Archive for the ‘Educational’ Category

Bill Gates Gives Money for Beavers?

Posted by heidi08 On April - 17 - 20142 COMMENTS

Well, probably not for the beavers themselves, but for the students who are studying them. Program manager Erin Sams has just asked that I clarify  and say:

“We did not receive money from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Gates Family Foundation is a Denver-based foundation that solely supports Colorado programs. I don’t want people to get the wrong idea.”

Close enough, I’m still impressed. And you will be too when you read about this awesome project.

CaptureBeaver Habitat and River Ecology Monitoring

We are teaming up with Chatfield State Park, the Audubon Society of Greater Denver, Colorado Gulf and Turf, University of Colorado Professor Dr. John Basey, View Into The Blue, and Ocean Classrooms to monitor beaver activity along the South Platte River in Chatfield State Park. The project would not be possible without generous funding provided by The Gates Frontier Fund and Ocean Classrooms.

 Beginning in December 2012, scientists and students surveyed the area to determine where the webcams would be installed and to begin preliminary observation of the beaver activity. Now, we are ready to begin work on the project! In late March 2013, we will begin installing an aboveground camera that will monitor several dams along a portion of the river to help us learn more about activity within this beaver community. We will also be installing a science node to collect data on water quality parameters, wireless radio and a solar powering system. We’re looking for lots of help from the Denver T4O community to make this project finally become a reality!

 The installation is going to be accompanied by a workshop to teach students and the public about the American beaver’s influence on riparian ecosystems, macroinvertebrate biodiversity, impacts on water quality, and important resource management practices that can benefit both the environment as well as people’s livelihoods.


Colorado has so much to teach about beavers! I’m thinking these teens need to sponsor a beaver festival to really show off their work! And I know just who to invite to come lead the parade. Sherri Tippie is just down the road. I expect this to be a very exciting product that changes how we see beavers for years to come!

sherri worth a dam

* I’m not going to mention that certain regular people can observe beavers without expensive grants or fancy camera installations and said people have been doing so for seven years running – because that would just be….unnecessary.

Who’s talking about us now?

Posted by heidi08 On April - 15 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

That would be Ghostbearphotography in Toronto. Just look at what’s featured on their site today?

That dam beaver chase…

Simon has told you all about his ‘curse of the beaver’, the chase for this surprisingly elusive creature. Well, maybe just elusive to Simon and me.

From his first post introducing the trials and tribulations we went through to find a beaver; to the story of the urban beaver that we discovered in Toronto one harsh winter day; to learning that you don’t want to get on a beaver’s bad side after we unknowingly got in the way of one: each post sparked some laughter from our readers.

It also sparked a wonderful new connection from a beaver advocate located in California.

Heyyyyyyyyy! I know that site! And you do too! Thanks Jill and Simon for recognizing how worthwhile beavers are! And plugging the work of Worth A Dam. They reprinted my letter explaining what we do and asking for a donation for the festival, which apparently got them interested enough to help out and spread the word. I’m waiting for the print to arrive as we speak. I especially like that they had their own “beaver-muskrat” mystery and thought our video was helpful.

FYI: Simon would really REALLY have benefitted from watching this clip from their website:

Ahhh, I always was fond of that film, my third effort ever. I had just learned to use iMovie and the world felt like my videography oyster! It remains one of my favorites of all times. All the footage is from 2007, and that tail slap at the end isn’t from mom or dad – and there were no kits yet. I filmed it before the time our first kits were seen. It was so long ago that when I walked to the lodge and saw a huge otter sitting on top of it I wondered if it was a beaver! Then that beaver swam out and did 19 tail slaps until the otter hi-tailed it away. I missed filming 18 others and finally got the last one, which accounts for my exclamation.

The reason this is interesting is because I think it means that Mom and Dad had a yearling already when they moved in to Martinez. The first woman who told me about the beavers in Martinez said she had seen three, but I never knew how much to believe her. The idea of their being a yearling comforts me because it means Mom was a little older when she died than we understood. I hate to think of her life being cut short. But if she had a yearling when she came that means she was at least 6 or 7 when she started her life in Martinez, which puts her closer to 10 when she died, and that’s about average I think for a beaver in the wild.

Anyway thank you, Jill and Simon for your support of beavers and Worth A Dam! And Planetsave is featuring that beaver lodge building from Canada film today, with excellent quote from Beavers: Wetlands & Wildlife on why beavers matter:

Busy Beavers—You Bet! (Video)

“Beavers reliably and economically maintain wetlands that sponge up floodwaters, alleviate droughts and floods (because their dams keep water on the land longer), lessen erosion, raise the water table, and act as the “earth’s kidneys” to purify water…. Several feet of silt collect upstream of older beaver dams, and toxics, such as pesticides, are broken down by microbes in the wetlands that beavers create. Thus, water downstream of dams is cleaner and requires less treatment for human use.

Nicely said, and very true. Thanks BWW and PlanetSave for reminding us!



Posted by heidi08 On April - 12 - 2014Comments Off

I heard this morning the official word that Jari Osborne’s Canadian Beaver Whisperers documentary will have its American debut on PBS Nature May 14, 2014! (It will be released under the title “Leave it to beavers” which is SO overdone.) That means in a month you can get your friends together for the very best superbowl-type viewing party of the century! It will star our good beaver friends, Glynnis Hood, Sherri Tippie and Suzanne Fouty, with beaver problem-solving by Michel LeClare of Quebec. Jari is flying to New York to appear on MetroFocus May 1st and promote the series.

Sherri Tippie kissing a beaver kit (a pup). East Beaver Creek, Colorado. Photo Credit: © Ford McClave 2013

Not excited yet? Just read the promo:

A growing number of scientists, conservationists and grass-roots environmentalists have come to regard beavers as overlooked tools when it comes to reversing the disastrous effects of global warming and worldwide water shortages. Once valued for their fur or hunted as pests, these industrious rodents are seen in a new light through the eyes of this novel assembly of beaver enthusiasts and “employers” who reveal the ways in which the presence of beavers can transform and revive landscapes. Using their skills as natural builders and brilliant hydro-engineers, beavers are being recruited to accomplish everything from finding water in a bone-dry desert to recharging water tables and coaxing life back into damaged lands.

Beaver at work dragging large branch/closeup. Ontario, Canada. Photo Credit: © Michael Runtz

It says these great photos by Michael Runtz (a good friend of our good friend Donna DeBreuille)  can only be used for promotion but I’m pretty sure this qualifies! Watch it! Watch it! Watch it! Watch it with your children, your grandmother, your mailman. Drive up the ratings! Send letters to the station! Make PBS think they need a weekly beaver program! Don’t get up to use the bathroom during any part of it unless your in pain. Stay all the way to the very end of the  credits because it’s theoretically possible that my tiny name will be there.

Here’s the viewing schedule for KQED in case your busy that night.

KQED 9: Wed, May 14, 2014 — 8:00pm
KQED 9: Thu, May 15, 2014 — 2:00am
KQED Life: Fri, May 16, 2014 — 7:00pm
KQED Life: Sat, May 17, 2014 — 1:00am
KQED World: Sat, May 17, 2014 — 9:00pm
KQED 9: Sun, May 18, 2014 — 10:00am
KQED World: Sun, May 18, 2014 — 3:00pm
KQED World: Sun, May 18, 2014 — 9:00pm
KQED World: Mon, May 19, 2014 — 5:00am
KQED World: Mon, May 19, 2014 — 11:00am

 They haven’t released a trailer yet, but here’s the Canadian one which I adore.

From the: It never rains, but it pours, beaver files!

Posted by heidi08 On April - 11 - 2014Comments Off

Sometimes I go for weeks with nary a beaver report to etch together because the world is in a collective beaver lull. And sometimes there are way too may stories to write about. This morning is the second problem, but we have to start with a mind-blowing report from Saskatchewan, Canada. Which happens to be home to some of the most famous beaver intolerance in the Northern Hemisphere and was even featured as an example of beaver woes in the Canadian documentary on beavers last year. Its horrific report of beaver killing has spurred my most treasured columns (Saskat-CHEW-on-that!) and one of my most praised graphics (The exploding beaver population). exploding beaverWhich is just back story to remind us that they really, really hate beavers. And  makes this story all the more remarkable.

Moose Mountain Provincial Park Beaver Management Plan presented to public

Conflicting views on beaver management in the Moose Mountain Provincial Park have been issues for many years, but issues surrounding the actual workings of the watershed and Kenosee Lake are the underlying driving force of the concerns regarding water levels in Kenosee.

Phillips spoke to his research which pointed towards the park’s topography as being nearly saturated by beaver, with 2.13 colonies in every square kilometre which is a considerable density. However, despite there being numerous beaver in the area Phillips wasn’t hesitant to suggest a drastic beaver management plan, thus his recommendations following his studies included looking into flow devices in certain areas to prevent beavers from damming these spots and to refrain from much blasting of beaver dams until a hydrological study could be performed on the area.


Mind you, there is also a passage in the article that suggest beavers are to blame for their being less water in the lake. (Drinking too much?) But considering the source, this is a HUGE step forward from an area I wasn’t even sure had feet. Maybe this next article has something to do with it, because Alberta is just one province over. Dr. Hood is steadily persuading hearts and minds in Canada.

Beavers fulfill important role

Glynnis Hood is so passionate about beavers she has built a life around fighting for the enduring symbol of Canada.

 “Whether you love them or not, the Canadian landscape was formed by the beaver,” said Hood, an associate professor at the University of Alberta’s environmental science and studies Augustana campus, at a recent meeting of the Bow Valley Naturalists.

In examining how beaver influenced some of Alberta’s wetlands in Elk Island National Park over a 54-year period, Hood and co-investigator Suzanne Bayley discovered the presence of open water increased up to nine times with the presence of beaver and their dams.

 Climate models predict the incidence of drought in parts of North America will increase in frequency and length over the next 100 years and Hood’s research shows beavers will likely play an important role in maintaining water and mitigating the effects of drought.

Don’t you just  love Glynnis? Sometimes I feel so frustrated, like a lone voice in the wilderness, and then she lands a report in the news and I just feel so relaxed. Like a child falling asleep in the back seat while their parents drive. You can bet that repeating this story over and over, and her compelling spot on the Beaver Whisperers  documentary, and her smart book, have all made an impact on her neighbors.

Currently, Hood is working on an ongoing study in the Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area, just south of Elk Island National Park.

 They have installed 12 pond levelling devices, all of which are performing well to date. Three devices have been in since 2011 and have required very little to no maintenance and have withstood summer high water and winter warm spells.

 Hood, along with Dr. Varghese Manaloor, an economist at the University of Augustana, have been supervising a student on a directed study this semester to work with cost-benefit data for these sites.

 Hood said there are significant financial gains by using the pond levellers instead of the more traditional approaches, such as dam removal or removal of a beaver colony. In one case, she said, a device was installed adjacent to a popular park trail that was subject to regular flooding and closure over the past 10 years.

 “The trail has remained open and dry since installation and the wetland and beaver colony remain intact,” she said.

What could possibly top that, you ask? How about this short report from England where a beaver was observed reintroducing himself.


Beaver seen swimming on coast

 A BEAVER was sighted in Ramsgate sea this morning before swimming as far as Viking Bay.

Remember that beavers often use the ocean to get between rivers, and since they can close their eyes, ears, nose and throats, they can manage in salt water fairly well for a time. I’m thinking this beaver has read the many articles on the glacial speed with which the United Kingdom is moving towards beaver reintroduction, arguing about reintroducing dinosaurs because they were native once too,  worrying about farmers, fisherman and flooding, and the beaver just said,

“Fuck it, I’ll do it myself”

Beaver Steals Booze

Posted by heidi08 On April - 10 - 2014Comments Off

‘Beaver’ tries to steal drink from nightclub, doesn’t do very well. The hunt is on for the Swansea beaver

(Picture: Oceana Swansea / Facebook)

Criminal mastermind this person is not. The fancy dress costume-wearing individual was captured on a nightclub’s CCTV after leaning over the bar and grabbing a bottle before making a run for it.

Unfortunately he or she only managed to escape with a bottle of blackcurrant squash worth about 60p.

For video of the escape visit here. Would a beaver steel alcohol? Not until there’s a vodka made of fermented willow!


business cardsWhen I went to the salmon conference, I brought along the new wooden business cards a friend had made for me at NightOwl Paper Goods. They were a dramatic hit and everyone was scrambling for the information to buy their own. I thought I would mention this good news to the owners of the company while unobtrusively asking for a donation to the silent auction at this years’ beaver festival. She wrote this morning with the good news!

CaptureThank you so much for your very sweet email! We appreciate your referrals tons! We’re happy to hear that your cards have been a hit and we’d be delighted to send some goodies your way for the auction.  They’ll be on the way to you shortly.

 Have a hoot at the festival!


If you’ve never seen their adorable works of art, go give yourself a treat. Thanks NightOwl!

International Beaver Day – From NY to AZ

Posted by heidi08 On April - 7 - 2014Comments Off

International Beaver Day

From Beavers:Wetlands and Wildlife

April 7 was chosen as International #BeaverDay because it is the birthday of pioneering naturalist and wildlife advocate Dorothy Richards. She was born on this day in 1894 in Little Falls, NY and founded Beaversprite Sanctuary just upstream near Dolgeville, NY. She lived well into her 90s, and she would have turned 120 this year. You can order a copy of her inspiring autobiography, “Beaversprite: My Years Building an Animal Sanctuary,” from BWW’s website.

Nice! A great day to  remember Dorothy and the good  work beavers do. Of course, when I see reminders of beaver day I honestly think to myself, “Just a day?” Our beavers celebrated Beaver day by not showing up last night OR this morning. I’m sure there are many, many cast parties for them to attend, but a little visit would have been polite.

It was rumored into my ear that the trailer for the beaver believers movie would be released today. Sadly, there is nothing so far. I imagine Sarah on the floor in her film closet with a pencil behind her ear buried  in Final Cut making last minute changes. Maybe later today? Until then enjoy this lovely film from Arizona of Walt Andersen from Prescott University. I think Walt needs to be a Worth A Dam friend very soon.

BS With Highest Honors, Wildlife Biology, Washington State University, 1968
MS, Wildlife Biology, University of Arizona, 1974
PhD Candidate, Resource Ecology, University of Michigan, 1976 (all but dissertation)
Walt is an expert in field identification of plants and animals, in teaching ecological concepts and natural history, and in group dynamics. He has written manuals for tour guides and safari guides for clients. He co-founded the West Butte Sanctuary Company and founded the Sutter Buttes Naturalists, which evolved into the Middle Mountain Foundation in the Sutter Buttes of California. He was one of the pioneers of ecotourism in the US and internationally (led first US ecotourism trip to national parks of Brazil, first trip to Madagascar for major donors of the World Wildlife Fund, etc.). He also has experience with publishing and is a compulsive and detail-oriented editor. In addition, he is a wildlife painter and illustrator and has published hundreds of photographs in many places. He loves using his images and words to interpret nature for audiences of any size.

Wanna Be-avers

Posted by heidi08 On April - 6 - 2014Comments Off

This morning started with a power outage and the usual slow dawning of understanding what that means – Ohh no power in this room either, no heater, no computer, no router, no clock. In case you’re in the beavers neighborhood, reading this on your phone, this is what PGE says:

Outage Details START TIME:APR 6, 4:07 AM
CAUSE:Unknown – PG&E is investigating the cause.
STATUS:PG&E is assessing the cause at the outage location.

Back on at 7:05. So lets talk about muskrats with this article from Jim Mcormac from the Dispatch in Ohio:

Muskrat deserves love as vital vole of wetlands


I just have to love any article that starts like this:

In the beginning, Kitchi-Manitou, creator of Earth, populated the lands with the Anishinabe. After these original peoples descended into conflict and war, Kitchi-Manitou flooded the lands in retribution. Nanaboozhoo was the sole survivor, along with a handful of animals. One of them was a muskrat. From their log ark, Nanaboozhoo sent the muskrat diving below the floodwaters. It returned with a pawful of earth, and from that the lands were re-created.

— Ojibway legend

I’ve written natural history columns for The Dispatch for a decade — more than 160 pieces on almost as many subjects — but never about the muskrat. Given its prominence in creation lore, an essay on the “earth diver” is overdue.

 Although muskrats resemble beavers, they are only distant relatives of the much larger rodents. The muskrat is related to mice and voles, and is essentially a supersize aquatic vole.  A hefty muskrat might weigh 4 pounds; a big beaver can be 70 pounds. Beavers also have a horizontally flattened tail, while the muskrat’s is laterally compressed, as if compacted in a vise.

Muskrats are an important cog in wetland ecology. They are prolific grazers of aquatic plants and help to keep marshes open and free of choking growth.  Semiopen marshes usually support greater animal diversity, including waterfowl. The lodges literally support ducks and geese, which sometimes nest atop the domes.

To which I KNOW the wetland-giving beavers would reply, “You call that biodiversity?” Hrmph!