their own Americorp coordinator, and they’re even using the right kind of wire. I couldn’t be happier.

Unless it was in Texas.


What was made by man over a decade ago has evolved into a natural habitat.

“It’s a constructed wetland to replace a creek that was where the mall is now. It looks so natural,” Dianne Wassenich with the San Marcos River Foundation said. “It’s amazing and it has crawdads, it has beaver, it has lots of birds. It’s a great habitat now.”

Normally, the creek is a narrow strip of water, but a beaver dam has caused the water to pool. The beavers have been seen coming in and out of their home, but things aren’t always beautiful.

“With the creek coming under the freeway, the trash coming off of the freeway, and then any stuff blowing in from the outlet malls or people leaving the outlet malls, it tends to accumulate trash,” Kirwin said.

 For the second time this year, volunteers have cleaned the site, hauling dozens of bags of trash out of the water.

 Click on the image for a nice video about the work and habitat. Apparently folks could even get excited about beaver in Texas. I’m reminded of the Detroit river when they were sooo happy to see beaver come back on the landscape. Beavers are slightly better than pollution, for a while but just wait. The cynic in me says they’ll be complaining about them in no time.

How about some surprising news closer to home?

Tracker Finds Beaver Sign in Humboldt

In March 15, Kim Cabrera, who runs a website devoted to tracking, spotted beaver sign on the South Fork of the Eel River.

 Rain had softened the sand where the impressions were discovered south of Dyerville but Cabrera, an experienced tracker, is confident that the signs belong to a beaver. (See photo to the left.)

 Cabrera says that even though no beaver dams have been spotted in the area doesn’t mean that there aren’t beavers. According to her website,

 ”Beavers do not always build dams. They can live on a river and use burrows and eat vegetation without building any structures. Look for their tracks and signs along sandy river banks. You might find areas where limbs have been dragged into the water. Beavers will come ashore and gnaw off branches then take these back to eat later. Look along the shores for branches showing the tooth marks of these large rodents.”

Great news! Kim is a facebook friend and I asked about this. She said she’s been hiking the area for 20 years and this is the first beaver sign she’s seen!

This is a range expansion. Beaver have not been on the South Fork for many kimyears. In my 20 years of tracking along this river, it is the first find of a beaver track here. I was so happy when I found it!It was the weekend before last. I am really hoping that they continue to disperse up the South fork! It would be so awesome to see them coming back!

Ready to welcome beavers with open arms. (Much better than firearms.)  Thank you to Kim who spread the word and Eli who sent the article my way. I’m always happiest when folks think beavers are good news rather than the contrary.

Mind you, beaver footprints, (especially REAR foot prints), are very rare. In 8 years of watching our beavers that we know are present every day I think we’ve seen clear rear tracks a handful of times.  Which might suggest that just because you haven’t seen them in 20 years, it doesn’t mean they’re not there!

Ohh Alright! I’ll give you ONE April Fools Headline. I was honestly so excited when I saw this:

Trip for Beaver psychology students yields unexpected results

Where do I sign up to study beaver psychology? That sounds amazing!


Message Delivery

Posted by heidi08 On February - 27 - 2015Comments Off

Indiana University researcher reports that isolated wetlands matter a great deal – just not the things that make and maintain them.

Isolated wetlands have significant impact on water quality

Geographically isolated wetlands play an outsized role in providing clean water and other environmental benefits even though they may lack the regulatory protections of other wetlands, according to an article by Indiana University researchers and colleagues.

 Given those benefits, the authors argue, decision-makers should assume that isolated wetlands are critical for protecting aquatic systems, and the burden of proof should be on those who argue on a case-by-case basis that individual wetlands need not be protected.

 ”Geographically isolated wetlands provide important benefits such as sediment and carbon retention, nutrient transformation and water-quality improvement, all of which are critical for maintaining water quality,” said lead author John M. Marton, assistant scientist at the IU Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs. “We demonstrate that continued loss of these wetlands would likely cause serious harm to North American waters.”

 Yes it’s true, wetlands are really important, especially when they’re in unconnected areas that aren’t attached to other wetlands.  Our top notch researchers think they’re so important that people should be prevented from ripping out those wetlands. And the government should play a roll in making them.

We don’t have the foggiest idea of how those wetlands get there, but we know they’re important.

Yes, webs are important but spiders don’t matter at all, nests are invaluable but we aren’t sure what makes them. and eggs are vital but who cares about chickens?


Oh alright, maybe you’re getting the football very close to the end zone and it’s up to some other researcher or environmental attorney to get it over the line. Certainly this lays a certain foundation. And I would know JUST where to look for argument if I were trying to save beaver in Indiana.

Citing research literature, the authors say geographically isolated wetlands are highly effective “biogeochemical reactors” that improve water quality. They often retain water longer than protected waters, such as streams and wetlands that are directly connected to navigable water. And they have a higher ratio of perimeter to area, allowing more opportunities for reactions to take place.


This morning a quick update from beaver friend Lisa Owens Viani, the founder of RATS, who guest posted this article on 10,000 birds. Apparently the raptor-killing fiends of the world have come up with the excellent idea to name their new rat poison “HAWK”, because you know, hawks kill rats too, get it?

22Hawk.22-2-400x280It takes a lot of nerve—or something that can’t be printed here—to name your rat poison after the animals that so effectively and efficiently control rodents but that are also being poisoned—as “non target” animals—by your product. The label on Motomco/Bell Lab’s rodenticide “Hawk” even sports a drawing of a hawk getting ready to pounce. But “Hawk”’s active ingredient, a deadly second-generation anticoagulant, bromadialone, has been implicated in the deaths of Red-tailed Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, and other raptors: American Kestrels, Barn Owls, Golden Eagles, Great Horned Owls, and Turkey Vultures. These birds are being poisoned after eating rodents that have been poisoned by products like “Hawk.”

You can read the entire article here. I told Lisa not to worry because this was such a tone deaf marketing decision they could easily turn it to their advantage. Instead of writing outraged letters or presenting them with a cease and desist letter. send the most flowery thank you card you can find, and say how much you appreciate their help in  linking rat poison to hawks, reminding every single buyer who the real victims of their products are. That kind of branding is invaluable. It’s hard work doing it yourself and billboards are very expensive.

Ask when their similar products of OWL or BOBCAT will go on the market, and say you appreciate their help in this matter. If you thank them sincerely enough, I said, that label will disappear.