Jason Walsh, PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sonoma wildlife conservationists had one word to describe Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed new Beaver Restoration program: “Damtastic!”
Newsom floated the program as part of a May 13 presentation of his revised 2022-2023 fiscal budget. Pledging $1.67 million this year and $1.44 million in years thereafter, Newsom said the funds would go toward the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s efforts in developing “a comprehensive beaver management plan.”
The North American Beaver is considered a “keystone species” by Fish and Wildlife, which estimates its current population in the state to be between 10 million to 15 million. “Historically, beavers used to live in nearly every stream in North America with an estimated population of 100-200 million,” DFW officials state at wildlife.ca.gov.
In the budget proposal, Newsom described beaver as “an untapped, creative climate solving hero” that helps prevent the loss of biodiversity.
“Beavers are remarkable at creating more resilient ecosystems,” said Newsom. “And therefore thinking through approaches to maximize their unique skills throughout California will benefit our landscapes and help drive more cost-efficient restoration.”
Sonoma County beaver advocates have been “working hard in Sacramento” the past year to lobby for investment into just such a program, said Brock Dolman, of the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, in an email. Dolman said the next step is to continue to advocate for its inclusion in the final budget, which goes into effect July 1.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/damtastic-newsom-calls-for-beaver-restoration-program/
Cole Hersey, NORTH BAY BOHEMIAN
On the southwest side of the City of Sonoma, a small stream named Fryer Creek cuts through a quiet neighborhood.
In late October, the creek was, like most waterways in the Bay Area, inundated with water during the “bomb cyclone” storm. However, as the rains pounded Sonoma with seven and a half inches of rain, Fryer Creek stayed fairly tame for the beginning of the storm, according to nearby residents Barabara and Larry Audiss.
“The water was really low [during the storm], even with the heavy rain, and then all at once the water was extremely high,” Larry Audiss said. “We went up and you could see where the dam had been breached.”
Larry Audiss is referring to a beaver dam close to MacArthur Street. The waters proved too strong for part of the recently built dam along this tributary of Sonoma Creek, likely pushing more water downstream.
This was not the only beaver dam in Sonoma Valley that was affected by the storm. In upper Sonoma Creek, most beaver dams were leveled by rushing waters.
However, the three beaver dams along Fryer Creek remained largely intact after the storm, perhaps due to the smaller size of the waterway. Even the dam that was breached could be rebuilt come next spring.
Read more at https://bohemian.com/sonoma-valley-beavers/
Carolina Cuellar, BAY NATURE
One month into 2020’s shelter in place order, Virginia Holsworth and her family decided to change things up by walking in the opposite direction of their usual daily stroll through suburban Fairfield. That’s when she first encountered the amassment of sticks blocking the path’s adjacent creek, Laurel Creek.
She suspected the sticks meant the work of a beaver. Curious, she inspected the area, finding webbed footprints along the creek bank and chew marks on surrounding wood. Still, it wasn’t until she caught a glimpse of a brown slicked-fur-covered head that she was certain — she’d stumbled upon a beaver dam. A few days later, she saw the beaver family of four that gave rise to a lush green haven in her neighborhood.
For the next few months she watched cormorants and blue herons among the cattails and tules. Supposedly the creek even contained so many rainbow trout, a member of the community — illegally — caught 40 of them. The way the beavers and their dam had changed the landscape and reinvigorated the habitat enthralled Holsworth, and she became devoted to preserving them in her community.
Holsworth soon connected with Heidi Perryman, the Bay Area’s most ardent beaver activist and founder of the Martinez-based nonprofit Worth a Dam. Perryman warned Holsworth that the ecological wonder she’d found might be in jeopardy. The city of Fairfield had a permit to remove dams and had already, in 2015, obtained a permit to kill beaver.
Just a few months later, in fall 2020, the city public works department removed the beaver dam, citing the potential for flooding in the rainy season. Holsworth watched as the cattails wilted and birds quickly devoured the newly exposed crawfish.
Read more at https://baynature.org/2021/11/11/beavers-can-help-californias-environment-but-state-policy-doesnt-help-them/?utm_source=Bay+Nature&utm_campaign=8e011401a0-BN+Newsletter+11%2F11%2F2021&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_092a5caaa2-8e011401a0-199023351&mc_cid=8e011401a0&mc_eid=94a0107f8c
SONOMA ECOLOGY CENTER
It’s been a long summer of extreme drought conditions in Sonoma Valley. In what seems like a steady stream of dire news for our watershed one glimmer of good news stands out: beavers are moving back into Sonoma Creek.
The return of these charming dam builders isn’t quite breaking news – since 1993 beavers have slowly made a comeback in Sonoma Valley. But this year, in the middle of our peak dry season, their increasing presence is something for celebration. From the perspective of drought resiliency and water retention in our watershed we’re observing how beavers are a positive factor in keeping what water we do have flowing in our creek beds and reducing hydrological impacts of water rushing through the main stem of Sonoma Creek.
Their natural impulse to build dams and create ponds is a major factor in retaining refuge habitat for species that rely on water to survive. Beavers provide refuge habitat for endangered salmonids, crawdads, California roach, Sacramento suckers, frogs and the endangered California freshwater shrimp which rely on deep pools and submerged, structural habitat like fine tree roots which are often present in the structure of a beaver dam. Any animal, insect, or crustacean that requires water to live in our creek is something that benefits from the damming that the beavers do.
Read more at https://sonomaecologycenter.org/beavers-return/