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Busy Beavers

Blogpost published on: Thursday, July 12th, 2018

WATER Institute co-directors Kate Lundquist and Brock Dolman have fully embodied their busy mascot this summer as they hit the Bring Back the Beaver Campaign trail!  The past few weeks have been filled to the brim with castor-lovin’ fun and lots of long overdue press coverage for our beloved beaver. Here’s a recap:
The “BeaverPalooza” tour launched in May with 2 screenings of the movie Dirt Rich, first at the world premiere in Sonoma followed by Novato City Hall as part of the Novato Green Film Series.  Kate and Brock make a cameo appearance in the film and were interviewed in a panel discussion afterwards on the climate resiliency and carbon sequestration benefits of native beaver in California.  Even the movie trailer includes a cute mug of our favorite climate change mitigator!  Watch it here: www.dirtrichthemovie.com

A beaver gathering materials for its dam in the Napa river, just outside the city of Napa.  Photo by Napa resident beaver enthusiast, Rusty Cohn.

Next stop on the campaign trail in mid-June was the ‘Napa Wild’ river tour co-hosted by the Napa County Resource Conservation District. 70+ attended the tour of the beaver dam just outside the city, followed by a slide show and talk at the library.
Meanwhile, the North Bay Bohemian free-weekly published their cover story on these local beaver conservation efforts (cover shot above).  The article heavily focuses on OAEC’s involvement and frames the Bring Back the Beaver Campaign history in Sonoma County over the past decade:
Coho salmon, chief among those threatened and endangered species, first inspired the OAEC’s Dolman and Lundquist to think about beavers. Coho, which experienced a sharp decline in population in the 20th century, as well as other salmonid species, require cool water, complexity of habitat and water flow in summer and fall. ‘And our sense was, we need all the help we can get,’ says Dolman. ‘We kept coming across these papers, especially work out of Oregon and Washington state,’ he says, that showed ‘a positive correlation . . . between beneficial beaver habitat and a support for coho salmon, specifically—also steelhead and Chinook. And it just got us thinking,’ says Dolman (…) ‘We ought to bring another tool in the toolbox here. And so we began really looking at beaver as an additional component to how we could recover these endangered species.’

The article focuses on beaver populations in Napa and Kenwood and the innovative approaches in non-lethal management the county has taken by OAEC’s recommendation, including a pond leveling device installed by Swift Water Design to mitigate potential flooding damage to a new hotel development near the banks of the Napa river.

Lundquist praises the Napa agency as pro-beaver, saying, ‘I’m grateful that there are flood-control agencies that recognize the beavers, and I encourage all of our flood agencies to learn from the Napa district, because they’re doing a great job.”

Read the full text here:  “Leave it to Beavers!” by James Knight 

 

Kate and Brock then packed the house at HopMonk Tavern here in Sebastopol and again at Copperfield’s Books in San Rafael in celebration of the national release of Ben Goldfarb’s new book Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter. The OAEC WATER Institute is featured prominently in the California chapter of this important book, published by Chelsea Green.  Ben’s writing style is both scientifically-rigorous and humorous in its social commentary – and pairs perfectly with the likes of Kate and Brock who brought down the house with entertaining banter!

Goldfarb credits the OAEC WATER Institute for moving the needle toward non-lethal management in our local watershed management agencies:

“Legitimizing beavers in the eyes of public agencies – a recalcitrant political network that Dolman terms the “egosystem” – is a full-time job.  Lundquist and Dolman have espoused the rodents’ virtues in lectures to Forest Service staff, convened workshops touting beaver restoration in the Sierra Nevada, and delivered more talks on the relationship between beavers and salmon than they can count. Thanks in large measure to their relentless crusading, beavers have moved from the radical fringe of California’s restoration community to somewhere near its center.” 

Yes! Magazine published a fantastic excerpt of the book in this week’s edition, available here.  Well worth the read!

The crescendo event, with it all coming to a Castor climax, was on Saturday June 30th at Worth A Dam’s Beaver Festival in Martinez where Ben read again from his book and WATER Institute represented with a table.

Kate and Brock in front of a mutual by Illuminaries Murals and Design. photo by Kevin Swift

“What a wonderful augmenting addition to the many artful expressions in town – further cementing the reputation of Martinez as a true Beaver Believers destination station!” says Brock of the mural pictured here and another chalk mural painted live during the festival by artist Amy Hall.  “Always great to converge with our convivial cast of Castor characters in cacophonous community celebration!”

Listen to the interview with Kate by Tom Wheeler on KHSU – a great intro into the benefits of beaver in the environment and the challenges they face here in CA. http://www.khsu.org/post/are-you-beaver-believer#stream/0

 

Click here for more information about the Bring Back the Beaver Campaign.