WATER News & Events

Russian River Coho Partnership Concludes a Decade-Long Collaboration

photo by Brock Dolman Salmon are a keystone species, inextricably linked to the health of our coastal ecosystems, yet over the past century their populations have experienced devastating declines. In 2009, when the Russian River Coho Water Resources Partnership (the Coho Partnership) began, only about 20 adult coho had returned to the Russian River to spawn. Today, the Russian River…

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Big Wins in Sacramento for the Bring Back the Beaver Campaign!

*We at the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center WATER Institute have tremendous news! On May 13th, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a Revision of the Fiscal Year 2022-23 state budget that proposes a new Beaver Restoration Program to be led by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). After years of tireless work trying to convince policy makers of the…

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WATER Institute helps launch new California Process-Based Restoration Network

WATER Institute Co-Directors Kate Lundquist and Brock Dolman are excited to announce the initiation of the California Process-based Restoration (Cal PBR) Network and invite you to participate and spread the word. The goals of the Cal PBR Network are to promote process-based (aka, beaver-based, ecological, low-tech, nature-based) restoration approaches to increase the capacity of degraded river and stream ecosystems to…

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Article on “Beaver Dam Analogs” in Yellow Creek

OAEC's WATER Institute was featured this month in SF Estuary Magazine (including Brock Dolman's cover shot!) for beaver restoration work on Yellow Creek in the Tásmam Koyóm Maidu Cultural Park, Plumas County CA. The 2,300-acre Humbug Valley known as Tásmam Koyóm, the homelands of the Mountain Maidu people, was returned to the tribe as part of PG&E’s land divestiture resulting from…

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CA Beaver Summit – video recording

Climate change is making California hotter, drier, and harder for people and wildlife. Beaver can help. Watch the video recording of the California Beaver Summit! click here to watch During two online half-day sessions, the summit explored the many benefits that beavers offer to the ecosystems they occupy. OAEC co-sponsored this event which featured WATER Institute Co-Directors Kate Lundquist and…

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Beaver Restoration Feasibility: A Webinar for Olema 

The following video is a recording of the informational webinar Brock Dolman and Kate Lundquist (Occidental Arts & Ecology Center WATER Institute Directors) gave on March 4, 2021 to those living and/or working in the Olema Creek watershed near Point Reyes National Seashore in California. Co-hosted by the Environmental Action Committee and the Olema Association, webinar topics include the fascinating…

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Beaver Webinar with Kate Lundquist – video recording

Beaver in California: Creating a Culture of Stewardship Online Presentation The following video is a recording of a presentation WATER Institute Co-Director Kate Lundquist gave on October 15, 2020. Learn how this ecosystem engineer is helping urban and rural communities restore watersheds, recover endangered species and increase climate change resiliency! A vital part of aquatic ecosystems across North America, beaver came close to…

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Updated Coho Recovery Display in Downtown Occidental

Now that the Occidental Farmers Market is up and running for the season, we invite you to come check out the newly updated watershed literacy display case near the picnic tables in front of Howard's Station! The display highlights over 15 years of OAEC WATER Institute work with the Dutch Bill Creek Watershed Group towards recovery of coho salmon. The…

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First Compost Toilet Research Samples Sent to the Lab!

  January 14, 2020 This week we celebrated a huge milestone in the progression of OAEC’s Compost Toilet Research Project. It has been three and a half years since we installed the first of three trial commercial-grade composting systems, and on Tuesday, we took our first compost test samples to the lab!   The tests – biology and chemistry. The…

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Caltrans Beaver Project and Transportation Conference Presentation

In September 2019, WATER Institute Co-Directors Brock Dolman and Kate Lundquist attended the International Conference on Ecology and Transportation to present on the Bring Back the Beaver Campaign, specifically on their consulting with Caltrans (California Department of Transportation). The conference was a global convening of biologists working to mitigate the impacts of transportation on ecosystems worldwide. Kate and Brock's innovative strategies were…

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ARTIFISHAL movie – Sept 30, 6pm – SOLD OUT!

Artifishal is a film about wild rivers and wild fish that explores the high cost—ecological, financial and cultural—of our mistaken belief that engineered solutions can make up for habitat destruction. The film dives beneath the surface of the open-water fish farm controversy, as citizens work to stop the damage done to public waters and our remaining wild salmon. Watch the…

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WATER Institute on reappearance of beaver around California

Since 2014, a colony of beaver have been observed near the suburban South Bay town of Campbell, and with them, an uptick in blue heron, western tanager, ducks and other varieties of waterfowl. In an interview with Eric Johnson, a correspondent with the San Jose Mercury News, Kate Lundquist, co-director of the WATER Institute at OAEC, explains how beaver recolonization creates…

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Kate and beaver

KMUD Interview with Kate Lundquist on the Benefits of Beavers

Listen to this interview with WATER Institute Director Kate Lundquist on using beaver to restore endangered salmon in California. [audio mp3="https://oaec.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/kmud_190314_190000thutalk-2.mp3"][/audio]   Beaver dams slow down the flow of water off landscapes, recharge groundwater, expand wetlands, and prevent rivers from running dry in the summer. Unfortunately, beavers can be difficult neighbors, cutting down trees and causing damage to lawns, golf…

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Beaver Restoration Assessment in the North Fork Kern

Given the potential benefit of beaver to mountain meadow restoration and related focal species, OAEC WATER Institute conducted a beaver restoration feasibility assessment to aid in the Prioritizing Meadows for Restoration within the North Fork Kern River Drainage project led by California Trout. The goal of our beaver assessment was to identify which, if any, of the ten priority meadows…

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Bring Back the Beaver Campaign: Spring 2019 Events

Want to learn about all the amazing benefits of beaver for California watersheds? Join WATER Institute Directors Kate Lundquist and/or Brock Dolman at these upcoming events: February 19-21 - State of the Beaver Conference, Canyonville OR March 2 at 2pm - Sonoma County Library, People Planet Series - Beaver talk, Northwest Santa Rosa Branch.  Also, March 16 at 2pm the reading circle discusses Ben Goldfarb's Eager: the…

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Localizing California Waters

Localizing CA Waters Conference Report Back

On November 7-9, 2018 a diverse group of water professionals and activists including water agency staff, government regulators, engineers and designers, plumbers and landscapers, indigenous water protectors, community action groups, and other stakeholders gathered near Yosemite CA for the sixth time to discuss the urgent need to localize the management of water as a principal pathway toward climate resiliency and…

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Compost Toilet Project: Pleasing Government & Grandma!

Compost Toilet Research Project Update: Pleasing Government & Grandma! Since we embarked on this journey to introduce Ecological Sanitation principals into the mainstream, our mantra has been to “satisfy both government and grandma.” In other words, composting toilet systems must be completely safe and manageable from public health and land use perspectives, AND they must also provide a pleasant enough…

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Being Salmon, Being Human: The Performance

  Join us in the North Garden Theater on Wednesday August 15th 7-9pm BEING SALMON, BEING HUMAN is a unique storytelling performance from Norway combining traditional tales, original music, and contemporary philosophy. Inspired by Martin Lee Mueller’s award-winning book by the same name, with salmon stories from Sami and First Nations peoples of Scandinavia and North America, we go on…

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Busy Beavers

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…

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CA-Beaver-Flag

Bring Back the Beaver Campaign: Upcoming Events

Like busy beavers, the WATER Institute staff is jamming this spring!  Hope you can join us for these upcoming events: WATER INSTITUTE BEAVER EVENTS Partnering With Beaver To Restore Rivers (River Rally Conference) May 1st, 9:30-11:00 AM, Olympic Valley, CA https://www.rivernetwork.org/events-learning/river-rally/about/   Dirt Rich Documentary Premiere (WATER Institute Directors are interviewed) May 21st, 6:00 pm, Sebastiani Theater, Sonoma CA http://www.dirtrichthemovie.com/…

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Compost Toilet Project Update

Our composting toilet project is up and running! Two of our three new systems are fully installed and operational in the guest housing accommodations - the third will come on line with our new meeting facilities. In addition to guests and program participants actively using them, many of us staff and residents even walk from our homes and offices just…

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3rd edition of Basins of Relations guidebook now available!

Basins of Relations: A Citizen's Guide to Protecting and Restoring Our Watersheds 3rd edition, 2018  by Brock Dolman and Kate Lundquist of the OAEC WATER Institute "Now and in the future, nothing is or will be more valuable than pristine watersheds and abundant, pure water supplies." Basins of Relations: A Citizen's Guide to Protecting and Restoring Our Watersheds has been…

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Localizing California Waters Conference

Localizing California Waters Conference November 1 - 3, 2017 Yosemite CA For the 3rd year, OAEC will help to convene onsite water advocates, practitioners and regulators under one roof for 3 days in Yosemite. California is ripe for the confluence of people and organizations who work with onsite water reuse to have one strong voice. Let’s learn from each other…

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Compost Toilet Install Begins!

Compost Toilet Research Project installation has officially begun! Pictured here: Glen from Phoenix Composting Toilets, and OAEC facilities intern, Amelia, in the basement of our guest housing building installing the first large scale composting unit.  Let the research begin! Click here to learn more about OAEC's Compost Toilet Research Project Listen to the radio interview with Miriam and Brock on…

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Dutchbill Creek Streamflow Improvement Plan

The long-awaited Dutchbill Creek Streamflow Improvement Plan has been released! Congratulations to the Russian River Coho Water Resources Partnership and Brock Dolman of the WATER Institute for your hard work and leadership in this 20-year long community-based watershed restoration project in OAEC’s home watershed of DutchBill Creek. Click here to view and download ->

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Brock coins the term “egosystem” in scientific literature!

OAEC WATER Institute Director, pun-tastic wordsmith and meme generator extraordinaire, Brock Dolman has co-authored, with Dr. Matt Deitch, a new peer reviewed scientific paper in the Journal WATER called Restoring Summer Base Flow under a Decentralized Water Management Regime: Constraints, Opportunities, and Outcomes in Mediterranean-Climate California. The paper offers up a rigorous review of many years of collaborative efforts in the Russian…

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Compost Toilet Research Project Fundraising Success

Click here to watch the video We are thrilled to report the resounding success of OAEC's first ever crowdfunding campaign! Thanks to 371 generous donors, we raised almost $70K! In addition to funds, the campaign also raised awareness around the problems of our current waste water treatment system and the water-energy-soil-saving benefits of composting toilets - our animated video, produced by BuzzLab,…

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OAEC Receives Groundbreaking Compost Toilet Permit

Legitimizing Ecological Sanitation via Scientific Research After 2 years of negotiations, OAEC is excited to partner with county and regional agencies with the acquisition of an "Alternate Methods and Materials" research permit to install and trial composting toilet systems in our beautiful new guest accommodations as part of our Compost Toilet Research Project.   We believe that composting toilets promise an age-old/cutting-edge solution…

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Sonoma County Beaver Blitz – October 8th, 2016 (9AM – 5PM)

The OAEC WATER Institute is hosting a Beaver Blitz to map current distribution of beaver (Castor canadensis) in Sonoma County. Beaver modify the landscape in ways that can be really beneficial to humans, our waterways and the species that inhabit them (learn more about our Bring Back the Beaver Campaign). To register for this FREE event, go to www.inaturalist.org/projects/sonoma-county-beaver-blitz. We…

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OAEC Releases New Beaver Stewardship Guidebook

Call our main office to purchase a booklet (707) 874-1557 x101 or Download for Free> Beavers are one of our favorite watershed restoration partners! They are the original champions of the WATER Institute’s slogan for regenerating our landscapes: Slow It, Spread It, Sink it! Their dams slow water down to restore eroded riparian corridors and filter silt-clogged streams, spread water out…

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WATER Institute Supports Borneo Watersheds Affected by Palm Oil Plantations

by Janel Healy. Photos by Brock Dolman. [caption id="attachment_3770" align="alignleft" width="321"] The Proboscis monkey's habitat is quickly being replaced by palm oil plantations.[/caption] 35% of the palm oil produced in the world comes from Malaysia, and 12% of that comes from the Malaysian state of Sabah on the island of Borneo, a biodiversity hot spot. Responsible palm oil production in this…

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CA decentralized water council

Greywater Policy Innovation Goes to Sacramento

The Decentralized Water Policy Council (DWPC), a project of OAEC and the California Onsite Water Association, was one of three finalists in the Imagine H2O Policy Challenge. Finalists were selected from over 100 applications from leaders in academia, public policy, water agencies and the private sector. The recommendations for effective policy change made by the Council’s greywater working group have been highlighted by Imagine…

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potable water

Water Budgeting at OAEC and in Your Community

Above: Alana records weekly potable water use at OAEC outside the Main Office, which all staff members see throughout the day. You, too, could do this at your workplace, church, child's school, etc., to help your community keep water conservation in mind. Water Budgeting Record drought conditions have dramatically slowed OAEC’s already low producing well, inspiring us to enact emergency potable…

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WATER Institute Reviews Beaver Restoration Guidebook

The WATER Institute was invited to review the 200-page comprehensive Beaver Restoration Guidebook written by NOAA Fisheries, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service and Portland State University to support the restoration of beaver in the West. This guidebook provides a synthesis of the best available science for using beaver to restore streams, floodplains, wetlands and riparian ecosystems. This…

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cracked earth

Drought Action

These are extraordinary times in California--especially in the Dutch Bill Creek Watershed, where OAEC is located, and the watersheds surrounding it. The water in our creeks is so low that the already threatened coho salmon species is in great peril. In response to this mounting issue, OAEC's WATER Institute helped found the Russian River Coho Water Resources Partnership to develop a systematic approach to improving…

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WATER Institute Helps Caltrans Steward Beaver

A great example of beaver stewardship recently occurred in Caltrans District 5. A beaver had dammed a drainage, which was beginning to flood the adjacent roadbed of a new freeway project in Monterey County. Caltrans' options were to do nothing, depredate the beaver or try out a pond leveler device. After hearing a presentation on beaver ecology, history and non-lethal management…

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Bodega Volunter Fire Department Rain Water System

Removing Barriers to Ecological Water Management

The drought highlights the need for some common sense water saving and reuse practices such as composting toilets and integrated greywater systems that not only irrigate landscapes but reuse water indoors for flushing toilets and other non-potable uses. But we still don't have the policies in place that allow for their widespread implementation in California. What are the steps to changing these…

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Beaver Restoration Across Boundariesn

WATER Institute contributes to Canadian report on Beaver Restoration Across Boundaries

WATER Institute Director Kate Lundquist was one of seven American beaver advocates interviewed for this report put together by the Miistakis Institute in Alberta, Canada. The report shares the experiences and lessons learned regarding the use of beaver for restoration and climate change adaptation in a selection of American states. This information is relevant to land owners and land managers within…

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Watershed

Why California Is Localizing Its Waters

The Connection Between Energy and Water -- Water conservation and reuse aren’t just about water quantity, but about dramatically reducing the energy requirement of our water systems. Did you know that nearly 20% of California’s electricity and more than 30% of non-power plant natural gas is used for water-related purposes: for collection, production, transport, treatment and delivery of water to end users;…

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WATER Institute drought beaver

Beaverpalooza 2015

The WATER Institute Beaver Campaign Hits The Road! In late February and early March, Kate Lundquist and Brock Dolman of the WATER Institute made great headway in forwarding their Bring Back the Beaver Campaign through a series of strategic meetings, workshops and conferences in northern California and Oregon. Joined by Swift Water Design's non-lethal beaver management specialist Kevin Swift, Brock…

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Child's Meadow Beaver Dam

Help Us Map Beaver Sightings in California!

Join our Citizen Science campaign to map current distribution of beaver in California. As part of our Bring Back the Beaver campaign, The WATER Institute is collaborating with Eli Asarian of Riverbend Sciences to add locations to his Google Maps based beaver mapping project. Watershed-scale summaries of the data are publicly accessible, but specific locations are password protected. You can…

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paula lane action network badger spirit award

Beaver Campaign Recognized by Paula Lane Action Network

The Bring Back the Beaver campaign, run by Brock Dolman and Kate Lundquist of the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center's WATER Institute, was recently honored with the Paula Lane Action Network's 2014 Badger Spirit Award (see Press Democrat article). The award is for work that promotes resource conservation and respect for Nature through consistent sustainable practices. Our colleagues at Worth…

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Kate Lundquist and Kevin Swift live trapping beaver in Colorado

WATER Institute Director Learns to Relocate Beaver In Colorado

In the summer of 2014, WATER Institute Director Kate Lundquist went to Colorado to learn to live trap and relocate beaver (Castor canadensis) from long-time beaver advocate Sherri Tippie of Wildlife 2000. Accompanied by her partner and non-lethal beaver management designer Kevin Swift, Kate got see first hand how the state of Colorado is successfully implementing this important non-lethal beaver…

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