Archive for the ‘Friends of Martinez Beavers’ Category

Making beavers count

Posted by heidi08 On January - 25 - 20151 COMMENT

We’ve talked before about the hero from Pocatello that managed to get Audubon to provide a grant for a beaver count in the habitat in Idaho. Mike Settell is a friend of this  website and pulled off his own musical beaver festival last summer (the dam jam!). Now he’s in the news again, training volunteers for a snowy beaver count.


Locals Prepare for Beaver Count

 Watershed Guardians began training Saturday for their fourth annual Beaver Count.  The Beaver Count is a free winter event where teams snowshoe, ski or hike through various drainages in the Portneuf Watershed to count Beaver activity.

 KPVI News Six met with them on Saturday up at Mink Creek to learn more about their role in Beaver sustainability.  Members from the Watershed Guardians prepared lunch in a yurt for volunteers coming back from training for the 4th annual Beaver Count.

 The training was held at Mink Creek’s Nordic Center. 

While the volunteers trained, they learned about the Beaver’s role in a healthy watershed and the current state of the Beaver in Idaho.  Watershed Guardian volunteer Joan Bernt says training the volunteers is essential for the Beaver Count.

 “The other thing is, is we want to make sure that people realize what they are looking for when they are looking for an active beaver colony. Just because they see a dam, that doesn’t mean that’s an active live Beaver maintaining that dam,” says volunteer, Joan Bernt.

 The Beaver Count consists of teams surveying different zones in the area where they will be looking for Beaver activity such as fresh cuts where beaver have chewed on trees, Beaver tracks in the snow and Beaver dams and lodges.

Hooray for Mike and the Watershed Guardians! And congratulations for luring the good folks of Idaho into the snow to appreciate beavers! It’s wonderful to think of folks learning how to keep an eye on the beavers around them and hearing why they matter.  I espsecially love the part where the article emphasizes the event is FREE. It reminds me a little of Tom Sawyer or P.T. Barnum.

This way to the Egress.

Great job fanning the beaver flame, and I’m thrilled the reporter added this at the end.

Mike Settell says the data collected from the Beaver Count will be presented at ‘State of the Beaver’ conference in Canyonville Oregon in February.

I can’t wait! See you there, Mike! And good work reminding people why to care about beavers!

Now on to Beaver appreciation in New Hampshire where a trip in the snow reminds folks that beavers are under the ice.

A trip to beaver lodges

HOLDERNESS, N.H. —One of the benefits of all this rain and cold weather is that it has allowed us to do some ice skating and exploring on our local bogs and ponds in the region.

Recently, we went on a beaver lodge tour of Hawkens Pond in Center Harbor and Holderness and were able to admire up close these houses made of sticks and mud. At the very top of the lodge you could see the chimney of sorts. Rime ice was collecting, indicating something warm inside was exhaling into the atmosphere

Their presence is a good indicator of a healthy habitat. Beaver flowages are important habitat for many other species including great blue herons, osprey, kingfisher, mink, otter and muskrat.

For those of you keeping track at home, that’s beaver appreciation in Arizona, Idaho and New Hampshire in the past two days. Not to mention the usual defenders in Washington and New York. I’m thinking its past time we adopt Dean’s “50 State Strategy”.

stencilTime to congratulate my brilliant husband and beaver man-Friday who undertook the impossible task of cutting out a stencil so we could spray paint our keystone tails. My brain couldn’t even imagine the task of cutting away the shapes you wanted to remain but he boldly finished a design and knocked of 25 of these.

Just 125 more to go!

One of the final benefits of shining the beaver light so steadily and strong for so many years is that there is now an international army of folks keeping watch for beaver treasures around the world. Peter Smith of Kent England posted this find this morning, which I promise will make you smile. Enjoy!

Beaver Pioneers

Posted by heidi08 On January - 21 - 2015Comments Off

Nice find this morning from Rickipedia who came across this article from 1983 showing that human settlements were chosen because of beaver landscaping. I would follow where the beaver colonized, wouldn’t you? They proposed that beaver were essential in determining not only water course, but deforestation that allowed both farming and rancing to begin. Read full article here:

Homo sapiens or Castor fiber?

This article shows how environmental evidence for European stone age fore st clearance may require  re-interpretation, and that change need not be attributed only to climate or man. Observations in North America and Europe show the beaver to be a significant agent of land transformation. The authors suggest that both hunters and farmers took advantage of the opportunities thus presented, and a few hints are provided about their detection and the implications for the Mesolithic and early Neolithic of north-western Europe. 


Now something really delightful to mark your day. I just wish we were all invited to the party of Mr. Knuckles. But who knows? What do you think they’ll do with this invention after the party’s over? How about a tax deductible donation to a certain beaver festival?

Stars, indie films and a mechanical beaver: What to watch for at the Sundance Film Festival

And Canadian coat company Moose Knuckles is hosting a party where guests are invited to ride a mechanical beaver. (If that doesn’t scream photo op…)mb-001Ooh, Scary.

A final word of welcome to stalwart beaver hero Rusty Cohn from Napa who generously volunteered to learn in the following weeks how to post photos and articles on the website to take over for me during the conference, when I’ll be sans wifi.  It’s harder than you might think to do this every morning, but Rusty has some great stuff to share and I know you’ll be in good hands. Just giving you a heads up in case he decides to start practicing any time soon.

Thanks Rusty!

Rally and Defend

Posted by heidi08 On January - 4 - 2015Comments Off

 ”Race against time” to raise £20,000 needed to secure beaver family’s future on River Otter

AFTER staggering £30,000 was raised in three weeks, a leading conservation charity is appealing for help to raise the remaining £20,000 needed to secure the future of a family of River Otter wild beavers.

 A public meeting has been arranged by Natural England in Ottery St Mary this month and public support has been dubbed “vital” in securing their return to the river banks near the town. Backed by East Devon MP Hugo Swire, the Devon Wildlife Trust applied for a licence from Natural England for their re-release in October.

 The licence would give the charity permission to set up a five year monitoring project called the River Otter Beaver Trial.  The project will oversee the population, range and health of the beavers and the effect they have on the local landscape and people.

 It will focus on the beavers’ impact on wildlife, vegetation, water flow, water quality, communities and infrastructure. But it will cost around £50,000.

Devon is leaping into action to save its beavers, and I couldn’t be happier. As I am that beaver instigator Derek Gow will be coming with Paul and Louise Ramsay to the State of The Beaver Conference! We might even lure them over for a barbecue when its all finished.

Let it be clearly said that it all started with the farmer who had the foresight to let an environmentalist install a night cam. None of this would have been possible without that. People care about what they can see. And the media never does anything without a good photo. These were the very best beaver photos in 5 centuries. Think about that.

 We have had a number of donations, some as large as several thousand pounds, and this shows the depth of feeling out there.

 “But we now have a race against time to secure the remaining amount to ensure a viable longer term project and enhance the chances of the beavers having a longer term future on the River Otter.”

 The public meeting will take place on Wednesday, January 14, at 6.30pm, Ottery St Mary Scout Centre on Winters Lane.

 You can add to their donations here:

the countryside of my ancestors, and I hope that meeting is even more crowded than the first. But in my head – from a strictly pragmatic view – it has been wonderful for beavers everywhere that DEFRA has been such monstrous idiots about this whole process. I have loved reading people extol beaver benefits from  all over Europe and even Australia. Having something to prove has been amazing for the beaver public image. I’ll almost be sorry to see it go.


I’m looking forward to what happens next. In the mean time, I spent yesterday working on adding a Napa section to my urban beaver talk for Oregon. Rusty Cohn was kind enough to give me great photos and I think it shows elegantly the vibrant effect of beavers on a neglected city creek.


 lodge with cars




Mendenhall of Fame

Posted by heidi08 On December - 20 - 2014Comments Off

I first became aware of Bob Armstrong of Juneau, Alaska when I read about his ‘beaver team’ back in 2008. He was using volunteers to wipe out the troublesome beaver dams that flooded the trails at the state park so the beavers wouldn’t need to be trapped. (Very frustrated but lucky beavers!) I was able to introduce Bob to Mike and he was able to get the rangers to pay for him to come out and do a complete assessment of the situation. Along the way Bob and his colleague Mary Wilson published a beautiful book of the Mendenhall Glacier Beavers, which he was kind enough to donate to the auction at the festival many times.

Suffice to say that because of Mike’s advice Bob’s beaver team finally got a break, the trails were protected and those hard working beavers finally got to have a dam. Lory actually met Bob when she went to Alaska and we’ve been in touch all along. Yesterday he sent me word that his book was going up online as a pdf and sent me the link. You can imagine how excited I was to hear it! I put a  permanent link on the left margin but you should really go check it out now.

Screen shot 2014-12-19 at 3.08.14 PM

Click to view

We were eager to study all the details like what the beavers ate and how they lived. I love his photo of the beaver dam at the glacier so much it has been my screen saver for 5 years, and I don’t think I will part with it ever. It looks to me like those beavers know even when things are hard that with a little effort anything is possible.


Mendenhall Glaciar Beaver Dam – Bob Armstrong

He also has been working with an underwater cam and recently found the perfect spot to install it. This is a beaver entering the lodge under the ice. Just think how lucky our beavers are!

Beaver Entering Lodge Under the Ice from Bob Armstrong on Vimeo.

Be a BRAT!

Posted by heidi08 On December - 8 - 2014Comments Off

Joe Wheaton’s BRAT (Beaver Restoration Assessment Tool) tool has been successfully applied in Utah, Oregon, Washington, Colorado and New Mexico. He was one of the very first respectable professors to support this website. And we recently had a wonderful argument about the difference between being a ‘beaver advocate’ and a ‘beaver benefits advocate’. (You can guess which one I am.)  Wonderful because Joe listened and heard my point of view and understood it, and then it turned out that the thing I was worried about didn’t even happen and we were both relieved!) I was surprised to stumble across this on youtube, and you’ll probably enjoy it.

I was especially happy with the sections on stream incision and dam washouts still restoring aggredation, and the fish research from the work  they’re doing with Michael Pollock at John Day. Here’s a happy take away that you can employ to silence any annoying fisherman who objects to beavers. The tall one represents beaver ponds.

You can totally tell how old this film is by how long Mary’s hair is. Get your ruler.

Town Rallies to Save Beavers in Connecticut

Posted by heidi08 On December - 7 - 2014Comments Off

Essex Beavers Will Live Another Day

Thanks to an outpouring of opposition from local residents at the Dec. 4 Essex Conservation Commission meeting, the beaver family that has currently taken up residency at the Viney Hill Brook Park, will not, as originally—and controversially—decided by the commission, be trapped and drowned.

Upwards of 150 residents, young and old, filled the meeting room at the Town Hall, ready with written statements and heartfelt speeches about why the beavers should be allowed to live freely at the park
“The beavers were here before people came in; it’s more their land than ours,” said 11 year-old Jack Simon who attended the meeting with his mother Laura Simon, a representative from the United States Humane Society.

The elder Simon explained that she would be more than happy to work with the town to come up with a viable solution that doesn’t involve trapping the beavers.

“There are simple alternatives such as wrapping the trees and painting the trees,” Simon said. “These are great community service and boy scout projects.”

This is just the kind of story we love best to hear at beaver central! John Ackerman was a resident who started asking questions on the beaver management forum a while back. I gave him all the advice and inspiration I could, but honestly, I needn’t have bothered. John is apparently adept at being creative and engaging on behalf of beavers all by himself!

“I think we should let the beavers do what they do best, build dams and create wetlands,” said 13 year-old Essex resident Jake Klin. “Viney Brook swimming hole was a mistake for humans, but great for the beavers. Please don’t drown the beavers.”

 “I personally would like to see the beavers stay. I think they can be lived with,” said former first selectman and current State Representative Phil Miller.

 “Instead of being negative about the beavers, why don’t we see them as an opportunity for education? They are a keystone species in Connecticut. We should be working with them not against them,” said resident Megan Schreider, who works at the Denison Pequot Nature Center in Mystic. “This town instilled in me my love of nature growing up and I hope it continues to that for future generations of children. Keeping the beavers alive is one way to do that.”

When I read something like that I am so excited I can hardly stop grinning. The town will bring in Mike Callahan to review the situation and make recommendations. And public works will start wrapping trees. Congratulations John and the people of Essex! You did something extraordinary and should be enormously proud of yourselves. I almost wish Martinez could go back in time and save our beavers all over again! Fantastic work. The meeting wasn’t filmed or photographed unfortunately, but I’m sure this is what it looked like.


sonomabirdingNow it’s bird count morning! Tom and Darren will be busy in the field today with the first of their two highly successful bird counts for kids. If you miss this one, you can still catch the 18th. In the meantime if you need to remember who they are the photo from the beaver festival might help. Tom and Darren have helped us get our footing every step of the way,  They have made sure to include us on many of their ground-breaking events, the Duck Stamp art show, the Optics and Nature fairs. the celebration of the wilderness act in California. Tom and Darren won the John Muir Conservation award last year, and have been invited to Canada and Washington D.C. to implement their ideas. we couldn’t be prouder of them or their friendship

Christmas Bird Count for kids

Calistoga families looking for a fun, outdoor activity that doesn’t involve a ball, but does involve a little math and education, may want to consider the Christmas Bird Count for Kids this winter.

There will be two nearby opportunities for citizen scientists to take part in the National Audubon Society’s Annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC). On Sunday, Dec. 7, a CBC will be held at Connolly Ranch in Napa, and on Sunday, Jan. 18, a CBC will be held at Sonoma Community Center in Sonoma.

 Tom Rusert and Darren Peterie of Sonoma Birding launched Christmas Bird Count for Kids (CBC4Kids) in 2007.

Asked and Answered

Posted by heidi08 On November - 30 - 2014Comments Off

CaptureI came across this yesterday for the first time and was immediately intrigued. Daniel Dietrich is a Daniel Dietrich: Point Reyes Safaris &emdash; professional wildlife photographer and NPS volunteer who has started this safari to help determined visitors from all over the world get the most out of their Pt. Reyes visit. All day Safari’s are 10 hours from sunrise to sunset and include pickup, lunch, water, and all the photography advice you will need to capture Daniel Dietrich: Point Reyes Safaris &emdash; the views. They aren’t cheap either. A full day safari for two will cost you 595.00. Which is still a lot cheaper than a trip to Africa, and is sure to leave you with a mantelpiece full of memories.

So you guess what I did.

I wrote Daniel about the animal missing from the Marin landscape and mentioned that we were working Daniel Dietrich: Point Reyes Safaris &emdash; hard to bring it back so he could photograph it soon. Then told him about our beaver festival and the silent auction we use to fund it. I asked if he’d think about donating to the silent auction at the festival.  He wrote back enthusiastically that he had heard of the festival and wanted to photograph our beavers soon. He would love to support the work we were doing, but was mindful of his expenses and new business. He wasn’t sure if he could donate as much as a safari but wanted to help. I told him I thought a 2 for 1 deal would still be hugely popular with this particular crowd and he said for sure he could do that, maybe more.

Now it’s up to you to save enough over the upcoming 8 months to bid on this Safari and make yourself a part of this immortal landscape. Pt. Reyes is a magical place and the rich loamy soil practically hums when you walk across it. If it doesn’t need beavers I can’t imagine a place that does.

The other thing I did yesterday was write the photographer from Ohio, Scott Stolensberg, and tell him I loved his photograph in the YP News. I asked for permission to use it. Let’s hope he says yes because I really like this.


Beaver photo: Scott Stolensberg. Image: Worth A Dam