Archive for the ‘Friends of Martinez Beavers’ Category

Saving the water-savers

Posted by heidi08 On July - 25 - 2016Comments Off on Saving the water-savers

Off to the big sky country where beavers are getting some help from the Nature Conservancy.

Volunteers spruce up Tupper’s Lake trail, install beaver deceiver

SEELEY LAKE – A rough trail skirting Tupper’s Lake is becoming a beaten path. The second annual Revive and Thrive event on Sunday drew 40 volunteers and about 200 people celebrating the Clearwater-Blackfoot Project. It’s part of The Nature Conservancy’s $85 million purchase of more than 117,000 acres around Placid Lake and the Gold Creek drainage last year.

For a long time, there were issues with beavers plugging the old culvert, causing water to jump the creek channel and wash out nearby roads. So a new, extended culvert was installed, this one with a water control structure and multiple holes in the culvert.

On Sunday, the volunteers used metal fencing, called calf panels, T-posts and wire to construct a triangle-shaped beaver deceiver surrounding the culvert. Each side is about 14 feet long.

“The idea (with the holes) is the beavers can’t hear the water flowing,” Kloetzel said. “The sound attracts them.”

The hope is that pulling one over on the beavers will raise the lake three feet by this time next year, making it healthier for the cutthroat trout stocked by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

“The idea is to let the beavers live in the lake, but they won’t hurt the roads and the culvert,” Kloetzel said. “It’s an extra security measure. Then if they want to dam, they have to go around the entire surface of the cage.”

The beaver deceiver construction also lent itself to jokes, with one volunteer asking if the beavers had been notified and channeling their response:”Well, I’ll be ‘dam’ed …”

No photos of this ‘beaver deceiver’ though, one has to wonder what it looks like  since the reporter can’t tell the difference between a triangle and a trapazoid. Hmm. Or thinks her readers can’t. No discussion of beaver benefits or how this whole project will save wildlife and habitat in the long run. Never mind. It’s Montana for chrissake. We are DELIGHTED they are trying out some coexistence!

I am reposting this because I just realized you can zoom in by double clicking on the image. This is the perfect tool to showcase our heartstopping brochure from generous artist Amelia Hunter.

And this article took my breath away this morning, and I’m going to share it even though its not about beavers. It is about perseverance and tenacity though. Go read it and feel truly inspired.

Why California’s northern coast doesn’t look like Atlantic City

Let me set the scene first.

In the early 1960s, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. planned and began building a power plant at Bodega Head, one of the most jaw-dropping stretches of coast on the planet.

Meanwhile, developers were mapping plans for a monster residential project just north of Jenner at Sea Ranch, where sheep grazed between coastal bluffs and stunning pebble beaches.

“It began with Bodega Head,” Lucy said of the site of the proposed power plant. But it was Sea Ranch “that really got Bill stirred up.”

The Kortum posse set up ironing boards outside grocery stores, spread out their materials and made their case.

I’m not kidding. Go read this and realize how awesome a battle this was/is. Beavers are child’s play by comparison.

Farming Friends and Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On July - 19 - 2016Comments Off on Farming Friends and Beavers

Oh the farmer and the beaver should be friends,
Oh the farmer and the beaver should be friends,
The beaver likes to build his dams
The farmer plants his corn and yams
But that’s no reason why they can’t be friends.

You know I already did a complete rendition of this song for the salmon in 2011, but I guess the beavers have lots of friends, (and don’t it’s not my fault if dam just naturally rhymes with yam, okay?)




Pond and Slower Streams created by Beaver Serve as Nitrogen Sinks

Beavers, once valued for their fur, may soon have more appreciation in the Northeastern United States. There they are helping prevent harmful levels of nitrogen from reaching the area’s vulnerable estuaries. By creating ponds that slow down the movement of water, they aid in removing nitrogen from the water.

Arthur Gold at the University of Rhode Island, along with his colleagues, studies how the presence of beavers affects nitrogen levels in these waters. “What motivated us initially to study this process was that we were aware of the fact that beaver ponds were increasing across the Northeast,” he said. “We observed in our other studies on nitrogen movement that when a beaver pond was upstream, it would confound our results.

Those darn confounding beavers, ruining Suzanne Fouty’s drought research and Glynnis Hood’s nine year study with their crafty, research ruining ways. Just look at our beavers in Martinez! Confounding their memorial by continuing to exist!

The researchers realized the water retention time and organic matter build up within beavers’ ponds lead to the creation of ideal conditions for nitrogen removal. They then wanted to see how effectively they can do this. The researchers tested the transformative power of the soil by taking sample cores and adding nitrogen to them. These samples, about the size of a large soda bottle, were large enough to incorporate the factors that generate chemical and biological processes that take place in the much larger pond. They were also small enough to be replicated, manageable and measured for numerous changes. Researchers then added a special type of nitrogen to the samples that allowed them to be able to tell if the nitrogen was transformed and how.

Bacteria in the organic matter and soil were able to transform nitrogen, specifically as nitrate, into nitrogen gas, removing it from the system. Thanks to the conditions brought about by the beaver ponds, this process can remove approximately 5-45% of the nitrogen in the water, depending on the pond and amount of nitrogen present.

“I think what was impressive to us was that the rates were so high,” Gold explained. “They were high enough and beavers are becoming common enough, so that when we started to scale up we realized that the ponds can make a notable difference in the amount of nitrate that flows from our streams to our estuaries.

Ahh those rascally beavers, fixing our nitrogen problems and saving our salmon. I’m sure farmers will be rushing to lay down their dynamite and welcome these flat-tailed eco-heroes, right? I won’t hold my breath. It takes a lot of effort on all sides to change hearts and minds about beavers – which we learned first hand in Martinez.

Speaking of which, the drama was apparently a big enough deal (even in Washington) that I’m allowed officially to say it will be recognized by our Congressman at the beaver festival with an award and visit, and some discussing of the slim possibility of adding the Martinez Beavers to the congressional record.

No really.


Beaver splashes

Posted by heidi08 On May - 13 - 20162 COMMENTS

blvHere’s the excellent documentary I was talking about yesterday. Don’t ask how it became possible to share it – just enjoy the ride! The Martinez story starts around 15:30 after a trapper segment – but you’ll be smarter if you watch the whole thing.

Untitled from Heidi Perryman on Vimeo.

Yesterday I spoke to a VERY packed house at Martinez Kiwanis, who were eager to know what was up with the kiwanisbeavers. I gave them the full update and talked about the mural and our very odd summer with Suzi and the unexplained beaver deaths.  Lara Delaney from city council was happy to have the update.  People said afterwards it was one of the best talks they ever had, so I going to assume I did okay. There was a lot of interest in the little Napa segment I added, and people were very surprised to learn how little controversy their arrival had caused in Napatopia as opposed to Martinez.

Unfortunately they mentioned during the meeting they had already voted last week to decide funding allotments for scholarships. So I hope they remembered how much they loved beavers then! The greedy marketer in me would rather Worth A Dam was fresh on their mind when they considered our grant application!

Now my desk is officially cleared and I have no other commitments before Portland. That will give me time to focus on that speech and the mural progress. Mario didn’t work yesterday because he had business in the city, but hopefully well march onward today and tomorrow? I would sure like to have a full bridge before we leave town.

hang in there baby


Nothing succeeds like Beaver Success!

Posted by heidi08 On March - 31 - 2016Comments Off on Nothing succeeds like Beaver Success!

Excellent news from the great Beaver Beyond, where Sarah Koenisberg has been working hard putting the finishing touches on her Beaver Believer Film. I can barely remember years ago when she came to the the festival and filmed the long interview in my backyard. She’s been working nonstop ever since. And supposedly the film is ready to be released on the film festival circuit.

Beyond the Pelt

Washington-based filmmaker Sarah Koenigsberg was getting tired of all the apocalyptic doom-and-gloom climate change stories floating around the media circuit when she happened upon an unlikely glimmer of hope: beavers. After filming these ecosystem engineers for her own feature-length documentary, “The Beaver Believers,” she helped the Trust produce a short film showcasing three success stories of how the return of beavers has transformed public lands across the West. Here, we talk to Sarah about beavers, activism, and catching the slippery critters on camera.

Most people know beavers build dams, but how do they help address climate change?

Beaver dams create ponds and wetlands that collect precipitation, letting it sink slowly into the ground instead of rushing straight out to the ocean. In the arid Southwest, this water storage is incredibly valuable, as it recharges the aquifer and holds water underground until it can slowly trickle back into our streams. Local wildlife, spawning fish, and migrating birds also thrive in the pockets of diverse habitat that beavers help build. The list goes on!

What is next in the queue?

I’m in the final stages of post-production on my film “The Beaver Believers,” which is really exciting. I had something like 70 hours of footage shot over two years for this 50-minute film. You can learn more about that project and watch our trailer at We’ll begin entering it into film festivals this spring!

Martinefilmingz is part of those 70 hours and I’m hoping something of us made it past the cutting room floor!  I know that she included part of Mark Comstock’s beaver ballad because she wrote once that she had gotten it stuck in her head after editing footage with it again and again. Gosh, that seems like a long time ago. In 2013 we had three kits and one yearling from our new mom who had been around just over a year.

I remember that thursdmore filming - Copyay, they drove here after filming Suzanne Fouty  and Carole Evans in Nevada. I spoke at Kiwanis that day and came home to be interviewed Heidi Interviewfor another 7 hours before having them to dinner. Friday was the usual insane packing for the festival and I barely saw anyone at the event because we were all working so hard. They headed off in their movie-making horse trailer that evening. To hit the next target for inclusion.

And now the film is getting finishing touches and then shipping out. Go read the whole thing and learn how and why Sarah does what she does. I wonder if it is headed for the Wild and Scenic Film Festival in Nevada where Ian’s went. It would be fun to have them close to home and start a whole beaver genre to that event!

The Beaver Believers Kickstarter Trailer from Tensegrity Productions on Vimeo.

Yesterday, we heard the exciting news that Jeremy Fish’s amazing artwork was finished after being temporarily matted by founding member of the Martinez Arts Association  Cathy Riggs of “I’ve been Framed” downtown. She didn’t charge us a penny but clearly spent hours on it, using contrasting mats to pick up the colors.  I sent the photo to Mr. Fish who was very impressed. I know it will be a hot item at the auction, and you’ll probably want to come bid on it yourself. Thanks so much Cathy!


Good news for beavers (East Coast version)

Posted by heidi08 On March - 22 - 2016Comments Off on Good news for beavers (East Coast version)

The East Coast is ahead of us in impressive academia and sunrise timing, but it other than inventing Mike Callahan and Skip Lisle it sadly isn’t often they win the beaver IQ contest. Looks like several new steps are getting made at once. Starting with Connecticut, which has recently needed more than its share of beaver guidance.

New Hartford Land Trust eyes resurgent beaver population

NEW HARTFORD — Connecticut has become a virtual “Field of Dreams” for a burgeoning beaver population, a fan of the species told conservationists here last week.

New Hartford Land Trust members explored the nature of the beaver and solutions to the problems their instinctual behaviors cause during the land trust’s annual meeting this week. Presenting the program was Michael Callahan, owner of Beaver Solutions of Southampton, Mass.

“Beavers are second only to people as animals that change the environment,” Callahan said. “Biologists call them a keystone species because they help hold an ecosystem together.”

Callahan said “nature likes change” and beavers are agents of that change. As they cut trees to create dams, woodlands are flooded and natural succession occurs. Beavers eventually create an open grassy habitat called a “beaver meadow,” attracting waterfowl.

As aquatic vegetation grows, invertebrates become common, which attracts insect-eating wildlife such as tree swallows, eastern kingbirds and bats. Fish populations change from cool-water to warm-water species. Mink and otter move in and the wetland becomes attractive to muskrats, mallards, Canada geese, black ducks and least bitterns. Nature is on the move.

If beavers remain in an area, they typically exhaust the food supply and the animals move on to a new territory. The old dams break down and mud flats develop that morph into grasslands supporting birds. Eventually trees grow back and the cycle is complete.

“Beavers can cause us problems, but the benefits put it in perspective,” Callahan said. “Overall, they create a vibrant ecology comparable to the biodiversity of coral reefs.”

Heyyy we recognize that man! It’s Mike Callahan  the very good friend of beavers and Worth A Dam. So happy he is preaching the beaver gospel in CT. I dropped the breadcrumbs in a very neat line and hoped for the best. But you never know. I can’t help noticing a rather large shamrock in the corner of that photo, so I’m going to have to say his luck of the irish had something to do with it.
Given his name sake and appreciation of what no one yet understands I can’t help thinking of this long-lost commercial. I can’t help posting it.

Roosevelt Forest Commission to revisit beaver trapping issue

STRATFORD — The Roosevelt Forest Commission is expected on Wednesday to revisit its decision to allow lethal beaver traps to be deployed in Roosevelt Forest, a 400-acre woodland that’s home to scores of forest creatures.

A colony of beavers has set up shop near the dead end of Pumpkin Ground Road, where there’s a trailhead that leads into the forest. Beavers build dams, and the dam that’s they’ve built is backing up a tributary to Pumpkin Ground Brook is causing a stir throughout the region.

 The Roosevelt Forest Commission will meet in Town Council chambers in Town Hall. The meeting will begin Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Of course revisiting doesn’t mean they’ll be any kinder on the second round, but thinking twice is certainly preferable to not thinking at all. There have been a few protests and flurries about the inhumanity of trapping, so I’m going to fantasize that some Hartford trust member is best friends with some Roosevelt forest member and says at poker night something like, you know we had this fantastic presentation by Mike Callahan. Maybe you should call him?
Okay, these stories are both about a state as big as a postage stamp. Where do I get off referring to the whole “East Coast”? I’ll tell you where, because  yesterday I was sent an email by Dave Penrose of North Carolina, looking for a beaver expert to present at the upcoming 3 day conference on stream restoration. Because he thinks that a stream restoration conference needs a beaver presence. Think about that!
Capture1I promptly introduced him to some nearby beaver voices in the land, including the good folks at the Blue Heron Nature Preserve. I also sent it to John Hadidian in case HSUS could get Stephanie Boyle involved from Virginia. The conference is three days in August so I said I was absolutely preoccupied and couldn’t help  because of the beaver festival. He said, “That’s intriguing. What’s a beaver festival?”.
Something your state needs, I answered.

Martinez Beaver Festival promo 2015 from Tensegrity Productions on Vimeo.

People saving beavers

Posted by heidi08 On March - 14 - 2016Comments Off on People saving beavers


Friends saving beavers! I watched this video public comment yesterday and it gave me total PTSD flashbacks of our November meeting, lo those many years go. Caitlin does a great job starting the conversation AND rallying the troops, despite the fairly dickish admonishment to “Talk to staff, not us”. I love the sleeper cell confrontation in the last speaker who points to an article two years ago and says “If its such a terrible problem why haven’t you done anything yet?”

Now there’s a man after my own heart.

I fiddled a bit more with Elizabeth Saunders lovely illustration and was very happy indeed, until Bruce Thompson of Wyoming suggested there was an unfortunate urinary tract association. Sheesh. There’s always a critic. Still, when I got over the giggles, I was still this.

water glass statsArtist Mario Alfaro came by yesterday with his latest additions and Ron Bruno came down to do a lovely panoramic so the city could see the final product. Note the fish in the mouth of the egret and the lurking frog in the corner! Click to see larger.

Final panoramaThe only other thing we would like for him to incorporate is the top of the filter sticking out upstream. I gave him this photo yesterday and we’ll hope its possible.

green Heron filterFinal news. Nearly month after a resident reported a beaver tailslap and sighting in the area next to the creek monkey, Linda Kozlowski sent this right before daylight savings:

hey! this is probably old news to you but…at about 5:45 (just now…still light out) was standing on north side if escobar and saw a b.a.b. (big ass beaver) come part way up on the bank just a bit north of the old lodge and forcefully pry a stick out of the mud and swim across with it to the other side….for sure went no further downstream. not as big as old dad but pretty big. cheers!

It’s the kind of news that’s almost too hope-inducing to bear, but we’ll head down tonight and check it out. The part that made me chuckle was realizing that BIG STICK he was trying to pry out of the ground was one of the cotton wood stakes we planted this November. Funny thing is, I almost couldn’t bear to go thru with the planting because the city was being so horrible and the beavers were gone. Then I thought, well if I was a returning beaver checking to see what was if there was anything worth coming back for, some fresh tasty trees might convince me.

Hahaha. Stay tuned.


Good News for Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On March - 5 - 2016Comments Off on Good News for Beavers

Great News! We have a date! The beaver mural is finally on the city council agenda for 7:00 April 6! That means that only 6 months after I originally met with the artist and proposed the idea we can find out if its possible! Any and all supporters who want to come should attend because it would help to show public interest in the project. Mario’s coming by next week with his latest edits of a fish and a frog in the two birds mouth, and I’m starting to feel like this can actually happen.

More great news! Another beautiful article from naturalist Patti Smith in the Battleboro reformer. You may remember her as the author of “The Beavers of Popples Pond“. Her writing style is so calmly affirming I love to read about her beaver visits. They are nothing like the train-whistle blowing, swearing homeless-drinking visits we enjoyed in Martinez. But ohhh they’re nice to read.

The Beavers of Poppels Pond: Patti Smith

The View from Heifer Hill: A tough break for the beavers

In the middle of January I gave up on waiting for snow and set out on foot to check on the beavers. I had not been to the pond since late November, but felt optimistic that the old one-eyed Willow and her new mate would be doing well; on my last visit I found that the two had built a small lodge and had quite a fine cache of branches piled up outside their door in the pond — their food supply for the winter. Their lodge still needed some work, but they had plenty of warm weather and open water in December to finish sealing things up.

Willow and her suitor had moved to this downstream location last summer and patched up the large hole Tropical Storm Irene had blasted through an old dam. Behind their repairs arose a fine pond, perfectly acceptable habitat for a pair of beavers. I arrived on that January day expecting to find the beavers tucked into their lodge and living beneath the ice, instead I found their pond was gone — the dam had broken in one of the heavy rain events of this weird winter.

Woebegone, I walked upstream to the lodge. The entrance was well above water, fully accessible to predators and therefore no longer suitable for beavers. Their food supply sat like an untidy haystack in the middle of the brook, most of it above the level of the water. Beavers prepare for such emergencies by making bank lodges, simple burrows dug into the bank of a pond. I suspected these beavers had moved into a bank lodge in a small pond just upstream. I could see a few openings in the ice above the intact dam of this pond, and from one of these a slide led down the face of the dam into a plunge hole in the ice at the base. Dusk settled — time for the beavers to become active. Sure enough, a beaver’s head appeared in the water above the dam. I said hello to Willow. She climbed onto the dam and slid down into the beaver-sized hole below. She reappeared downstream at the old food cache and came up through the ice for an apple. She appeared as calm and unruffled as usual. She had not seen the weather forecast — a deep cold would seal the ice on their pond within a few days. She and her mate would have no longer have access to their food supply.

Oh NO! A destroyed dam, exposed lodge and a food supply gone to waste! Poor Willow! How will she manage all winter long without food?

Since then, I have been keeping an eye on the weather for her. Whenever the beavers exit holes freeze, friends and I have hauled a sled load of poplar and beech to the pond, whacked a hole in the ice with a maul, and shoved the beaver food into the water. Our altruism has been doubly rewarded; not only do we suspect how welcome our deliveries are to the hungry beavers, but this wild stream valley is especially beautiful in winter. We have never seen the beavers on these delivery missions, but our offerings always disappear within a few days.

smile-again-1I wish that everywhere there was a beaver there was a Patti Smith to look out for it. This article gives me immense joy and the ending of it is worth reading. I won’t tell you what happens because you should go read it for yourself here. Robert Browning’s Pippa Passes offers a clue.

God’s in His heaven
    All’s right with the world!