A fine day in which Mr. Muir was entirely surrounded by beavers

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 24 - 2016Comments Off on A fine day in which Mr. Muir was entirely surrounded by beavers

CaptureYesterday we found ourselves surrounded by the very best helpers, which was just as well because the beaver hat activity was more successful than any we’d ever tried. Literally hundreds of children and their parents made and wore hats. We used up all our pre-cut bags, and two roles of craft paper PLUS scraps. Children worked with their parents or with our amazing helpers and independently. And they were delighted to put them on. i don't need teeth

Every where you walked around Earth day you saw a sea of beaver hats. People wore them when they ate lunch and when the browsed the other booths. They wore them with their own hats or with personal touches like flowers or buttons.

sideby side - CopyThere was bright weather and an awesome turnout. There were amazing beaver connections made at every level. And there were questions about our beavers and real hope that they would come back.  There were even people I recognizer as against the beavers who were sorry to see them go. And lots of people who knew why yesterday’s article was silly.

worth a dam awardOh, and there were awards. Which was pretty affirming if you think about it. Here’s Jon accepting the Conservation award with the president of the association and the superintendent of all the Bay Area national parks.

3There was also special recognition from Congress signed by both Saulnier and Thompson which Cheryl accepted. We missed George Miller by a year, but I know he knows about the beavers and likes us anyway.

And an unexpected award from the county commissioners specifically naming ‘Heidi Perryman’ and ‘her determination.’

Which makes me very happy. Because I didn’t even know they gave awards for stubbornness, did you?


And it should be, it should be, it should be like that!

Because Horton was faithful! He sat and he sat.

He meant what he said

And he said what he meant…”

And they sent him home happy

100 Percent.

What on Earth [Day]?

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 23 - 2016Comments Off on What on Earth [Day]?

Yesterday I was irked beyond reason by this article, and ended the busy day of Earth Day preparations by knocking out a letter to the editor in protest. Clearly, somebody had to do it.

With beavers gone, fish migrating in creek

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Last week, another species of fish was spotted migrating up Alhambra Creek near Ward Street. The rare sighting is the second of its kind since January of this year, and is a positive marker for the local watershed.

While the January sighting was identified as a single Steelhead, the larger school of fish seen Saturday, April 13, were Sacramento Suckers. Several sightings of the suckers have since taken place in the pools near Ward Street.

The suckers are a native species of minnow. The hearty fish that thrives in warmer, muddier water, can easily reach over a foot long. According to Michelle Leicester, a biologist with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, these fish usually prefer deep pools and undercuts common in reservoirs.

“More than likely, they will be able to complete their spawn and return to their pool habitat before flows drop too precipitously,” Leicester said.

But why the sudden reappearance of migrating fish? There’s some speculation it may be due to the absence of beaver dams in the creek.

“It’s a grey area,” said Gordon Becker, senior fisheries scientist with the Center for Ecosystem Management and Restoration (CEMAR). “If you have a narrow channel and good engineers (beavers), it’s possible passage could be restricted.”

After the deaths of several young beavers and the apparent absence of adult beavers that once populated the area, the City removed the dams and dug deeper channels throughout the creek last October. The alterations were performed in the hope that predicted El Nino rains wouldn’t flood the downtown business district. Since that time, no beavers have been spotted in Alhambra Creek, but more fish have begun to appear.

Now I realize that this well-intentioned article gives credit to the beavers for making the creek a better place to be. But it very clearly states that fish were prevented from going upstream to spawn because of the dams, and that beavers finished off their helpful cycle by leaving. All these fish they’re “suddenly seeing now” were there before, and we can prove it.

There’s a reason they didn’t notice them before. Can you guess what that is?

The editor wrote back in alarm last night and said they had talk to many knowledgeable fishermen to source this article including a “70 year old man who had been fishing the creek for 60 years and never seen spawning so high”. She was surprised I wasn’t pleased with the article and the way it credited the beavers! You know me, so unappreciative of damming with feint praise efforts in the media.

I pointed out the TITLE and the fact that if she had spoken to Worth A Dam we could have shown her a decade of footage documenting suckers AND steelhead in the creek WITH the beavers here. In fact the reason I even know about suckers is because Moses took footage of them spawning in the creek BEFORE the flow device, when the dam was 5 feet and I contacted folk to find out what they were.

I also pointed out, just because people were seeing MORE fish in the creek now that the water level was LOW didn’t mean that conditions were better for the fish themselves. Normally all those fish are happily in the water. Where fish are supposed to be.

facepalmWe’ll see if the letter gets published.  At least the expert they talked to wasn’t as ignorant as they were, and most of what they said made sense. In the meantime, we all need beavers and pizza to cheer us up.

So a beaver walks into a pizzeria…

THUNDER BAY – A beaver ventured far from home Thursday and eventually found itself outside of a local pizzeria across from County Fair.

The beaver tried to enter Franki’s Pizzeria via a back entrance when a staff member opened the door. The animal’s attempt to enter were successfully thwarted.

“How it got here, I do not know but it came from the gas station, apparently walked all the way down Regina Avenue and then ended up at our front door and ventured off into the back alleyway,” said Frank Franze who owns Franki’s Pizzeria.

I love the fearless purposefulness of that beaver, just heading were instinct leads him regardless of te concrete. Don’t worry about the fate of the little disperser. Apparently no one from animal control would come help, but a nice trapper brought him back to the water.

And your parents took that puppy to live at the farm. I promise.

salmon adOhh and I almost forgot, these AWESOME photos from the library event at Mountain House. Look familiar?

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Helping the Helpers

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 22 - 2016Comments Off on Helping the Helpers

Tomorrow is Earthday Birthday celebration at the John Muir Historic  site and the AWARD WINNING nonprofit Worth A Dam will be on hand to answer beaver questions and do a fun beaver activity with the children.  Here is a noble volunteer demonstrating said activity.IMG_0768IMG_0770


Now usually our activities are run by a handful of loyals who form the backbone of Worth A Dam. But this year  two of our core members are literally out of state, and FRO has gotten so busy being an artist that we only get her for the festival, so I got a little panicky and started asking for help. I asked Deidre of Oakland who runs the silent auction at the festival. And she was doing another event in the morning but was happy to come in the afternoon. Then I thought of these charming girls and their hardy grandma. They have been beaver supporters since the very beginning, know everything about them, and even asked about doing a children’s booth at the next festival. Here they are on the footbridge after watching Jari Osborne’s “Leave it to beaver’ documentary on PBS. They will be helping in the morning with their intrpid grandma!

Not fully staffed yet, I thought I’d reach out to Caitlin McCombs of Mountain House.  She was very interested in learning about how to help and agreed to come all day! She even had the courage to be exited about it! So I felt pretty confident we could carry the day off well.

It never rains but it pours, they say. Yesterday I got an unexpected message from someone I never met who’s a student at UCB ‘naturalist’ program named Leslie. She lives in town, works for the city, and wondered if she could help in preparation for a presentation she’s giving in May that needs a service component. Surprisingly, she is coming to help us unload and staying all day tomorrow.

Well, okay then.

I figure if we end up with more volunteers than actual children, I’ll talk April and Alana to being undercover agents and get them to recruit.  Or just pretend their doing the activity and having ENORMOUS fun and make other kids come investigate. So it will all work I’m sure.

Or, we can leave it all to their capable hands and Jon and I can just drive to Reno. :-)

Just to keep us all on our toes, there was another dramatic story of a beaver attack yesterday. This one from Latvia. It hasn’t received multiple reports yet, but I’m waiting.

Beaver attacks Latvian man, who couldn’t be helped because police thought his report was a prank call

Inna Plavoka, editor at the local Seychas daily newspaper, told Latvian Radio 4 that the man, who was referred to only as Sergei, was walking outside late at night when a beaver ran up out of the bushes and bit him in the leg. Knocked to the ground, he tried to get up and run away, only to be bitten again.

The beaver then stood guard, refusing to let him get up. In the words of the Latvian Public Broadcasting report: “The beaver was in effect holding Sergei hostage.”

Sergei attempted to call police for help, but was hung up on because they believed he was making a prank call. So he then tried a friend, who also believed him to be joking, until Sergei finally convinced him he was in peril.

Then the beaver was holding him HOSTAGE and he couldn’t get away. His friend sped to the police to get help and was pulled over for speeding. When he told them what he was doing they thought he was drunk and asked him to submit to a breathalyzer.

I think I’m drunk just because I’m typing this BS.

So a beaver, leapt in the to attack a TWO MEN, bit one twice, and then HELD that man hostage?  And the police didn’t believe it because it was unbelievable? And the article reports its true but only manages the first name of Sergie? I find myself unable to offer a comment on this claim. I’m going to have to rely on my good friend Monty to help.

Guess who’s insured?

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 21 - 2016Comments Off on Guess who’s insured?

And no, that is not the name of an exciting new  game show about driving in LA, it’s a question about OUR MURAL and tw 8 delay days we have endured so far trying to get this thing done. Well, it’s more done, and because its a rider attached to our existing insurance with ISI, it cost us a whopping total of 50.00. I couldn’t be happier.

insuredNow we just have to wait for the very busy city attorney to reissue the contract to include Worth A Dam, THEN have Mario and us sign it, then get “Exhibit E” completed to exempt him from covering employees, THEN turn it all in and get a nod from the raja and THEN start painting!

Believe it or not we are closer to this all happening than we have ever been before. And thank god – because this was starting to feel like planning a second beaver festival.  You know it reminds me of this post from 2014 about the first book I learned to read as a child.

The woman finds a crooked sixpence while sweeping her house and decides to go to the market and buy a pig, but on her way home the new pig won’t go over the stile, (which is a little english wooden platform that allows people on the public footpath to get thru the gate, but keeps livestock from getting out.) It looks like this.

After trying to push and coax him onto it, she goes to a nearby dog in frustration, asking “Dog, dog! Bite the pig! Pig will not jump over the stile and I shall not get home tonight!” But the dog won’t cooperate. Is this ringing a bell yet? You should be hearing it in your head soon. She goes to a stick and says “Stick, stick! Beat the dog. Dog will not bite my pig, pig will not jump over the stile and I shall not get home to night!”

Of course the stick won’t cooperate either, but she keeps asking for help – first for fire to burn the uncooperative stick, then water to put out the vexing fire, then an ox to drink the uncooperating water, then a butcher to kill the stubborn ox, then a rope to hang the difficult butcher, and finally mouse to chew that lazy rope.

The mouse is the only one who’s ready to consider her offer. He asks pragmatically “What’ll you give me if I do?”

Surprised, she reaches in her apron pockets and finds a tiny crust of bread which she lays in front of the mouse. He nibbles appreciatively, then agrees. And after all that asking the mouse begins to gnaw the rope. and the rope begins to hang the butcher, and the butcher begins to kill the ox, and the ox begins to drink the water, and the water begins to put out the fire, and the fire begins to burn the stick, and the stick begins to beat the dog, and the dog begins to bite the pig, and the pig decides to finally go over the stile…

And that little old woman really does make it home that night!

Consider the pig half way up that stile today.

A little project this morning, because I saw a cute scrabble tile design and it gave me an idea. This was fairly easy to adapt for beavers. Now I just need to print it and try it out. I could think of the first four historical books, but couldn’t come up with the fifth. I of course went to Bob Arnebeck’s remarkable beaver page and found as usual, just what I needed. What do you think?beaveryybooks


Those Nobel Prizes are a SMOKESCREEN

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 20 - 2016Comments Off on Those Nobel Prizes are a SMOKESCREEN

Beavers Returning to Sweden’s Capital Can Be a Dam Nuisance

Walking along the Swedish capital’s famous shores and canals, you can see its presence in the gnawed trunks of large willows, surrounded by fresh wood chips, and the stumps of damaged trees cut down with chainsaws.

The Eurasian beaver is back.

Though the furry urbanites had an ideal base to explore the city, it took decades for them to get established in Stockholm.

“From the late ’90s to 2011, we didn’t see very [many] beavers … about three or four a year in the whole Stockholm area,” says Tommy Tuvunger, who, as Stockholm’s viltvårdare, or game warden, is tasked with keeping tabs on the city’s wild residents. 

In the last four years, “the population has exploded.” 

But the beaver boom has a negative side: The rodents have done extensive damage to the city’s trees.These teeth-carved trees are a safety risk, especially in a city with so much green space. 

“People are going there with small children, walking dogs, jogging,” Tuvunger says, adding that a gust of wind could bring a weakened tree down on someone.

In addition, there have been two reports of beavers biting people in Stockholm—one of which occurred after a man took a picture of the animal with his phone.

In their efforts to keep the public safe, Tuvunger and his colleagues have shot about 10 beavers over three years. (See “Killing Wildlife: The Pros and Cons of Culling Animals.”)

“Keeping a very low profile, we use silencers, so the public don’t know what were are doing,” he says.

 Surprised GirlThat’s right. Arguably the smartest country on  the entire planet, that takes it upon themselves to hand out awards for the most brilliant scientific minds across the globe, kills beavers for chewing trees with a SILENCER because they can’t possibly discourage chewing by wrapping them and they don’t want to upset the public.

It’s not surprising that Stockholm’s beavers have bounced back, the experts say.

“Beavers are like all rodents—they are really good at reproducing. If they have a good environment and good opportunities, they do well,” Jennersten says.

If the sight of Castor fiber swimming around in central Stockholm is the ultimate proof of success, Hartman is heartened by this latest chapter in its comeback story.

I’m tempted to hate the author of this story very much, but when I read those sentences back to myself it occurs to me that he might be deliberately not getting in the way of the Swedes making themselves look bad. Not because he agrees with them – but because Mr. Owen assumes the public won’t. You know, kind of like that famous Sarah Palin interview.

Anyway, this was an annoying way to start the day, which is already  annoying because of the unecessary mural delays and the first reviews coming back on the urban beaver chapter – one of which edited MY section with a red pen and said it was “Poorly worded“.

Hrmph. Poorly worded!

Lets cheer ourselves with some good news, shall we?

Poplars popular with Seine River beavers

 The beaver is one of the few species on Earth that modifies the environment to suit its needs. Unfortunately, the beaver’s needs sometimes bring them into conflict with people — especially in cities.

Beavers cut down trees for one reason — survival. They use large branches to build dams across streams. This creates a beaver pond, where the water becomes deep enough for the beaver to survive the winter.  They use some branches and mud to build a lodge. The lodge has a central chamber where they are safe from predators.

 Beavers also eat the trees’ inner bark. They stockpile branches in a food cache at the bottom of the pond. While beaver eat many aquatic plants during summer, their main winter food is the inner bark of trees. Their favourites are aspen, poplar, cottonwood, willow, birch and alder. Beaver do not hibernate, so the pond must be deep enough for them to swim from the lodge to their food cache beneath the ice.

My advice to anyone living near the river is to wrap the bases of the trees that you treasure. A few dollars of mesh can protect your $140 tree. Hardware cloth (with a square mesh) is tough enough to deter beavers.

Don’t wrap every tree. Wrap some of the larger trees and newly planted trees of all sizes. Leave the rest for the beavers. After all, the beaver is a Canadian icon.

This year, let’s celebrate the beavers that share our urban rivers. Take pictures of the amazing river engineer that we commemorate on the “tail” of our nickel. Post them on the Save Our Seine Facebook page. Volunteer to wrap some trees or join the SOS team as a 2016 River Keeper (job posting on the SOS Web site).

Did you know that Winnipeg was smarter than Stockholm? Fantastic article and fantastic idea for encouraging folks to appreciate urban beavers. Now a final piece of better news to cheer those of us waiting impatiently for better days. Jon  took these photos yesterday down stream. Sure starting to look familiar isn’t it?

IMG_0862 IMG_0865

Truer words…

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 19 - 2016Comments Off on Truer words…

CaptureIt was nice to see Cheryl’s great photo properly credited with this story yesterday. Apparently it ran on the radio several times thought I never heard it.

State Using Beavers To Help Restore California Wetlands

(KCBS) – While they are small and furry, beavers could be key to restoring some of California’s most at-risk watersheds. State officials are already experimenting with artificial beaver dams in an effort to  wetlands and recharge aquifers after four years of drought.

Michael Pollock of the National Marine Fisheries Service Northwest Science Center, said beaver dams help ecosystems by increasing habitat areas for endangered fish, birds and other animals. Pollock told KCBS putting actual beavers where they’re placing these fake dams would be even better.

Michael Pollock is a friend of salmon, which makes him a friend of beavers and a friend of this website. Once, years ago, I picked him up at the Oakland airport and we drove to Yosemite for the state parks conference with Wikipedia Rick and our own Cheryl Reynolds. I fondly remember the moment when he launched into his slide show promptly revealing a nutria photo. Ahh memories. Regular readers of this website will recall that not too long ago, Pollock was quoted as saying that manmade beaver dams were so good for fish folks:

Capture I thought this kind of shocking behavior had to be dealt with as soon as possible, so I released this educational video to help Dr. Pollock learn the error of his ways. He wrote back that night and observed that I was having way too much fun with my new toy, but never mind that. The KCBS story confirms that my unconventional methods appear successful.

Reading beaver books is so important. Like this book  “My Beaver Colony,” by L. Wilsson. Published by Doubleday & Co. Garden City, NY. 1968. Lars is one of those researchers who thought, wow it’s really hard to watch beaver behaviors outside, so I’ll just kidnap some and make some notes on their behavior from home. If I hadn’t have read his seminal work, I would have never learned about his important discovery that “Beavers never stretch“.

And I would never have properly appreciated Rusty of Napa’s video from last night.

Ooh look! Another Theft!

   Posted by heidi08 On April - 18 - 2016Comments Off on Ooh look! Another Theft!

It wasn’t three months ago that I last wrote the Bangor Daily News to inform them that this stolen photo was the property of Ms. Cheryl Reynolds. They assured me the error was unintentional and they would take it down. You can tell the quality of their sincerity and alarm with this new article this morning.


Last time they stole this photo it was for an article by Mr. Smith of how much fun beaver were to trap. This time he’s writing about how even though they’re annoying and stupid they’re still sometimes fun to observe.

Apparently, he has never found them ‘fun’ enough to take his own dam photos.

It’s always exciting to see bears and bobcats, but how about beaver?

Both Mainers and tourists love to see – and sometimes even interact – with wildlife. I’ve probably had more encounters with wildlife than many folks, given the time I spend outdoors in the wood, and on the waters of our state. Here is the second in a series relating some of my more memorable encounters.


Beaver can be destructive but fun. We have four beaver houses on Hopkins Stream that passes by our house. We had two relatively new apple trees on our front lawn one year, and when I went out to get the morning newspaper, I did a double-take. One tree was completely gone – a tasty treat for the family of beaver living on the stream. That year I put metal pieces around the trees I wanted to save, and that did the trick.

Beaver love apples, but they’re not smart. After they eat the apples, they also eat the tree! If you look carefully, every fall you’ll see a beaten down path from the stream across our side lawn to the apple trees, where the beavers chow down. One evening I pulled into the driveway and my vehicle’s lights lit up a huge beaver in the driveway with a big red apple in his mouth. Wish I’d gotten a photo of that!

Beaver are not great at sharing their space either. Quite often, fishing a favorite stream up near camp, a beaver will come out of its house to slap the water with its tale, a warning to me to get out of their water. One time I was standing in the water where a small beaver dam had created a nice pond full of trout, when a beaver came out of its house, slamming its tail on the water. When I didn’t immediately retreat, it dived and headed for me. I could see it coming. Not sure of what it planned to do to me, I quickly retreated up stream.

A few years ago beaver moved into the bog on my woodlot and built a dam on a tiny brook, completely flooding the bog and making it hard for me to get through it and to hunt there. I asked a friend to trap beaver there that winter, and he caught several small beaver, but no large ones. The flooded water now covers a huge area, so I asked my trapper friend to return this winter. He scouted around and reported that he’d seen no sign that beaver were still there, and recommended that I breach the dam and drain the water. I’m going to do that soon.

That’s right. George knows beavers are unintelligent because even though they like apples – they eat the apple tree! (We, of course, are certainly smarter, because since we like our scrambled eggs in the morning, we never, ever eat the chickens. Right?) He also complains that beavers flooded his BOG. Because you know it was such a nice dry patch of land before the beavers ruined it.

I can only assume he knows what the word means.

More secret messages for California. This time with some of my favorite antiquated images of beaver.



I’ve been happily enjoying Moby Dick, most recently because the narrator’s intelligent, critical voice when he reviews famous images of whales reminds me of Wikipedia Rick when he did the same thing with historic writing about beavers. I was especially moved by his words about the dangers of the sea and how ignorant we are of this from the land.

“That same ocean rolls now; that same ocean destroyed the wrecked ships of last year. Yea, foolish mortals, Noah’s flood is not yet subsided; two thirds of the fair world it yet covers.”

Herman Melville