Archive for the ‘Festival’ Category

Beavers high and low

Posted by heidi08 On March - 8 - 2015Comments Off

Polish beavers scale new heights

 Poland’s sole high-mountain national park gets its first-ever beaver colony, the park rangers said on Tuesday. The beavers, which have so far limited themselves to scouring the foothills of the Tatra mountains, have scaled the slopes up to the level of 1,100 metres above sea level this winter.

 This marks the first time that rodent engineers have been spotted this high. “These are pioneer climbers,” among beavers, ranger Marcin Strączek-Helios is quoted as saying.

 The rangers are yet to see the beavers with the naked eye, but the effects of their presence have been obvious since October. Felled trees with trunk perimeter of 10-20 centimetres blocked the Palenica stream near the famous lake of Morskie Oko, creating a pool of water 1.5 metre deep and 10 metres wide.

 Two animals, thought to be international migrants from Slovakia, have been caught on camera. The exact size of the colony is yet to be determined.


Tatra National Park boasts views like this, a high peak of 8100 ft, miles of rivers, waterfalls with oohs and ahhs from grateful tourists but is probably best known for its over 650 caves.Many of which are open to the public, including the world famous Demänovská Ice Cave and the breathtaking Demänovská Cave of Liberty.

All of which made me think about the entirely new idea of beavers in caves.

Think about it. Beavers aren’t very keen on eyesight, they live mostly in the dark anyway, have thick fur coats so they won’t mind the cold, and spending 3 months in a frozen lodge can’t be all that different from spending  a year in a cave. Of course I had to go looking to see if such a thing ever happened. And what do you think I found?

CaptureEureka! Not only does that make total sense and suggest our Polish friends might be thriving in caves, it also explains the ANCIENT mystery in my mind of how beavers can coexist with alligators, which being reptiles are cold blooded and need more sun than their dam-building neighbors.  You can read the rest of the Florida article here, but suffice it to say that the next explorers in those Polish caves shouldn’t be at all surprised if they see this:

b min caLast night we met Danielle from the Academy of Sciences down at the beaver dam. She is writing an article for their new longer web format and had talked to Michael Pollock earlier about beavers and salmon. She said she hadn’t been lucky looking for beavers in Yellowstone but her luck changed in Martinez. She was rewarded with a happy adult sighting and very surprised to find out that beavers were BIG. After she headed home to Oakland mom and kit popped out to say goodbye. A good beaver evening, and thank goodness day light savings is over and we can see them earlier.

Great people do great things for beavers!

Posted by heidi08 On February - 10 - 2015Comments Off


Need something beavery to do tomorrow morning? There’s still time to sign up for Joe Wheaton’s webinar on Beavers and Climate Change. Offered in combination with the Grand Canyon Trust and Utah State University, you know I’ll be there and it will be a dam good time!

Beaver and Climate Change: Free Webinar

They are the West’s most savvy water engineers. Here on the Colorado Plateau, ground zero for climate change, we humans have a lot to learn from these furry creatures.

What Can Beaver Teach Us About Adapting to Climate Change and Building More Resilient Systems?

FREE WEBINAR February 11, 2015 10 -11 a.m. MST

 Utah State University fluvial geomorphologist Joe Wheaton studies rivers and the changes we humans – and beaver – bring to them. Joe and his colleagues observe, map, and document what happens when rivers are fortunate enough to have beaver, both here in the West and around the world.

 In this 1-hour webinar, Joe will share what he and others are learning from beaver, explain where and how their dams interact with climate change, and take your questions.

Go here to register, and pass it on!

Now it’s time for our awed thanks to our Martinez resident talent Amelia Hunter who has outdone herself yet again on the poster image for the 8th beaver festival. I don’t know  about you but that might be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Note mom’s tail. This is the first painted image of a beaver getting a tail ride on the entire internet. I’m expecting it to inspire a Canadian coin design next year.

 2015 oval

Original artwork by Amelia Hunter
New festival

Beaver Pioneers

Posted by heidi08 On January - 21 - 2015Comments Off

Nice find this morning from Rickipedia who came across this article from 1983 showing that human settlements were chosen because of beaver landscaping. I would follow where the beaver colonized, wouldn’t you? They proposed that beaver were essential in determining not only water course, but deforestation that allowed both farming and rancing to begin. Read full article here:

Homo sapiens or Castor fiber?

This article shows how environmental evidence for European stone age fore st clearance may require  re-interpretation, and that change need not be attributed only to climate or man. Observations in North America and Europe show the beaver to be a significant agent of land transformation. The authors suggest that both hunters and farmers took advantage of the opportunities thus presented, and a few hints are provided about their detection and the implications for the Mesolithic and early Neolithic of north-western Europe. 


Now something really delightful to mark your day. I just wish we were all invited to the party of Mr. Knuckles. But who knows? What do you think they’ll do with this invention after the party’s over? How about a tax deductible donation to a certain beaver festival?

Stars, indie films and a mechanical beaver: What to watch for at the Sundance Film Festival

And Canadian coat company Moose Knuckles is hosting a party where guests are invited to ride a mechanical beaver. (If that doesn’t scream photo op…)mb-001Ooh, Scary.

A final word of welcome to stalwart beaver hero Rusty Cohn from Napa who generously volunteered to learn in the following weeks how to post photos and articles on the website to take over for me during the conference, when I’ll be sans wifi.  It’s harder than you might think to do this every morning, but Rusty has some great stuff to share and I know you’ll be in good hands. Just giving you a heads up in case he decides to start practicing any time soon.

Thanks Rusty!

Did someone say they found a GIANT beaver?

Posted by heidi08 On January - 20 - 2015Comments Off

Stanley Park’s Lost Lagoon beaver ‘friend’ urged to stop

Someone has been removing the wire mesh that protects trees in Vancouver’s Stanley Park from beavers, and the Stanley Park Ecology Society would like them to stop.

 The society uses the mesh to protect large trees near Lost Lagoon, so they won’t be gnawed down by the busy pair of beavers that live there.

 ”The idea is there’s no way that a beaver, as industrious as they are, would be able to take that [wire mesh] down,” said Brian Titaro, conservation technician with the Stanley Park Ecology Society.

The Stanley Park Ecology Society’s Brian Titaro shows the wire mesh used to protect larger trees at Lost Lagoon from beaver teeth. (Chris Corday/CBC)

 But some human appears to be trying to help out the beavers, said Titaro. The ecology society is regularly finding the wire tree-protectors — which are installed using pliers — removed and dumped in the water, where other wildlife can get stuck in the mesh.

Ahhh, this story sounds very familiar! How many times has Jon hauled down to painstakingly wrap a tree only to have the wire removed and tossed down stream by some well meaning passers-by? There needs to be a waterproof sign on all these fences that say “This wire is protecting our beavers’ lives! We love them and you should too!” Because I don’t care where you live, 10 chewed trees in any park means 5 dead beavers down the road.  It’s inevitable.

Onto BIGGER stories. No really, I mean it this time. AP isn’t exaggerating at all.

7ea763c3fae97b76e97ea5ea9626c970da9833347a05ae691fc48360412d6fc2Sweden’s Luleå carves spot for giant beaver

The icy artwork is both a sculpture designed to be admired by visitors and an attraction for children – each animal includes a giant slide each year so that children can play on it.

Asked why he felt his work was so popular, Eglund told The Local on Tuesday that it was because it was “both art and a playground”.

 The local tourist office was more enthusiastic about the artwork.

 ”It’s such a nice tradition,” said Karin Åberg, communications manager for Visit Luleå.

 ”The sculpture is something that helps people who are living in Luleå to appreciate winter time and every year it is attracting more and more visitors.”

My goodness! How much would you love THAT at the beaver festival! Sweden is awesome. That picture alone makes me weak in the knees. And the idea that it has a slide for children to play on is stunning! I’m sending this to Bob Rust and FRo right now. Maybe I can contaminate them with ideas,

Onto our own not-so-modest festival ideas. How much do you want one of these? I learned this technique from a youtube video. Did I mention the internet is amazing?

new tail

Keystone Species tail project: Wildlife Pins by Mark Poulin.

Pin the tail on the beaver!

Posted by heidi08 On January - 11 - 20152 COMMENTS

Let’s say, (and why not) that you’re an eager child at the beaver festival who wants to do the keystone project again. You’re thinking to yourself, I wonder what it will be this year, necklace? Bracelet?  You march to the info booth and say that beavers eat leaves and build dams and that Heidi lady gives you something new.

tailshapedEverything changes, especially with beavers!” she explains. “We’re not doing the charms this year”, she adds.  Instead she hands you a beaver tail made of burlap. “All around the festival at the different exhibits there buttons you can pin to this tail to fill up the Keystone arch and show how beavers make a neighborhood.” “You will earn the buttons by learning how beavers help each animal, because that’s what KEYSTONE SPECIES means. They make all this possible”.

Heidi passes you a laminated card. “This will help you learn how beavers help us, and if you have questions, the people at the booths can make sure you understand.” The card shows how dams lead to bugs, which get eaten by fish and birds, which get eaten by otters and mink and bigger fish. There are pictures so it’s pretty easy to understand. “We aren’t telling you where the buttons are this year.  Think of it like an Easter egg hunt. You have to look in every booth and find them, but when you’re all done, you will know a lot! And your tail will look like this.

Keytone species project 2015

“The buttons are yours to keep. Bring the laminated cards back to me for someone else to use. Then we would love you to take a short quiz to help us show that this was a good idea and tell what you learned. Put the quiz in this box when you’re done with your mom or dad’s phone number. At the end of the day two quizzes will be chosen at random and the winners will get a beaver kit puppet to keep. Thanks for your help, go show off your tail and teach someone else what you’ve learned!”

arch assembly

Honestly, how cool is that?

This free activity for 150 children is the subject of a grant application to the Fish and Wildlife Commission of Contra Costa County. But don’t worry, even if they turn us down we are doing it. The genius behind those lovely button designs is this man, Marc Poulin from his downtown studio in Oakland. Go right now and  look at his designs, because he has made a million things you will want to buy.


And before you ask, calm down. This project will be available for adults to do too, for a small fee.

Town Rallies to Save Beavers in Connecticut

Posted by heidi08 On December - 7 - 2014Comments Off

Essex Beavers Will Live Another Day

Thanks to an outpouring of opposition from local residents at the Dec. 4 Essex Conservation Commission meeting, the beaver family that has currently taken up residency at the Viney Hill Brook Park, will not, as originally—and controversially—decided by the commission, be trapped and drowned.

Upwards of 150 residents, young and old, filled the meeting room at the Town Hall, ready with written statements and heartfelt speeches about why the beavers should be allowed to live freely at the park
“The beavers were here before people came in; it’s more their land than ours,” said 11 year-old Jack Simon who attended the meeting with his mother Laura Simon, a representative from the United States Humane Society.

The elder Simon explained that she would be more than happy to work with the town to come up with a viable solution that doesn’t involve trapping the beavers.

“There are simple alternatives such as wrapping the trees and painting the trees,” Simon said. “These are great community service and boy scout projects.”

This is just the kind of story we love best to hear at beaver central! John Ackerman was a resident who started asking questions on the beaver management forum a while back. I gave him all the advice and inspiration I could, but honestly, I needn’t have bothered. John is apparently adept at being creative and engaging on behalf of beavers all by himself!

“I think we should let the beavers do what they do best, build dams and create wetlands,” said 13 year-old Essex resident Jake Klin. “Viney Brook swimming hole was a mistake for humans, but great for the beavers. Please don’t drown the beavers.”

 “I personally would like to see the beavers stay. I think they can be lived with,” said former first selectman and current State Representative Phil Miller.

 “Instead of being negative about the beavers, why don’t we see them as an opportunity for education? They are a keystone species in Connecticut. We should be working with them not against them,” said resident Megan Schreider, who works at the Denison Pequot Nature Center in Mystic. “This town instilled in me my love of nature growing up and I hope it continues to that for future generations of children. Keeping the beavers alive is one way to do that.”

When I read something like that I am so excited I can hardly stop grinning. The town will bring in Mike Callahan to review the situation and make recommendations. And public works will start wrapping trees. Congratulations John and the people of Essex! You did something extraordinary and should be enormously proud of yourselves. I almost wish Martinez could go back in time and save our beavers all over again! Fantastic work. The meeting wasn’t filmed or photographed unfortunately, but I’m sure this is what it looked like.


sonomabirdingNow it’s bird count morning! Tom and Darren will be busy in the field today with the first of their two highly successful bird counts for kids. If you miss this one, you can still catch the 18th. In the meantime if you need to remember who they are the photo from the beaver festival might help. Tom and Darren have helped us get our footing every step of the way,  They have made sure to include us on many of their ground-breaking events, the Duck Stamp art show, the Optics and Nature fairs. the celebration of the wilderness act in California. Tom and Darren won the John Muir Conservation award last year, and have been invited to Canada and Washington D.C. to implement their ideas. we couldn’t be prouder of them or their friendship

Christmas Bird Count for kids

Calistoga families looking for a fun, outdoor activity that doesn’t involve a ball, but does involve a little math and education, may want to consider the Christmas Bird Count for Kids this winter.

There will be two nearby opportunities for citizen scientists to take part in the National Audubon Society’s Annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC). On Sunday, Dec. 7, a CBC will be held at Connolly Ranch in Napa, and on Sunday, Jan. 18, a CBC will be held at Sonoma Community Center in Sonoma.

 Tom Rusert and Darren Peterie of Sonoma Birding launched Christmas Bird Count for Kids (CBC4Kids) in 2007.

Asked and Answered

Posted by heidi08 On November - 30 - 2014Comments Off

CaptureI came across this yesterday for the first time and was immediately intrigued. Daniel Dietrich is a Daniel Dietrich: Point Reyes Safaris &emdash; professional wildlife photographer and NPS volunteer who has started this safari to help determined visitors from all over the world get the most out of their Pt. Reyes visit. All day Safari’s are 10 hours from sunrise to sunset and include pickup, lunch, water, and all the photography advice you will need to capture Daniel Dietrich: Point Reyes Safaris &emdash; the views. They aren’t cheap either. A full day safari for two will cost you 595.00. Which is still a lot cheaper than a trip to Africa, and is sure to leave you with a mantelpiece full of memories.

So you guess what I did.

I wrote Daniel about the animal missing from the Marin landscape and mentioned that we were working Daniel Dietrich: Point Reyes Safaris &emdash; hard to bring it back so he could photograph it soon. Then told him about our beaver festival and the silent auction we use to fund it. I asked if he’d think about donating to the silent auction at the festival.  He wrote back enthusiastically that he had heard of the festival and wanted to photograph our beavers soon. He would love to support the work we were doing, but was mindful of his expenses and new business. He wasn’t sure if he could donate as much as a safari but wanted to help. I told him I thought a 2 for 1 deal would still be hugely popular with this particular crowd and he said for sure he could do that, maybe more.

Now it’s up to you to save enough over the upcoming 8 months to bid on this Safari and make yourself a part of this immortal landscape. Pt. Reyes is a magical place and the rich loamy soil practically hums when you walk across it. If it doesn’t need beavers I can’t imagine a place that does.

The other thing I did yesterday was write the photographer from Ohio, Scott Stolensberg, and tell him I loved his photograph in the YP News. I asked for permission to use it. Let’s hope he says yes because I really like this.


Beaver photo: Scott Stolensberg. Image: Worth A Dam