Archive for the ‘Educational’ Category

Busy as a you know what!

Posted by heidi08 On April - 26 - 2016Comments Off on Busy as a you know what!

We are FINALLY paintbrush-ready on the mural project. Mario will come today to start priming, but tomorrow there are supposed to be thunderstorms so more delays are imminent. I’m just happy the city was able to finish all the contracts, waivers and ryders necessary to undertake the dangerous painting of a two foot wall of concrete. Hurray for beavers not giving up!

about timeThe timing works out well enough because on Wednesday I’m back to the SF Waterboard to talk more about urban beavers! New folks heard my talk was so good they wanted it too so I’ll be with strangers on a different floor than last time. I think I’m ready, but it’s a little harrowing going to that tall building and through security on yet another rainy day!

waterboardsAnd it never rains but it pours, because I just got the event flyer for Portland, which looks amazing. The final PDF will have working links and go out soon. But I thought you deserved a preview. In between events I’ll be talking to Kiwanis and watching our Mural unfold. And then it’s time to start getting ready for the festival! Isn’t that exciting?

portland flyer

Helping the Helpers

Posted by heidi08 On April - 22 - 2016Comments Off on Helping the Helpers

Tomorrow is Earthday Birthday celebration at the John Muir Historic  site and the AWARD WINNING nonprofit Worth A Dam will be on hand to answer beaver questions and do a fun beaver activity with the children.  Here is a noble volunteer demonstrating said activity.IMG_0768IMG_0770


Now usually our activities are run by a handful of loyals who form the backbone of Worth A Dam. But this year  two of our core members are literally out of state, and FRO has gotten so busy being an artist that we only get her for the festival, so I got a little panicky and started asking for help. I asked Deidre of Oakland who runs the silent auction at the festival. And she was doing another event in the morning but was happy to come in the afternoon. Then I thought of these charming girls and their hardy grandma. They have been beaver supporters since the very beginning, know everything about them, and even asked about doing a children’s booth at the next festival. Here they are on the footbridge after watching Jari Osborne’s “Leave it to beaver’ documentary on PBS. They will be helping in the morning with their intrpid grandma!

Not fully staffed yet, I thought I’d reach out to Caitlin McCombs of Mountain House.  She was very interested in learning about how to help and agreed to come all day! She even had the courage to be exited about it! So I felt pretty confident we could carry the day off well.

It never rains but it pours, they say. Yesterday I got an unexpected message from someone I never met who’s a student at UCB ‘naturalist’ program named Leslie. She lives in town, works for the city, and wondered if she could help in preparation for a presentation she’s giving in May that needs a service component. Surprisingly, she is coming to help us unload and staying all day tomorrow.

Well, okay then.

I figure if we end up with more volunteers than actual children, I’ll talk April and Alana to being undercover agents and get them to recruit.  Or just pretend their doing the activity and having ENORMOUS fun and make other kids come investigate. So it will all work I’m sure.

Or, we can leave it all to their capable hands and Jon and I can just drive to Reno. :-)

Just to keep us all on our toes, there was another dramatic story of a beaver attack yesterday. This one from Latvia. It hasn’t received multiple reports yet, but I’m waiting.

Beaver attacks Latvian man, who couldn’t be helped because police thought his report was a prank call

Inna Plavoka, editor at the local Seychas daily newspaper, told Latvian Radio 4 that the man, who was referred to only as Sergei, was walking outside late at night when a beaver ran up out of the bushes and bit him in the leg. Knocked to the ground, he tried to get up and run away, only to be bitten again.

The beaver then stood guard, refusing to let him get up. In the words of the Latvian Public Broadcasting report: “The beaver was in effect holding Sergei hostage.”

Sergei attempted to call police for help, but was hung up on because they believed he was making a prank call. So he then tried a friend, who also believed him to be joking, until Sergei finally convinced him he was in peril.

Then the beaver was holding him HOSTAGE and he couldn’t get away. His friend sped to the police to get help and was pulled over for speeding. When he told them what he was doing they thought he was drunk and asked him to submit to a breathalyzer.

I think I’m drunk just because I’m typing this BS.

So a beaver, leapt in the to attack a TWO MEN, bit one twice, and then HELD that man hostage?  And the police didn’t believe it because it was unbelievable? And the article reports its true but only manages the first name of Sergie? I find myself unable to offer a comment on this claim. I’m going to have to rely on my good friend Monty to help.

Those Nobel Prizes are a SMOKESCREEN

Posted by heidi08 On April - 20 - 2016Comments Off on Those Nobel Prizes are a SMOKESCREEN

Beavers Returning to Sweden’s Capital Can Be a Dam Nuisance

Walking along the Swedish capital’s famous shores and canals, you can see its presence in the gnawed trunks of large willows, surrounded by fresh wood chips, and the stumps of damaged trees cut down with chainsaws.

The Eurasian beaver is back.

Though the furry urbanites had an ideal base to explore the city, it took decades for them to get established in Stockholm.

“From the late ’90s to 2011, we didn’t see very [many] beavers … about three or four a year in the whole Stockholm area,” says Tommy Tuvunger, who, as Stockholm’s viltvårdare, or game warden, is tasked with keeping tabs on the city’s wild residents. 

In the last four years, “the population has exploded.” 

But the beaver boom has a negative side: The rodents have done extensive damage to the city’s trees.These teeth-carved trees are a safety risk, especially in a city with so much green space. 

“People are going there with small children, walking dogs, jogging,” Tuvunger says, adding that a gust of wind could bring a weakened tree down on someone.

In addition, there have been two reports of beavers biting people in Stockholm—one of which occurred after a man took a picture of the animal with his phone.

In their efforts to keep the public safe, Tuvunger and his colleagues have shot about 10 beavers over three years. (See “Killing Wildlife: The Pros and Cons of Culling Animals.”)

“Keeping a very low profile, we use silencers, so the public don’t know what were are doing,” he says.

 Surprised GirlThat’s right. Arguably the smartest country on  the entire planet, that takes it upon themselves to hand out awards for the most brilliant scientific minds across the globe, kills beavers for chewing trees with a SILENCER because they can’t possibly discourage chewing by wrapping them and they don’t want to upset the public.

It’s not surprising that Stockholm’s beavers have bounced back, the experts say.

“Beavers are like all rodents—they are really good at reproducing. If they have a good environment and good opportunities, they do well,” Jennersten says.

If the sight of Castor fiber swimming around in central Stockholm is the ultimate proof of success, Hartman is heartened by this latest chapter in its comeback story.

I’m tempted to hate the author of this story very much, but when I read those sentences back to myself it occurs to me that he might be deliberately not getting in the way of the Swedes making themselves look bad. Not because he agrees with them – but because Mr. Owen assumes the public won’t. You know, kind of like that famous Sarah Palin interview.

Anyway, this was an annoying way to start the day, which is already  annoying because of the unecessary mural delays and the first reviews coming back on the urban beaver chapter – one of which edited MY section with a red pen and said it was “Poorly worded“.

Hrmph. Poorly worded!

Lets cheer ourselves with some good news, shall we?

Poplars popular with Seine River beavers

 The beaver is one of the few species on Earth that modifies the environment to suit its needs. Unfortunately, the beaver’s needs sometimes bring them into conflict with people — especially in cities.

Beavers cut down trees for one reason — survival. They use large branches to build dams across streams. This creates a beaver pond, where the water becomes deep enough for the beaver to survive the winter.  They use some branches and mud to build a lodge. The lodge has a central chamber where they are safe from predators.

 Beavers also eat the trees’ inner bark. They stockpile branches in a food cache at the bottom of the pond. While beaver eat many aquatic plants during summer, their main winter food is the inner bark of trees. Their favourites are aspen, poplar, cottonwood, willow, birch and alder. Beaver do not hibernate, so the pond must be deep enough for them to swim from the lodge to their food cache beneath the ice.

My advice to anyone living near the river is to wrap the bases of the trees that you treasure. A few dollars of mesh can protect your $140 tree. Hardware cloth (with a square mesh) is tough enough to deter beavers.

Don’t wrap every tree. Wrap some of the larger trees and newly planted trees of all sizes. Leave the rest for the beavers. After all, the beaver is a Canadian icon.

This year, let’s celebrate the beavers that share our urban rivers. Take pictures of the amazing river engineer that we commemorate on the “tail” of our nickel. Post them on the Save Our Seine Facebook page. Volunteer to wrap some trees or join the SOS team as a 2016 River Keeper (job posting on the SOS Web site).

Did you know that Winnipeg was smarter than Stockholm? Fantastic article and fantastic idea for encouraging folks to appreciate urban beavers. Now a final piece of better news to cheer those of us waiting impatiently for better days. Jon  took these photos yesterday down stream. Sure starting to look familiar isn’t it?

IMG_0862 IMG_0865

Dam kind words

Posted by heidi08 On April - 17 - 2016Comments Off on Dam kind words

David Scholz of the Martinez Tribune gave Worth A Dam and beavers a very nice article yesterday. The John Muir Earth day celebration is quickly approaching, and we will be there with volunteer help making the RIGHT kind of beaver hats with the kids.

‘Worth A Dam’ to be honored by Muir Association

MARTINEZ, Calif. – More than eight years after one woman spearheaded an effort to address the plight of one fury creature from demise in Alhambra Creek, that effort subsequently generated national interest and has given more attention to the health and welfare of beavers everywhere.

Worth A Dam founder Heidi Perryman. (HEIDI TAING / Courtesy)

Worth A Dam founder Heidi Perryman. (HEIDI TAING / Courtesy)

This Earth Day, April 23, at the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, Heidi Perryman and the organization Worth A Dam will be honored with the Environmental Education Award from the John Muir Association.

TRIBUNE: When was your organization founded and how many members are currently part of it?

PERRYMAN: Worth A Dam was founded in March of 2008. And our core membership is eight. But we have several folks that play an important role and are helpful to our projects.

TRIBUNE: What was your reaction to receiving the honor?

PERRYMAN: Delighted that Worth A Dam could be recognized for showing how and why cities can learn to live with beavers. California needs more “water savers,” not less!

TRIBUNE: How has the perception of beavers changed through the years as a result of the attention your group has given to their plight?

PERRYMAN: The national publicity of the Martinez Beavers showed countless other cities about beaver benefits and how conflicts could be managed. Back when Martinez was first facing this issue there were three websites on the entire Internet about humane solutions.
That was part of the motivation for our website, which had very broad readership. With our help it is much easier to find information about why to live with beavers and how you can.

TRIBUNE: How might the health of beavers be a barometer for the health of the Martinez area creek system?

PERRYMAN: Beavers are one of the hardiest species in the creek. They can manage in places where plenty of other species can’t. The amazing thing is they improve those places to make it more habitable for others.

Founded in 2008 by Perryman, Worth A Dam is a nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to the value, importance and contributions of beavers in the ecosystem. Perryman, through Worth A Dam, focuses her educational approach on the fact that co-existing with beavers ensures the strength of the overall ecosystems of creeks and surrounding areas. Worth A Dam’s co-existence model has been adopted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and, most recently, Napa has adopted the model. Perryman has co-authored numerous published articles regarding beavers. Worth A Dam founded the Martinez Beaver Festival, now in its eighth year, with a wide breadth of wildlife and conservation groups, which helps raise awareness of protecting wildlife and preserving healthy environments and ecosystems.

Well, to be honest when I heard we won my first thought was ‘Sheesh! About dam time’.  And if we’re being honest, Fish and Wildlife has never done anything I wanted except grudgingly send a stack of depredation permits to a FOIA request, not to mention that two articles hardly count as ‘numerous’ but the festival is in its NINTH year so some things he exaggerated and undersold some others, right?

Honestly, this article makes Worth A Dam sound so influential and the recognition of beaver importance so universal that I’m proud to be a part of it all! It makes us seem way more successful than we actually have been.  Of course people are still killing beavers ignorantly and lying about their being no other way all the time. But I take comfort from the thought that –  if we haven’t been able to make things as easy for the ‘good guys’ as we’d like –   we’ve at least made things a little harder for the ‘bad guys’.

And that’s something!

New multi necklace, and this one with a secret message just for California that makes me very happy.IMG_0852IMG_0854



Words with Beaver Friends

Posted by heidi08 On April - 3 - 2016Comments Off on Words with Beaver Friends

12936767_10209561614975959_1889504955645627844_nAlexandria Costello is a masters student st Portland University studying the geomorphic influences of beavers in urban streams. She just came to the geology conference in San Francisco to present a poster session. Then went to Napa to meet Robin and Rusty and walk the beaver habitat. She posted this on Facebook and I asked for a closer look to share. Can I just say how much I love the idea that folks are talking about “urban beavers” at a conference?

urban beaverOh my goodness. I’m intrigued already. Aren’t you? It’s a funny thing to think about the educated, generous, ecologically-minded city of Portland learning anything at all from a stubborn ol’ refinery town like Martinez, isn’t it?

puppetsposterRecognize those puppets? I am so proud of us sometimes. I especially like the part where she says cities in Oregon should invest in similar programs around the state to help people learn about the benefits of beaver. You know like the city of Martinez invested in us with all the funding and sponsoring they did of our message and effort. Haaaaaaaaaa Ha Ha Ha.

Sorry, I just suddenly thought of this comic for some reason and needed to post. I’ll allow Alex to continue.

urban 2

I’m so impressed with this presentation, and with Alex for putting it together. Everyone had a grand time in Napa, and I am so pleased they connected. Apparently even WS is the best behaved it will EVER be in Oregon, under the steadying hand of Jimmy Taylor. I’m so grateful to have contributed to the story with our playful puppets.

While we’re on the topic of the successes of friends, I heard the other day that Wyoming beaver believer Amy Cummings, and Washington advocate Joe Cannon of the Lands Council are headed for an Idaho event sponsored by our beaver friends at Watershed Guardians. The event is cleverly called A Reverse Rendezvous, and is held on the day the trapping season ends. (History lesson: The original rendezvous were gatherings of trappers where massive furs and goods changed hands, and where you could connect with a new company or glean some insights of areas that were trapped out.  There was lots of bragging, drinking and whoring too, I’ll wager. Probably more than a few fights or fatalities, as minimally socialized loners found themselves in a sudden crowd where impulse control was required.)

Anyway, this reverse one is going to be way better.

In the summer of 1826, the American Fur Company set up a small camp in the Powder River basin in western Wyoming to buy furs from various trapping companies and free trappers.  There were gifts, story telling, contests and music.  All to celebrate beaver that had been killed.    We’re going to do something similar but opposite at the Reverse Rendezvous.  On April 15th, 2016, we’ll be doing something similar, but with a twist.  We’ll be celebrating the beaver that WEREN’T killed.  Come join us!

Our story tellers are Amy Chadwick and Joe Cannon.  Amy is an environmental consultant specializing in rehabilitating damaged ecosystems.  Joe  Cannon is  part of the most successful beaver re-introduction program in history.   We are excited  and pleased to have them both.

I’m so jealous I won’t be on hand to hear all the stories. Maybe someone will be taping? Worth A Dam wishes you the hardiest of successes.

Meanwhile, I’m hard at work with an idea for this years festival. Over the years I’ve probably gathered every wonderful graphic, historical image or photo of beavers, now I just need to find some old scrabble games!

pendant 2

Ohh, Did the widdle beaver dam make it hard for your canoe?

Posted by heidi08 On March - 27 - 2016Comments Off on Ohh, Did the widdle beaver dam make it hard for your canoe?

Yes I know I typed ‘widdle’ instead of little. I did it to communicate a certain infantile whining that this article reminded me of. You know the sort, people who rip out a beaver dam and then complain that it slowed them down, even though it was the only thing keeping the water there in  the first place.

Paddlers overcome low water, beaver dam at St. George River Race

SEARSMONT, Maine — In their years of paddling together, Barry and Lori Dana of Solon have overcome plenty of obstacles, and have established themselves as perennial favorites on the local whitewater racing scene.

But the veteran canoeists were in for a surprise shortly after beginning the 37th annual St. George River Race — the first of the racing season — on Saturday.

 “We found a beaver dam, and we got quite hung up on it and we wasted about a minute and a half trying to paddle backward into the current,” Lori Dana explained. “We got out of it by grabbing the beaver sticks and alders along the side and pushing off the bottom to get backwards enough to get our bow around it.”

Barry Dana said he’d heard some chatter about the beaver dam just before the start, but didn’t realize how much of an obstacle it would present.

“[Nobody said] that right around the next corner, a 90-degree corner, you’re going to be facing a 3-foot opening [in a beaver dam], but all of the current’s going hard right,” Barry Dana said.
“I’ve been working against the beaver all week, but the beaver, I think, won,” Cross said. “We try not to disturb the river too much. We try to make it so you can get down through. But this beaver, … is working very hard. Harder than I was.”
Those pesky beaver dams! Not even the three foot hole they cut in it helped enough. I can’t tell you how many times I stood at the dam and watched in horror as kayaks or canoes tried to pass thru the dam by ramming the sticks out of the way. Now that Martinez has no dams (and no water to speak of) I bet they don’t even come.   That’s called irony I guess.
This part of the article also interested me;
“I grew up on Indian Island, Penobscot Nation, and canoeing was life, Barry Dana said.

Guess who else got his start in the Penobscot Nation? That would be Skip Lisle, it was where he invented the beaver deceiver and started his important beaver work. It was ages before he trained Mike Callahan of Beaver Solutions. Decades before he came to Martinez to install our castor master. Small world eh?

Those pesky beavers change so many lives.

Subscribe to all episodes in iTunes here.


Ascending Beaver Stars

Posted by heidi08 On March - 26 - 2016Comments Off on Ascending Beaver Stars

Today is full of inspiration. I couldn’t be happier. We can start with this fantastic story.

After Muskrats Damaged Pond, Beaver Moves In to Make Repairs

Noelker’s parents, the late Walter and Evelyn Noelker, had built the pond some 80 years ago, and the family used to fish in it.

Then a few years back, muskrats showed up and began burrowing holes into the pond bank, damaging it to the point where it was too weak to hold up anymore, said Noelker. A section of the bank gave way and the pond was drained down to just 3 feet or so of water.

Then about six months ago, Noelker — who can see the pond from his house in neighboring Forest Hills subdivision — noticed the pond looked deeper again, back to its original 8- or 9- foot depth.

When he showed up to investigate he found his answer in a row of tree stumps with pointy tips surrounding the pond and a water-tight dam made from those felled tree trunks, other sticks and mud.

A beaver or a family of them had moved in and repaired the hole in the bank that had been created by muskrats.

How much do you LOVE this story? Not only does Mr. Noelker let nature take its course, he also has the good sense to recognize the help the beaver is providing. If I told you to close your eyes and guess what state this is from you’d be right.  The beaver IQ capital of the world: Washington.

“We don’t care that the beaver is here. He’s our buddy now,” Leon Noelker said, smiling.

He rents a cottage on the property and wishes he could see them. We wanna stay! Trust me, they will  be amply visible in the coming fine summer days that seem to stretch forever. Those hungry kits will wake up before the sun goes down and then he’ll be in for a real treat. Muskrats AND beavers!

Every  beaver’s great friend Glynnis Hood is back in the news, this time international.

Beaver Hills area named UNESCO biosphere reserve

Glynnis Hood, professor of environmental science at Augustana Campus, lives near Lake Miquelon and guides students’ research in the wetlands of the Beaver Hills area.

An ecologically rich area of Alberta that is home to a University of Alberta research station and fertile ground for dozens of researchers over the years has won international recognition.

Home to a mix of preserved wetlands, green rolling hills and dense boreal forests, the Beaver Hills area east of Edmonton has been designated as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Biosphere Reserve, under its Man and the Biosphere Programme. The area joins a network of 669 sites in 120 countries that foster ecologically sustainable human and economic development. Researchers from various faculties at the U of A have conducted dozens of studies there over the last 30 years, focused on work ranging from wildlife and outdoor recreation to wetlands and land management.

“It’s a hidden gem,” added Glynnis Hood, an associate professor of environmental science based at the U of A’s Augustana Campus. “Beaver Hills is spectacular because of its subtle beauty. There are ecological surprises around every corner, because you’re not looking for the big features like mountains, but for the small surprises.” One of those surprises is the fisher, a weasel thought to be gone from the area that seems to have a healthy population and is now the subject of a collaborative University of Victoria study involving Augustana Campus.

“The Beaver Hills biosphere offers a rich opportunity to keep exploring questions that are right in our own backyard,” said Hood, who lives near Miquelon Lake and has for years guided students in researching area wetlands. She’s also studied human-wildlife conflicts and is currently researching low-impact wetland management practices.

Okay, I’ll let you guess what habitat-restoring engineer has been working hard to keep beaver hills so biodiverse. I’ll even give you a hint: they named the hills after them.  We are always thrilled to see   the way Glynnis continues to demonstrate their effect on habitat, and our need for wetlands. Now we have UNESCO appreciating her good work as well. This sentence intrigued me.


Last year she and colleague Glen Hvenegaard led the first field course in environmental science and ecology at the Miquelon Lake Research Station, which opened in 2015.

If that name sounds really familiar it should. Dr. Hvenegaard is the author of this paper on the importance of wildlife festivals which is very near to my heart.

Potential Conservation Benefits of Wildlife Festivals

Wildlife festivals promote a variety of social, educational, economic, recreational, and community development goals. As ecotourism activities, wildlife festivals should also promote conservationgoals. This article examines five potential conservation benefits of wildlife festivals which can be generated by providing: 1) incentives to establish protected areas; 2) revenue for wildlife and habitat management; 3) economic impact to nearby areas, encouraging residents to conserve wildlife; 4) alternatives to other uses that cause more environmental damage; and 5) support for conservation by educating local and nonlocal participants. 

Truly a kindred spirit of ours. I’m glad they’re working together to teach the importance of interconnected ecosystems and getting out in them!

A final stunning moment comes this morning from Rusty Cohn of Napa. He used his drone to aerial film the creek and beaver lodge. Yesterday he and Robin Ellison met with the Geography Masters student I met at the State of the beaver conference last year. Alexandra Costello. She interviewed me for an urban beaver paper she’ll be doing a poster session for this year at the upcoming Geography conference in SF. While she’s in the area she wanted to see some urban dams. Robin and Rusty were only two happy to assist. The three had a fantastic visit and really surprised her, because even it’s ‘under construction’ spring state, the Napa dam was still bigger than the urban ones she’d seen in Portland. Those are made entirely of grass and mud, she said, with no sticks.