Archive for the ‘Friends of Martinez Beavers’ Category

Defending your Beavers

Posted by heidi08 On October - 23 - 2014ADD COMMENTS

 Beaver habitat topic of concern

Now after yesterday’s horrors, any sane person reading this headline from The Cabinet in Milford, New Hampshire, would obviously suspect that the concerns were mosquitoes, flooding or giardiasis. But any sane person would be WRONG because this is actually the exceedingly rare and absolutely best kind of concern.

MILFORD – Residents were back before selectmen last week to complain about the breaching of a beaver dam at Heron Pond. It was the second time since the Department of Public Works breached the dam in August that residents, lead by local environmental activist Suzanne Fournier, went to a selectmen’s meeting.

Fournier said removing part of the dam, which was done by hand, resulted in mud flats and harmed many kinds of wildlife.

 Ahh Suzanne! We read about her  almost exactly a month ago – the last time they did this. Apparently they haven’t learned much although Suzanne has been doing her homework. The good news is that this time school is back in session and she brought friends.

Several other residents went to the microphone at the Oct. 13 Board of Selectmen’s meeting to say they were unhappy with the dam breaching, including Suzanne Schedin, a teacher at Heron Pond School, who said the town should reconsider the decisions made 14 years ago when the 270-acre Brox property was purchased to see if development is a good idea.

 Chairman Gary Daniels conceded that town officials should have involved the Conservation Commission in its decision about dam breaching, and Audrey Frazier, commission chairwoman asked the board if they could be informed the next time work is done to the pond.

 Have you noticed how development is always lurking in the wings? The article describes how the selectman responded with the usual weaseling, saying the pond had just been altered, not drained and they shouldn’t worry so much and “Work together for the town.” Grr.  But if I were one of these very select group of men I would pay attention to the fact the Blue Heron School is an elementary and if they’re not very, very careful they will wind up at the next meeting with a room full of these: (The original weasel deflectors).

 

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(That reminds me, I have to send an email to some teachers.)

In the mean time, if you haven’t seen the scathing editorial from the Contra Costa times about one of our own ‘select men’ you really should read it. And I know this website isn’t supposed to be political but the endorsed candidate Mark Thompson is a friend of our beavers and came to the recent Beaver Safari. Incumbent Lara Delaney who is also endorsed, faught for a chance to be on the beaver sub-committee. And Gay Gerlack who is running for mayor spoke up for the beavers at the original meeting in November 2007.

Coincidence?

I came across this video the other day and thought you might find interesting too. It’s a fairly concise description of the fur trade – well, one PART of the fur trade. Calling HBC the fur trade is like calling Shell the oil industry. Remember that there were many other companies all doing the same thing at once.

It’s amazing any survived at all. Lets not think any more about ‘Made Beavers”. Let’s think about “beavers that have got it made”.

Capture

 

 

Wonderments of the East Bay Celebrating 80 years of EBRP

 The East Bay Regional Parks abound in wonderments: animals, plants, sounds, geological formations, histories, and languages that stimulate our curiosity and expand our capacity for awe. In exquisite, lyrical essays, Sylvia Linsteadt and Malcolm Margolin—with help from their friends—revel in these wonderments.

Our complimentary copy arrived yesterday with 4 pages of the Martinez Beaver story. They declined to use Cheryl’s excellent photos (or my accurate writing, ahem) but gave a gallant tale of civic response and public interest. The story  puts Martinez in a community-building light and says we had people from all over coming just to see our beavers. I remain fairly picky about the details. (If you’ll remember the original chapter had said Martinez brought in a “Team of engineers” to fix the flooding problem and I was terrified everyone would think it was expensively hard work  saving beavers.) I managed to get that wording fixed, but sadly the chapter still said mom had three babies and we discovered the first ever tulle perch in Alhambra Creek, which makes me mortified that my name was dropped in the passage without a corresponding footnote saying, “Heidi never said this and didn’t write it.”

A reasonable woman would be content that it makes it clear that the beavers had a positive effect on our creek and grateful that they sent me a copy. I strive to be such a woman. I’m not worried about the idea of giving EBRP credit for our beavers, (since they’re on city land), because I crisply remember a lively conversation I had with park wizard Hulet Hornbeck before he died, where he told me that they had been working for 50 years to clean up the Marina so that the arrival of the beavers would even be possible. And since he was wise enough to see the beaver family as a compliment,  I heartily believed him.

It’s a very nice looking book and a trove of local treasures. I know you want to pick up your own copy  here, or wait for the silent auction!

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Now you’ve done your history homework you deserve a treat. R.E. from Napa sent this yesterday and it’s very lovely. I won’t even bother telling you to enjoy it, because I know you will.

lorna and curtAnd finally a HUGE thanks to our friends at Safari West. My niece just got married in the Redwoods and since my wedding present to her had been an overnight stay at our favorite wilderness adventure in the wine country, they made sure she and her new hubby had an awesome time. The highlight came  last night when Kimberly Robertson met the couple after their tour and dinner to take them for a tower feeding that left my well-spoken niece speechless.  Thanks so much Safari West for making so many people so happy, and don’t forget to remember them if you’re looking for the PERFECT special day for someone in your family!

Capture

The Un-abandoning

Posted by heidi08 On October - 18 - 2014Comments Off

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The previous photo reads: In this Sept. 12, 2014, photo, a tagged young beaver explores water hole near Ellensburg, Wash., after he and his family were relocated by a team from the Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group…

I worked very hard to track down Melissa Babik after I saw this photo. Sinceher email wasn’t listed online it meant looking up the group she worked with and using their format from the listed emails to speculate about hers.  After a few false starts I cracked the code and wrote her to ask about the possibility of a leftover beaver. In the mean time, I even quarreled with beaver champion Joe Wheaton who politely admonished me for complaining about one abandoned beaver when Yakima was generally doing such a good job promoting beaver benefits. I respect Joe very much, and don’t want him to see me as some beaver-eco-terrorist – but leaving behind family is the opposite of what I want for beavers. I worried and fussed about this for more days than I will confess, thinking about the difference between what it means to be a beaver advocate (which is quite rare actually) and a “beaver benefits” advocate (which is getting to be much more common).

Then yesterday Mel wrote me back. And guess what she said? She said this photo was taken in his new location AFTER the entire family was moved. And she added:

We work hard with the best possible techniques to capture entire family units. We moved 7 beavers total in this family that would have been lethally removed. We trap for a minimum of 5 consecutive nights with no fresh activity to ensure we have the entire colony (on average this means we trap for a minimum of 2 weeks at a site but generally longer). Often we’ll go back after the sites “cools” and try again. It is sad to leave members behind and with their strong social bonds we know this limits our success.

Isn’t that GREAT news? No beavers left behind and at least 5 days of no activity before the team moves on – which often takes two weeks! I can’t remember a time I’ve been happier to be wrong, and I asked Mel for permission to share it with you so you could be happy about my wrongness too! For some reason this sound track is playing in my head.

Thanks for reading so carefully.. another misinterpretation in this generally well written article is that ~50% of our relocated beavers get preyed on our go back to their colonies. When in fact what I said was they are unaccounted for: SOME may get preyed upon (we’ve never seen evidence of this but know it happens), one we know went back to his colony, and others we are slowly finding elsewhere in the headwaters doing great things!

Again thanks for asking these questions and clearing up misconceptions! We appreciate the work you do to educate folks about beavers!

MEL

 This is all fantastic news and I couldn’t be happier!  Careful of beavers and their delicate family systems! I sent it right away to Joe who I had already repaired things with. He was thrilled to have the data to back up his positive view. This morning I will send it to everyone I contaminated with my previous gloom because they deserve to have their reputation restored. They are spreading good beaver cheer all over the country, and even if it’s not QUITE as wonderful as keeping the beavers in town, they are doing it responsibly! (I just saw an article about them yesterday in the Idaho Statesman).

I have been such a big scrooge about the Yakima good news that I feel you might deserve this clip as well. Maybe its the looming season ahead, but I can’t resist.

Beavers Far and Wee

Posted by heidi08 On October - 14 - 2014Comments Off

Beaver fence aims to stop pathway flooding in Fish Creek

A beaver appears to be missing a paw from a trapping mishap in Fish Creek Provincial Park. (Ingham Nature Photography )

A beaver appears to be missing a paw from a trapping mishap in Fish Creek Provincial Park. (Ingham Nature Photography )

Calgary officials are trying out a new way to manage beavers that are causing problems in Fish Creek Provincial Park.

The rodents keep packing mud and logs against a culvert in a city-owned storm pond. If left, the dam would cause the pond to overflow and flood a popular pathway.

In the spring, the city’s water services department is going to install something called an exclusion fence — a trapezoid shaped fence made of wire that prevents the beavers from plugging the culvert.

The city used to deal with situations like this by trapping and killing the beavers, but it reviewed that policy after an incident in July. A beaver got caught in a trap, but didn’t die and was spotted struggling to free itself.

Fish Creek Park Beavers

The area in Fish Creek Provincial Park where city officials tried to trap and kill the beaver over concerns it would flood a bike path. (Carla Beynon/CBC)

Upset animal lovers launched a petition to stop trapping in the city. That prompted the review, which revealed that debris got caught in the trap, causing it to malfunction. Since then, the city has been working with the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals to come up with non-lethal alternatives.

“We want to go a different route so we don’t actually have to kill beavers,” said water services spokesman Randy Girling. “We don’t want to be known as killers or anything like that. We want to do the best we can for the wildlife in our parks.”

Hurray for Adrien and Fur-Bearer Defenders! They managed to convince the good folk of FCPP that it was better to try something new than claw their way out of any more bad press and public wrath. Adrien says it was hard, hard work. Like pushing a grand piano through a transom. But they persevered and were granted permission to install a beaver deceiver  now. Gosh, I’m so old I can remember when Adrien installed his first leveler!

Sniff, they grow up so fast.

Speaking of the long arm of beaver defenders, I got an invitation this morning to present at the San Pedro Valley Park in Pacifica on beavers. A month after I’ll be talking in Auburn. That’s 133 miles apart for beaver defense. 1670 if you count Utah and Oregon. And Cheryl just visited Big Break in Brentwood where she snapped these videos of our work at the visitors venter!

Pretty cool to be long-range beaver preachers!

And in the end, the beavers you save, is equal to the beavers you have

Posted by heidi08 On September - 26 - 2014Comments Off

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, New Hampshire.

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