Thank you so much for taking the time to educate yourself about beavers and traditional brush management. Now you want to know what actions you can take to significantly reduce the risk of runaway fires in California.
What You Can Do to Help Restore Beavers in California
Now that you’ve read through the BeaversandBrush.com page on beavers, please take these actions:
1) If your community is having town meetings about beavers or wildfire, please print our Beaver One-Sheeter .pdf for educational purposes. You are welcome to print out any part of BeaversandBrush.com and take it to the event to educate your neighbors about how reclassifying beavers to protect them is one of our strongest strategies to combat wildfire, Climate Change and drought.
2) Email California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director, Charlton H. Bonham at email@example.com. Create your own message respectfully stating your expectations of change of regulation §463. Beaver so that beavers can no longer be trapped. The CDFW published the seminal document validating the native and positive status of beavers in California. Regulations must be changed to reflect this modern understanding and for the CDFW to remain an accountable and modern agency. Here is a sample email you can copy or take inspiration from:
Dear Director Bonham,
Thank you for your service and for reading this email. I’m writing to applaud your agency for the publication of 99(4):164; 2013 in conjunction with researchers who documented the historic range of the beaver in California. As I learned from your publication, beavers inhabited nearly all of our state prior to the fur rush and prior to their designation as a “detrimental species” based on the poor science of mid-20th-century researchers.
Like most Californians, I’m now being endangered by runaway wildfires which have resulted in loss of life for my neighbors including firefighters, as well as loss of property and health. I have been personally impacted. As your agency’s publication demonstrated, California was a wetter place just a few generations ago, with deep reserves of water and natural firebreaks in the form of rivers, ponds, wetlands and streams, all thanks to the beaver. However, because we’ve yet to correct the designation of this most vital missing keystone species, we still have regulation §463. Beaver which allows trapping instead of protecting the one species that will be our greatest ally in lessening and combating wildfire.
I am writing to ask what the California Department of Fish & Wildlife is currently doing to alter this regulation and change the status of beavers so that they can be protected and, in turn, protect all of us. Your publication was so important. Please let me know what is being done now to reflect our modern scientific understanding of the beaver as a beneficial native species. Given the hazardous drought and fire conditions that are leading to fatalities in our state, I fully support these changes and would very much appreciate your reply.
3) If email is not your favorite mode of communication, you can phone the CDFW at (916) 445-0411 and ask to speak to Director Charles H. Bonham. Ask what you can do to support restoring beaver based on the findings of CDFW 99(4):164; 2013 which found that beavers are native to California. Be respectful and determined, based on your sincere concern for your community’s safety in the face of runaway wildfire.
4) If you are lucky enough to have a beaver appear in your area and your neighbors and local agencies want to respond by killing it, act quickly. Contact SwiftWaterDesign.com, a company owned by Kevin Swift who specializes in non-lethal solutions to co-existing with beavers in California. Whether the challenge is preventing flooding, unblocking culverts or protecting trees, this company can step in and ensure that beavers can remain in an area without inconvenience to people.
If, despite every effort to support non-lethal solutions, your community fails to convince neighbors or authorities to allow a beaver family to remain, your last hope may be to relocate the entire family. FDC Section 2150 doesn’t allow individuals to possess or transport beavers, but California Indigenous Tribes may not be confined by these regulations and some may have interest in welcoming beavers back to their lands, particularly in areas where work is being done to restore salmon or habitat. If you are not sure which tribes live nearest you, this map of tribal lands may be a good starting point, though it’s important to know that the federal government may still be failing to officially recognize a tribe near you. Your community might decide to reach out to a tribe to ask if they would be interested in relocating beavers who will otherwise be killed.
5) Purchase a copy of Eager – The Surprising Secret Lives of Beavers and Why the Matter, by Ben Goldfarb. This book delves deeply into the keystone role of the beaver in North America, and has a whole chapter devoted specifically to California. Read it and then circulate it amongst family members and friends. You might even share copies with your city’s water manager, town council and other local officials.
6) Most libraries accept requests for books you’d like to see them stock. Request that they put Eager on the shelves, and if they cannot afford it, discover if you can donate a copy.
7) If you are a teacher, or have children in school, help create a program that introduces students to the beaver ecosystem. Here is a great graphic representing this. And Cobble Hill even makes a puzzle called The Beaver Pond Tray that small children can learn from. Heidi Perryman has also created a library called Beavers in the Classroom with suggestions for educators.
8) Take a good, long look around your community’s own habitat. Find the creeks. Are they dry in summer? Find out who is managing the creeks (a watershed program, an agency, a citizen’s group, a tribe?). If you see a dry creek in summer, it’s the very best signal that a beaver is missing from the environment. Start your own community group to improve the creek with the goal of welcoming back beavers. This .pdf file from the OAEC offers excellent suggestions to get you started.
9) Please share the link to BeaversandBrush.com with your friends on social media and with your local leaders. Education is the best first step towards healthy action.
What You Can Do to Support the Reintroduction of Prescribed Burning in California
Now that you’ve read through the BeaversandBrush.com page about traditional brush management, please take these actions:
1) If you can, donate whatever you can afford to the Humboldt Area Foundation’s Endowment for Eco-cultural Revitalization Fund. Your contribution of $5 or more dollars will assist tribes working in the Klamath Mountains of north-western California to restore a correct and traditional relationship with fire, plants, animals, water and more. You can read more about the Endowment on its Facebook page and this video gives a good sense of the work that is being undertaken to mitigate runaway fire. Programs like these with Indigenous leadership must be created in every part of California. By helping fund this program, you are contributing to the start of real change towards more safety for all of us.
2) Visit this page on the Cal Fire website to find the branch nearest you. You will see a menu on the left side of this page reading “northern region, southern region”. Click the appropriate region and you will find a list of branches an their phone numbers. Let Cal Fire know you vigorously support their new initiatives for reintroducing prescribed burning in California, especially in conjunction with local Indigenous Tribes, and that you want to see these programs expanded. Ask if such a program is underway in your area and what you can do to support it. Be persistent in discovering how residents can help.
3) Contact the California Indigenous Tribes nearest you, ask if they are undertaking any efforts to restore traditional burning, and if there is anything neighbors can do to support these programs. If you are not sure which tribes live nearest you, this map of tribal lands may be a good starting point, though it’s important to know that the federal government may still be failing to officially recognize a tribe near you.
4) Purchase Tending The Wild – Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources by M. Kat Anderson. Read it and then circulate it amongst family and friends. If your local library doesn’t have a copy, request that they get one. Donate one, if necessary. Of, if you prefer video education, watch the accompanying video series, Tending the Wild. Every Californian should be able to access education that enables them to see how the region’s oldest inhabitants have the best strategies for taking care of the land.
5) If your community is having town meetings about wildfire, feel free to print out any part of BeaversandBrush.com and take it to the event to educate your neighbors about how restoring traditional burning and welcoming back beavers are our best bets for making California wetter and safer from runaway fire.
Food for the Journey
Working for change is seldom easy, and there may be times when you feel discouraged when others fail to appreciate the sincerity of your efforts to protect all of your friends and neighbors from the danger of runaway fire. You may run into administrative and political roadblocks, or your urgent calls for safety measures may be dismissed. You will need to sustain yourself so that you don’t give up if your city, county, state or neighbors don’t immediately jump aboard with the idea that we need to restore our waterways and clear away flammable brush – regardless of how obvious these solutions may seem!
At BeaversandBrush.com, we’ve found the best food for our own journey from three sources:
Our Love for Everybody
Think of the person you love most, and how you would do anything to protect that person from harm. Your love of children, parents, spouses, other relatives or friends is the root of your intention to become a caretaker of home. You can extend this kind feeling of protection to your neighbors, to animals, to plants, acting to keep everybody safe.
Our Interactions with Everybody
Think of the most beautiful place you have ever been in California. Perhaps a mountain meadow in the Sierras, or a stream in the Redwoods, a desert canyon or a bluff overlooking the Pacific. Maybe it’s even your own garden that is most lovely to you. Picture yourself in that place, not as an outsider, but as part of the picture, just as the plants, birds or animals are part of what is happening in the beautiful place. See yourself interacting with that place to restore parts of if that are neglected or hurt, to ensure there is food for deer, for squirrels, for hummingbirds, and for yourself, and that there is water for everybody. Let go of the role of passive observer. The land is not a “landscape”. It’s home, we live here, and we can take care of it.
Draw deeply from the beauty of home, and believe in your ability to learn to assist California in its work of becoming healthy again.
The Vision of Abundance
Just a few human generations ago, California was a much wetter place and it teemed with life of all kinds. Today, you know of the California Quail – the state bird – and have, perhaps, seen a covey of a dozen of these beautiful fowls. Not long ago, a single covey could contain a thousand members. You may never have seen a Pronghorn Antelope, but, until quite recently, their great herds covered the Central Valley, in the company of countless Black-Tailed Deer and Tule Elk. Try to imagine your hearing filled with birdsong, from the call of the nuthatch to the chortle of the turkey. Likely you’ve noticed the recent fad for eating chia seeds; now imagine millions of acres of colorful flowers being pollinated by numberless native bees and filled with delicious seeds for human harvesting. This is how it was.
Envision a beaver family in every stream, the rivers filled shore-to-shore with salmon, the marshes filled with ducks and geese. See forests with cleared sight lines from end to end and oak lands filling baskets to overflowing with acorn flour. There is plenty of water for drinking, bathing, gardening. There is water everywhere, breaking up the paths of fire and sustaining all life. There are people at work across the land, tending fire, harvesting food, drinking water, eating together. It can be this way again.
It’s said that people must share a vision to bring about social change for the better. As you devote time to the healing of California, drawing from the vision of the recent past of just how abundant life was here may help you keep going, even in times of discouragement. Carrying that vision of a beautiful, safe home with you in all of your work may give you the food you need for the journey.