Beavers Across the land

   Posted by heidi08 On December - 13 - 2014Comments Off

Danvers SwampWalk under water

The problem is not with the walkway sinking into the muck, said George Saluto, a former Conservation Commission member who was the driving force behind the SwampWalk.

Instead, beaver activity, a surge of rainfall and a stretch of boardwalk built slightly lower than the rest of the lumber pathway has led to its being submerged

Two families of beavers have been building dams and blocking culverts and outflows, raising the level of the swamp, Saluto said. The southern section of the walkway was built, he added, when the area was not getting a lot of rain.

 “We are off on a new adventure,” Saluto said. “We are simply responding to a very productive — two very productive — families of beavers.

Well, there you have it. Yet another beaver bemoaning story out of Danvers MA, who brought us so many greatest hits this year, like the beaver they trapped but weren’t allowed to remove, and the huge developer who wanted everything but the beavers.

Now beavers (and rain and snow) are raising the water level and flooding parts of their swamp path. I guess they have two lodges so they’re sure its two families, although that would be very, very remarkable. Research tells us that different families need their own territory of at least 2 miles, but if the habitat’s very very rich, like those beavers in the far reaches of Canada who built the dam visible from space, they will share.

Gee, do you think this is extraordinary habitat? Or do you think they possibly got it wrong?

It took 10 years to plan, three years to build, and the collaboration of two towns. The walkway allows visitors to walk into the middle of the swamp, providing views of plants, birds, turtles and beaver dams that can’t be seen from the rail trail. There’s an observation deck with seating, too. A grand opening was held in May 2013.

When volunteers first started the northern section of the SwampWalk in 2010, the rainfall in March, April and May was 20 inches, Saluto said. Before the group started the southern section in 2012, the rainfall in February, March and April was 7 inches.

In the past three months, however — even before this week’s rainfall — Danvers received 13 inches of rain, Saluto said, 6 more than when the southern walkway was constructed. The southern section was built slightly lower than the northern section.

Instead of trying to install beaver deceivers, devices that allow water to flow through beaver dams and keep beavers at bay, the SwampWalk team has decided to raise the walkway’s elevation.

Well that’s interesting. I mean why protect the culverts when you have the money to rebuild the entire walkway? Why fix a flat when you can afford a whole new car? I would ask what they plan to do when the water level rises higher still, maybe because of the next 13 inches of rain or the beaver dam that blocks the culvert, but I won’t bother. I know what they’ll do. They’ll say “We tried a 6000 solution to save the beavers but that didn’t work, so we’re going to have to kill them.” Let’s mark our calendars. I think it will happen sometime in April 2015.

Got any spare change? They end the article with a request for donations.

Now we head west a bit across the United States for a story about beaver from Illinois, the state where the 84 year old man was hit in the head with a log after blowing up a beaver dam. IL  has never been a hot bed of progressive beaver understanding. I believe I once said of them

“Remember this is Illinois where a cynical person might say you could fit all their beaver appreciation and knowledge into a teaspoon and still have room leftover to sweeten your coffee”

So it’s nice to read at least a benevolent article about beaver from the state.

Trail leads to adventure

Not long ago, I was set for a nice long hike in a nearby park to work off stresses. I had my binoculars, camera, and a little snack to enjoy along the way.

At the trailhead is a small creek that runs underneath a rock outcropping. No sooner had I entered the trail, when I observed a newly-constructed beaver dam on the creek. I paused to take a look at it. This led to following a few of the “beaver runs” away from the stream to the trees they gnawed.

 I thought to myself that I should take a few pictures of the beaver dam, runs, and gnawed trees to go into the Lowell Park Nature Center. We have a beaver lodge there for children to explore. I thought I might construct a photo montage of beaver activity.

The article goes on to describe his watching deer and woodpeckers. What do you wanna bet that the next time he visits that beaver pond he’ll see more wildlife? If it’s still there he will.


Water, Water, everywhere

   Posted by heidi08 On December - 12 - 20142 COMMENTS


CaptureDSCN0546Our beavers got three and a half inches of rain yesterday, but the flow device was still standing and there was a wet bump under the water indicating at least the mud part of the dam was still in place. I received an email from Robin in Napa which got much more rain than we did. She was heart broken by her visit to the DSCN0551beloved dam that was no longer visible under flooding. I of course said the usual things I say to console myself when these things happen. Beavers rebuild. The dam is probably partly still there underwater. Beavers have faced much harder things than this, have faith in them. And even in the hard flow their lodge was still standing, which was encouraging. Rusty went down a little later and could still see the outline of the dam underneath. (There art thou happy.) But beavers have hard jobs, there’s no denying it. There’s a reason they’re so busy. Our lazy lives are much easier by comparison. Imagine being the breadwinner, the contractor  the engineer, the flood control, and the public works department all at once.
outlineRecognize that familiar bump? It’s what we see every year after a washout,  and it means things aren’t as lost as you thought. I’m just thrilled that there are other souls in the world watching beaver dams in rain storms.

Jon just trotted down to look at our wet “bump” this morning, which he says is still visible. The level is too high to see if the filters in place, but he thinks it is. Jean took this movie just now with her phone. IMG_0628. From now on we can assume our beavers will be doing lots and lots of this.

beaver repairsNow if you have time before all the Christmas parties and you happen to be anywhere near Cape Cod you should really plan on attending this tonight.

 College Students to Present Environmental Science Research Results

The public is invited to attend a symposium featuring the research results of 21 undergraduate students who are participating in the Marine Biological Laboratory’s Semester in Environmental Sciences (SES) program. The symposium will be held from 8:20 AM to 3:30 PM on Friday, December 12, in the MBL’s Lillie Auditorium, 7 MBL Street, Woods Hole.

Sounds amazing. There’s a day worth of 15 minute presentations, but the last three look particularly interesting:

2:45-3:00 – Delaney Gibbs, EARLHAM COLLEGE
The effect of beaver ponds on the nutrient concentrations in the Cart Creek/Parker River Ecosystem within the Plum Island Estuary watershed
3:00-3:15 – Julia McMahon, DICKINSON COLLEGE
Influence of beavers on benthic community trophic structure in Cart Creek within the Plum Island Estuary watershed
3:15-3:30 -Jessie Moravek, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY
The effects of beaver dams on nitrogen-mineralization and community structure in a forest ecosystem

 Oh, to be in Massachusetts now that beavers are the hot topic! I have written the presenters all individually and asked them to share their findings, hopefully we can find out soon. In the meantime keep an eye out for wet bumps in creeks near you!

Blame the Beaver Bombers!

   Posted by heidi08 On December - 11 - 2014Comments Off

Back from the brink: See European beavers at work

Their destructive reputation seems to belie them, but beavers are now recognised as significant resources for carbon sequestration – the wood locked up in their dams and ponds accounts for a surprising amount of carbon.

 This may or may not influence a shadowy group of people known as “beaver bombers”. These, apparently, are eco-vigilantes who release beavers back into Britain.

Believe it or not, that phrase was used earlier in the year in a National Geographic article. Apparently no amount of mocking and derision can discourage it because here it is again in NewScientist, a global service housed in the UK. This, along with beaver raising temperatures for fish and beavers causing beaver-fever, and “You can’t get pregnant the first time” is the kind of totally inaccurate falsehood that we at Worth A Dam recognize as sadly incurable. We are never going to eliminate the rumor that fans have carpeted the land with beavers. We just aren’t.

How do I know it’s not true anyway?

In all the world, on all the continents, in all the cities, in all the land, have you EVER met any single human more insane about beavers than I am? Go ahead, I’ll wait while you think about that. Finished? Now I know for a fact that I haven’t ‘bombed’ or reintroduced beavers anywhere. So if the craziest beaver fan on the entire planet hasn’t done it, who could have?

beaver bombersCommunity support builds for wild beavers

As community support builds for Devon’s wild beavers, an oil painting of a Devon beaver has raised £700 for Devon Wildlife Trust’s work to keep the animals on the River Otter.

The canvas, by renowned east Devon wildlife artist Emma Bowring, was donated to the charity’s Devon’s Wild Beavers fundraising appeal. Support has also been forthcoming from Ottery St Mary schools, Exeter businesses – and even TV presenter Chris Packham.

 The aim of the appeal is to keep the wild beaver population on the River Otter by securing a licence from the government for a five- year monitoring project to assess the beavers’ impact on local landscapes, wildlife and communities.

10801570_1590048444550624_6264017908878124563_nThat really is a nice painting, very luxurious fur.  I was thinking last night about where beavers groom themselves when it’s pouring rain. Obviously there isn’t enough room in their lodges or holes for everyone to do it there. I was happy to remember that our beavers have plenty of bridges they can groom under which will give them cover for a few minutes. There’s something to be said about urban life.

 The presence of these animals might even influence artistic tastes. Dan added: “Emma Bowring told us that the most popular British animal for her commissions is the otter. If the government grants Devon Wildlife Trust the licence to keep Devon’s beavers in the wild, perhaps Emma will begin receiving requests for beaver paintings.”

Well, duh. Come look at the artwork in my dining room?

SRF 2016The agenda is out for 2015 Salmonid Restoration Conference in Santa Rosa. You should check it out. Just look at this workshop on restoring urban streams?! Maybe you want to come?

Beaver Surprises

   Posted by heidi08 On December - 10 - 2014Comments Off

This is the perfect gift for that hard to please beaver-lover on your Christmas list. Just in time.

Canadian-2015-50-Beaver-Silver-Coin-510x423 Canadian 2015 $50 Beaver Silver Coin for $50

Canadian artist Emily Damstra designed the image found on the reverse of the 2015 $50 Beaver Silver Coin. It depicts a beaver in its natural habitat. The creature is seen swimming in a body of water with a tree-filled shoreline behind. In the background, a wolf is also depicted gazing over the scene.

 Reverse inscriptions include CANADA, 50 DOLLARS and 2015 along with the artist’s initials of ED. Susanna Blunt’s effigy of Queen Elizabeth II graces the obverse.

This is a beautiful design. If you look closely there’s a wolf in the background. I think for the amount of promotion I’ve done for this coin in the last 24 hours among the beaver-lovers of the world I deserve just one  for free. Don’t you?  When I talked our artist into doing a festival poster that was half above half under the water I could find no other examples of the idea on the entire internet. It had never been done. And now this! Do you think there’s a coincidence at work here? I already wrote the artist to  suggest she might want to donate a sketch or two to the silent auction, and then I wrote our artist who likes it so much she wants to get one as a present for her Canadian uncle!

Order yours now, but mind you there’s a limit of three per household!

tshirt art cover


Is this the single best headline ever? I think it may very well be. From Leistershire England,

Beaver colony visits Mayor in Council Chamber

 THE first Mountsorrel Beaver colony paid a visit to see the Mayor of Charnwood, Coun Paul Day.

 They got to sit in the Council Chamber and learn all about the Mayor and what he does. The mayor also presented six of the Beavers with their Chief Scout Bronze Award, the highest award a Beaver can achieve.

A spokesperson for the Beavers said: “Congratulations to the six Beavers and thank you to the Mayor of Charnwood.”

 Oh pooh. They mean boy scouts. Who wants to read about them? This was such a fun idea it needed a graphic.

mayor beaverDon’t you think he’ll keep this forever and ever? Big storm coming tonight for us and the beavers. They’ll likely lose their dam, but they’ll rebuild. I thought the website needed snow flakes to mark the occasion. Stay safe and dry.

Just in time for a Nativity Scene!

   Posted by heidi08 On December - 9 - 2014Comments Off

Iwaterboards‘ve been hard at work on my presentation to the waterboard next week, but I had to add a new section on our papers about historic prevalence for this particular audience, and I didn’t want to lose much of my original info so I wanted it to fit in five minutes. This meant I couldn’t wander about looking for the words so I wrote a little passage to insert, that I thought it could double as a post. Hopefully it will be new to you or at least interesting.

Martinez was eager to teach other cities in California what we learned. But before we could really share the wealth we had to deal with a 70 year old mistake. The confusion started with Joseph Grinnell, the first director of vertebrate zoology at UCB and the author or the important work on the states fur-bearing mammals. In his chapter on beavers he noted that they didn’t live above 1000 feet in the Sierras and were absent from our Coastal Rivers. According to Grinnell beaver didn’t belong in Tahoe or Berkeley and before we talk about how this was possible I need to say a little bit about the history of the fur trade.

Just like our thirst for oil has driven the economy and the politics for that last century, our need for beaver fur was the “oil” of the previous 800 years. Beaver were so important to trade that they were entirely trapped out of Europe by the end of the middle ages. The Russians trapped the California Coast in the 1700’s. Folks came to Canada looking for new sources of the valuable fur and trapped west and south at a great rate. Beaver were extinct on the East coast of America by the 1800’s and sought steadily west by the French, the Dutch, and the Americans. By the time that the 49ers arrived in them thar hills looking for gold in California the once ubiquitous beaver gold was long gone.

In 1900 there were nine known colonies of beaver left in CA. Fish and game, to their credit was concerned that zero beaver would mean more erosion, fewer fish and less waterstorage. They began a period of reintroduction in the late 20;’s and 30’s. This lead Grinnell to think that beavers in the sierras or coastal rivers were introduced, rather than reintroduced. We were particularly interested in this confusion because it lead people to say that beavers weren’t native. We wanted to challenge that idea.

MistakeThe first place we started was with the work of an archeologist at the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He came across a paleo beaver dam during a dig in the Sierras and had the sense to carbon test three parts of the dam. As you can see the oldest tested at 580 AD and the dam was continually maintained until the 1800’s. We then looked at secondary data including anthropological information, place names and a reevaluation of trapping records. We found numerous evidence to contradict Tappe and Grinnell. This Rock painting by thedited chumashe Chumash Indians is at 1600 feet above Santa Barbera, The Emeryville Shell mound contained beaver bone fragments, After his good service Kit Carson was rewarded with the right to trap all beaver in Alameda Creek.

The fossil record for beaver contained a skull from Sespe creek in Santa Barbara that didn’t ft with Grinnell’s theories, so he marked on his map with a question mark. Recently digitized correspdence however made available to us the letters better Naturalist John Hornung and his friend Dr. Grinnell. He wrote that he himself had found the beaver in question floating down the creek on a log, and like any good naturalist of the time would do with a rare animal, killed it himself and sent off the skull.

At this time the book was already in press and this discrepancy was dismissed. The misreport of Grinnell was copied by every other author and taught in science classes for 70 years.

Mistak1eWhat do you think, convincing? If you want to read more the links to these published papers is in the right hand margin about halfway down the page under the section “Solving problems”. Happy reading!


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.