Last 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?
And as an extra special reward, this article was released yesterday in Alberta, which is easily becoming the beaver IQ capital of the country.
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.
Oh and Beaver Festival VII made the John Muir Association fall newsletter.