ROTARY AND BEAVERS?
If you’ve been reading this column for a while, you might have gotten the idea that Rotary is sort of cut & dry stuff all the time, i.e., raising money for local charities & schools, doing good things to help make the world a better place, etc. But it’s not all business. We have fun, too, plus some very unusual speakers. Take, for instance, the title of our speaker’s talk a couple of weeks ago, “Saving the Beavers”. Goodness, why do we want to hear about beavers? Turns out, this was a great story and entertaining as well.
Our speaker was Dr. Heidi Perryman, a child psychologist who became an “accidental beaver advocate” when a family of beavers moved to Martinez, CA back in 2007.
Heidi entertained us thoroughly with the tales of the 3 beavers that moved to Martinez and proceeded to take down trees and build a dam right downtown. The City was concerned about the location of the dam as Martinez is prone to flooding. However, the beavers were a huge hit with the townspeople, who could be seen stopping on the bridge to watch the beaver activity. Children were entertained watching the beavers build and play.
There was a huge outcry when the City leaders sought to kill the beavers. The chant went out, “No Cleaver for the Beavers!” and the outcry made National news. The options provided were to trap and move them or to let them stay. “Stay” won out. The City Council gave in and hired an expert to come in and helped come up with a pipeline to divert water from one side of the dam to the other. This saved the beavers.
She showed a video of the beavers at work & play, telling us they’re quite social. Over the years, they’ve given birth to 27 babies, which sounds like the population might be overgrown, however, when the pups are about 3 years old, the mother sends them packing and they move on to new grounds. Beavers are like little submarines. They have earflaps, extra eyelids and nostrils that close to keep the water out and can stay submerged for over 15 minutes, longer than the otter.
The beaver’s dam is made up of mud and sticks, which house bugs, who become food for other species, i.e., birds, otter, mink, muskrats, etc., a Circle of Life you might say. They’ve created a whole new ecology for that area, which didn’t exist prior to the beavers moving in. The beaver isn’t just an animal, it’s an ecosystem. The City of Martinez has come up with ways to protect trees & plants from the beaver, so they can co-exist.