Archive for the ‘Friends of Martinez Beavers’ Category

In Beaver World 2.0

Posted by heidi08 On May - 3 - 2017Comments Off on In Beaver World 2.0

Remember the barren ol’ beaver reporting days, when there were no news stories to catch up with and one reporter a month wrote about the crazy idea of beaver benefits? I would have to wrack my brain thinking of things to scribble about here, ask a question or describe the behavior of our ACTUAL beavers.

Sigh. We used to have actual beavers!

Well. nowadays, waking up to three beaver stories is a slow day.  Seems everyone is hopping on the beaver bandwagon. So I thought I’d share the cream of the crop with you this morning.

City of Mill Creek to implement innovative approach to preserve beaver habitat while reducing flooding

The City of Mill Creek WA will install new tools to help preserve beaver habitat while reducing 35th Avenue SE flooding on Friday, May 5, 2017.

Beavers are to blame for many of the woes of travelers on the Mill Creek portion of 35th Avenue SE. Beaver dams, which appear very quickly, hold back the flow of water under the bridge at 144th Street SE as it curves into 30th Avenue SE. The wetlands at the mouth of Penny Creek then flood across 35th Avenue SE by Thomas Lake, which results in road closures.

In the past, the City has removed beaver dams as they appear. From spring through fall, this is almost a weekly occurrence.

Now, thanks to a Hydraulic Project Approval permit from the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, the City will install two flexible levelers to allow the beavers to build a dam across Penny Creek at 144th Street SE to the north of the bridge in the City’s Highland Trails neighborhood. The flexible levelers will allow water to flow through the beaver dam and not disturb the dam.

“One of the goals of the City’s Surface Water Utility program is to rehabilitate stream and drainage corridors to benefit wildlife habitat,” said Marci Chew, Mill Creek surface water specialist. “This solution will enable us to prevent flooding while preserving the beaver habitat.”

Designed by beaver specialists, the flexible leveler is a system made from double-walled corrugated plastic pipe, which extends 20 feet from the wetland area and under the beaver dam. The pipe mouth is protected by cattle fencing, which prevents beavers from entering it or blocking it. The pipe is also anchored in place and staked every six feet to prevent movement. Water is then able to exit the wetlands without an impact to the beavers.

Wow. Just Wow. Do you ever have those moments when you feel like the world has moved forward so gosh darned much you aren’t sure you even recognize it? I went looking for “Beavers Northwest” who is installing this and found the slick glossy website of our friend Ben Dittbrenner and his merry band of beaver brothers. One of whom is our VERY long-time friend Jake Jacobsen who was kind enough to give advice way back in the dawning days of our beaver problems. Go check it out because the site has grown up a lot since I introduced it to you a few years ago. And while you’re there take a moment to notice the sites they recommend visiting, because it ain’t us. :-(

There are a couple puzzling things in this very expository-rich  article. First of all it says the pipe goes under the dam, which I’m sure is just a simple misunderstanding, it goes over the dam except for in the Clemson design which is why their such a pain to install. Second of all it says the leveler uses double walled pipe which I’m sure Mike Callahan’s design doesn’t. Skip’s Castor Master design does. We just spoke about it the other day and Mike said,

“Yes, but I use them sparingly, rarely more than a 10 foot section and almost always joined to some single wall pipe. In my experience, double wall pipes have the issue of being difficult to keep submerged. The can pop up at any time for no apparent reason.  I had that issue too with 40 foot double wall pipes, but not when I use only a 10 foot double wall section connected to a single wall pipe. Then it almost always stays submerged indefinitely.”

Combined with this is the fact that Mike doesn’t really  use the term “Flexible Leveler” anymore, but says pond leveler instead. So it’s funny to see this device described with the wrong name bearing the wrong pipe is described as ‘invented’ by unnamed beaver specialists?

What’s not strange at all is having beaver specialists now in EVERY pacific state. Jacob Shockley in Oregon, Ben and his crew in Washington and Kevin Swift in California. (Along with Ted and Sherry Guzzi of course). The world is certainly a very different place than it was a decade ago.

Meanwhile, this article from Pennsylvania reminds us that just because you call something a ‘beaver deceiver’ doesn’t mean it is one.

Beavers outwitting ‘deceivers’ on Milford Twp. property

MILFORD TWP., Pa. – The old adage “busy as a beaver” is definitely holding true on the two-acre property of a Milford Township woman.

Linda Weikert, who lives in the 1600 block of Fennel Road, came before the Milford Township Board of Supervisors Monday night looking for answers on how to avoid the probable flooding of her basement due to beavers in the area; the animals are building and maintaining — sometimes overnight — more than 100 feet of dams, now resulting in the formation of lakes and ponds on her property.

The resident said the beavers even have discovered a way around the “beaver deceiver” metal apparatus installed by the township and designed to stop dam-building in specific areas. 

She said she has gone out with tools to loosen parts of the dam, however, she said the beavers work overnight rebuilding what has been disabled the preceding day.

“Should I now get flood insurance for my house?” Weikert asked the supervisors.

Township Manager Jeff Vey said a meeting on the matter needs to be called, including representatives from the government agencies.

Weikert said there is an upside from the damming: wildlife has increased, including minks, blue heron, ducks, kingfishers and various turtle breeds previously placed on the state’s endangered species list.

Okay, hurray that they used any technique at all to stop beaver damming in Pennsylvania besides trapping. But I’m going to go out on a limb and predict with absolutely certainty that whatever they installed wasn’t a ‘beaver deceiver’. Which is a specific term for a specific design invented by Skip Lisle. Even what we had in Martinez wasn’t a beaver deceiver. Although people say it was all the time.

The problem with using these names casually is that when the city installs their ridiculous metal T pipe and call it a ‘beaver deceiver’ then predictaly find out it doesn’t work, articles like this tell people that BEAVER DECEIVERS DON’T WORK. And folks think its true. Remember it’s not just a name. It’s a specific tool used skillfully with technique involved.

If I gave you heart surgery in my living room with my knitting needles and it failed it wouldn’t mean heart surgery doesn’t work.

Last night Amelia Hunter sent her final design for this year’s festival. She’s off now to Indonesia for a long trip so we’re grateful she squeezed us in before boarding! I think this will be an excellent 10th anniversary announcement, and I’m sure it will do a great job in linking Martinez to Beavers forever. I also think it looks kind of like a ‘help wanted’ ad for the next beavers that might come up the strait.

Higher Quality X

Something very annoying and something wonderful…

Posted by heidi08 On April - 26 - 2017Comments Off on Something very annoying and something wonderful…

It’s never too early to start blaming beaver for flooding that may or may not happen. Whenever a city fails to check its culverts or clear its roadways, there’s an easy ‘out’. Apparently even the governor of North Carolina knows how this game is played.

Authorities warn about flooding

State and local emergency officials are expecting area flooding this week with the Tar River cresting Tuesday night. Conditions in Rocky Mount and throughout the Twin Counties have worsened due to heavy rains over the past three days.

Rainfall of nearly seven inches locally and an upstream flow into the Tar River will impact local water levels. The most recent numbers by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s prediction service indicated the Tar River would crest at 9 p.m. Tuesday at 26.9 feet as measured at the Atlantic Avenue gauge. Major flood stage at that location is 25 feet.

Gov. Roy Cooper said flooding and evacuations are possible in Tarboro and Greenville as rivers crest in those areas.

“In the past 24 hours, we’ve seen rainfall like we haven’t seen since Hurricane Matthew,” Cooper said. “We know floodwaters can be deadly and I urge everyone to be cautious and stay safe.”

The flooding is due to beaver dams in the Cokey Swamp, Williford said, adding that he’s complained to city officials and the U.S. Agriculture Department. Every so often, city workers will come out and knock down the dams, but the busy beavers rebuild them almost immediately.

“Even during a dry spell the creek is full,” Williford said. “Just a little rain and it’s flooding our backyards.”

That’s right. The water caused by beaver dams is WORSE than Hurricane Matthew. Because beavers are terrible horrible no-good very bad things. And the city staff has tried and tried fixing the problem with their backhoes and hello kitty dolls but it didn’t work. What’s a governor to do? The dam things just build them again!

Never mind that in a hard rain the dams would have been flooded or blown out so they can hardly be causing that problem. Never mind that you let a year of bad conditions accumulate and decided to blame an animal for your irresponsibility.  I’m sure you’re flooded playgrounds are ENTIRELY because of beaver dams. Because you know how beavers like to store water near play equipment.


On to better news. Jos Bakker lives in Auke Bay, Alaska (which is just north of Juneau) and sometimes posts beaver tidbits on the Beaver Management Forum Facebook page. This was a recent offering which is among the most stunning beaver display I’ve seen captured on film. Ever. (And remember that when it comes to seeing beaver feats on film I’m something of a connoisseur.) Just see for yourself.

Not only is it great footage of a beaver walking upright, perfectly mirrored in the reflection of the water, at .30 sec  it also shows the beaver scent marking, which I have never witnessed. That little wiggle as he steps over his mud pile is the calling card he’s leaving, either to say “girl wanted” or “keep out”. I am so very impressed with this film. Apparently Jos is a photographer and naturalist of note in the area. We are grateful for your sharing it with us!

A day of rest

Posted by heidi08 On April - 9 - 2017Comments Off on A day of rest

Yesterday was BUSY as a you know what. It truly felt like beaver central around here. I heard from the author of the Salt Lake Tribune story that Joe Wheaton had testified before his trip to Europe already. He wanted information about flow devices and who installed ours. I spent the afternoon writing a letter to the court for the Draper wetland and ended the day with a phone call from Kelly McAdams himself.

We talked about how crazy busy things were right now for him (ahh memories!), how the media is beating down his door, and how to use that momentum for it’s advantage. They mayor was originally in his camp but recently waffled into opposition. In fact most of the officials privately offer their support but won’t disagree publicly with Flood Control. Sierra Club won’t return his calls.  The McAdams are planning a field trip to show the public the wetlands and let them see how special it is. I suggested adding some children’s groups and having them draw the wildlife they saw. (Because we all know how effective that is). Maybe a ‘library night’ to teach about beavers and the wetlands they maintain. I also suggested making friends with the local Audubon and Ducks Unlimited and making sure they understood how important beaver habitat was to their interests. Mitch the famed attorney who represented the friends of Lake Skinner case sent some ideas about arguing Inverse Condemnation

since the debris allegedly constituting the violation is naturally occurring and has produced a beneficial effect for the property, removal would be detrimental and reduce the value of the property.

which I made sure Kelly knew about so his probono attorney could connect with Mitch if he wanted to. There are no new stories this morning, so I’m sure the couple is having a well-deserved  restful day.

And me too.

Right after I finish a short interview with San Francisco State student Sarahbeth Maney who is doing her third year photojournalism project on Martinez residents with a passionate interest (ha!) and contacted me after the times article.

l_9781585369942_fcI heard from author Susan Wood this week with answers about her Skydiving Beaver book, so I thought today was a perfect time to share them.

How did you hear about this story and what got you interested in it?

One day my tween daughter casually mentioned that after World War II, leftover parachutes were used to airdrop beavers into the wilderness, that she’d seen it on TV. I didn’t think that could possibly be true, that maybe she’d misunderstood what she’d seen. But she insisted that it really happened. So I Googled it—and was totally blown away (no pun intended). Skydiving beavers was really a thing! More research ensued, and when I learned about Geronimo, the beaver used to test prototypes of the self-opening parachute box—that he seemed to actually enjoy the skydives—I just knew this would make a great children’s book. Fortunately, Sleeping Bear Press, which publishes many nature-related children’s titles, thought so too. Beavers are such amazing animals, and I’m excited to help make people more aware of them!

 Your book does a nice job of introducing us to Elmo Heter, did you get to meet him? Is he still living?

CaptureUnfortunately, Elmo Heter, the Idaho Fish and Game warden who dreamed up this unusual wildlife-relocation idea in 1948, died in 1967. But the book’s illustrator, Gisbert “Nick” van Frankenhuyzen, was in touch with Elmo’s son, and also with Idaho Fish and Game’s historian, to get all the details he could. Elmo was only with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game for a few years; in 1952 he moved to Alaska, where he taught arctic survival skills at Ladd Air Force Base.

 I was surprised to see Martinez in the author’s notes section. How did you hear about our story?

As I was researching Elmo’s tale, I discovered he’d actually penned an article about it in a 1950 issue of The Journal of Wildlife Management. For a nonfiction writer, a primary source like that is gold! I Googled around looking for the article, and there it was, on your website. Then I read about the Martinez beavers and thought it was great information to include in the book, how people have now learned to work with beaver populations—for the benefit of the wildlife, the environment, and the community. No more airdrops, as inventive as the idea was at the time. You kindly allowed me to share on some of your links for educators’ resources, and I’m most grateful. There are articles, activities, and recently discovered film footage of the 1948 beaver airdrop at the book’s site, as well.

 I appreciated the illustrations. Had you worked with the illustrator before?

No, I wasn’t familiar with Nick’s work. But when the editor at Sleeping Bear sent me one of the other (of so many!) books he’s illustrated, The Legend of the Beaver’s Tail, it was obvious he was perfect for this project with his prior beaver-painting experience! Nick is known for his wildlife artwork. And he walks the walk—he and his wife took forty acres of Michigan farmland and turned it into a wildlife habitat. You can check it out at Nick’s also a naturalist with an active school-visit program, teaching kids about wildlife and conservation. He traveled to most of the locations in The Skydiving Beavers—his paintings of the Idaho landscape and animals are just gorgeous.