Archive for the ‘Festival’ Category

A morality play about asking for help

Posted by heidi08 On April - 13 - 2014Comments Off

When I was a child, I envied of the magical cast of adults and big sisters who made stories  emerge from paper, and I couldn’t wait until I could do it myself. The very first book I “read” (i.e. memorized and pretended to read, even turning the pages at the right intervals and scaring the babysitter)  was “The old woman and her pig.”

Even if you don’t think you remember it, I bet you will when I explain. The woman finds a crooked sixpence while sweeping her house and decides to go to the market and buy a pig, but on her way home the new pig won’t go over the stile, (which is a little english  wooden platform that allows people on the public footpath to get thru the gate, but keeps livestock from getting out.) It looks like this.

After trying to push and coax him onto it, she goes to a nearby dog in frustration, asking “Dog, dog! Bite the pig! Pig will not jump over the stile and I shall not get home tonight!” But the dog won’t cooperate. Is this ringing a bell yet? You should be hearing it in your head soon. She goes to a stick and says “Stick, stick! Beat the dog. Dog will not bite my pig, pig will not jump over the stile and I shall not get home to night!”

Of course the stick won’t cooperate either, but she keeps asking for help – first for fire to burn the uncooperative stick, then water to put out the vexing fire, then an ox to drink the  uncooperating water, then a butcher to kill the stubborn ox, then a rope to hang the difficult butcher, and finally mouse to chew that lazy rope.

The mouse is the only one who’s ready to consider her offer. He asks pragmatically “What’ll you give me if I do?”

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!

All festivals

Which, I’m sure you realize, reminds me vividly of what it’s like to organize every single beaver festival we’ve ever had.
And when I look at these together, I can see we’ve had a lot!

International Beaver Day – From NY to AZ

Posted by heidi08 On April - 7 - 2014Comments Off

International Beaver Day

From Beavers:Wetlands and Wildlife

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

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

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

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

Something’s fishy in Taylor Creek

Posted by heidi08 On December - 30 - 2013Comments Off

Attentive readers might remember the ongoing saga of Taylor Creek in South Lake Tahoe. It is off highway 89 between Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake. It was the subject of one of the best beaver dissertations, pointing out how beaver dams in the creek were helpful for preventing silt from getting to the lake. It was also the site of the well-attended Kokanee salmon festival, in which the non-native salmon is famously celebrated. And the naturally occurring beaver dams are removed to protect the unnaturally occurring pretend salmon.

When this was repeatedly pointed out to the good folks of USDA and mentioned in Tom Knudson’s 2012 article, the name was mysteriously changed to the “Fall Fish Festival” and refocused on small native species like that live in Lake Tahoe and its rivers. “In addition to the Kokanee, these species include the federally threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout and little-known smaller fish, such as speckled dace.”Since this coincided with the publication of our beaver nativity papers for the Sierra Nevadas, the issue had some heft and was read written and discussed  in all the local papers.

Things have proceeded at a glacial pace of  supposed progress with their attitude towards beavers, allowing for  some conversations with our beaver friends in the area. Trees have been wrapped but flow devices have been resisted. Dams were originally removed because they ruined things for the pretend salmon,  and now they’re removed because the say they’re worried about the trails. All offers of help installing a flow device to control pond height have been soundly rebuffed.

Sherry Guzzi of the Sierra Wildlife Coalition wrote me the following this December:

I went down the day before, to check out parking and access, and found the beaver dam intact (photo, 12-11-13). When we met the next day the dam had been removed completely (12-12-13). I went back yesterday and the beaver was seen by several people as early as 3pm, and came back out and let me watch him/her for an hour between 4 and 5, while he/she rolled and carried rocks with his/her front paws to start to rebuild a small dam on a side channel. (The FS had destroyed both the main dam and a smaller one on the man-made channel that comes back into the creek from their display.)


 Are we surprised that they waited to do this until the park was snowed in and closed for the season? Of course not. Are we surprised the they waited to do this until the river was iced and the beavers food source was frozen entirely? Sadly less so. Here’s what that little beaver was facing.
P1070510Sherry checked with team beaver about what to do. The ‘change from inside the system’ champions were less alarmed but said they would continue to pressure them. The ‘change from  outside the system’ (Worth A Dam et al) were alarmed and recommended keeping an eye on the beaver and pushing public response in spring, since they seemed unlikely to do more until the thaw.

Yesterday Sherry sent me these. Not only does the beaver have a partner helping him. He has a family.

Here are some reasons why this is a very bad idea for their fall fish friends. To summarize: a shallow streams means ponds freeze solid and the fish you are celebrating, die.

Role of stream ice on Fall and Winter Movements and Habitat Use by Bull Trout and Cutthroat Trout in Montana Headwater Streams Jakober Transactions American Fisheries Society 1998

Winter habitat of selected stream fishes and potential impacts from land use activity Cunjak RA Can J Fish Aquat Sciences 1996

Winter stream conditions and use of habitat by Brook trout in High-elevation Wyoming Streams Chisholm Transactions Amer Fisheries Society 1987

I would consider these a very powerful set of arguments. Heart string-tugging photos to move public opinion and a full quiver of science to begin to change minds.  Good work. Keep us posted. Thanks Sherry and team beaver!


This is what the cavalry looks like in Massachusetts

Posted by heidi08 On October - 19 - 2013Comments Off

Pittsfield solves beaver problem at Wild Acres pond humanely

In conjunction with Beaver Solutions, highway… (Stephanie Zollshan / Berkshire Eagle Staff)

“Everybody in the pool,” Dan Osterander yelled out, as he and other city workers stepped into the pond and installed a fence to keep out the beavers Friday morning. The crew used an excavator to remove twigs and mud that formed the dam.

 They were joined by Michael Callahan of Beaver Solutions, who was contracted by the city to find a humane solution to a flooding problem city officials blame on the critters.

 On Friday, Callahan took 50 paces into five-feet deep pond waters to place a cage that will connect the pipes to where the city has its own dam to control the water.

 Callahan has a thriving business thanks to a Massachusetts law which prevents the lethal trapping of beavers. Any disturbance of a beaver dam requires a special permit.

Looks like our good friend Mike is busily convincing another city that beavers are Worth A Dam. (Although the reporter continues to be under the impression that we would only install a flow device because of the evil 1996 law. Apparently he has failed to notice that beavers can STILL being trapped and killed and cities routinely get permission to do so – even with grip traps if one of nine exceptions are met. Nor has he thought about the fact that if you pay a trapper $500 to take out some beavers one year, and new beavers move in the next year, you’ll pay it again and again, adding up to way more than hiring Mike.)

Never mind. We’re always happy when public works crews have to jump in the water and help someone install a flow device.

The owner of the farm has complained about high water levels at the pond, said Jim McGrath, Pittsfield’s park and open space planner.  The Bousquet Ski Area needs the water for snowmaking in the winter.

 Van Derkar, a Pittsfield conservation agent and former wildlife biologist, said beavers shouldn’t be negatively impacted by the city’s work.

 ”It shouldn’t affect them. That’s the whole goal,” Van Derkar said. “We need to be able to work with them.

Here endeth the lesson.Capture1

When’s the last time you went wine tasting in the Autumn with about 1000 other wildlife lovers? Oh wait, never? Then you should come join us at Cornerstone in Sonoma for the 2nd annual Optics and Nature fair. Worth A Dam will be there with lots of folks you know and some you’ll be very excited to meet. You can learn about lions or owls or beavers, and if you decide to pick up an extra pair of binoculars for junior the optics folks will pay the sales tax.  See you there?

Looks like we made the big leagues!

Posted by heidi08 On August - 7 - 2013Comments Off


Celebrating one of Nature’s Greatest Engineers: The Martinez Beaver Festival

As someone who works to get kids connected to nature and the outdoors, it was heartening to watch this group rush from one side of the bridge to the other to follow the swimming beaver, and shout in an enthusiastic voice usually reserved for a Justin Bieber sighting, “There he is!” And we adults were shouting right along with them.

 Most of the “eager beaver” (sorry-I could not resist) watchers had attended the sixth annual Beaver Festival that afternoon in the area next to the creek affectionately known to locals as “Beaver Park.” Worth A Dam, the non-profit that hosts the event, assembled over forty area wildlife groups to help celebrate one of nature’s best engineers. A documentary film company, Tensegrity Productions, even filmed the festival for inclusion in their series, “The Beaver Believers.”

“We were amazed by the turnout, and heartened to see so many people interested in our resident beavers. Lots of people learned yesterday how beavers are good for creeks and wildlife,” said Heidi Perryman, President & Founder of Worth A Dam.

 That’s right. The Martinez Beavers are  National Wildlife Federation material now. Beth Pratt the author of one of the Wildlife Promise blogs came to the festival and stayed for the evening beaver viewing, where she was delighted by the behavior of both the beavers and the humans. You really should go read the whole thing. That’s the National Wildlife Federation. Wow! Wait until we make the calendar! I can’t think of a bigger compliment for all our hard work, but give me time. I’m sure I can up with something. She even made a movie of what she saw that night.

If you want another view of the day, check out the excellent photos from Ron Bruno who was helping his wife Lory with the silent auction.   Enjoy!

Beaver lost and found.

Posted by heidi08 On July - 30 - 2013Comments Off

Hinterland Who’s Who beaver vignette found in CBC Archives

Two of four iconic mini-documentaries on Canada’s wildlife once feared lost have been recovered from the CBC Archives — the loon and the beaver.The Canadian Wildlife Service created the “Hinterland Who’s Who” series, which had its television premiere 50 years ago.

 The National Film Board produced the public service announcements, but neither organization had copies of the original set. By chance, the footage had been saved by a former CBC employee, who donated the film cans to the archives.

No word yet on whether Canada has re-discovered the part of their brains that once understood these beavers were WORTH A DAM. But authorities are still hopeful.


beavers-rd-norman-cheri-nolandAwesome photo from flooding in Oklahoma. I expect all the rain folks are having won’t change any minds about the threat of global warming. Some were outraged that they weren’t rescued, but honestly, given the state in question, I’m just happy someone reached for the camera before someone had a chance to reach for their shot gun.

Nice photo posted yesterday by our Whitman filmcrew enjoying a chat with Sherri Tippie. They should be on the road again tomorrow towards Martinez!556670_200650673429309_193070306_n

Last day of work at the salt mines before the big day, and thank goodness because five folks emailed whether we would provide chairs even though they didn’t pay for them, the info sheets were ready from the printer, deliveries needed to be confirmed and channel 5 wanted an interview. I’m doing a last ditch presentation to Kiwanis Thursday mostly because we owe them for years of support and then dashing home to meet the folks from Whitman College.

Then its showtime.

Charming in every way

Posted by heidi08 On July - 28 - 2013Comments Off

keystone cropped


The charms for the Keystone Species Activity arrived yesterday, and they’re another amazing job from Mike Warner at Wildbryde. Beautiful and generous as there are extras of everything. Children can earn charms for free with the help of Safari West Junior Keepers, and our stalwart volunteer Erika will help put everything together and make it into a necklace at the linking station. Check out our new beaver and water drop design!  This year we are taking pity on forlorn adults and letting them participate for a pittance of 10 dollars. I can’t wait to see visitors getting quizzed on why beaver matter. If you want to study ahead you can look here.

And as if that isn’t exciting enough, there are new splendors from our friends from Whitman college, this time with Sherri Tippie. They are heading for Martinez next and their podcast might be describing the festival and you!


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