Archive for the ‘Festival’ Category

The Best of ‘Times’

Posted by heidi08 On July - 23 - 2014Comments Off

bay nature ad

 Martinez: Beavers in festival spotlight


MARTINEZ — A segment of Martinez’ wetlands will soon be teeming with life, along with its myriad microorganisms, lush foliage and robust array of fowl and creatures that are already present.

 The public will once again gather Saturday, Aug. 2, to celebrate an ever-expanding family of beavers who play a key role in creating such diversity — from one end of the food chain to the other — at the seventh annual Beaver Festival, featuring live music, wildlife exhibits from throughout the world, children’s activities and tours of the beavers’ environs.

This is a very good article. Not only does the author, Jennifer Shaw get the details right on the festival, she nails them remarkably on BEAVERS in general. The only thing this article is missing is photographs. Maybe they’ll be in the print version? But maybe there wasn’t space with all Jennifer’s awesome words. I’ll add some. Go read the whole thing. (The CC Times has a very bad habit of only keeping the article viewable for a month, so I’m making a backup right now.)

This year, an Amtrak train car of folks will be part of the coterie of beaver fans, as a retired curator of aquatic biology at the Oakland Museum of California — and self-proclaimed “chief creek snooper” at Flow Back in Time — helps to open their respective eyes about the eco-vibrancy of creek life.

straight train

Christopher Richards will lead the group out to Alhambra Creek’s inlet to put into context just how an industrious group of sleek-coated beavers have stabilized creek banks, decreased flooding risks through fostering the growth of the natural riparian vegetation, and assisted in restoring the natural function and hydrology of the stream.

 ”(Beavers) are the productivity, the agriculture for the critters in the creek,” he says, citing the beavers’ habitat as an illustration of how “we can manage, neglect or restore creeks in the urban Bay Area landscape.”

That should get some attention! I hope it gets picked up by a paper on the other side of the tunnel! In the mean time a huge round of applause for Deidre Martin who made the entire thing possible. She brought her children to see the beavers last summer and the furry ingrates didn’t even show up! But she decided then and there to contribute.

Deidre Martin, a San Francisco resident and volunteer natural sciences docent at the Oakland Museum, is among those beaver enthusiasts who will board the Wetlands Express, already championing the sanctity of this native animal.

 ”We need to dispel the notion of beavers as pests … They’re a keystone species. They create habitat for other animals,” she says.

Can I get an Amen? Deidre came to our planning dinner and was a delightful contributor -and that night she got to see the beavers before catching the train home.  A San Francisco resident, Deidre first heard of our beavers from Kate Lundquist of the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, and decided she needed to come see for herself.

Jennifer also talked to Worth A Dam pillars Cheryl and Fro.

“They’re a family unit. They all work together,” says Cheryl Reynolds, a Worth A Dam board member, describing the beavers’ lodge-dwelling digs, vegetarian diet, and their average 35-pound size.

kit and mom

New mom and Kit – Cheryl Reynolds

And, Pleasant Hill resident and artist Frogard Butler will once again facilitate a hands-on, experiential learning opportunity for the younger set.

tailssewn tails

 Young artists will be making leather, textured, crisscross-patterned beaver tails in three sizes — adult, yearling and kit — and decorating them. Some participants have been known to return to the festival, sporting attached beavers tails.”

I love to see how everything comes together. I sure hope this article seeps outside the Record, But shhh this is my very favorite part!

 The Martinez resident quickly segues from cute descriptions to basic science, always lobbying for the beavers that play a key role in creating the overall health of the ecosystem.

 ”The beavers are changing the invertebrate community; they’re forming nooks and crannies; and constantly moving mud,” says Perryman, noting that different insects flourish at different elevations of the terrain, and thus account for an ensuing “fish bloom,” and a greater diversity of birds.

I love segueing from cute to science! And I ADORE being called a beaver lobbyist. Let’s face it. When she’s right, she’s right.

Welcome to the ‘Hood

Posted by heidi08 On July - 17 - 2014Comments Off

I give up. It’s impossible to prioritize or organize today’s beaver news into  one well-rounded serving. I’m just going to have to lump them together like a very disorganized (but tasty) potluck. Enjoy. Of course I’ll start with what’s most important:

City installs pond system to offset beaver activity

So as part of the city’s Beaver Management Program, two pond leveling devices were installed on July 9 in two beaver dams located near the Augustana Campus by 48th St.

 Two 20 feet long High Density Polyethylene, or HDPE, pipes were installed through the dams to allow water to flow through the ponds. The pipes are placed at a level that will allow water to balance out between the ponds. Each end of the pipe has a cage made from hog fencing to ensure blockage will not occur.

 The devices are the first of their kind to be installed in Camrose.

 “Essentially, it is a piping system that acts like a syphon,” said Glynnis Hood, associate professor in environmental science at the University of Alberta – Augustana Campus, who is spearheading the project.

 “Anytime the water gets above the level of where the pipe is placed in the dam, the syphon system starts to work and keeps the water at a consistent level rather than having the pond flood above its banks,” Hood said.

Hurray for Glynnis and her merry band of [burly] students! Hurray for Camrose and flow devices in Alberta! And Hurray for beavers who will stabilize that stream and improve conditions for fish and birds.

Hood added that her research shows the leveling system will result in significant time and monetary savings because there is less need for ongoing maintenance compared to traditional methods such as a dam removal or beaver trapping.

 Each pond levelling system cost approximately $600 in materials and about $200 for labor.

 Hood said, “It seems like a large initial cost but what we’ve found is that very low maintenance is required thereafter and it makes up for the rental of a backhoe which is about $200 to $300 an hour, not to mention the staffing that goes into it.”

 The new pond leveling system will also allow the ecosystem to thrive as there will be fewer interruptions to the area in the form of dam removals.

 Hood said, “The beavers can stay. They tend to just pack more material on top of the pipe and that actually helps our installation because it protects the pipe even more. These devices are designed to keep the pond intact, albeit at a lower level than beavers probably want them to be.”

Dr. Hood is one of the brightest stars in the beaver firmament. Every time I read about her successful persuasions with science I get a glorious feeling that one day we might actually cross the finish line. In the meantime, we still have some laps to do in our Martinez relay. Audubon enjoyed a very successful field trip last night and we have a festival to plan.

Debossed charms in silverThe brochure is finished (Thanks Amelia!) and the  charms are done (Thanks Mike!). I had a great interview with the CC Times tuesday and we are in Patch today.

Beaver Festival VII Coming Soon to Martinez

The Seventh Annual Beaver Festival in historic downtown Martinez is set for August 2, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Beaver Park, at the corner of Marina Vista and Castro Streets.

Bring the family to this free, unique Bay Area landmark event.

 The Beaver Festival features live music, wildlife exhibits from seven counties, children’s activities and beaver tours.

 Learn how and why every city should co-exist with beavers. The first 100 children earn a Wildbryde charm necklace.

 Everyone will find something special at this one-of-a-kind celebration of local nature and its most famous grassroots civic success story! To learn more about Worth A Dam (, follow this link.

Thanks Patch! Oh and just in case you wondered about DEFRA, England is still woefully stupid, but their feet are getting closer to the fire. The story was on British TV last night and  in Indian newspapers this morning.

But, don’t worry, the English aren’t always foolish. This, for example, was a brilliant decision.

London Celebrates The Monty Python Reunion By Putting A 50-Foot Dead Parrot In Potters Field Park

Go read the article, it’s that fun.

Oh and today just needs this, I can tell.

Bits and pieces

Posted by heidi08 On July - 7 - 2014Comments Off

Good job team beaver, the Beaver Believers project is now fully funded, which means we can all look forward to a fantastic beaver-lovin film in the near future. In the mean time I read that the Taipei zoo is celebrating its first beaver kit birth ever, and you can just imagine the rich concrete life this little guy is going to have!

Young beaver

A North American beaver pup, born at Taipei Zoo on June 19, plays in water in this undated photo. It was the first reproduction of the species at the zoo. Photo courtesy of Taipei Zoo July 7, 2014

We just finished reading a detailed response from expert beaver rehabber Cher Button-Dobmeier to the Alberta Wildlife Rescue about how kits need to have water they can fully immerse in to drink and urinate – and that if they don’t they will hold it in and get UTI’s which are a one way ticket to worse infections and possible death.

(And I for one, know that to be factually true!)

The map for this year’s festival is done and it took three days to finish with a million changes and details during which I greatly hated everyone in the world including beavers. So if you happen to notice that I spelled your name wrong or you can’t possibly be next to those people, I would think very carefully about drawing it to my attention.

2014 map

And something for beaver cheer this morning we look to the brits, who are so delightful when it comes to loving wildlife. Even if DEFRA is evil.

“Tussocky and Clumpy!” -  imagine that on an american program!

Behind the scenes…

Posted by heidi08 On June - 28 - 20142 COMMENTS

Do you happen to remember a post I wrote about the old woman getting her pig over the stile? I drew a parallel between the elaborate manipulations she had to go through make it happen and the dramatic conundrum of putting together a beaver festival. You probably thought I exaggerated?

I had a dream this year of amplified sound that could be heard all over the park just like a real event. Wouldn’t it add cohesion and joy to the event? I asked the city for electricity and was told that whatever power lurked in the park to control sprinklers and operate night lights was not for us to use.

Never mind, undaunted I found portable solar generated power that we could rent and talked them into making an affordable contract with us. Then, feeling excited and proud of myself, I went looking for someone to handle the audio. My first choice was obviously the talented John Koss who had donated the audio service for Earth Day for more years than either of us can count. But he’s a richly talented man who does theaters and events all over the south bay and I wasn’t holding my breath.

To my delight John said YES and agreed to add the Martinez Beaver Festival to his long list of events. GREAT! I introduced John to our rep at the solar company to figure out exactly what they needed. Then I told all our musicians the good news. I was so excited!

Not so fast, little girl.

The whole thing ran into danger when the solar company suddenly said our event insurance needed a special rider to protect their property and the company handling  our insurance said such a rider would cost us an extra 1000 dollars!
CaptureFortunately, the head of ISI stepped in (Dr. Loren Cole) and gallantly said that in 37 years of organizing events he’s never heard of a rider being required. After that challenge the insurance and solar company were able to sit down and work out some mollifying language in our existing (250.00$) event policy that the city requires us to hold. And it’s official. We will have amplified sound this year at the cost of s 200.00 rented solar truck.


Then our talented charm designer Mike Warner of Wildbryde gave me a scare. He’s a very busy man and his ouzel tags are getting more popular every day. When he finally had time to work on our designs and pricing, I was alarmed to se the figures were twice what we paid last year! When I asked about the cost jump he said that a lot of his labor had been  donated before and he was now too busy to give us the same deal. Ack!

To make matters worse the charms used to be totally paid for by a grant from Kiwanis, but Kiwanis’ new rules meant we got a smattering of donation from them this year. We brainstormed about pricing and he was eventually able to cut some corners and offer us slightly fewer charms for about the same price. Since this year we’re doing silver tone I spent yesterday counting up our old silver charms which should be able to round things out a get complete sets for 120 kids, 25 adults and all of Worth A Dam.

Whew again!24683-art-toolThere were sadly many more of these but their resolution was too pedestrian and tedious for even me to write about here. Suffice it to say that when I wasn’t at my real job or solving a crise du jour I was watching this several times during the week.

Surprised, she reaches in her apron pockets and finds a tiny crust of bread which she lays in front of the mouse. He nibbles appreciatively, then agrees. And after all that asking the mouse begins to gnaw the rope. and the rope begins to hang the butcher, and the butcher begins to kill the ox, and the ox begins to drink the water, and the water begins to put out the fire, and the fire begins to burn the stick, and the stick begins to beat the dog, and the dog begins to bite the pig, and the pig decides to finally go over the stile…

 And that little old woman really does make it home that night!

Unexpected Allies

Posted by heidi08 On June - 23 - 2014Comments Off

Today’s Beaver Benefits Report comes from Alabama (no, seriously). I could have predicted it’s cons list, but I was surprised by the pros. I don’t know why, Alabama is the state where fish and wildlife heavily fined the city for destroying a beaver dam and ruining the home of the rare watercress darter!

Outdoors notebook: Beaver — friend or foe?

Beaver ponds range in size from less than 1 acre to more than 100 acres, depending on topography and the availability of food sources. Beavers will use and expand a pond area until the food supplies are exhausted. Once constructed, the benefits provided by the pond are numerous and include the following:

 • Furnishing snags for cavity-nesting wildlife species.

 • Supplying fallen logs, which provide cover for reptiles and amphibians.

 • Providing essential edges and forest openings.

 • Supplying diverse moist-soil habitats within bottomland forests.

 • Benefiting productive bottomland forests.

 • Improving downstream water quality.

 • Providing watering holes for agricultural and wildlife needs.

 • Supplying important breeding areas for amphibians and fish.

 • Providing diverse wetland habitats.

 • Furnishing feeding, brood-rearing and resting areas for waterfowl.

How awesome is that? Of course it goes on to describe why you might still need to kill them but  remember it’s ALABAMA and we’re grading on a curve!


Beaver Evenings at Martin Mere

Also Friday was the first of summer Beaver Evenings in Martin Mere, which is a wetland trust with beavers in Lancashire England.

Later this month (20 June) is the first of the special beaver evenings at Martin Mere where you will get the chance to spot the beavers and find out more about Twiggy and Woody.

 The event is £15 per person, including refreshments and starts at 7.30pm. As you have to remain quiet and still in the hide it is not suitable for young children.

 If that doesn’t sound classy enough, check out the ‘blind’ from where you observe the wetlands without letting your presence be known:

Friends of WWT Martin Mere Harrier Hide
This Hide provides a good view over the new Woodend Wetlands. These wetlands, formerly Woodend Farm, were used for intensive crop cultivation, this has been turned into a wetland area.

Is it just me? Or are you imagining a huge beaver structure replacing the footbridge for us to watch everything undetected?


Last night there was a planning meeting for the festival. I can’t tell you how surprising it was to see so many new faces volunteer for so many varied jobs and create a community. Jeanette made the trek from Auburn because she wanted to help at the festival after seeing the beaver documentary! Our new manager of financial at ISI came down from Santa Rosa, and the folks watching the beavers in Napa came down as well to lend their considerable enthusiasm to the task. Bob Rust and his wife was there with creative good ideas of a giant ‘tail slapper’ that could splash in a pool and cool the children while educating about beavers. Deidre came from San Francisco and talked about putting together the guided train journey from Oakland. And Lory, Jon and Cheryl were there doing the valiant dependable work we could not survive without.

Afterwards there was dinner and jubilant conversation and a trip down to see the beavers in person. Where they were treated to 3 yearlings and mom but no baby sighting. It was an unexpectedly cohesive night, that felt like the perfect launch to our 7th ever beaver festival. I couldn’t help but think of a scene like this, except with people jumping up from the crowd saying “I’ll make the costumes” and “I’ll make the popcorn” and “I’ll ask my father if we can use his old barn!”

(Note: With this clip you have to substitute the word ‘folks’ for the word ‘beavers’, and the word ‘welfare’ for ‘fish and game’ and your almost there!)

The Gem State’s real gem

Posted by heidi08 On June - 18 - 2014Comments Off

The next big beaver struggle won’t happen in Whistler or the Adirondacks – it is starting right now in Idaho. The issue is trapping on public land, and the playing field is constantly growing. Monday I chatted with Mike Settel in Pocatello who is planning the first ever Idaho beaver festival to teach folk about how and why to live with beavers!

He’s working for a 2-day event in September on USFS land that is focused around music. A beaver dam jam! It will have exhibits and booths and hikes to various beaver sites. Of course the location used to be the site of actual beavers, but they were killed by trapping. I told him he needs signs saying “this is where the beavers aren’t.” and “this is where there are no big fish because the beavers aren’t here to maintain their dams anymore.” You get the idea. He is planning to have folks take a pledge not to harm the beavers if they go on a hike to an active lodge.

We talked about sponsors and  crowds and restrooms and event insuranc; about art projects, jam contests, adult quizzes, raffles and maps. We talked about allies and helpers and I made sure to give him the most valuable tool of all that has sustained me lo, these many years.

Remember that Mike isn’t a lone voice in the wilderness. He got a 5000 dollar grant last year from Audubon for doing a beaver cont, and found 75 volunteers to help him make it happen. There’s the Lorax and his merry men, Ralph Maughan who wrote about how the Idaho fires would have been lessened if there were enough beavers on the land. And don’t forget this columnist from the Idaho Statesman:

Ask Zimo: Beavers are common in Idaho, but seeing them is rare

 Q: My mom and I were at the family cabin in Garden Valley this weekend when she noticed an unusual rock that turned out to be a beaver. We were very surprised by the sighting and wanted to share the photos. Wondering if this is a rare sighting; we’ve never seen wild beavers anywhere.

 TAYLOR TODD, via-email

 A: Beavers are not rare in Idaho, but seeing them is rare. That’s because they are nocturnal. Consider yourself lucky to get photos of one during the day. That’s great.

What a critter. Beavers are considered one of the most important animals for the ecosystem.

 The neat thing about this busy animal is its work in rehabilitating streams, the brushy areas along waterways and for creating wetlands that are important for fish, waterfowl, reptiles and other wildlife. Their work in building dams helps slow down runoff and preventing erosion.

 I love fishing a creek where there are beaver dams and pools hiding brook trout. That’s some of the best fishing around.

 Good point! I can’t think of many better selling points in trap-happy Idaho than mentioning that living beavers make conditions that sustain more fish, duck, otter, mink and moose. I’m not a fan of trapping because I generally think it’s easier to take a life than to make one, but if folks will respect the voice of a trapper who became a dedicated beaver believer, I suggest they read this:

collier He started with two beavers, a dry, over-trapped landscape, and a whispered directive from a crazy native grandma. If you never read this book, you really should. Buy a used copy or read it online here.

Wonderful things…

Posted by heidi08 On June - 14 - 2014Comments Off

Fantastic new promotion this morning for the beaver festival from our friend Sarah Koenisberg of the Beaver Believers. It will get your toe tapping and your incisors chomping at the bit for this year’s festival. Feel free to share.

Martinez Festival 2014 promo from Tensegrity Productions on Vimeo.

Another great article this morning from Cows and Fish in Canada

Beaver dams can slow the flow of water and cool it for fish to spawn. Sediment can also reduce the speed of water during a flood. | Mary MacArthur photo

Beavers can help protect waterways

Natural water management | Studies show that ponds with beaver dams had more water during periods of drought

PRIDDIS, Alta. —

Rempel helps manage the 4,800 acre Anne and Sandy Cross Conservation Area. He said beavers should be part of a holistic conservation plan on the former ranch south of Calgary.

The ecology groups Miistakis Institute, and Cows and Fish, collaborated to reintroduce beavers to the watershed in 2011.

“Wherever habitat is suitable, beavers change the watershed,” said Lorne Fitch with Cows and Fish, the Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society.

 The change can be good when beaver dams and ponds increase groundwater, slow the flow of water and cool it for fish spawning, he said at a May 29 workshop in Priddis.

 Sediment captured by beaver ponds broadens stream valleys with rich soil deposits over time. Up to 6,500 sq. metres or 382 tandem truckloads of sediment can be stored in each pond.

Beavers build ponds in a stair step style that can change the land gradients and reduce the speed of floods.

Good job Western Producerr! But honestly do we really require any more research to know that beaver ponds have more water in drought conditions? Honestly? Maybe we should also do some research on it being harder to see through a doorway when the door is closed? And children preferring jellybeans to green beans? And the canine inclination to rely on olfactory stimuli for information rather than social media?

Oh never mind. It’s a good article and we all start somewhere. Go read the whole thing here.

Meanwhile, did you hear the great news in downtown Martinez? We were one of the 20 winners in North America of the Benjamin Moore contest to repaint downtown.  Sauciey’s bakery made a cake-sized replica of main street to celebrate. Guess what they included?

Martinez one of 20 cities in North America to get Benjamin Moore free coat of paint

MARTINEZ — It really is exciting to watch the paint dry on Main Street. That was the consensus when a crowd gathered to celebrate a colorful face lift for downtown.

 Martinez is one of 20 cities across North America chosen for a free, fresh coat of paint by Benjamin Moore & Co.’s Main Street Matters program.

 The public, local notables, business owners and shopkeepers joined Benjamin Moore executives for a full-blown party with music, balloon bouquets, drinks and a remarkable cake.


Martinez News Gazette – cake and baking team.

Saucie-cake-beaverSee that little ally in between the buildings? It’s the best part:

“It is the pinnacle part of the celebration,” Theresa Doolittle, owner of Saucie’s Bakery & Cafe said about the eight-foot long cake replica of Main Street Martinez, garnished with edible wetlands, a beaver and trees.

How delicious! I hope you save that piece especially for the mayor!

Come to think of it – maybe it would be better if he didn’t even notice. He just might send down Dave Scola to re-frost it?


 (WGN in Chicago no long has this clip in their archives- but don’t worry. Heidi always will. Do yourself a Saturday morning favor and listen again.)

Great beaver viewing last night – but no baby sightings. At one point we were closely inspected by three beavers who came to the other side of the flow device near our bank to investigate!