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The Return of California’s Golden Beaver

The Return of California’s Golden Beaver


all this abundance is the result of one species hard work a beaver spawn creates ideal habitat for a vast diversity of Wildlife for this they are known as a keystone species one whose presence supports an entire ecosystem despite a four-year drought in California this santa cruz mountain stream is still flowing streams with beaver have 9 times the water as other equivalent areas without beaver they are true water savers in 2008 Bevers began to inhabit the South San Francisco Bay Area and in 2013 a family of beavers took up residence in downtown San Jose along the Guadalupe River in the middle of Silicon Valley this family of three beavers was challenged by local officials as being non native to the area because the natural history of beavers in California has widely been misunderstood early settlers and trappers were in California before the gold rush and nearly wiped out California’s beaver population by the 1900’s beavers were considered non-native in much of the state recently digitized records from museums and universities have helped researchers and B for advocates restore beavers to the rightful place in California’s history books the published literature in not just California Fish and Game but other journals about wildlife was there were beavers in every other state in the United States every province in Canada even northern Mexico but somehow not in California California except for the Delta the rest of California was considered just inhospitable for beaver so that set me off on on talking to Heidi Perriman and others let’s get a group of people together and see if we can prove the evidence did beavers were native all the Indian tribes in California have words for beaver not only did the Chumash in Santa Barbara have a word for beaver the father of the head of the tribes name is chip ik which means beaver an archaeologist Charles Darwin James found a beaver dam in an incised Creek high in the Sierras in Plumas County he radiocarbon dated the wood at the top of the dam the middle of the dam and the bottom of the dam and it came out at the top of the dam 1850 AD which is just what do you expect our Gold Rush happens in 18-49 Americans come swarming in the beavers get trapped out the middle of the dam was twelve eighty AD the bottom of the dam was 850 or 880 AD the beavers have been rebuilding this dam for a thousand years we found physical evidence of beaver on an archeological dig the north coast in the Emeryville Shell Mounds in the bay from reliable observer records all the way from the northern Sierras to the southern the upper Kern watershed we published that paper in California Fish and Game so what I hope is that these papers by proving that they are native will allow them to be better protected although beavers benefit the environment they also come into conflict with humans in 2014 it was estimated that over 4,000 beavers were trapped and killed in California one of the surprising things we found was that the most common problem beber were decorated for was landscaping it was eating trees which is a totally fixable problem one of the things we do in Martinez’s we wrap the trees we need to protect so you’re wrapping them with wire then also some of the trees that we want to protect we can paint with sand and the Beavers don’t like the gritty texture and they’re not going to chew common problem that beavers cause in cities is blocking culverts to think of it from a beavers point of view culvert looks like a hole in the dam and they’re just plugging up that one small hole and they get this big dam as a result we have about a 95 percent success rate in solving culvert problems basically it’s just a pipe with a cage at the end and the cage keeps the beavers from plugging up the pipe it’s also cost-effective because if you think about it if you trap and get rid of those beavers you’re just gonna get new ones but if you find a way to coexist with the beavers you have now they will use their territorial behaviors to keep away anyone else beavers have been storing water on the land for millions of years and they do all the things that permaculture experts tell us we need to do with our water our amber Creek used to go dry every summer now the beavers are there it doesn’t you know the research out of NOAA is basically saying the only way we’re going to save our salmon population is if we are able to allow beavers to do what they do and as much as California depends on its salmon population you would think that we would be very interested in the advocates of salmon our job is to figure out how to you know manage their behavior but also benefit from their behavior and there are tremendous benefits these are engineers that will work on-site 24/7 and not get paid except for a low willow so if a city has able to use that kind of resource so they really should if ever there was a time to help beaver populations build their dams and keep our waters on our land it’s now in the most severe drought in history in California we can let all this water run into our Bay’s and oceans where it’s unusable or we can keep it on the land keep the water tables high so that all the animals that depend on this including us can have access to this freshwater you

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