Archive for the ‘Festival’ Category

Celebrate Beaver Day

Posted by heidi08 On July - 30 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Is this what it looks like when you dominate the news cycle?

 Nature photographer chronicles Martinez’s urban beavers

Suzi at workMARTINEZ — The city’s renowned downtown family of beavers has caught the rapt eye of a nationally acclaimed wildlife photographer, who has been capturing their comings and goings for several weeks.

 Suzi Eszterhas, who has followed elephants in the African wild and penguins in Antarctica, has turned her lens to the lodge the beavers have built in Alhambra Creek — her first time photographing wild animals in an urban setting.

Capturing the Martinez colony’s quirky behaviors, distinct personalities and ingenuity has been a creative cornerstone for Eszterhas.

 ”It’s a lot easier to photograph lions in Kenya,” she said, referring to the beavers’ inherent illusiveness and shyness.

Yet they performing their nocturnal activities next to a busy bar and eatery, with motorcycles vrooming by, and the public viewing them from several bridges over the creek.

“These beavers are coming back to their home and tolerating us being here,” said Eszterhas, a Petaluma resident. “We have this unique window to see into the lives of these creatures … There’s this oasis of peace in the midst of chaos. Not all species can do that.”

 Eszterhas, whose images of the Martinez beavers will be published in an upcoming issue of Ranger Rick, a children’s nature magazine, has donated one of her wildlife photographs to this year’s silent auction at the eighth annual New festivalWorth a Dam Beaver Festival on Saturday, Aug. 1.

The annual festival — started as a way to “throw a party for (local beavers) to make it harder to kill them,” says Worth a Dam’s executive director Heidi Perryman — has become a nexus for wildlife advocates and artists to congregate and network.

Thanks Jennifer Shaw! The article shied away from using these excellent photos, but did talk to artist Mark Poulin and promote the festival nicely. All in all we can’t complain about media coverage this year. I’m hoping that will translate into abundant attendance potential. And that folks will think of beavers differently for a while.

Here’s a wonderful story about a smart man whose mind doesn’t NEED changing one bit.

Beaver tales: Alberta homeowner enlists local wildlife to engineer a dam

Pierre Bolduc’s background as an aeronautical engineer and Hercules C-130 pilot wasn’t enough of a resume to prepare him for the task of constructing a pond next to his Alberta property.

He’d made a few attempts to build a dam over several years, but after a downpour washed out his latest earthen structure he turned to nature’s expert dam builders, a family of local beavers, to do the job right.

 ”There were beavers living further down the valley that had been building dams at a culvert running underneath a dirt road,” says Bolduc, who lives on an expansive property near Bragg Creek, about 50 kilometres southwest of Calgary.

Bolduc reckoned that the gentle lilt of running water played from an outdoor sound system placed above the intended site would attract the animals to the location where he wanted to build the dam. His neighbour, a sound engineer, offered to mix a CD featuring an appropriate aquatic aria.

“I don’t know what the sound of rushing water does to the psyche of a beaver, but based on the results I witnessed, I think it could inspire them to build a dam right in the middle of a sandbox,” he says.

“They went straight to work.”

How much do we love this story! And Pierre for that matter? I’m not as convinced that the sound brought beavers (otherwise every waterfall would be cluttered with failed dams) so much as his own failed dam gave them a good base to work from. But, never mind, I am crazy about this way of thinking and it provides a nice way to show what beavers are good for.

Since labour was being provided at no cost, Bolduc provided them with plenty of free food and construction material. He cleared poplars located on his property that might eventually grow to interfere with power lines. He then placed the cut logs to float in the rising water around the dam construction site.

 ”I gave them so much wood that they soon developed a 20-beaver condo,” he says. “They built an absolutely huge mansion and a powerful dam.”

The dam was completed in the summer of 2014 and Bolduc’s pond slowly expanded to a body of water measuring about 175 metres by 200 metres. The pond has since become home to numerous trout and the water has attracted muskrats, nesting loons and moose to the property.

This article makes me insanely happy. I already heard from several beaver folk that are deeply jealous they can’t let beavers build a pond where they live. Let’s hope Pierre starts a fad among land-owning engineers. He might,  just look at his next goals:

While he’s satisfied with the pond, Bolduc is breaking out his rushing water CD and outdoor speakers for another construction project, courtesy of Castor Canadensis (the North American beaver).

“There are new neighbours along the valley and when I want to visit them, I pretty much have to drive the distance to their place,” he says. “If I place those speakers just right, by next year I should be able to canoe to the neighbour’s house.”

calvin-and-hobbes-laugh

The Sun Also Rises

Posted by heidi08 On July - 28 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

CaptureThis was what I had been anxiously waiting for. Turns out I was nervous for no reason at all. Thank you Sam Richards for writing something so kindly and thoughtful. I promise no money or beaver merchandise exchanged hands.  A beaver festival article will follow on Thursday. I’m posting the whole thing here and on my mother’s refrigerator, but please CLICK on the link so they know you read it okay?

‘Weekend project’ to help local beavers turns into labor of love for Martinez woman

By Sam Richards

MARTINEZ — Heidi Perryman had no idea her “weekend project” was going to last the better part of a decade — or have such wide impact.

But creating public awareness of the importance of beavers to the ecological health of the streams in which they live and championing the toothy rodents that have made Alhambra Creek an unlikely destination for environmentalists has become almost a second career for this 49-year-old child psychologist and lifelong Martinez resident.

 She takes pride in the degree to which she and those whom she has influenced have spread the message that beavers are good for the ecosystem. She also knows the work is far from done.

“It’s constantly surprising to me how successful we’ve been but also how much subtle backlash there continues to be,” said Perryman, who remains a driving force behind the local Beaver Festival, its eighth annual edition happening Saturday.

The festival has grown from a small gathering of 200 in 2008 (“We figured it would be bad to kill the beavers if we had just had a party for them!” Perryman said) to an event that drew more than 2,000 visitors last year to the small open parcel — called “Beaver Park” by some — adjacent to the creek, a stone’s throw from the Amtrak station.

My goodness, what a fantastic start to an article! Sam asked so many questions about me, the beavers and the community they inspired I didn’t know what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect this.  Honestly, this article is much nicer than I deserve. I was really just hoping it wouldn’t make people LESS likely to come to the festival.   (Although, I’ve heard a rumor that a certain Martinez cabal meets for breakfast every morning downtown to discuss city plans for the day. I would dearly love to be the fly on the wall when they see this in their morning paper.)

  Perryman said she was walking downtown in 2007 when she ran into a friend who told her beavers had recently migrated to Alhambra Creek. “I thought it was funny, and I came down to see them,” she said.

 Not so funny was learning the beavers were going to be killed, as downtown property owners feared flood damage caused or exacerbated by the rodents’ dams.

She then joined the Martinez City Council’s “beaver subcommittee,” diving into what had become an emotional, divisive debate.

“Heidi was less excitable than some of the people on the other side of that issue, which was a good thing,” said City Councilman Mark Ross, who favored researching the matter.

Perryman has been credited with leading the drive to research the impacts of urban beavers, both good and bad, on their surroundings.

Harriett Burt, a former Martinez councilwoman, initially wanted the beavers gone, fearing flood damage to nearby buildings. But she said the research done by Perryman and her fellow Worth a Dam beaver advocates turned up viable options for preserving the beavers when official sentiment was going the other direction.

“She was clear, competent, articulate, well-informed and thorough,” Burt said. “She did have to win me over, and she did.”

The Worth a Dam group, she added, forced the City Council to look at other solutions.

There are three things I’m proudest about in my work on the committee, keeping my temper (most of the time), convincing Igor Skaredoff and Mitch Avalon that beavers are good for creeks, and persuading Harriet Burt that Beavers could belong in Martinez. I’m so happy he talked to her and she was kind enough to give such a quote. Harriet was my vice principal in middle school and the mayor of Martinez when I got my last degree. She was the planning commission forever and welcomed us when we bought this old house downtown. This really means a lot coming from her.

While Perryman had to stand up to beaver opponents, she also had to get to know their advocates.

“She knows how to engage other people who are themselves involved with that issue and make them all part of the same coalition,” said Igor Skaredoff, who since 1990 has been a member of Friends of Alhambra Creek.

In an effort to coexist with the paddletail swimmers, the city employed a version of a flow device, called by its inventor Skip Lisle the “beaver deceiver.” It’s a plastic pipe that carries water under the beavers’ then-main dam between Escobar Street and Marina Vista. It ensures the water level behind the dam never rises too high and that the beavers can’t tell water is getting through, which could send them into a damming frenzy.

Perryman said that now, seven years after the “beaver deceiver” was installed, the beavers appear to have finally realized the deception. That’s probably the biggest reason their main dam is now several hundred feet farther downstream, adjacent to that small park near the train station.

“Seven years, I would say the ‘beaver deceiver’ was a success,” said Perryman.

There are no plans to move the pipe to the new dam, as any flooding there would only inundate an adjacent floodplain and not endanger buildings.

Oooh nice PS for the council, “don’t worry about the new dam, Everything will be fine”. Could there be a better fortune hidden inside this cookie?

Walking slowly one recent morning onto the footbridge, using a cane, Perryman looked out over a creek more alive than eight years ago, an ecosystem largely restored. More fish, plus muskrats, river otters and other species, come (and go) now almost certainly because of the beavers’ activity, Perryman said. They stir up the creek bed, exposing insects and other creatures, which attract the fish that eat them.

The fish, in turn, attract otters and mink, which also have been sighted. Even the largely vegetarian muskrats eat some of these critters. The beaver dams also help keep more water in the creek longer, lessening local effects of the drought on surrounding trees and plants.

But there’s more to do; on the Worth a Dam agenda is work to change California fish and game laws to allow relocation of beavers to where they would be a good ecological fit.

Perryman also wants to continue to be a resource to the other beaver advocacy groups; their numbers are growing, and such units from San Jose, Napa and Lake Tahoe are expected Saturday at the Martinez festival.

The festival and the beavers themselves have helped give Martinez a little publicity. There are bumper stickers and T-shirts touting “Mtz. Beavers,” and those who gather on that footbridge are a mix of locals and out-of-towners.

“It’s rare to find a beaver dam so close to a parking meter,” Ross said.

HEIDI PERRYMAN Age: 49
Hometown: Martinez
Claim to fame: Child psychologist who fought starting in 2008 to keep beavers in Alhambra Creek; lead organizer of Martinez’s annual Beaver Festival
Quote: “I thought I’d work a day, or a weekend, on helping the beavers. But it really sort of took off.”
 MARTINEZ BEAVER FESTIVAL VIII
When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Marina Vista and Alhambra Avenue, downtown Martinez
Cost: Free
Information: www.martinezbeavers.org

HeidiWhat a wonderful article, Sam Richards. I am totally grateful AND relieved. The child in me is pretty proud, so I’m including this photo of young Heidi showing off my crafting talents with a “little house on the prairie inspired” corncob doll while camping. 

One thing that didn’t make it in was the fact that I gave a TON of credit to the people of Martinez who marched to that meeting and demanded to live with beavers. And to the beavers themselves, who oddly decided to live in a very public area where people could see and care about them.  Maybe he thought I was just being humble, but they really deserve the credit. Honestly, save this article for my eulogy. I am way prouder of the beavers than my dissertation. (The article says so exactly what I secretly wished it would that I am weirdly worried that something terrible will happen now.)

What the heck. This poem-alteration seems totally fitting this morning. (Apologies to Leigh Hunt.)

 
I saved beavers in our creek
Kept them safe from traps and trials
Whatever else I couldn’t do
They were spared the city’s wiles
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad
Atheist among believers
Say I’m getting old but add
Add that I saved beavers

Passing the beaver-chewed baton…

Posted by heidi08 On July - 27 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

lory quizFor more years than we can count, Worth A Dam’s own Lory Bruno has been the steam engine behind the festival’s silent auction. Helped endlessly by her husband Ron, the pair have been pretty much solely responsible for its successes, which involves tagging and grouping the items, hauling and handling the display and sale, and making exchanges for late pickups after the festival.

 This year Lory officially retired her gavel and asked for some well-earned rest. We had to get several hard-working people to take her place. Deidre Martin, who arranged the amtrak journey last year, is taking on the bulk, along with the help of Napa’s Robin whoauction-pritchards-cabinet-of-curiosities[1] generously agreed to manage bid sheets, Erika, who will help with display throughout the day, and Pam from ISI who will help with sales. I, of course did my usual begging and spreadsheet and Jon will handle transport and late exchanges later.

Yesterday, Deidre, Jon and I went through the auction items and tagged and grouped them with the bid sheets. 126 items from some 40 states and 10 countries valued at 5700.00.  Here’s a look at some of the items that will be offered.  From jewelry, adventure tickets, fine dining, and paintings, books and puppets.  You won’t believe your eyes. There’s even a gift basket from a family at Pixar that will keep your children or grandchildren busy all year. wordle

IMPORTANT:

One new rule this year should appeal to the affordably impatient. Find an item you LOVE and pay the full value to take it anytime during the day. Remember many of these items are unique, and one of a kind. Avoid the wait and the suspense while you donate to a great cause. Honestly, I don’t think you will find a better grouping of beaver-friendly merchandise anywhere. 

Nobody tells you

Posted by heidi08 On July - 21 - 2015Comments Off


Nobody tells you when you decide to save some beavers that things are going to change dramatically. I mean, how could they? We’re just talking about a handful of rodents, and the whole thing will be over in a few weeks. Or months. It’s harder than you expect. A lot harder. So you try to make the job a little easier by starting a non profit to carry the load and throwing a festival to tip the scales in the public eye. You imagine that it’s  like planting a tree, lots of tending for the first 6 weeks or so and then it will lay down deep tap roots and tend itself.

Nobody pulls you aside and says, listen kiddo, you’re taking on something really, really big. I know it seems like fun now. But it will take less time than you think to completely transform the way your life looks. Down to the last detail of when you wake up, what’s in your living room  and who you talk to. And you have no idea how much of you it will consume. Honestly.

And then there are these vibrating crystal days like Monday, where the first thing you do in the morning is connect with a favorite reporter who wants to cover the festival, the button project, and the importance of having a major wildlife photographer on hand to teach other people about beavers, and as the day unfolds you arrange a meeting with her editor who wants to profile your work in a feature before the festival, which is really, really good. While you’re finishing the display board for the jewelry in the silent auction, you find you have to repair a blunder you made while trying to be polite that ended up causing possible harm to people you never met, and after you fling about trying to correct the harm, you get reassured by the people who noticed the mistake in the first place that everything is fine now. the mini-crisis actually made two different forces connect that were unaware of each other and that could turn out very, very good for beavers. Oh. Okay, then. Meanwhile you manage to wheedle three companies into arranging their service for the festival more conveniently for your needs without a surcharge, call the printer about the brochures, confirm the fiddlers and the solar unit, and contact everyone you know with children about Saturday.

And finally, when the mail arrived it has a grant from Martinez Kiwanis.

I realized in the buzzy hum of yesterday, that there are parts of all this work I like.  There are parts of all this that feel just right. Like I’m using every conceivable piece of whatever talent I might have in just the right way. The funny thing is that there are days like today in my professional life, when you spend all day on the phone with CPS or Probation and have to talk your way up the ladder to get your patient into a different placement, or into the hospital, or blessed with another chance. But those days, when they come, are unbelievably draining. Maybe not in the moment, but afterwards. I always feel later like I could sleep for a week. Maybe because someone’s life is at stake and in the moment you are the only one who can help.

It’s all very different. But familiar.

Anyway, I’m off this morning for an interview with the editor. I heard last night that  Suzi had an excellent conversation with the freelance reporter, Jennifer Shaw, who wrote the great article last year. So I’m expecting another wonderful feed to the festival this year, and a great reminder in the public eye about the importance of beavers.

Which is the point.

falling_grand_piano_cd_cover_by_kvirtanen[1]

Whenever there’s a good day like yesterday a part of me crouches in panic that something awful is coming. I’ll let you know if it does. But for now I have to do a thank you note for Kiwanis. They have been so very good to us over the years! I have said before and I’ll probably say again, that all the nice people in Martinez belong to Kiwanis. (Aand all the other ones belong to Rotary.)

 

Kiwanis

For Immediate Release

Posted by heidi08 On July - 13 - 2015Comments Off

CoverBeaver Festival VIII features free wildlife pins by Oakland artist

Keytone species project 2015Worth A Dam is pleased to announce that the first 150 children attending the Beaver Festival on August 1st, 2015 will be able to collect 19 wildlife pins designed by Oakland artist Mark Poulin and purchased with a grant from the CCC Wildlife Commission. The activity will highlight the new wildlife seen in Alhambra Creek since the beavers arrived, and emphasize their role as a Keystone Species. The artist was pleased with the project, saying

“I was so excited to find out that we had beavers in the Bay Area, and a group protecting them, celebrating them,and doing education outreach about them.”

The beloved annual festival will feature live music, beaver tours, children’s activities, and more than 40 ecological booths. Initially a response to the controversy regarding the beavers, the festival has become one of the largest and best attended wildlife events in the state.

This year in particular there’s a lot for beaver-fans to celebrate, as acclaimed wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas has been photographing the Martinez beavers for the past two months in preparation for a feature in NWF’s Ranger Rick. This award-winning children’s magazine promises to be perfect place to show case the famous Martinez Beavers.

bioCollageAlthough she has worked with Cheetahs in the Savanna, and Penguins in the Antarctic, Ms. Eszterhas had never seen anything quite like Martinez where she was forced to contend with trains, traffic, homeless, and, she says “one unexpected proposal of marriage.” Despite the urban hazards she was thrilled with her assignment and adds,

“Working with the Martinez beavers has given me a special, up-close view of a mysterious animal that is often shy and elusive. It has been privilege to watch the family live out their fascinating lives right in downtown Martinez! I applaud Worth A Dam and the city of Martinez for their work in being a model for coexistence.”

You can hear all about the visits, bid on her books and more at the silent auction, learn about wildlife or just find about more about the beavers by joining this year’s Annual Festival. Come learn how one city improved its creek by solving a problem humanely. It promises to be a ‘dam’ good time!

Details:

Beaver Festival VIII – Sponsored by Worth A Dam August 1st, 2015. 11-4
“Beaver Park” in down town Martinez.
Tours, wildlife, exhibits, and live music. Contact 925 283-4499
FESTIVAL PROMO:
Website: www.martinezbeavers.org

I released this yesterday to the media winds. So far only patch has picked it up. Fingers crossed it makes its way around the bay. The festival’s a lot of work whether people attend or not, so it’s more worth it when we’re PACKED.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Posted by heidi08 On July - 7 - 2015Comments Off

JWSPust learned that our tree-planting Watershed Steward Interns will be helping with the festival by distributing our buttons to exhibitors, explaining the activity, and generally helping kids to make sure they all know what to do. I’m so excited! California Conservation Core at the Beaver Festival! The city may have pulled up their trees, but they’ve done nothing to remove  their support!
Capture1The Bay Area Family Calendar is the hot spot for finding schools, camps and what to do events in the summer. I registered our beaver festival and the director wrote me back offering to feature the event if we hosted a link on our website. Even though this site doesn’t host any ads, or get any funds from promotion, that seemed like a great trade for a time limited event, so check it out. We’re listed on the main page, third one down!

CaptureCaptureThe trade is they get a logo and link on our festival page, and maybe you can click on it here and show that we’re worth trading with. This along with our Bay Nature Ad and our Watchable wildlife listing should help get the non-locals curious. Then I’m hoping for a nice article in the Gazette and the Contra Costa Times again….fingers crossed our event will be elbow room only!

Bay Area Family Calendar Logo

Did you know there’s a Martinez in Georgia?

Posted by heidi08 On June - 19 - 2015Comments Off

It’s true. My niece actually lived there for a while. I think they pronounce it differently.

Worth A Dam’s retired librarian friend BK from the University of Georgia has contributed to this website in countless ways over the years. He’s sent me scientific articles that show beaver value to wetlands, pointed out the ones that omit the necessary beaver but should include it,  and he’s helped me correct many a typo over the years. I introduced BK to our friends from the Heron Preserve in Atlanta and I believe they actually watched local beavers together.

Yesterday I heard from his wife, who said two awesome things. They had been asked by their church to give a children’s program on beaver as a Keystone Species. Did I have ideas for activities they might include. (Do I? What a great question!) AND they were planning a 5 day trip so they could attend the beaver festival this year! That’s right, 2618 miles across country specifically for our festival!

How exciting! I think I might implore them to send the mayor a note. :-) We would love to have BK and Mrs. K in person! I can’t wait for the future day that we see announcements  for the beaver festival they’re holding one day in Georgia!

To celebrate, here’s some cheer from the Australian News program “the Project”. Back story: the city of Beaver Dam WI just made a law that kangaroos can’t be comfort animals.

Carrie Bickmore’s embarrassing ‘beaver’ slip-up on The Project