Archive for the ‘Friends of Martinez Beavers’ Category

Because why not Blame the Beaver?

Posted by heidi08 On March - 24 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

Oh those crazy beavers with their penchant for sinkholes and collapsed roads! When are they going to stop harassing us with their rodent ways and let us live peacefully. On ALLIGATOR lake.Capture

Beavers the culprit in 30A road collapse

“We’ve always had problems with beavers where we don’t have a bridge,” said Chance Powell, an engineer for Walton County

One of the great mysteries early Thursday morning was solved after it was determined that beavers were the most likely culprit for the sinkhole that has closed Walton County Road 30A near County Road 283.

Beavers? Beavers!

The Walton County Sheriff’s Office received a call just after 5 a.m. Thursday about a sinkhole on 30A at Alligator Lake.

According to County Commissioner Tony Anderson, who was present as county crews began to fill the extensive hole, a GMC pickup was crossing the section of road when the asphalt began to cave in. The vehicle made it across, but the pickup was damaged and the man driving it was taken to Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast with minor injuries, said Walton County Public Works Manager Wilmer Stafford.

“The water that flows under the road became too heavy on one side and caused it to fall in,” said Stafford, who also was at the scene later in the morning.

 The section of CR 30A surrounding the collapse site has been closed until the road can be repaired.

On the surface, the hole appears to be about 4 feet wide and takes up three-quarters of the road in front of Alligator Lake. But officials calculate that crew must deal with a much larger area of damage under the road.

But wait, how do the beavers make the sink hole exactly? Are you saying they tunneled under the asphalt to get away from the alligators, or chew holes in the road with their huge incisors, or that maybe the road was stuffed with willow and they ate it? The article is a little vague on the actual mechanics of destruction.  But I’m sure they’re telling the truth, right? People would never blame a rodent for something just to explain away a problem that their carelessness caused in the first place.

I guess it will stay a mystery, like how beavers live near ALLIGATOR lake in the first place.


Come to think of it, maybe they can sign up for the flow device WEBINAR coming soon from our friends at Furbearer Defenders and Cows and Fish. It will be taught by Adrien Nelson and Norine Ambrose and you are ALL invited. It’s a bargain at 5 dollars. Make sure to save your space now.

Learn how to successfully implement flow devices for beaver management in your community with our upcoming webinar, Beaver Flow Devices for Managers.

On April 6, 2017 at 3:30 pm EDT / 1:30 pm MDT / 12:30 pm PDT, Adrian Nelson of The Fur-Bearers, and Norine Ambrose from Cows and Fish will co-host this engaging webinar that will focus on the “whys” and “wheres” of implementing these devices. Managers and supervisors from a range of backgrounds will learn to better understand the applicability of these devices, as well as analyze sites requiring beaver management, and address which type of flow devices are most appropriate. 

Adrian will walk through the different types of devices, and how to make each one successful, as well as various obstacles and needs that may need to be addressed before deployment. The presentation will also touch briefly on ordering and supplies to ensure teams have the right materials for success.

Norine will tell participants of her first-hand experience in learning about and installing these devices in Alberta, and let participants know about the broader beaver collaborative work on education, social science, and management Cows and Fish is involved with the Miistakis Institute, local partners, and support from The Fur-Bearers.

Participants will come away with a better understanding of flow devices, but more importantly why they are useful to successfully co-exist with beavers. A question and answer period will follow.

I actually didn’t know these good folks knew each other, so I might watch just to learn more about their interaction. We will definitely learn things!

Make way for Beavers!

Posted by heidi08 On March - 19 - 2017Comments Off on Make way for Beavers!

It’s Sunday. All the cut-outs are done for the “Martinez-Loves-Beavers” art project at Earth Day. And we may well have beavers in Martinez. That all sounds like good news to me. But maybe you need some more, just to make sure. How about the appearance of our good friend Ann Riley on Chicago Public Television talking about why WILLOW is especially important to creeks. Ahem.


The Streams Below Our Streets | San Francisco

Cities once converted streams into sewers to make room for development. But now there’s a growing movement to unearth these buried waterways.

They flow beneath city streets, sidewalks, and even homes: creeks and streams across the United States were once forced underground into sewers, drainpipes, and culverts to make way for urban development.

For more than 30 years, efforts have been made in and around the Berkeley, California area to uncover—or “daylight”—the area’s buried waterways. The term daylighting was coined here in the 1980s, to describe efforts to bring Strawberry Creek back aboveground.

In 1903, a four-acre section of Strawberry Creek had been led into a culvert to allow construction of a Santa Fe Railway right-of-way. When Santa Fe abandoned the property in the early 1980s, the land was acquired by the city, and a park was proposed for the site.

As part of the park’s development, the Berkeley Parks and Recreation Commission planned to remove the 300-foot concrete pipe and expose the enclosed section of water. Although the idea was initially rejected by the city as too expensive and dangerous, the commission eventually implemented the plan. Activists argued that the transformation of the site from a derelict railroad right-of-way to a natural waterway would provide stormwater relief, and create heightened awareness about the ecology of streams.

The groundbreaking project represented the first time a culvert had been dug up and re-created in a channel, and helped pave the way for the formation of the Berkeley-based Urban Creeks Council in 1982. Co-founded by Dr. Ann L. Riley, the Urban Creeks Council was established to foster the preservation, protection, restoration, and management of natural waterways in urban environments. In addition, the non-profit organization works to educate the public on the ecological, aesthetic, and recreational values of restored urban streams.

Riley was introduced to urban stream restoration while she was training in the academic field of fluvial geomorphology with scientist Luna Leopold—who Riley called “the father of modern-day river restoration.” Fluvial geomorphology is the study of how water forms the earth.

Riley shows jon what to do

Riley shows jon what to do

Riley & Cory plan the attack!

Riley & Cory plan the attack!


Just in case you don’t remember Riley, she’s the awesome beaver supporter and author who helped Worth A Dam plant willow for the last three years which our very schizophrenic city helped her do and then promptly pulled up. Ahh, memories. Sometimes she obviously has much better luck. If you didn’t watch the video, go watch now. It’s really well done and we are SO lucky she’s on our side.

ann teaching

Our donation this week for the silent auction is an watercolor painting that comes from artist Patricia Manning in Tonawanda New York. When she’s not busy crafting, sewing dollhouse clothing or raising her two girls, she likes to paint the natural world she sees. So obviously she chose our favorite subject. What got my attention first about this painting was the striking rings of water, which is something I’ve come to associate so intimately with watching beaver activity. They write everything they do on the water surface, which is lovely to see. Thanks Pamela for your generous donation! We’ll make sure to find it a good home!


Baker City Goodies

Posted by heidi08 On March - 6 - 2017Comments Off on Baker City Goodies

Baker City Oregon is in the upper right hand corner of the state on the Powder river, which flows into the Snake river. Like Martinez it was settled early when the Short line railroad made it a stop, and is the county seat. By 1900 it was THE stop between Salt Lake City and Portland. It’s Main street looks eerily similar to ours. It even had a large Catholic population and has Cathedral because of it. Let’s think of them as a ‘sister city’.

Baker has a smaller population now than Martinez, and hasn’t sprawled like we did. Probably because it’s bordered by the Wallowa mountains that don’t take kindly to freeways. As luck would have it, that means it isn’t too far from famed USFS District Hysuzannedrologist Dr. Suzanne Fouty. Who happened to get very interested because there were some urban beaver sightings reported in this historic town.

Suzanne contacted me this weekend because she wants to use my talk to help teachers get on board with a student project that would let the children “adopt” the beavers, learn about them and sand paint trees etc. We had a nice conversation about her wish to get folks as interested and excited about the beavers as they were in Martinez.  I can’t think of a more magical combination for success than an interested hydrologist, some enthusiastic teachers and an army of child guardians. Can you? Then I found this article and realized the whole thing was already a done deal – with a sympathetic press to boot.


Beavers in Baker City

Homeowners along Powder River are learning to protect their trees from the nocturnal animals. Larry Pearson sacrificed a healthy quaking aspen last summer to their insatiable incisors, but he bears no real grudge against beavers.

“Personally I like seeing them around,” said Pearson, who has livedfor 33 years in a home beside the Powder River in north Baker City. Well, not exactly “seeing.” Pearson has seen several beavers outside the city limits, but he’s not yet spotted one of the rotund rodents near his home on Grandview Drive.

That’s to be expected, given that beavers are largely nocturnal. “I can tell when they’ve been in my yard, though,” Pearson said. Even when the animals don’t leave blatant evidence – it’s pretty hard not to notice when a 14-inch-diameter aspen in your backyard has been gnawed down – Pearson said he can usually find the muddy patch in his grass where the beavers climbed from the river’s bank.

Fortunately, protecting trees from beavers is no great ordeal, Pearson said.

“You have to put wire fencing around virtually everything,” he said.

A homeowner whose tree was chopped down by an unexpected beaver and his first comment to the press is “wire wrap it!” Have I fallen asleep? Am I dreaming? IMAGINE if the Contra Costa Times or the Gazette had a section about how to protect trees from beavers. Whoa, I’m getting dizzy, I need to sit down.

That’s what the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) recommends as well, in its “Living With Wildlife” pamphlet, which is available online at

Actually, landowners have a few options with beaver-proofing, said Brian Ratliff, a wildlife biologist at the ODFW office in Baker City. Wrapping tree trunks with metal flashing is effective, he said.You can also use welded wire fencing, hardware cloth, or multiple layers of chicken wire.

Regardless of the material, you should wrap the tree to a height of at least 4 feet, Ratliff said.

“When beavers stand on their tails they can reach pretty high,” he said. If you choose chicken wire or fencing, you should leave a 6- to 12-inch space between the cage and the tree trunk, because beavers might try to wedge their teeth through gaps in the wire to get at the tree (this isn’t a problem, obviously, with metal flashing).

You should also reinforce the cage with rebar stakes or other supports, as beavers, which average 40 pounds at adulthood, are capable of collapsing flimsy wire barriers. To protect a large area rather than individual trees, ODFW recommends building a fence, at least 4-feet high, made of welded wire fence or other sturdy material (chicken wire is too flimsy).

I like to think of myself as a generous woman who only wants the best for others. But sometimes, when I read an article like THIS published a full 10 months before Suzanne even got interested and involved, before the school children even circled the wagons, or the town pushed back, I get crazy JEALOUS.

Some people have all the luck!

Baker city, you have started the footrace with a 10-mile lead. Already your papers are sympathetic and your affected citizens are cool-headed. You have interested scientists inches away that will help you move forward. And you of course, have us in your corner. With all the help you could possibly ask for.

I believe, Baker City, if you can’t save these beavers, no one can.

Pearson said he didn’t notice any signs of beaver activity on his property until a few years ago.That coincides with ODFW’s experience, Ratliff said. “In the past two years or so we’ve started to get more reports about beavers, and to see more signs of their presence here in town,” he said.That’s not especially surprising, Ratliff said.

Beavers live along the Powder River both upstream and downstream from Baker City.

“Beavers are very good at migrating both overland and along waterways,” he said. “And the Powder River in Baker City is pretty good habitat for them, minus the fact that it’s through town.”The river’s relatively flat gradient and low velocity are ideal for beavers, Ratliff said. (One reason the animals build the dams for which they are renowned is to slow fast-moving streams; deep ponds protect beavers from predators, and give the animals underwater entrances to their dens in the stream bank.)

Ratliff said it’s not clear why beavers have only recently colonized the river through town in significant numbers. His theory is that the beaver population in the river outside the city limits has grown enough that young beavers are dispersing to less-crowded habitat.

In any case, Ratliff believes beavers can co-exist, in relative harmony, with people.

For one thing, beavers don’t as a rule stray far from the river; they’re not going to start gnawing at your home’s siding, for instance.When, as in Pearson’s case, beavers do munch on trees on private property, the solution – wrapping or fencing trees – is neither complicated nor especially costly.

“It’s really a neat opportunity to have urban wildlife,” Ratliff said.

Pearson agrees. He would, though, prefer that private property owners have more flexibility in dealing with beavers that cause damage. City ordinances prohibit residents from trapping or shooting beavers. State law prohibits residents from live-trapping beavers and moving them elsewhere.

Okay, now things are going to get REALLY unbelievable. Are you sitting down? I just want you to be ready for the shock, because it could trigger a heart attack or something. Take a deep breath, and think of it as a Disney movie. Sweet and a little too idyllic to believe. Ready?

Tom Fisk, the city’s street supervisor, said workers have had to move several beaver-chewed trees that fell across the Adler Parkway over the past few years.Crews used to haul the trees away, but recently they’ve just sawed the tree into chunks and spread the pieces along the river’s bank.

“We figured if we took away the tree the beavers would just take down another one,” Fisk said.

“It hasn’t been such a big problem that we’re looking at other options,” he said.Protecting trees with fencing, for instance, would hardly be practical, considering the river runs for more than two miles through town.

“There’s a lot of trees,” Fisk said.


What kind of groovy, laid back, reasonable town administrator says ‘well, there’s a lot of trees?’ Here in Martinez we held their feet to the fire for 10 years, were on fricking national news and on TV in the UK and our city manager is STILL ripping out the willow stakes we plant because he doesn’t want to encourage them.

Dear Suzanne, something tells me you’re going to do just FINE on this project. Baker’s going to celebrate beavers, children are going to learn and classrooms are going to thrive. Your creek will be filled with otters, frogs and heron. And heyy, maybe a Baker Beaver Festival is in your future soon?

making an armybeaver army

Introducing: The Beaver Institute

Posted by heidi08 On March - 4 - 2017Comments Off on Introducing: The Beaver Institute

You might remember that before the conference I mentioned that Mike Callahan had some big news he wanted to unfurl, well here it is:

The Beaver Institute™ is launched!

17103470_10208541113269195_5225729508328054048_nAt the Conference I had the great pleasure of announcing that a new national charitable 510(c)3 nonprofit organization is being formed specifically to support beavers. It will be called The Beaver Institute™, and it will raise funds to support a myriad of beaver coexistence efforts on a national level, including key flow device installations, training installers, supporting scientific beaver management research and public outreach.

mike with skullHere in Massachusetts a small grant program has subsidized many flow device installations and has been a huge success in demonstrating their effectiveness and changing a culture of lethal trapping to one of beaver coexistence. It is our hope that this model can be replicated on a national scale.

The Beaver Institute™ is still being formed so I welcome you to join as a charter member and submit any questions or suggestions to me by email or on the Beaver Management facebook page for projects you feel the Beaver Institute could support. Also if you have any suggestions for fundraising or connections with grant funders please let us know. The Board of Directors is also looking for beaver experts to serve on their Advisory Board.

I really think we can move beaver management forward at a significantly faster pace with a nationally focused nonprofit organization. More details to follow on this forum as they develop.

The Beaver Institute! What a wonderful platform for beaver advocacy and research! Congratulations Mike for leaping iBeaver Institutento the non-profit fray. We will help any way we can and do our best to get the news out. Hey maybe there could be a grant for a sister beaver conference on the East Coast in even years? Or a Massachusetts beaver festival to teach folks what to appreciate about the animal they go crazy over. You need to bring some  academic types on board. Who’s on the beaver faculty at MIT or Cambridge?

And the whole thing can’t get going soon enough in my book. Medford is in dire need of a beaver intelligence transfusion, so maybe you have your first pilot project right there.

Understanding the warrant: Beaver management money

Beavers are such a pervasive presence in Medfield, they’re making an appearance at Town Meeting.

Tucked among the more than 40 articles voters will decide on at the April 24 Town Meeting is $5,000 “for the purpose of trapping beavers and removing beaver dams throughout the Town.”

“They build dams in culverts,” Town Administrator Michael Sullivan said. When left unchecked, he said, “They were flooding people’s backyards and affecting their septic systems.”

The Town Administrator, according to the article, is the town position authorized to spend the funds. Sullivan said the town spends about the same amount every year, using trapper Barry Mandell.

“You could bring the Conibear and the foothold (trap) back,” Mandell said, and encourage recreational trapping, “but then you’ll have negligent trappers catching dogs.”

Beavers are an issue across much of Massachusetts, and a regular appearance in town budgets.

compareHey, I’ve got an idea for a BI project. Chose a small community around Medford and install culvert protection on every road like they do in Grafton where Skip Lisle is a Selectman. Get a big piece of paper and add up all the money it costs you on one half, then add the 5ooo you spend trapping every single year on the other half. Make sure to figure any extra hours public works spends ripping out debris or hiring back hoes to do the work. As well as every single minute you spend talking to the public to explain the need for this.

And then compare both sides! It’s a research project waiting to happen.

Sometimes a donation begins with a smile

Posted by heidi08 On March - 3 - 2017Comments Off on Sometimes a donation begins with a smile

One of the best parts about being forced to beg for beaver delights in the silent auction  is connecting with folks around the world whose hearts have been inexplicably touched by beavers. They created whatever they created because of this and they are delighted to meet another human in the world who’s worked for them too. They are inspired by our story, and I am reminded that good people exist in the world. It’s a perfect storm of goodness.

Capture4Case in point: MK Carving of Abbotsford British Columbia. He doesn’t even think he can donate because his pieces are usually custom made, but Mori Kono was so nice about  beavers and supportive of our work he gets a mention. And you will understand RIGHT AWAY why I wrote. He calls this enchanting piece “Oops!”.


Capture3How much do you wish you could climb these stairs every night? Who ever he made this for must lead an enchanted life. Come to think of it, we might actually know them. Do you think it was Glynnis Hood or Michael Runtz? Or maybe some evil executive for the Hudson Bay Company? I imagined whoever it was named their stair guardian. Do you think they pat every night on their way to bed? I’m pretty sure I would. I wrote him that I had thought I was so clever because when I made the ‘manger’ for my beaver creche I had amused myself by adding a few chew marks. I couldn’t believe someone else had the same idea and executed it so delightfully!

Beaverstock final logo 2016Another recent connection came from Castoro Cellars in Paso Robles. They had donated to us many times over the years, but had recently stopped which I was very sad about. I’m still on their mailer and I got the notice that their very popular “Beaverstock” concert extravaganza which had grown so much over the years had received a ‘cease and desist letter’ from the attorneys of the real “Woodstock” and they were told to change the name OR be sued.

Lawyers are good at making petty indignation seem threatening so they were looking for a new name. Hmmm, I mulled over the dilemma for a few moments and then broke into a grin. I immediately wrote the owner that there was only ONE sensible solution.

Instead of BeaverSTOCK call the concert BeaverSTICK!

The owner wrote back last night much amused and suffice it to say we get our donation. Thanks Castoro Cellars!



A miss is as good as 400 miles

Posted by heidi08 On February - 23 - 2017Comments Off on A miss is as good as 400 miles

stateofLouise Ramsay posted this photo of what looks to be the well-attended start of the beaver conference yesterday and I was so struck with such gripping envy that I couldn’t remind myself why I wasn’t there listening greedily to every word. Thankfully my mother also sent along this news story and my sanity was restored, (if only briefly). Apparently 1-5 was closed at Medford due to snow and rock slides. Well, okay then.

snowYesterday was the day I most mind missing, (well one of the three anyway). Because it was the day that the Wales project was presenting and the day that Gerhard Schwab was presenting on the idea that most of what was needed to manage beavers in Germany was managing the people – their enormous fears and reluctance to share. Ahem! Which of course, is a topic near and dear to my heart.

This morning there will be a tribal welcome breakfast and I was supposed to present at 9:30. Then after a break Mike Callahan will have a big announcement which I will tell you about later because he asked me not to spoil his thunder here. Both Mike and Sherry of the Sierra Wildlife Coalition said they’d send me tidbits, so hopefully we’ll hear a little of what’s going on. In the meantime, I am hopeful that a few of you will enjoy this and feel like you are there. I guess it’s practically 9:30 now!

Wagons Ho-Ho-Ho!

Posted by heidi08 On February - 19 - 2017Comments Off on Wagons Ho-Ho-Ho!

It’s the last time you’ll be hearing from me for a while  and lord knows that must be a kind of Sunday comfort.  Tomorrow is Bob’s grand debut so don’t forget to give him plenty of positive feedback.

conference Our new rule is only good news on Sunday, so I have a few fun things to share before I go. Paul and Louise are coming to dinner Tuesday night and maybe Leonard and Lois too, so we have lots to look forward to. But don’t feel left out,  you get treats as well. The first is a lovely discussion of ecological engineers from our old friend Mary Willson in Juneau.

On the trails: Ecological engineers

We use the word “engineer” in a confusing variety of ways and contexts, but here I mean to refer to organisms that create physical structures or changes in the environment — physical changes that affect other kinds of organisms. The concept is still very broad — one could say (and some researchers do so) that a forest of trees or large kelp, or a tallgrass prairie or an eelgrass bed, produces an environment in which temperature, humidity, air or water currents, precipitation patterns, or soils may be altered, thus affecting many other organisms by providing habitat or access to resources.

However, here I want to consider other “engineers” — those that deliberately, intentionally make or modify physical structures for their own purposes, with collateral consequences for other organisms.

The most well-known ecological engineers in the natural world are beavers. By building dams, they impound water, raising the water table, creating ponds, sometimes preventing floods, but also flooding low-lying areas. Although they may instinctively respond to the sound and feel of running water by trying to build a dam, they make deliberate choices about the size and shape of a dam and its component parts; they also maintain their structures continually. Beaver ponds provide good habitat for fish, especially juveniles, aquatic insects, various birds, and certain plants, although they obviously destroy portions of the adjacent area by flooding it. Some dams are hundreds of yards long and some are many feet high, depending on the terrain. A well-constructed, well-maintained beaver dam can last for many years, and its effects on the landscape may persist long after the beavers have moved on: the pond gradually fills with sediment and dead vegetation and eventually turns into a meadow.

We’re number ONE. Beavers make it happen! Mary goes on to describe other engineers but of course we’re spec-ist around her and we only care about the first one. If you would like to be smart and entertained, go read the others and learn about the wanna be-avers. I’m just going to bask in the recognition that beavers are the job-creators of an entire community.

The second wonderful thing is a photo I came across and having been saving for the right moment to share. It’s titled “Beaver playing the flute” for obvious reasons. All I know about this photo is on the caption below. But isn’t that fun?

Beaver, Playing the Flute? (by Alexander Koenders)

The third thing I want to share is the AMAZING donation we received from artist Sara Aycock. She’s a very clever woman in Boise Idaho with a book coming out next fall. I fell in love with her “Victorian Animals” series and she was crazy generous sendng 5 beautifully framed giclee prints that will completely knock your socks off. Each print comes with a framed character description as well. I’m partial of course to Mr. Beaverton. You need to go right now to her etsy store and support this kind of generosity and talent, because something tells me there will be a line waiting to bid on these delightful items at the auction.