Archive for the ‘Festival’ Category

Last night, on the footbridge, I loved you best of all!

Posted by heidi08 On November - 16 - 2014Comments Off
I love her, in the springtime
And I love her in the fall,
But last night, on the back porch
I loved her best of all!

These shocking lyrics reflecting the moral depravity of our youth were published in 1923, some 89 years ago, before video games and ‘R’ movies. Maybe the fact that our house had already been around for a quarter of a century before the song was recorded had something to do with why, when I went to see the beavers last night, this was the soundtrack I heard in my head.

You see, our kit, (the 2014) model, has been living at Ward Street since August. And I’ve been getting more and more worried about his truant little runaway self. I talked with our experts, who had not seen it before but told me not to worry, advice impossible to follow. Beavers are very social animals, and they need face time with their parents learning beaver things for upwards of 24 months before they’re ready to hitch off on their own.

So guess what I saw from the footbridge last night, with Lory and Jon?

Our twentieth kit, climbing on mom’s tail, crunching on snacks, with 2 or three other beavers! (Maybe even dad?) Swimming, chewing, whining and acting like his little kitself again! I can’t tell you how much lighter our three moods were as we walked eventually back to our cars. The beaver family is together and everything’s right with the world.

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Now that we’re all in good moods, I will show you this treat that I stumbled upon yesterday. Look who has a new website! Now there are three great beaver resources to share with folks who want new ways to solve problems!

Capture

  We are a company dedicated to protecting our land and infrastructure, as well as allowing for creative remedies that improve habitats and end wasteful killing and spending. Our technology and practices are state-of-the-art, and have been employed domestically as well as internationally to mitigate the growing problems presented by the beaver population.

Finally! Skip Lisle’s website has hit the internet(s) running! Complete with great information and awesome photos showing off his skill. Go explore the sight, its lots of fun. I couldn’t be happier, although it was a little surprising to find this:

Skip Lisle offers that rare combination of “can-do” competence, creativity, and courtesy. He ably tamed our beavers with promptness and professionalism. Our California town, Martinez, still fondly remembers the man from Vermont, and his solution to save our Downtown!

Mark Ross
Vice Mayor
Martinez, California, USA

A testimonial from Mark Ross and nothing whatsoever from Worth A Dam? I suppose a vice mayor is slightly better advertising than a child psychologist, but it’s silly to overlook the beavers’ de facto press secretary. Well, the cat’s outta the bag now, I made sure everyone saw this yesterday, its on our beaver links, and in the future I will make sure that everyone knows your skills have a great website to promote them!

Too much good news?Guess what arrived in the mail yesterday. Approval from the Martinez Community Foundation for our grant application for the festival VIII art project! They paid 100% of the amount requested. No fooling, money from Martinez, for the beaver festival. I’m still pinching myself.

CaptureThank you Martinez Community Foundation for helping us teach children about ecosystems at the beaver festival! And thank you artist FRO Butler who will be doing the lion’s share of the work, prepping and painting the canvas, purchasing the materials, and supervising the eager artists. I can’t wait till the whole thing comes together and we can use it at our displays in the future!

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No Beavers in Mars

Posted by heidi08 On November - 10 - 2014Comments Off

I was very worried by this opening paragraph.

There can be fewer more-Canadian endeavours than sending a beaver to Mars, but a Canadian technology company with a Newfoundland connection plans to do just that.

I thought immediately of Laika, the stray dog captured by the Russian to stuff into Sputnik in 1957. They  said she died painlessly in orbit, but it was recently reported in the BBC that she died just a few hours after blast off of panic and overheating.

There was NO WAY I was going to let this be repeated with a beaver. Before I chained myself to a missile, I decided to read the next paragraph.

“Beaver” is actually the name of a micro-rover that Thoth Technologies Inc. wants to send to Mars in 2018. The company and Northern Light Canadian Mission to Mars, as it is called, is being led by St. John’s native Caroline Roberts and her husband, Ben Quine. Roberts is the daughter of former lieutenant governor Ed Roberts, whom she says named the rover.

Well, okay then.

Actually it makes perfect sense, since Popular Science already reported in 1930 that beavers had dug the canals on the surface of Mars. I know because Michael Pollock gave me the article framed at our first working beaver meeting in 2011 and it proudly  hangs in my dining room.

Now don’t you feel better?

Yesterday, I got an email out of the blue from Beaver friend and supporter Robert Rust. He said he had a bunch of old beaver books he’d like to give me and asked if he could drop them off. Just so you know who we’re talking about, Bob is the creative genius behind the mechanical tail-slapping beaver this year, AND the giant inflatable beaver a few years before that.

giant beaverBob taught science to lots of kids in Martinez, and kayaked the creeks for years cleaning out trash and tires. He is a complete indirecatable genius, smart enough to invent anything, connected to everything, but living entirely by his own rules. I expected him to drop off dog-eared copies from his youth or college days. Instead he bicycled up to my porch with three perfect first edition copies of beaver giants that left me speechless.

One was a copy of the 1937 Beaver Pioneers signed by both authors. One was the 1947 first edition of the several times reprinted “One Day at Teton Marsh” by Sally Carrighar (complete with gorgous woodcuts in every chapter) And the third was an original Grinnell’s fur-bearing  mammals of CA. No I’m not kidding. There was also a fun copy of “the Beaver is eating my Canoe” just to round out the day.

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How excited am I? Back when this all started someone bought me a signed first edition by Grey Owl and I thought I was in heaven. Now I’m sure of it.

I’m a sucker for old books. One time when Jon and I were in Norwich, England we visited an used book store and asked about older books. The grey-haired owner smiled and took us across the street down these stone stairs into a trove of 15th century manuscripts and said we could explore at our leisure, locking the door behind him on his way back to the shop. I swear there was a hand copied Iliad. Now thank goodness we were so poor that we could only afford three slim volumes or I would now be the proud owner of an entire book store. One of the books we bought was a personal almanac from the 1600′s that told you when to plant crops and had personal pages for notes that some grandson had scribbled on in the 1800′s. One of the books was a volume on how to raise a good wife from the 1700′s. I could not resist when I read how girl children should be praised for being compliant and dull. And frowned upon for any signs of creativity. Ahhh.

But these treasures PALE in comparison to original works about beavers! Thank you SO MUCH BOB for your generous contribution to Worth A Dam and beavers over the years. Everything you’ve done for us has been surprising, and this is no exception. You can bet I’ll be sending over a care package this afternoon. Right after I’m done re-reading.

Wondrously familiar

Posted by heidi08 On September - 28 - 2014Comments Off

This is what two mostly damp beaver advocates look like at a Utah festival, On the left is Mary Obrien of the Grand Canyon trust, and on the right is me looking dazed to be sitting at the first booth at the Utah festival where a bright young college student tells you to take a treasure hunt and find the 5 ways that beavers help wildlife. Then come back wih your card filled out, paint a tail, and decorate a beaver-shaped gingerbread cookie!

It was raining the first time I gave my talk indoors at the nature center. So there were lots of folks who wanted to be dry and listen. Thank goodness it stopped soon and folks turned up anyway.  At one point I sat by the pond and gave an interview to their tech crew about our experience, the student asking the questions was actually from Danville! Later we went down to the festival proper where we heard about one little boy who had had gotten the notice at school but his mom said “I’m sure it was probably cancelled with the storm”. He convinced her when he somberly said, “But we have to go check“.

Just in case you think I was exaggerating about the storm, the big empty stone-lined waterway around the nature center was RUSHING with muddy water that day. We were told that it probably rains 2 days a year in St. George and that summer temperatures commonly reach 115.

One great idea we want to try at home was a beaver lodge the children made – with the orignal frame of a dome tent covered with willow that kids added branches to to make a beaver house. They were running in and out hiding from ‘otters’ later in the day. Mary had also boldly invited the trappers association who displayed pelts for the children to feel. One surprising trapper commented, “People just don’t realize how good beavers are for streams and wildlife”. Which might have blown my mind if I was not already through the looking glass.

I gave the talk again in the afternoon and then came back to the hotel while they cleaned up. That night Mary picked us up and brought us to their camp sight in Sand Hallow where 15 tents circled their giant field station horse trailer-with-sattrlite dish. The cooking crew made us an awesome dinner of jumbalaya which we ate in a giant circle under the stars. The looming clouds were on the opposite bank and kindly stayed away from us.

 

After dinner there was a single darting bat, a crescent moon, and looming stars overhead. The great arc of 21 young students of semester in the west introduced where they were from and their majors, then said the favorite part of their day. It was amazing to hear their stories and did you even know there were political majors like environmental politics or environmental humanities? Then  Mary asked me to say a little about the research we did on the historic prevalence papers. A huge gust of wind made my teeth chatter too much to talk anymore and fortunately caused the pages of ‘data’ to blow away so that everyone scrambled to retrieve it. Then we said our goodnights and thank you’s and dashed back to the car where Phil brought us back to the hotel.

This morning, Mary picks us up and brings us back to Cedar Springs, from where we will fly home tomorrow morning. The Whitman crew will head off for North for a 5 hour drive to their final camp, where they will end their journey and take finals before heading back to Walla Walla.

Dinner under the stars with tomorrows smart, talented environmental advocates was definitely the best part of the journey. But the woman who introduced herself at my talk as a docent from Yellowstone who does the beaver talks there was definitely a close second.

Then there was the child who explained he knew why beavers were important because (and I quote) “they make honey” 

And in the end, the beavers you save, is equal to the beavers you have

Posted by heidi08 On September - 26 - 2014Comments Off

Southern Utah beaver festival enlightens public about the creatures.
www.nps.gov

Beaver Festival Brings Awareness To Community

A festival meant to create awareness about beavers and the important role they play in the ecosystem is scheduled to take place in southern Utah on Sept. 27.

Lynn Chamberlain with the Division of Wildlife Resources said the Leave it to Beavers festival seeks to debunk some myths about the industrious critters. Contrary to popular belief, Chamberlain said beaver habitats extend far beyond the mountains and he says they are not merely destructive creatures.

“They slow down flood waters—we’ve certainly seen some of that this year with some of the heavy rains that we’ve had—and they filter out a lot of the sediment that would be going down the flood waters also,” said Chamberlain. “So, they slow it down and help to build meadows, they build habitat for other wildlife species—not only aquatic ones but those that live around the riparian area, around the pond.”

The festival is the second of its kind in Utah. Chamberlain said it is moving this year to the Tonaquint Nature Center in St. George to reach a different audience.

The Beaver festival in St. George is 200 miles away from the 2012 one in Escalante. I can’t even imagine what it would be like for us to move the next festival to Redding or Fresno. I guess if you are partnering with Fish and Wildlife their reach can help span the distance. But it’s hard to imagine what it would take to pull that off. Of course those areas both NEED beaver festivals. But they’re going to have to generate their own. I’m tapped.

(I sure wish WE had ever gotten a headline like that on public radio.)

Oh and guess what happens tonight? The beaver dam jam in Idaho. That’s right, it’s an entire beaver weekend in the western states.

10382725_804717179573295_3153313975239790248_nBeaver Dam Jam–A Music event to support beaver conservation in Idaho

10647022_817296904981989_2965568295390226904_nOur good friend Mike Settell has been working round the clock with our friends at The Watershed Guardians to pull this off. He’s got public transportation bringing folks to the event, and will use the bus ride to educate en route. This is rough and tumble country where folks like their firearms and their hunting and trapping. Mike is trying to get folks to pay attention to the impact beavers have on wildlife populations. Attendees purchase a ‘beaver bead’ from near by stores and wear it to enter. How cool is that?

I know everyone will think saving beavers once upon a time was easy for us because we’re in liberal tree-huggin California. But at last count there are 482 municipalities in the golden state. And exactly one of them  has saved beavers.

This is the first weekend in the history of the world that will host TWO BEAVER CONSERVATION EVENTS in two different states. And either of them may not have ever happened in the first place if it hadn’t been for Martinez.  I don’t know about you but that makes me a little dizzy. Something to ponder with awe as I’m hurling across the sky in a metal box to the first one.

And on a personal note, I was feeling worried about messing up in Utah, when I thought of this amazing song from Quidam. Remember what they say: fortes fortuna adiuvat.

Everything’s coming up ‘beavers’

Posted by heidi08 On September - 2 - 2014Comments Off

12. “Worth A Dam – Beaver Safari in Martinez” 6:00PM – 7:30PM Martinez

 Date: September 6, 2014

Worth A Dam – “Beaver Safari in Martinez” – 6:00PM – 7:30PM – Meet Heidi & Jon @ Martinez AmTrak Parking Lot, 601 Marina Vista Ave, Martinez

 Visit the active beaver family in Martinez with the guides who know them best. You will almost certainly see the beavers – as well as turtles, herons and maybe an otter or two. The gentle stroll through an urban creek is ADA accessible and some of the best beaver viewing in the State. Get ready for a dam good time.

So Tom Russert is helping Steve Dunsky coodinate this massive statewide event (of which one part is centered in Vallejo), and I thought what the heck? Why not include some beavers? So I dutifully pitched my idea and made sure Jon was off. The sign-up list languished for a number of days and I honestly thought no one would show. Now its FULL. I got an email from another couple who wanted to add this morning so get ready for a real beaver Safari!

CaptureIf I were the person in charge of the Wilderness Act Implementation, I would surely want as many beavers as possible working for me in the state of California. Wouldn’t you?

September is a PACKED beaver month, because we have the safari this Saturday, I give a talk at Sulpher Creek Nature Center in Hayward next Saturday, and Sunday we’re displaying at the Nature and Optics fair again at Cornerstone in Sonoma. Then we get a weekend off to get ready for Utah!

I spent the long weekend pulling together my presentations for the events so honestly if I open my mouth and anything but beaver information comes out today I’ll be very surprised.

Art for beaver’s sake

Posted by heidi08 On August - 26 - 2014Comments Off

The beaver world is oddly quiet today. I would have nothing to write about but as it happens I spent yesterday working on a grant for next year’s art project and wrote a nice profile of the amazing artist you always see working frantically at the festival. If you’ve never actually seen HER you’ve seen sign of her in the beautiful banners, the giant painted beaver, the ceramic tiles, the mural or any of our other myriad art-ifacts that are her handiwork. This is a fine place to share the column so, enjoy!

fro working

FloFROgard Butler is the owner and manager of aRt Cottage in Concord, CA, which displays collections from artists all over the state. She teaches classes and workshops to adults and children in various mediums. She is the winner of the 2011 Arts Recognition Award for Contra Costa County and the 2010 outreach coordinator of the CA watercolor association. She has supported Worth A Dam since its inception and helped hundreds of Martinez children understand nature through clay, watercolors, and acrylic paint.

P1070876In addition to her training as an artist, FRO has an extensive background in early childhood education, and especially enjoys helping children represent their own way of seeing the world through art. FRO has generously pledged to support the Keystone Species Archway Canvas project at the 8th beaver festival, and will treat the cloth, pre-paint the archway, and coordinate the young artists on the day. Her services will be offered as an in kind donation, and easily represent 20 hours of work.

paintingbeaverFormer FRO-directed festival efforts have been on display in public offices (tryptch Mural 2010), adorn the Escobar bridge (ceramic tiles 2008) and blanket virtually every Worth A Dam display (Banner 2009). The colorful and inviting profile of children’s artwork has made Martinez stand out in public displays and sets this city apart as a community who cares.

 fro earthdayA word to all the nonprofits in the world who are trying to generate enough community support to get attention for their important cause: find an amazingly creative artist who loves working with children. Add water and pigment, stand back, and watch what happens.

Appreciations

Posted by heidi08 On August - 6 - 2014Comments Off

It’s been a week of treasures and it’s only Wednesday. Yesterday I received this email from a family we met at the dam two weeks ago. They were from Long Beach and eager to see the famous Martinez beavers. Of course our mascots did not disappoint. Since our visitors were so delighted with the show I suggested they might write the mayor and let them know how pleased they were.

Yesterday Michelle sent  the  entire city council this:

Dear Mr Mayor,

My name is Michelle Lee and I live in Southern California with my family. We’ve done a couple of great American Road Trips in the last twenty years, but this year, we were privileged to witness one of the most emblemic of all Northern American wildlife: the hardworking, family-oriented and stoical Martinez Beaver.

Prior to setting out on our trip this summer, a few weeks ago, we had only ever seen American beavers on film in movies. There is apparently one homed in the Singapore River Safari theme park, but knowing beavers to be highly social animals, we were disappointed but not surprised when we failed to spot it in its enclosure during our visit last year. Imagine how thrilled we were, then, to discover, while researching for our summer trip, http://www.martinezbeavers.org, the Worth a Dam web site put up by Heidi Perryman. We have beavers, thriving in their natural environment, right here, in our own backyard!

Martinez was immediately included on our itinerary. Your location was perfect, for us visiting college towns like Stanford, Berkeley and Davis. You have one of the best Thai restaurants in all of California, north through south: the Lemongrass Bistro. Muir Lodge, which provided us with a most tastefully decorated and comfortable room, was just what we needed for our layover. Sal’s Family Kitchen was the perfect breakfast wake-up in the morning.

And you have the beavers. And they were wonderful. We waited at the secondary dam right by the Amtrak station on 14 July 2014, around 6:30pm, and managed to see three beavers, including the kit. Not knowing as much as we could about the habits of these nocturnal mammals, though, we were pretty bummed we didn’t stay till 8 :-( That said, the beavers we saw kept us entranced for a good hour or so, just swimming about, nibbling in the rushes, doing generally beaverly things.

Now that we’re home, and able to more fully process our summer vacation, which included visits to the Carlsbad Caverns and the Grand Canyon, we can honestly count the Martinez Beavers as one of our most satisfying wildlife experiences. We in Southern California are used to the arid desert, even in this ongoing drought, with our well-watered landscaped city and suburban lawns, so it was quite distressing to see how devastated the land around us was while driving through NorCal. Those tenacious beavers, as corny as it sounds, gave us hope that this drought will eventually pass. Our only regret was we were not able to spend longer in your lovely town than one night. Now, our true regret is having missed this year’s Beaver Festival!

The fact that Martinez has a Beaver Festival indicates that many people do share our fascination with these enchanting animals. However, we were a little surprised, that, of the people we talked to in town, only one person was able to point us in the right direction to the beaver dams, because you have a real treasure in the beavers, and in Worth a Dam. This is such a unique situation you have in Martinez that people are able to observe outside of the artificial and expensive set up of a zoo. We are hopeful that continued education and increased appreciation for the Martinez Beavers will be encouraged to perpetuate and grow. We cannot thank Worth a Dam enough for their information-packed web site. We came from Long Beach just to see this happy beaver family!!

Thanks for taking the time to read this!
Michelle Lee, with Kevin Traster and Loyalty Traster-Lee
Long Beach, California
5 August 2014

Now tell me that wasn’t the best letter you EVER read! Not only did it remind the mayor that the beavers and Worth A Dam are an asset, it must have made those little dollar signs appear in his eyes like on cartoons. She did such a good job that I told her to share it with the local papers so I’m hoping we see it again very soon.

The only part that kind of bugged me was that only one person in town could tell her where the dam was. But when I thought about it I realized that’s actually wonderful. In 2007 when every shop owner on main street was terrified of being flooded every, Susie, Stacey or Sam could have told them. Now the fact that the story isn’t news anymore means that the beavers are no longer a threat and that’s just what we wanted to happen. I thought of Carl Sandburg,

 Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work—
I am the grass; I cover all.
 
 And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?
 
I am the grass.
Let me work.

Carl Sandburg

Well, I suppose the grass has worked in Martinez. Even I can barely remember the injuries of a city who wanted to destroy its treasures. Now I simply bask in the glow of a job well done and a chapter well written.

And this delightful epilogue about “Joe” made me smile.

Martinez Beaver Festival celebrates beaver family living in downtown creek since 2006

Dam fun

 Children parade to the strains of Bruce Maxwell’s bagpipe, above, at the start of the seventh annual Beaver Festival on Saturday, in Martinez, that celebrates the beaver family that has been living in Alhambra Creek since 2006. The event, sponsored by Worth A Dam, attracted visitors from everywhere for activities, music and tours of the beavers’ environment by Joe Ridler, right center.

 They don’t show the photo on line, but something tells me I’ve seen Joe before.