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.


   Posted by heidi08 On August - 24 - 20141 COMMENT

high tideCheryl took this video with her iPhone last night above the Ward street bridge. The kit came out of a bank hole up there and was a little too eager on his approach. Since we saw him there and his uncles there a couple days ago but by the primary on the 9th I’m assuming he’s been “staying abroad” since the last big high tide which was on the 16th.

In the mean time we know he has family to keep him company and plenty to eat so we’ll assume he’s good. If mom doesn’t come fetch him he will either walk home or take the next high tide on the 30th. Stay tuned.

Speaking of the unexpected, that was quite a ride last night. I checked in with our beaver friends in Napa, they are all OK but cleaning up what fell at the moment. Robin is so sweet she actually went down to check on the beavers!

It was frightful!!! Haven’t heard from the others yet, but I’m fine with just some minor damage (dishes).  Started feeling increasingly panicked, so grabbed a big flashlight and some loppers and headed to the dam. No sign of the beavers–probably huddled together in the lodge, poor babies!—but everything was in order. Eerie, but in order. I think some algae had moved. I do wonder what they thought.

Ahh, I’d be more worried if it happened during the day. At 3:20 am they were probably all swimming happily about and probably just noticed waves. I found these helpful observations from the Washington DC zoo when they had a big quake. On exactly this day in 2011 we learned how beavers respond to earthquakes.

D.C. Pandas Don’t Care About Earthquakes

The Zoo staff released a list of some of the animal responses as the ground started rumbling. The apes had some warning and didn’t mess around:

Beavers took to the water:

 The beavers stopped eating, stood on their hind legs and looked around, then got into the water, too. They all stayed in the water. Within an hour, some of the beavers returned to land to continue eating.

 The Heidi house rolled for a good long time, and several books were knocked off their shelves, but we’re fine. I thought it telling that wooden letters reading PEACE fell from one doorway. But as of this morning we carefully put them back.

PEACE has officially been restored.

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.

Baffled Beavers!

   Posted by heidi08 On August - 22 - 2014Comments Off

Thomas Tamayne, Stephen Sangle, and Gary Oppenheimer (l to r) investigate the beaver pond that is flooding the wetland at West Milford’s Mary Haase-Roger Daugherty Environmental Center. The members of West Milford’s Environmental Commission plan to install a beaver-proof device to drain the wetland back to normal levels.

West Milford Environmental Commission has new weapon for beaver battle

The local Environmental Commission is employing a new weapon in its battle with the environmental boardwalk’s beavers.

Called a beaver baffle, the device being prepared for installation by the West Milford commission at the Mary Haase-Roger Daugherty Environmental Center near Maple Road School is designed to act as tap on the backside of the beaver dam. Once operational, it should lower the water level in the dammed wetland enough to make it unsuitable for beavers, forcing the current residents to relocate, and protecting the recently-renovated boardwalk from further damage, according to commission Chairman Stephen Sangle.

“It looks promising and maybe one or two more days of work should finish the project,” Sangle said Sunday.

Last weekend, commission members set the project’s groundwork by scouting the area to find a suitable place for the upstream end of a pipe that will serve as the tap. The spot has to be deep enough and large enough to contain a trapezoid-shaped cage made out of epoxy-coated mesh that will prevent beavers from clogging the pipe, Sangle said.

 Let’s hope the reporter got this wrong. They sometimes assume the point of installation is to make beavers move. Why else would anyone bother? But you and I know that if the beavers did move, the conservation commission would have wasted its time and money. The idea is that you compromise and the beavers stay and keep others from moving in and doing it all again.

I thought it was funny they described installing a beaver ‘baffle’ – and wondered if this had anything to do with the Unexpected Wildlife Refuge just 3 hrs away, also in New Jersey. Or whether they were just using the term ‘baffle’ generically, like ‘deceiver’ which they also use. The baffle isn’t often employed. But here’s an interesting project I found on beaver bafflers I think is a few years old. The video will show you how they work – or rather how they don’t work actually, because I think that tiny cage is never going to prevent beavers from feeling suction and they will quickly cover the entire thing with mud.  Just watch the video to see all about the Vermont cooperative beaver baffle project. Capture

Beaver Baffles

From Outdoor Journal Vermont PBS

When it comes to making things out of wood no animal is more persistent and more proficient than the beaver. Beaver dams provide valuable wet land habitat for several species of fish and wildlife. But these same dams can cause a lot of damage to roads and septic systems. In this segment, we look at a unique project called the “Cooperative Beaver Baffle Demonstration Project” that uses water control structures to properly manage beaver dam water levels.

Good luck with that.Oh and just in case you don’t believe beavers could mud that entire cage around the perforated pipe, here’s what one did to Mike Callahan’s single intake once.

plugged filter

6 foot filter entirely plugged with mud.Photo – Mike Callahan Beaver Solutions

A picture’s worth 1000 words

   Posted by heidi08 On August - 21 - 2014Comments Off

The people have spoken

   Posted by heidi08 On August - 20 - 2014Comments Off

Overwhelming support for River Otter beavers to stay wild heard at consultation

 OVERWHELMING opposition against the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) proposals to remove a family of beavers from the River Otter this autumn was expressed at a public consultation event.

 The wave of public support for the animals was demonstrated at the Devon Wildlife Trust staged event in Ottery St Mary, which is just upstream from where the beavers are thought to be residing.

But critics of the proposals believe that the suggestion of rounding up the beavers is an “over reaction”, and the benefits they bring to the environment, far outweigh any negatives they may be culpable for.

 During the meeting, which followed an afternoon drop-in event, local residents were informed of Defra’s plans to plot traps along the river, potentially from as far downstream as Budleigh Salterton and upstream as far as Honiton, this autumn.

 The trust also informed the some 100 attendees that the process of trapping and testing is likely to be anything but swift, due to the complicated and invasive testing procedure and the risk that Defra could face a legal challenge to releasing the unlicensed animals back into the wild, meaning they could be in captivity far longer than planned.

 Independent ward member for Ottery St Mary, Councillor Claire Wright, added: “The most important thing to remember is that beavers are a native species and they will live in harmony, and enhance, the natural environment and biodiversity.

 “The chances of them having this disease is so remote, this is a completely over the top, irrational reaction.”

 Hurray for the hardworking families of Devon who took time out of their Tuesday to support the first wild beavers in 500 years. And hurray to the media that was there to run the story. I hope it gets picked up by the bigger news feed soon, because there is no guarantee DEFRA will do the right thing.

But as of 10:30 last evening there is officially a slightly better chance. Good work!

Fishing beaver ponds

   Posted by heidi08 On August - 19 - 2014Comments Off

Ed Engle: Beaver pond cutthroats in the high country

I arrived  at the trailhead into the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness Area as early as I could because I knew it was about a three-mile hike to the beaver ponds that I wanted to fish.

Cutthroat trout themselves are always a draw. I knew most of them would be small, probably 6 inches long or less, but you never know, and besides big trout aren’t the reason I hike into the high country to fish. If I wanted to catch big fish, I’d head to a tailwater or one of Colorado’s trophy trout lakes.

Along the way, I remembered other dry fly tips for fishing beaver ponds such as, “Just leave the fly sit and let the trout find it, and if that doesn’t get their attention, give the fly a little twitch.” Or better yet, if nothing happens when you twitch the fly, try retrieving it very slowly so that it causes a rippling wake on the water’s surface.

That’s the way I caught my largest cutthroat of the day — a chunky the trailhead into the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness Area as early as I could because I knew it was about a three-mile hike to the beaver ponds that I wanted to fish.

That was the first of many cutthroats.

But wait – I thought that beaver dams raised the temperatures and ruined things for trout? And that recent master’s thesis got published saying beavers destroy conditions for native fish and bring invasives? And in PEI watershed folk were ripping dams out to protect cuttthroat? How could this crazy outdoor reporter ever get things so wrong? Doesn’t he realize how much damage beavers do to fish? What does he know about fishing the high country anyway?

Ed Engle Fly Fishing


 Ed has a wide variety of fly fishing PowerPoint programs designed especially to meet the needs of your fly fishing club, organization, corporate group or fly shop. Programs range from technical fly fishing topics to more general interest themes suitable for banquets and fund raising events. See the descriptions of Ed’s programs below.