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Martinez Beavers: What, Exactly, Is The Problem?

Sure, you might not care about the creek-dwelling critters, but why the active cry for their demise?

I was at Luigi's Deli on Saturday, ordering a sandwich. In front of me in line was a gentleman having a conversation with the counter clerk. The subject was beavers.

"I haven't seen them in a while," the clerk said. 

"I think they're gone," said the guy. 

"Oh, no. They are still there," I butted in. "There are four of them - a father and three kits." 

"Oh. I guess it was just wishful thinking on my part," said the guy. 

So tell me. What is that about? Why would this person wish the beavers away? What have they done to him that is so egregious that he even pays attention to them at all? 

This is Martinez, where even aquatic furry critters become lightning rods for politics. But I don't understand, now that the fears about the beavers bringing floods and doom to downtown have passed, why they are still the target of so much animosity in some. What have they done other than ? Created an active creek eco-system that now includes muskrats, turtles, and other denizens? Brought us national publicity

The city spent some money on preserving the beavers, sure. But it spent a lot more protecting the businesses downtown from the real threats of flooding, which have to do with tides and creek flows, not with beaver dams. The latter, rather than create floods, with last year's first big storms. 

So why this petulance towards beavers? I honestly don't understand it. Not caring about them is one thing - I'm not all that much of a cheerleader, either. But wishing they would go away? Why? That I do not understand. 

But, this being Martinez, I'm quite certain there will be at least a few folks who will tell me in the comment stream. So have it, beaver-haters. Enlighten me.

Dena R May 30, 2012 at 01:13 PM
I LOVE the beavers ;)
Tamara Gerlach May 30, 2012 at 01:35 PM
I love them too! They are adorable, and really, how many people can say that beavers live in their downtown? Martinez certainly has many things that make us cool, but the beavers are very near the top of the list.
Lory May 30, 2012 at 01:52 PM
The Martinez Beavers and their story are know through out the USA and other countries. What's wrong with some thing that brings a positive recognition to our town?
Cheryll May 30, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Exactly! I think such a comment is really more of a testament to a negative peson who is ignorant of the present issues (and BENEFITS) than anything else. The problem is negative destructive people shoot off thier mouths too willingly, thereby shooting the community in the foot while they run off to do nothing helpful or positive. The same person hates kittens.
Heidi Perryman May 30, 2012 at 02:45 PM
The Martinez beavers are the prompt for a very widely attended community event that this year is being copied in three other states, they are in this month's Atlantic Monthly http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/06/leave-it-to-beavers/8980/.They are being included in an international documentary and have friends from Ontario to Scotland. Yes, there are still folks who dislike them, even though they never caused the problems everyone claimed they would. Is this really a surprise?
Melanie Jacquin Moss May 30, 2012 at 02:46 PM
The beavers are wonderful and are an integral part of making Martinez unique.
Jacquelyn Jennings May 30, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Ladies, There is no cure for stupid or ignorance. Hope he owns NO pets.
Chris Kapsalis May 30, 2012 at 03:10 PM
I think there was some kind of insurance thing which has long since been ironed out. The flood plain was going to be extended increasing property owners fees. ( I heard) I also heard it all. Doom. A fight over the beavers at Ferry Street. We have not had the flood we have had in the past since the beavers came. But talking to Heidi, then studying it, the beaver damn would have little impact on exacerbating a flood downtown. And the native willows have evolved to bend with the water, actually making the water flow more direct and holding banks etc. Maybe hard feelings? All wild life will inconvenience people a little sometimes. They were here first and we are the new bee's. But in large they are what keeps our environment healthy, and more balanced. I remember creeks being concreted left and right all over for developments etc. and flood control. Tunneling the water under housing developments. That to me is a crime and you can see the result, places without character, unhealthy and without a soul. Sterile.
suzi romack May 30, 2012 at 03:45 PM
I love the beavers and when we have company from outside Martinez guess where we take them? Yes to try to see the beavers I am glad that they are here
Patrick J. McNamara May 30, 2012 at 03:55 PM
The erosion control industry employs a method that is straight out of beaver activity: Check dams. These are straw wattles or hay bales, stacked & staked into runoff channels that slow the velocity of runoff, and allows the sediment to settle out of the flow. The result is less erosion and less turbid (cloudy) water flowing into streams. Looking at the bay and creeks on a rainy day, it's hard to imagine, but there was a time when the Carquinez Straits and all its tributaries ran crystal clear, and you could wade into the bay on solid sand.
Martini May 30, 2012 at 04:02 PM
I think it is that when you walk by and see like 20 people (ALL LIBERALS) sitting in chairs waiting to get a glimpse it just seems to take the coolness out of it. NEXT it will be posted it is a quiet zone to not disturb them. Worry about getting a good affordable place to eat >
Rose Martin May 30, 2012 at 04:02 PM
I love all animals weather they live in the waters or on land, but I've just filmed some river otters that are living right in the martinez marina, there are 6 of them, but I believe there are more, someone else has seen them also. Other then leaving there poop on the docks, they are so great to watch play and that is what I have on film, they are so playful animals. If someone can help me put it up on the Martinez patch you can all see them play. Wild animals will always capture your heart.
RP May 30, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Damn tree hugging, nature loving liberals! "To argue with a person who has renounced reason, is like administering medicine to the dead." -- Thomas Paine
Nancy Rieser May 30, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Alas, there will always be curmudgeons in a crowd, yes? May the belief in stewardship and kindness towards animals SOMEday become part of humanity's default belief system...
mark May 30, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Ah, the beavers, creating not just flora and fauna but public dicourse that endures! The hydrogeomorphology designed into the project by the environmental designers has yeilded more than the taxpayers ever dreamed of! This in addition to alleviating the flooding downtown, which has also been rather successful. The issues that have arisen with the creek have been polarized and ascribed with projections of evil intent on all sides, yet for most people, a smile is evinced and the matter of the beavers is broached. But not all, of course. On tonight's final chapter of the Hatfields and McCoy's, the Tug Ruver will be dammed by beavers, creating an uncrossable pond separating the fueding families forever. (This version may lay on the cutting room floor, however). Perhaps in another 120 years, the History Channel will again do a 3 night saga, about a tree that fell not in a forest, but a creek. And the whole world heard it.
JT May 30, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Is Martini a troll? What twaddle. I would have never given Martinez a passing thought until I heard about the beavers. Now I come for the beaver festival and spend money in your town. I'm not the only one. Be grateful for those little buggers, folks.
Linda Meza May 31, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Here's hoping Jari Osborne, the documentarian, did more than play to the videographer's ego and emotions and came back with substantially more than the initial 1k offer for hours, not clips, of video. Pretty horrid, really, playing on someone's emotions in order to deny them fair compensation. But hey, #justsay'n
Kathi McLaughlin June 01, 2012 at 05:32 AM
The beaver family symbolizes all that is right and wonderful about Martinez, and much of what is so wrong. Right is how the community came together (Thank you Heidi and Jon!) to save the beavers and disprove the "expert" opinions about how they would create flooding and erode (pun intended) the good work done to control flooding. What's wrong is the rush to judgement and the assumption that the only way to deal with nature was to "depredate" it (a fancy word to hide the fact that killing was the only option considered)! Also wrong was putting in a sheet pile wall, at a cost of over $300,000, in front of another sheet pile wall that was uncovered during the installation of the newest one--and all based on faulty consultant reports that were changed to support a pre-conceived belief that the beavers were somehow destroying a concrete wall that was already well beyond its effective life! Hard to believe that the ill will and falsehoods about the beavers are still alive and well, despite the obvious benefit they bring to our beloved city. Everywhere I go I hear about the beavers--their fame has traveled far and wide. And as a previous comment noted, the beavers are bringing people from around the state and around the country to Martinez. Isn't it nice to be famous for something positive, like the beaver family and the part they have played in restoring and strengthening our riparian habitat, rather than infamous for having destroyed such majestic creatures?
Sara Orrick November 29, 2012 at 06:44 PM
I would love to see you film of otters!
Sara Orrick November 29, 2012 at 07:00 PM
It is so true that the beavers' fame brings visitors to our town in a positive way. I am a public works contractor and Martinez resident. I have been asked about the beavers on various occasions by department managers, etc. in nearby cities who planned to take their families to see the Martinez beavers as well as use Martinez as a model to address similar issues in their cities.

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