Archive for the ‘Friends of Martinez Beavers’ 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.


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!


  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!




The Beaver State Beckons

Posted by heidi08 On November - 14 - 2014Comments Off

conference 2014The agenda is out for the State of the Beaver Conference 2015 and it looks amazing. Starting with the Keynote speaker Lixing Sun, the co-author of the most famous beaver book yet written. (Books really, because it’s so popular there’s a second edition.)

 Now maybe you’re thinking”why should I care” or “I hate Oregon in February” and “I don’t need to hear the latest beaver research”. But if you were thinking that you’d be thinking wrong. I’m going to assume that whoever you are you drink water, live on a rapidly heating planet, and are a citizen of a government with limited resources for fixing those things. The world needs beavers, and the only way it’s going to get them is if people like you stand up and teach people why they matter and how to live with them. This conference will make you better at that and you’ll hear from great minds like,

Instream Salmon habitat restoration and unintended benefits for west side beavers Robert Nichols, USDA Forest Service Fish Biologist

NWRC Beaver Research Update: From the Beaver State to the Heart of Dixie Ph.D. Jimmy Taylor,National Wildlife Research Center

Mathematical Ecologist, NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center Ph.D. Chris Jordan

Flow Devices – Controlling Beaver Dam Flooding, and Facilitating Salmon Passage Michael Callahan, Beaver Solutions Inc

Beaver Restoration in Urban Creeks Ph.D. Heidi Perryman, Worth a Dam, Martinez Beavers

 Not to mention that it looks like this morning I just managed to get Derek Gow from Cornwall on the schedule. So you’ll be personally updated on the most famous beavers in the world. As well as a watershed-beaver introduction by this persuasive gentleman:


The conference is truly one-of-a-kind, inexpensive, and ecologically  invaluable. The hotel is nice and beaver friendly, the casino thinks beavers are good luck, and you will meet amazing people that will become amazing friends. Register here and I’ll see you in Canyonville!

2015 SponsorsNow there is lots more to say, including beavers being threatened in BWW’s home town, (if you can believe it) and moderately good news from DEFRA about the Devon beavers. but I wrote this post this morning at 7am, worked on the graphics for leonard and promptly  lost it the entire column in the ether so had to do EVERYTHING again.

This beaver reporter needs a break.

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.


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.

Visitors & Casualties

Posted by heidi08 On November - 8 - 2014Comments Off

setupLast night’s visitors from San Francisco were 30 high school students with backpacks and notebooks who came to see the beavers.They were accompanied by their energetic and fearless teacher/handler Catherine Salvin. I gave a little talk on the footbridge about beavers as ecosystem engineers and described their physical adaptions to walclife in the water. Then Jon took them on a tour of the dam and up to ward street to look for the kit. On the way she made sure they sketched the dam, the flow device, and the chewed trees.

There were some great questions, some  appreciative listeners and a few who  predictably couldn’t have been more bored. They had read the New York Times article beforehand, and were fairly schooled in the basic story. (Someone couldn’t exactly remember the word and said they were ecosystem technicians, which I loved.) I’m happy to say that not one student thought beavers eat fish or live in the dam. That’s Catherine right front below.

Heidi WALCAfter their tour our smaller yearling made several appearances, swimming obligingly and foraging for them to watch. When it first emerged  30 noisy bodies trampled for a closer look and it dove immediately. I was surprised how quickly they learned to watch silently so they could see and sketch the beaver at leisure. A second beaver appeared later on and a great egret fished ostentatiously at the bridge during the quiet moments. everyone watching

All in all it was a good night, for beavers, for ecological education and for Martinez. Thanks WALC!

This morning I heard from Robin that the second wave of depredation permits for beavers (the not-computerized ones that had to be scanned by hand) had arrived. She wrote,

“Yes, we have Region 4 well represented with counties Kern, Fresno, San Luis Obispo, Madera. Also Region 6 with Mono county. Nothing in the Southern coastal region- Los Angeles to San Diego.”

What does this mean? 4 – Central Region  Serving Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Stanislaus, Tulare and Tuolumne counties. Region 6 Serving Imperial, Inyo, Mono, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. That means permission to kill the water-savers in the driest regions of the state. Robin will generously donate her weekend to get the stats together. But she can’t possibly go fast enough for me.

I recently was talking to a reporter from the guardian about depredation in California, and she wanted to know if the numbers were going up or down. I realized we couldn’t know for sure, but might glean something from earlier records. I don’t have access to earlier depredation permits, but I do have the stats from a FOIA request by reporter Thomas Knudson on beavers killed by the USDA in 2010. Comparing the two is kind of like apples and oranges, because one is ‘permission given’  and the other is actual beavers killed, and just because a permit is issued the beavers could be killed by someone else and never wind up in the USDA stats. Think of it like “All mothers are women” but “not all women are mothers” grouping problem. Remember the column on the left is the actual number of beavers killed by USDA. And the column on the right is the number of depredation permits issued (which might valid for an unlimited number of beavers).

However you slice it, we still have our grim winner:

what a differenceSo Placer county is still the leading beaver killer in the entire state.  No surprise there. Even more interesting to me is second place. USDA killed 108 beavers in Colusa County in 2010. But in 2013 the entire county got only got 4 permits. What gives? Did they suddenly have a change of heart and think that killing beavers was wrong? No indeed. Those 4 permits were issued for the incredible number of 94 beavers PLUS one unlimited wildcard of dead beavers. And they were all awarded to USDA. Let’s assume that those US killers are good at their job and always get their beaver. 94 + X (make that at least least 10 probably a lot more) and that puts them right back in their number 2 spot.

Some things never change.

WALC this way!

Posted by heidi08 On November - 7 - 2014Comments Off

I think it was 2008 when I first wrote Catherine Salvin of the WALC school at Balboa High in San Francisco. WALC stands for Wilderness Arts and Literacy Collaborative and is an outdoor-immersion-ecologically-minded splendor that is accessible to both continuation and Balboa students. As you can see it is definitely not your typical school.

Last year Catherine wrote that there was FINALLY money to get the kids here and they would like to make a visit to see some urban beavers.  I told them the viewing was better before November but this is the first chance they had to make the trek. Jon and I are meeting them tonight down town for a beaver tour, and I’m hopeful that the beavers will cooperate. With any luck they will inspire some essays or artwork and I will get to post it here! (Not to mention fostering a healthy respect for urban beavers and their contributions later in life.)

WALC student artwork

Fingers crossed that we will see actual beavers in our beaver habitat!

In the meantime I’ve been thinking some pretty fanciful thoughts. Bear with me. (Remember my day job is a child psychologist so it’s an occupational hazard.) These thoughts are about mermaids.  No seriously. Now everyone has seen the little mermaid and knows about mermaids in the ocean but did you also know that there are old stories that say some mermaids travel up estuaries to fresh water lakes? Estuaries like the Carquinez Straits? (Humphrey did it!)There is even some indication that they go to fresh water when they’re pregnant and give birth in fresh water. Which makes sense, considering salmon and steelhead go out to sea and come back to breed and lay eggs. Can’t you just imagine a mermaid tagging along beside a salmon and finding herself surrounded by cattails?img-thingMermaids have also been described as being able to swim up rivers to freshwater lakes.

And since you already agreed to come this far with your imagination,  can’t you imagine how mermaids would enjoy swimming around with beavers in their murky splendor? I mean, you’ve seen paintings of them with seals, and dolphins, so why not beavers? Visiting their underwater houses, helping with a repair or two and playing with the kits? There are numerous stories about mermaids helping humans so it’s not unthinkable to imagine they would even warn beavers about trappers or underwater snares.

In the vast entirety of the internet, where one can spend days and months looking through every possible crazy idea that is dear to someone,  there is not a single thing written or drawn about beavers and mermaids.

Until now.


Beavers and Freshwater Mermaid – Worth A Dam

Bemoaning Beavers Broadly

Posted by heidi08 On November - 5 - 20142 COMMENTS


Lake Wylie is a man-made lake just south of Charleston in South Carolina. Every now and then it has sightings of alligators and snake fish, and is the product of a 1904 hydroelectric dam made by the power company.  Guess what kind of dams it doesn’t want?

Beavers causing concern on Crowders Creek

LAKE WYLIE — Al Morey says there’s “one heck of a nuisance” on Lake Wylie, and he isn’t sure anyone is doing anything about it.  Lakefront resident Ed Lindsey wants to do something about it.

 ”We’ve had beavers for a while, but they’ve always kind of been in the water,” Lindsey said. “They’ve never done any damage.” Until now. Lindsey had three small plum trees taken down on his property, and six larger tree. A neighbor lost a couple more trees, he said.

 ”They would chew the bark all around a tree,” Lindsey said. “They’re really destructive.”

 Morey works at Clawson’s Pile Driving & Construction. He estimates he has seen 80 or 90 trees in a 10-mile area with beaver damage.

 ”Lately what I’ve been seeing is they’ve been coming out in broad daylight,” Morey said.

 The most extreme damage he has seen has been in Crowders Creek, Morey said. He’s seen five or six dams from the island beneath the S.C. 274 bridge, upstream.

Oh those destructive beavers, coming out in broad daylight to eat your trees for no reason! Better call the trapper right away. Or your pretend lake could get altered by real nature! I wasn’t at all surprised by this article from SC but I was surprised by the final paragraphs.

Nonlethal options for beaver management include water flow control devices and wire barriers or fencing around trees to prevent gnawing. The state department also provides information on those routes.

According to the state, a beaver colony can be as large as 20 to 30 acres. They help produce habitat for waterfowl, fish, reptiles, amphibians and furbearers such as minks and otters.

 The wood duck, which nests in large numbers in South Carolina, often is attracted to beaver ponds. Beavers are located in every county in South Carolina.

surprised-child-skippy-jonRemember, we’re grading on a curve. So any mention of beaver benefits, wrapping trees and flow devices is a big win for South Carolina. I don’t have much hope for these beavers, but I’m pleased that the reporter included options, and have some hope for him.

As the weather picks up, more beavers are being blamed for power outages. This one in Colefax, Washington. (I guessed they plugged in too many devices?)

Beaver knocks out power at Colfax

 COLFAX, Wash. — Avista Utilities says a beaver is to blame for a power outage at Colfax.

 The utility says a beaver chewed through the tree that fell on a line about 2 a.m. Monday, cutting electricity for about 600 residents. Service was restored by 7 a.m.

I mean, it’s not like power companies are responsible for trimming and removing trees around power cables or anything. Mark my words, when Colfax moves the wires underground they’re going to blame gophers.

And here’s a story celebrating salmon and their glorious triumph over those ruinous, obstructing beavers.

Writer’s Voice – Honoring Salmon by Robin Song

For me, the bright spot in this time of year is the Coho Salmon. Theirs is the last of the salmon runs in our area, and they choose the cold autumn waters for their spawning beds. 

That’s why I consider these fish heroes. They have come through so much. Even the creek itself presents challenges. Winter snows sends trees crashing down across the creek and the fish have to negotiate tangles of logs and branches. Beaver have constructed dams along the creek, lowering the water in places to where it is just a few inches deep and the salmon have to thrash over rocks and pebbles as they make their way to pools to rest.

The creek twists and turns, some bends so narrow that the water gushes through and the fish fight their way along, always driven to go farther. At last they reach the final obstacle-a large beaver dam across the west end of the pond, laying west of the lake. In the years when the beaver have been in the valley, they have kept the dam tightly constructed, repairing any breeches immediately. a pair of male Cohos head upstream. In those years the salmon have not been able to leap over the high dam with its many sharp-ended logs and branches bristling against their assault. In those times the salmon have to spawn in the pool below the dam, and along the creek west of that.

But this year the beaver left the pond and moved up to the lake and a breech opened in the dam and was left open. I walked out onto the old dam and stood watching for salmon in the pond and was glad to see some had made it over the dam and were swimming near it. I just caught glimpses of them before they moved into the deeper water of the pond. There were still many salmon in the pool-those who just couldn’t leap up the breech in the dam. And many were spawning in the creek itself.

Of course I posted a comment to Kristin, explaining how that beaver dam would also make deep pools for eggs to grow up in, not freezing in the winter or drying in the summer, and how it would be rich with invertebrates because of the beavers digging and mudding. But my comment must not have been poetic or honor-y enough, because its not there this morning.

And if you woke up like me and looked at the wasteland ashes of the election you might be comforted by this quote from Churchill, who famously said;

“Democ­racy is the worst form of gov­ern­ment.
Except for all the oth­ers”

Surprising things

Posted by heidi08 On November - 4 - 2014Comments Off

IMG_0348Yesterday I received a very interesting email from Pam our fiscal manager at ISI who said that she and Loren had attended the fundraising breakfast for Daily Acts where they had been surprised to see our friend Brock Dolman on stage dressed in a beaver costume and talking about the good beavers do. She snapped this shot with her phone and you can see the beaver’d Brock wayyyyy at the back. She also said there was video of the event and we should get it soon.

You might remember Pam helped at the festival and trekked to our planning meeting beforehand. She had been such a help in our transition aboard that when she admired my wildbryde keystone species charm necklace I had given it to her. She wore it to this event and guess what happened?

And your name is quite well known. I wore my beautiful charm necklace, of course, and a little girl there told me she made her own at the Beaver Festival! Several other adults had also attended. …I am happy to be associated with your fine organization :)

How cool is that? Someone wearing our charms  was spotted by a child who had made them herself! And former attendees of the festival were at the breakfast promoting our good work! Now that’s an awesome coincidence. And it’s what I call being surrounded by beavers!

More good news came from Sherry Guzzi in Tahoe. You’ll remember that she and Ted had installed flow devices at Taylor Creek where they had been battling beavers for decades and ripping out dams to protect nonnative kokonee salmon. They had waged an epic [and I do mean epic] campaign to win hearts and minds and were finally begrudgingly given the go ahead “try one” in a back channel. Of course this worked like a charm so they were granted permission to try one on the main channel. Guess what happened?

 I want to personally thank you so very much for all your hard work, coordination, communication, perseverance and good humor. It has been a pleasure working with you to create more harmony between the visiting public and beaver at the Visitors Center!

 I am excited about the other opportunities to collaborate that we’ve been exploring. Your assistance in addressing beaver concerns at other locations in the Basin will be warmly welcomed. 


Is it possible that in a million years I never expected this response and I simultaneously have imagined no other? Fantastic work Ted and Sherry! And everyone else who helped nudge, wheedle, persuade, cajole and shame this into happening. Finally the Taylor Creek beavers can live in peace!


And a final note of warm remembrance for car guru and radio humorist Tom Margliozzi, who  died yesterday from complications due to Alzheimer’s. Everyone remembers his infectious laugh and his playful advice but I don’t think that was his real talent. Tom and his brother were both MIT graduates. They were realists who loved science and solving problems. Tom was educated without being elitist. Regional without being exclusionary. Populist without be simplistic. Traditional without being dated and funny without being mean. In three minutes Tom could connect with a Lexus driver in NYC, a Ford pickup driver in Alabama, or an Honda driver in Chicago. There are a handful of people alive in our partisan world that still have that skill. He perfected it.

He is remembered on this website with his badge of honor. The brass rat.

mitringtopquid rides? mutato nomine de te fabula narratur
(Why do you laugh? Change the name and the story is told of you)