Archive for the ‘Friends of Martinez Beavers’ Category

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.

In the Shadow of greatness, there oft Stupid lies

Posted by heidi08 On September - 24 - 2014Comments Off

I’m still scratching my head about this article on Port Orchard in Kitsap county. The area actually borders Kings and Snohomish counties which boast the most enduring record of progressive beaver management in the world. They are literally in throwing distance of better solutions everydirection they face. I recognize the reporters name because I’ve written about her glowing intelligent reporting on beavers before. And now this.

Persistent beavers frustrate county workers

PORT ORCHARD — It’s one dam problem that keeps coming back.

 Kitsap County crews have been battling beavers for more than a month below the Long Lake Bridge near Port Orchard.

 The persistent beavers keep rebuilding a dam, which the county removed last week for the third time since Aug. 8, according to Tony Carroll, with the county roads division.

 Beavers can cause roads to flood, endangering drivers.

Trapping and removing the animals has been the county’s answer, until its certified, locally contracted trapper was hired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, leaving the county without a trapper.

 Now, the county is asking the department to help handle the beavers with a $15,000 contract through the end of the year.

So the previous county trapper loved his work so much that he got hired by USDA and now they are subcontracting the work out with a 15,000 a year contract. Hey, I bet you didn’t know that the old name for Kitsap county used to be SLAUGHTER county. Coincidence?

 Typically, the county has about two or three beaver incidents a year when it can trap and remove beavers, according to Andrew Nelson, Kitsap County public works director.

So 5000 dollars a family? That’s your budget? Maybe I’m in the wrong line of work. I couldn’t believe the article didn’t at least mention flow devices, and then I got to this.

Beaver deceivers, specialized fencing to deter beavers and allow fish to migrate, have been placed in some areas to prevent the animals from building dams.

The county and Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe teamed up in 2010 to place a beaver deceiver by a culvert along 288th Street in North Kitsap.

 While the fencing is a deterrent, it’s not guaranteed to keep out beavers.

“Believe it or not, they still manage to build inside that culvert,” Carroll said.

Of course they do, those scheming beavers. with their cunning ways and wire-clippers. It couldn’t be that you put them in WRONG or anything, could it? You know, far be it from me be like the loyal republican who says, “Conservatism never fails, it can only BE failed” – but in this case the  tools are automatically suspect. I want to see that beaver deceiver that failed. And Beaver Deceivers helping fish migration? I blame Mike Callahan for that. I knew his specially adapted flow devices would give people the wrong idea. And here’s proof.

For the record, they’re helping fish maneuver the flow device, not the dam.

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On that note, we will say goodbye to the “you’ve got to be kidding me” in Kitsap story, and talked about our favorite topic. Citizens protecting beavers. This time in Milford, MA.

Breach of Milford beaver dam upsets some residents

MILFORD – A few residents joined environmental activist Suzanne Fournier Monday night as she continued to criticize town officials for breaching the dam at Heron Pond.

 Fournier, who wrote in a letter to the editor of The Cabinet last week that removing part of the dam will harm many animal species, told selectmen someone should have consulted the town Conservation Commission and teachers at the nearby Heron Pond elementary school before the work was done.

 “Many teachers are very upset about the loss of this beautiful pond,” she said, and the reasons given for the breach “are not credible.”

 There were complaints about turtles and frogs and a ruined Great Blue Heron Rookery. The Conservation Commission who gave the orders has little to say for itself, but gosh, they’re thinking about using a flow device next time.

Selectmen did not respond to the comments, but Fred Elkind, the town’s environmental programs coordinator, said last week that no real harm was done to the dam or the pond by the breaching, which was done in August.

 The Conservation Commission is looking into the possibility of installing a pipe and fence system, he said, that could help control beaver activity, as Fournier has suggested.

 Now you’re thinking about following her advice? Now that you’ve tried every conceivable way to ruin things on your own? I think your body is laboring under a misnomer.

You should be called the “Destruction Commission”.

And Suzanne, Worth A Dam is VERY proud of you and your neighbors. Your next step is to get the kids in those classrooms and bring them on a fieldtrip to the ruined dam. It’s a science project on habitat and ecosystems. Have them all draw something that was harmed by the damaged wetlands. You know, the frogs and the fish and the blue herons.  Invite the art teacher to cut them out and put them on a mural. And oh, call the media and invite them to photograph kids at the ruined dam.

That flow device will start looking better and better to those commissioners. I guarantee it.

 Final Mural

Safari Success

Posted by heidi08 On September - 7 - 2014Comments Off

Desktop2Last night’s beaver safari was a well-attended, feel-good event, with wildlife-savvy,amiable folk from all over the bay area.  Attendees included a wildlife biologist from USGS, my first ever boss (The former director of the Martinez Early Childhood Center), several wildlife-loving older couples from the east bay, a mother from Vallejo with a thoughtful, attentive son, some Martinez regulars who had come to the festival for years, and as a total surprise someone from Jon’s work at the powerplant in Pittsburg showed up unexpectedly! One family from San Francisco ‘dropped in’ because they had made the trek to Martinez that night specifical to look for the famous beavers and knew nothing about any event.

The stars of the evening did not disappoint, (even though Jon, Cheryl and I were thinking sightings were pretty slow and far between in comparison), it was clearly more beavers and closer sightings of beavers than anyone there had ever seen or expected. “They’re so big!” Was the usual first response. “And so close!” There was rapt attention, thoughtful questions, discussion of beavers being important to fish, wildlife, birds, and drought with happy beaver banter well into the night when the group broke up, some of whom went off to dinner on main street. All told we counted about 30 people, 3 beavers and 75.oo in donations offered in the tip jar!

Jon and I drove home reminded of how many truly  humane humans there were in the world, which is always a nice way to end an evening. We also thought that there should be a couple more beaver safaris during the year, maybe in the summer months leading up to the festival?

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And as an extra special reward, this article was released yesterday in Alberta, which is easily becoming the beaver IQ capital of the country.

How to live in harmony with beavers

A local biologist hopes city and county residents will come to a free talk this fall on how to live with beavers.

 The Sturgeon River Research Project is hosting a free workshop on beavers this September in partnership with Sturgeon County.

 Laurie Hunt, a biologist with the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and researcher with the project, says she runs into a lot of landowners frustrated by beavers as her team works to restore riparian zones along the Sturgeon.

“Beavers can be an asset to us, particularly in this time of climate change adaptation,” says Fitch, riparian specialist with Cows and Fish.

Beaver dams can add about 10 per cent more surface water to a watershed and a huge amount of groundwater, helping to maintain flows during dry periods, Fitch says.

“In flood times, think of beaver dams as speed-bumps,” he continues. Beaver dams spread water out over an area about 12 times as wide as the channel they cover, slowing flows and reducing erosion.

Honestly, this is like putting on a favorite jacket you haven’t worn or a while and finding 20 dollars in the pocket. What an unexpected treat! Again it seems we have Cows and Fishes to thank for some really smart work.  The ever cautionary Mike Callahan wasn’t thrilled about the mention of ‘perforated pipes’ to lower dam height, noting they are easily plugged by even the laziest beaver. But we can tweak their methods over time. In my experience learning HOW to live with beavers is fairly easy. The hard part is learning WHY to live with beavers, and they already have that elusive motivation in spades.

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Oh and Beaver Festival VII made the John Muir Association fall newsletter.

JMA

Beavers win Badger-Spirit Award

Posted by heidi08 On September - 1 - 2014Comments Off

2014 Badger Spirit awards are presented to:

Occidental Arts and Ecology Center and WATER Institute in Occidental, CA, for their work in conserving natural resources, sustainable agriculture, respect for the environment, and the WATER Institute’s national outreach to “Bring Back the Beaver” and restoring Coho Salmon to watersheds programs. More info: www.oaec.org, and oaec.org/water-institute.

Worth a Dam, Martinezbeavers.org, based in Martinez, CA, for conservation, outreach and educational programs on behalf of Beavers in the United States and stewardship and protection of the Martinez Beavers in Martinez, CA. More info: Martinezbeavers.org

sfbaywildlife.info, an innovative and contemporary internet resource, for San Francisco Bay Area information about wildlife, places, activities and resources. More info: sfbaywildlife.info

Many thanks to Susan and the Paula Lane Action Network for recognizing beavers with this years awards.  We even got mention in the local Press Democrat.

 Award for Bring Back the Beaver program

The group Worth a Dam which also works to educate the public about the value of beavers in restoration and conservation of natural resources was also recognized. The group holds an annual Beaver Festival in Martinez where beavers have become a tourist attraction as well as providing a habitat for other wildlife..

 The much maligned animal has proved its worth in preserving valuable salmon runs, and in water conservation. Bring Back the Beaver and Worth a Dam are working to educate the public and change state policies about the beaver which date back to 1942 and are founded on inaccurate data.

susanA beaver-maniac like me is thrilled to accept the honor. I first wrote Susan close to 8 years ago when she was a writer for Sonoma Press Blog and had written about our beavers. When I learned about her badger affinity I told her that through a weird series of coincidences my earliest fiercely loved toy had been an actual stuffed badger the neighbor had thrown over the fence. I had loved its soft fur and sharp claws, and imagined that its badger spirit had shaped my adult life, making me unwilling to give up on much of anything including the Martinez beavers.

Thank you PLAN for recognizing the badger spirit in us! And we look forward to badgering people about beavers for years to come!

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Utah Beavers Beckon

Posted by heidi08 On August - 31 - 20142 COMMENTS

Mary Obrien was the first beaver idol I ever had. It was 2009 when I read the article in High Country News that described her eloquently preaching the beaver gospel and advocating for their many benefits. I was starstruck to meet her in person at the State of the Beaver Conference in 2011 and thrilled when she came to our festival the following year. It was Mary who talked the documentary crew into including Martinez last year. And Mary who flew out to attend the  Salmonid Restoration Conference workshop on steelhead and beaver, coming to dinner at the house we rented in Santa Barbara with the other beaver wizards.

santa barbara dinner

Think I’m exaggerating about her importance? Here’s a description of Mary from Scientific American.

One five-star general in the campaign to save nature is Dr. Mary O’Brien, and she has a thing for beaver, the championing of which she has completely converted me to. In the first place, the quest for beaver has arguably had more impact on American history than the pursuit of any other single natural resource, its influence lasting well over 200 years. Sixty million or so beaver populated North America before 1600, and had a huge effect on the hydrology of the landscape – beaver dams stored water, slowed its flow and rate of evaporation, slowed erosion and supported a wealth of fish and bird species. In fact, the extermination of beaver from North America arguably marks the point at which our landscapes began to buckle and slide down the ruinous course we find them on now. Especially in the West, where water has always been an enormous issue and will become more important as climate change affects it, there is a real imperative to put beaver back on the waterways.

So when she asked me after my presentation at the conference whether I’d be willing to come to Utah and present at their festival this year if they payed my expenses I was very, very surprised. Like kinda if Santa asked you to help pick out your presents for next year, surprised. The kind where you don’t really want to mention or think about it just in case it doesn’t happen. Mary’s a busy woman and has five million things to do at any given moment, so I thought she might change her mind or forget about it.

mary

She didn’t forget. She wrote me the week of our beaver festival and said “Are you coming?” So on the last weekend of September we are officially flying to Cedar City on Friday and getting picked up by her students to stay at a hotel in St. George where the festival is. Saturday morning we go to the event where I will present twice in an auditorium at the Nature Center on our urban beavers, and generally enjoy the day. Sunday morning I’ll present to her students on the research we did for the historic prevalence papers. And Monday we fly home. She sent the almost completed poster yesterday which needed a time change, but I couldn’t wait to share so I patched it myself just to show you.

correcty poster

Remember, that there was no Utah Beaver Festival until there was a Martinez Beaver Festival. And there never would  have been a Martinez Festival if our city had conceded gracefully and said “OK you win, we’ll protect the beavers.”

I guess we should really thank them for being so encouragingly stubborn?

And as for Utah, home of the first beaver relocation plan to restore upper watersheds, a statewide USFS beaver management plan, who brought in Skip Lisle, Sherri Tippie and Mike Callahan to teach the basics, and who still had time to commission the “Economic Services of Beaver” paper, Utah of the adorable beavers in towels photos after the famous Willard Bay Crude Oil spill – That Beehive state had better get ready.

Because I think Martinez is going to rock their world.

utahs

Pilgrimage to beaver Mecca

Posted by heidi08 On August - 27 - 2014Comments Off


Grey Owl’s cabin sits on the shore of Ajawaan Lake in Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan. Photo: Mark Stachiew/Postmedia News

Following the trail of Grey Owl to Saskatchewan’s Prince Albert National Park

Far enough away to gain seclusion, yet within reach of those whose genuine interest prompts them to make the trip, Beaver Lodge extends a welcome to you if your heart is right.” – Grey Owl

I had long been fascinated by Archibald Belaney, the Englishman who escaped in the early 1900s to Canada where he sought a simpler life by taking on the First Nations identity of Grey Owl. He later became a world-famous author and speaker, urging us in his books and speeches to take care of our fragile environment.

Grey Owl chose this spot in Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan in 1931 to be secluded, but accessible. Most who visit today will hike the 20-kilometre trail to get there and sleep overnight in a nearby campground. We weren’t quite so adventurous, opting instead to cover most of the distance by boat with a guide from the Waskesiu Marina Adventure Centre, only having to hike a 3-kilometre trail there and back from the shore of Kingsmere Lake.

While it saves time to take a boat, you should consider the extra work needed for the 800-metre portage along Kingsmere River before you get to the lake. Fortunately, there is a railway track with a push cart that lets you move your boat that distance, but if you get to one end of the portage and the cart isn’t there, it means hiking to the other end and bringing it back. Needless to say, we had to fetch the cart each time which added another 3.2 kilometres of walking.

 greyowl1
The cabin is known as Beaver Lodge for a reason. It sits right at the water’s edge and is actually built on top of a beaver lodge because Grey Owl shared his cabin with Rawhide and Jelly Roll, a pair of orphaned beavers he adopted when they were kits.

The interior of the cabin has few artifacts from Grey Owl’s life. There is an old bed, a table with a guest book and some tobacco offerings. Nearby is a stack of commemorative postcards that can only be found here, intended as one-of-a-kind souvenirs for visitors to bring home.


A short distance up the hill from Beaver Lodge is another cabin that was built one year later for Grey Owl’s wife Anahareo and their daughter Shirley Dawn. It was built because they tired of the nocturnal coming-and-going of the beavers in their house. It was also a place where visitors could stay. Because of his fame, Grey Owl would host hundreds of visitors every year.

A short walk away from the cabins is Grey Owl’s grave and the graves of his wife and daughter. I paused for a few moments to pay my respects and left a pebble on his headstone to mark my visit.

The spirit of Grey Owl lives on today in the men and women eager to share the beauty and wonder of Prince Albert National Park.

I, for one,  know quite a few people in whom the spirit of Grey Owl lives on. Don’t you?

 

Rolling with the Punches

Posted by heidi08 On August - 25 - 2014Comments Off

It was bound to happen, that awkward moment when your day job as a legal secretary for Lerner and your evening passion of playing drums in a alter-punk club collide. Surprising at first to have your boss see you hammer the snares with a stud in your nose, and then unbelievably liberating to finally have it all together in one place.

I’m very proud of this interview. I never was allowed before to talk so much about my experience on the beaver subcommittee and it was so healing to do. For me this is a vibrant red poppy growing on the dusty battlefield where much blood was spilled 7 years ago. I think it starts slow, but you have to at least listen to the John Muir part. That story relaxed me and it gets a lot better.

Episode 145: The emotional lives of advocates

You may know Dr. Heidi Perryman as the beaver believer from Martinez, California, or the defender who hosts the MartinezBeavers.org Worth a Dam website and podcast series. But between her evenings of working with municipalities, landowners and the general public on beaver protection, she’s a successful clinical psychologist.

 Dr. Perryman joined Defender Radio for a unique conversation on these emotions, what they mean to us and how we can manage them in our day-to-day lives as advocates.

Capture

Cheryl sent this lovely photo of our kit on vacation at Ward street.

Wardofthestate

2014 Beaver kit: Photo Cheryl Reynolds

And speaking of emotional lives, just in case you wondered, this is what resilience looks like: courtesy of Meadow Lane in Napa.