Archive for the ‘Friends of Martinez Beavers’ Category

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?


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.


Oh and Beaver Festival VII made the John Muir Association fall newsletter.


Beavers win Badger-Spirit Award

Posted by heidi08 On September - 1 - 2014Comments Off

2014 Badger Spirit awards are presented to:

Occidental Arts and Ecology Center and WATER Institute in Occidental, CA, for their work in conserving natural resources, sustainable agriculture, respect for the environment, and the WATER Institute’s national outreach to “Bring Back the Beaver” and restoring Coho Salmon to watersheds programs. More info:, and

Worth a Dam,, based in Martinez, CA, for conservation, outreach and educational programs on behalf of Beavers in the United States and stewardship and protection of the Martinez Beavers in Martinez, CA. More info:, an innovative and contemporary internet resource, for San Francisco Bay Area information about wildlife, places, activities and resources. More info:

Many thanks to Susan and the Paula Lane Action Network for recognizing beavers with this years awards.  We even got mention in the local Press Democrat.

 Award for Bring Back the Beaver program

The group Worth a Dam which also works to educate the public about the value of beavers in restoration and conservation of natural resources was also recognized. The group holds an annual Beaver Festival in Martinez where beavers have become a tourist attraction as well as providing a habitat for other wildlife..

 The much maligned animal has proved its worth in preserving valuable salmon runs, and in water conservation. Bring Back the Beaver and Worth a Dam are working to educate the public and change state policies about the beaver which date back to 1942 and are founded on inaccurate data.

susanA beaver-maniac like me is thrilled to accept the honor. I first wrote Susan close to 8 years ago when she was a writer for Sonoma Press Blog and had written about our beavers. When I learned about her badger affinity I told her that through a weird series of coincidences my earliest fiercely loved toy had been an actual stuffed badger the neighbor had thrown over the fence. I had loved its soft fur and sharp claws, and imagined that its badger spirit had shaped my adult life, making me unwilling to give up on much of anything including the Martinez beavers.

Thank you PLAN for recognizing the badger spirit in us! And we look forward to badgering people about beavers for years to come!



Utah Beavers Beckon

Posted by heidi08 On August - 31 - 20142 COMMENTS

Mary Obrien was the first beaver idol I ever had. It was 2009 when I read the article in High Country News that described her eloquently preaching the beaver gospel and advocating for their many benefits. I was starstruck to meet her in person at the State of the Beaver Conference in 2011 and thrilled when she came to our festival the following year. It was Mary who talked the documentary crew into including Martinez last year. And Mary who flew out to attend the  Salmonid Restoration Conference workshop on steelhead and beaver, coming to dinner at the house we rented in Santa Barbara with the other beaver wizards.

santa barbara dinner

Think I’m exaggerating about her importance? Here’s a description of Mary from Scientific American.

One five-star general in the campaign to save nature is Dr. Mary O’Brien, and she has a thing for beaver, the championing of which she has completely converted me to. In the first place, the quest for beaver has arguably had more impact on American history than the pursuit of any other single natural resource, its influence lasting well over 200 years. Sixty million or so beaver populated North America before 1600, and had a huge effect on the hydrology of the landscape – beaver dams stored water, slowed its flow and rate of evaporation, slowed erosion and supported a wealth of fish and bird species. In fact, the extermination of beaver from North America arguably marks the point at which our landscapes began to buckle and slide down the ruinous course we find them on now. Especially in the West, where water has always been an enormous issue and will become more important as climate change affects it, there is a real imperative to put beaver back on the waterways.

So when she asked me after my presentation at the conference whether I’d be willing to come to Utah and present at their festival this year if they payed my expenses I was very, very surprised. Like kinda if Santa asked you to help pick out your presents for next year, surprised. The kind where you don’t really want to mention or think about it just in case it doesn’t happen. Mary’s a busy woman and has five million things to do at any given moment, so I thought she might change her mind or forget about it.


She didn’t forget. She wrote me the week of our beaver festival and said “Are you coming?” So on the last weekend of September we are officially flying to Cedar City on Friday and getting picked up by her students to stay at a hotel in St. George where the festival is. Saturday morning we go to the event where I will present twice in an auditorium at the Nature Center on our urban beavers, and generally enjoy the day. Sunday morning I’ll present to her students on the research we did for the historic prevalence papers. And Monday we fly home. She sent the almost completed poster yesterday which needed a time change, but I couldn’t wait to share so I patched it myself just to show you.

correcty poster

Remember, that there was no Utah Beaver Festival until there was a Martinez Beaver Festival. And there never would  have been a Martinez Festival if our city had conceded gracefully and said “OK you win, we’ll protect the beavers.”

I guess we should really thank them for being so encouragingly stubborn?

And as for Utah, home of the first beaver relocation plan to restore upper watersheds, a statewide USFS beaver management plan, who brought in Skip Lisle, Sherri Tippie and Mike Callahan to teach the basics, and who still had time to commission the “Economic Services of Beaver” paper, Utah of the adorable beavers in towels photos after the famous Willard Bay Crude Oil spill – That Beehive state had better get ready.

Because I think Martinez is going to rock their world.


Pilgrimage to beaver Mecca

Posted by heidi08 On August - 27 - 2014Comments Off

Grey Owl’s cabin sits on the shore of Ajawaan Lake in Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan. Photo: Mark Stachiew/Postmedia News

Following the trail of Grey Owl to Saskatchewan’s Prince Albert National Park

Far enough away to gain seclusion, yet within reach of those whose genuine interest prompts them to make the trip, Beaver Lodge extends a welcome to you if your heart is right.” – Grey Owl

I had long been fascinated by Archibald Belaney, the Englishman who escaped in the early 1900s to Canada where he sought a simpler life by taking on the First Nations identity of Grey Owl. He later became a world-famous author and speaker, urging us in his books and speeches to take care of our fragile environment.

Grey Owl chose this spot in Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan in 1931 to be secluded, but accessible. Most who visit today will hike the 20-kilometre trail to get there and sleep overnight in a nearby campground. We weren’t quite so adventurous, opting instead to cover most of the distance by boat with a guide from the Waskesiu Marina Adventure Centre, only having to hike a 3-kilometre trail there and back from the shore of Kingsmere Lake.

While it saves time to take a boat, you should consider the extra work needed for the 800-metre portage along Kingsmere River before you get to the lake. Fortunately, there is a railway track with a push cart that lets you move your boat that distance, but if you get to one end of the portage and the cart isn’t there, it means hiking to the other end and bringing it back. Needless to say, we had to fetch the cart each time which added another 3.2 kilometres of walking.

The cabin is known as Beaver Lodge for a reason. It sits right at the water’s edge and is actually built on top of a beaver lodge because Grey Owl shared his cabin with Rawhide and Jelly Roll, a pair of orphaned beavers he adopted when they were kits.

The interior of the cabin has few artifacts from Grey Owl’s life. There is an old bed, a table with a guest book and some tobacco offerings. Nearby is a stack of commemorative postcards that can only be found here, intended as one-of-a-kind souvenirs for visitors to bring home.

A short distance up the hill from Beaver Lodge is another cabin that was built one year later for Grey Owl’s wife Anahareo and their daughter Shirley Dawn. It was built because they tired of the nocturnal coming-and-going of the beavers in their house. It was also a place where visitors could stay. Because of his fame, Grey Owl would host hundreds of visitors every year.

A short walk away from the cabins is Grey Owl’s grave and the graves of his wife and daughter. I paused for a few moments to pay my respects and left a pebble on his headstone to mark my visit.

The spirit of Grey Owl lives on today in the men and women eager to share the beauty and wonder of Prince Albert National Park.

I, for one,  know quite a few people in whom the spirit of Grey Owl lives on. Don’t you?


Rolling with the Punches

Posted by heidi08 On August - 25 - 2014Comments Off

It was bound to happen, that awkward moment when your day job as a legal secretary for Lerner and your evening passion of playing drums in a alter-punk club collide. Surprising at first to have your boss see you hammer the snares with a stud in your nose, and then unbelievably liberating to finally have it all together in one place.

I’m very proud of this interview. I never was allowed before to talk so much about my experience on the beaver subcommittee and it was so healing to do. For me this is a vibrant red poppy growing on the dusty battlefield where much blood was spilled 7 years ago. I think it starts slow, but you have to at least listen to the John Muir part. That story relaxed me and it gets a lot better.

Episode 145: The emotional lives of advocates

You may know Dr. Heidi Perryman as the beaver believer from Martinez, California, or the defender who hosts the Worth a Dam website and podcast series. But between her evenings of working with municipalities, landowners and the general public on beaver protection, she’s a successful clinical psychologist.

 Dr. Perryman joined Defender Radio for a unique conversation on these emotions, what they mean to us and how we can manage them in our day-to-day lives as advocates.


Cheryl sent this lovely photo of our kit on vacation at Ward street.


2014 Beaver kit: Photo Cheryl Reynolds

And speaking of emotional lives, just in case you wondered, this is what resilience looks like: courtesy of Meadow Lane in Napa.

Too many updates

Posted by heidi08 On August - 23 - 2014Comments Off

Lots of beaver news this morning, I heard from Scott Artis the designer of this website that he would be happy to do an update for us. Now he’s local again and working for Audubon Canyon and displayed for his new non profit Urban Birds Foudation at the festival.  I, for one, can’t wait until this tired old jalopy is transformed back and into a sleek cyber  Mercedes. Thanks Scott!

Congratulations to Cheryl who just found out yesterday that her lovely photo of two kits will be in the 2015 watershed calendar. It’s the loving work of artist John Finger with snippets of photos all through the dates, and useful information scattered throughout. We are especially proud because in addition to being a beautiful calendar. it hangs in every public works department and county supervisors office for the entire year and reminds them to be nice to beavers.

(And believe you me, most of them need reminding!)


Here’s the fantastic photo that will appear some month in the future. She is between computers at the moment and lacking funds so if a reader of this website just happened to get a big inheritance you might think about helping her get back to full photo capacity soon. You can even ear mark it as a donation thru Worth A Dam and get a tax deduction?

Think of the children!

Cheryl ReynoldsIMG_7316

Now many county supervisors need reminding but apparently not all. Yesterday the county supervisor/former mayor of Napa wrote me that he loved the beaver information I sent, passed it along to everyone,  and he was so excited he was asking flood control to put together a ‘beaver symposium’ next year!

Someone pinch me, I think I’m dreaming.

arch canvasI have been strangely afflicted with planning at the moment, and can’t seem to stop scheming for next year’s festival. I want to hit up the fall grant cycle for funds and was trying to think of an art project that would be educational enough to open their tightly closed purse strings. Around 4 in the morning on Friday it hit me. Our indefatigable artist FRo could paint an archway on a canvas tarp and then kids  on the day could paint in the animals with the beavers as the keystone! It teaches a complicated ecological concept, honors kids contribution, involves the community and it would be sooo cute! And then afterwards when its all dry and finished. We could use it as the backdrop in our display for years to come! FRo and I chatted about the idea yesterday, and she gave me a list of materials and how it would need to be prepared and stored.

Keystone arch here we come!


I’ve been bothering lots of people lately.  I even wrote Ian Timothy’s mom to see if I could lure her into sketching something. Remember Karen Boone was the designer behind the stunning Kentucky Derby graphic pictured below.  Can’t you just imagine the suggestion of a beaver head and beaver tail on a flag or a t-shirt? Me too. I have the dream but not the talent. So I thought maybe I’d write her.

Thinking about your beautiful Kentucky derby art, I’m wondering if you ever considered a beaver outline sketch? We would love to do a tshirt some year that was a beaver head on front and tail on back, but can only imagine the artistic wonders of a minimalist sketch outline? Maybe someday you’ll be inspired to give it a shot?

Karen Boone  wrote back this morning. “I would be happy to do that for you! Plenty of work in, but will put it on my fun to do list.”

Thank you so much Karen for putting us on the FUN list! That is really exciting and would be so full circle if it works out!

On a final note, the friend of a friend who agreed to process our depredation permit stats turns out to be the very respected statistician for Acorn, a psychometrics firm usually handling important questions like does cognitive behavior therapy reduce symptoms more quickly than Lexapro? But now, amazingly he’s committed to handling beaver data. He asked for me to include stats on population density, acreage and sq miles of water so he could run a full regression analysis. It took every waking spare moment I had this week but I finished the updated list yesterday at 3.00 pm and I’m sooooo excited. This means we can partial out effects like how much water an area has, or how densely packed the human population is,  and just zoom in on how murderous the CDFG officer was who signed the permit. Which means I can write the Chuck Bonham with our findings and specify with greater credibility the changes he needs to  make.

I can’t wait.

England, get ready to YOP!

Posted by heidi08 On August - 7 - 2014Comments Off

Public meeting over Devon’s first wild beaver family in 300 years

A PUBLIC meeting is being held in Devon to ask local people their views about the future of the first wild beaver population in more than 300 years.

 In July, Defra announced its intention to catch and remove the beavers, citing the risk of disease and the animals’ potential impact on the landscape as reasons.

 However, a growing number of voices have stated that the beavers should remain; saying that beavers were once a part of the English landscape and that they could be again.

 The meeting to discuss the beavers on Tuesday August 19 will be held at The Institute in the east Devon town of Ottery St Mary (EX11 1HD), close to where the beavers are believed to be living on the River Otter.

4d3ac5e6I’m curious why DEFRA, the harshly tone-deaf agency that is willing to kill badgers that the public reveres, has decided to hold a public meeting on the fate of the beavers they already said they would put in zoos? Even I, with my trusting beaver nature, can’t imagine the decision is open for review. But maybe they were scared at the public response they got. Or maybe they hope no one is going to come and thereby justify their decision?

You can guess what I want to happen.

Worth A Dam from Bill Schilz on Vimeo.

(I’m very grateful to Bill Schilz for making this for us. It’s a terrifyingly large file and I never could process it myself.) The odd thing is that my comment is missing! Coincidence? Hmm…

 Devon Wildlife Trust’s Steve Hussey urged people to attend the specially convened meeting: “The wild beavers on the River Otter have certainly attracted a lot of attention. We’ve had media interest from as far away as New Zealand and the USA wanting to know what their fate will be. This event is the opportunity for the local community to now make their views known.”

 Steve continued: “We need to hear from people whether they think the beavers should remain as part of their local landscape, or whether they think they should be removed.”

  “We want the event to be a chance for people to ask questions and to tell us their views. As an independent charity working for the county’s wildlife, Devon Wildlife Trust thinks the beavers should remain but only after it’s been established if they are disease free, and only if the local community wants them there. This event will help us get an answer to the second of these two questions,” Steve continued.

 The event is free to attend and there is no need to book in advance. Those unable to attend can still give their opinions using the dedicated email address or by letter to Devon Wildlife Trust, Cricklepit Mill, Exeter, Devon, EX2 4AB.

Now Devon, you know your lines. And readers of this website, your letters go here. I believe you all know what to do!

(Does anyone else almost feel a little sorry for DEFRA?)

On a separate note, I have another interview with Fur-bearer Defender’s Radio this afternoon on the role of anger and compassion in advocacy. It’s the first time I’ve talked like a shrink about beavers (well, on purpose), so it’s a little weird and worlds-collidy. Wish me luck!

I’m thinking of calling it the “Psychology of Ecology.