From Frogs, Logs, Dogs, Slogs, Bogs, Hogs, and Pollywogs - It's the Methow Conservancy Blog!
Occasional posts - from the quirky to the momentous - on the life and times of the Methow Conservancy.
(What you won't find in E-News)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Beaver Match-Making? An Immersion into the Deep Trenches of Mammalian Harmony

Guy feeding beavers before they are relocated
By Guy Thyer, one of our three college interns
(To learn more about the Methow Beaver Project, click here)

The inexperienced beaver feeder might mistake their task to be a simple matter of putting food in the bowl. While we understand the importance of daily sustenance in these beaver’s lives, we’ve found the feeding process to be an immersion into deep trenches of mammalian harmony. More than simple nutrition, feeding the beavers is about fabricating stories of love, drama, and the eventual triumph of the Good and then playing them out to full fruition!


It’s a Monday afternoon. Jamie jumps out of the passenger side to unhook the fenced-gate and we pull into the Winthrop Fish Hatchery. We are quick to shelter ourselves from the shameless beaver courting; we interns of course, are much too young to see such voluptuous behavior. While millions of Americans eagerly await Episode four of the Bachelorette, where the men battle it out in the Bachelorette’s Mr. America contest, a much more subtle and arranged lover’s game is happening all the while down at the Winthrop Fish Hatchery.

Less the Bachelorette’s abs and interviews, sprinkle a touch more real-life drama, and you’ve got the Beaver Relocation project. Beavers are captured from at-risk locations and brought to their temporary home in Winthrop. The beaver-crew plays ultimate match maker; before the beavers can make the move to their new homes upriver they must find a partner. These naive lovers are tossed into pools and the mix-and-match is on. A quick date to the waterway-waterfall, a romantic cruise around the house, a wood-chewing project, or perhaps an afternoon of snuggling and whispering sweet nothings. No matter the activity, the waterways are lively, full of discovery and also occasional divergence. Feeding the beavers can be bittersweet, we interns are bludgeoned with redirected beaver stress from crushes, heartbreak, jealousy, and even foul rumors. We got tail-smashed (an epic and radical water-slap move) trying to photograph a beaver for this post. The social-spectacle of these raceways often approaches middle school dance levels.

Mama beaver and two youngsters
Arranged marriage within such a small population of beavers forces these water-wizards to look deep inside one another’s soul in search of redeeming qualities. Two dens are provided for each pair, so when it’s not all kittens-n-roses for the unfettered romantics, each has their own home. Unlike the bachelorette, these beavers hardly get a say in their new partnership. A testament to their starry-eyed spirit, grandmothers and spry teenagers, princesses and slobs, introverts and social butterflies find ways to fuse together into dynamic pairings. Sleep and play patterns are observed, all to ensure that each beaver has a fighting chance at the wonders and endless fruits of proper matrimony.

Getting released into a high mountain pond
No beaver, fat, small, shy or impatient is a forlorn partner. Stories ofcompanionship, compassion, and canoodling are abound and plentiful in these concrete condominiums. It is not heartbreak, but instead transcendent union that triumphs in the waterways. A proper cardiologist would shut down the entire operation for its extreme effects on the heart! When two beavers do truly connect, we find joy not only in that same encouraging sentiment that keeps America watching the Bachelor -- “two strangers can find love!” we yell at the Television/Waterway – but also in the return to the river that love symbolizes. More than just a relocation project, this is a project about the triumph of the beaver spirit. A mini-verse where cooperation, trust, and openness triumph over deceit, division and despair.   

Guy Thyer's Bio:
I am originally a Seattle-lad but I am going to be a sophomore at Pomona College in California this fall. I am an Environmental Analysis and Philosophy double major.  I am interested in education policy and ways of incorporating experiential/outdoor education into our education systems. I came to the Conservancy because the projects we are working on seemed really interesting and worthwhile. The tasks we work on are a great mix of environmental and community work. The people at the Conservancy, and in the Methow Valley in general, have been extremely impressive and have really inspired me to continue pursuing this sort of work! 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Climate Solutions in the Age of Consequences - Notes & Video from the July First Tuesday

Notes by high-school intern Erik Ellis
Video (1 hour 20 minutes, see below) by high-school intern Ella Hall.

The July 2013 First Tuesday Program featured speaker KC Golden, from Climate Solutions, presenting a lecture entitled Climate Solutions in the Age of Consequences at the Merc Playhouse in Twisp.

Video of KC Golden Climate Solutions Talk

The first topic that was presented was that climate change is not just an environmental issue, that  it affects mostly every aspect of our lives, economic and social effects included. This means that we need to limit the adverse impacts of our society, and we need to clean things up a bit. This issue is too small to solve by just changing some aspects of our lifestyle. It requires complete, innovative re-engineering to build stronger, healthier, more compatible communities. A success story in Washington regards the Coal Plant, which produced 10% of Washington’s carbon emissions. In 2011, plans to phase out of coal passed with unanimous support from workers, company, and community. This was one of the biggest energy success stories, as it saved 5 Seattle-sized cities worth of power and $2 billion in electrical bills.

A Time Magazine headline from read “Be Worried, Be Very Worried.”  But the time to be worried was approximately 100 years ago when the first theories on carbon emissions came out. Changing ourselves and doing something about our impact on the environment is NOT optional, it is something that we have to do. What we are facing is either an inconvenient truth or a reassuring lie, and the truth does not lie in the middle of the two extremes. Right now everything is at stake, and if we continue on our current path, we will soon be likely to be beyond adaptation, so something must be done.
It is time to be the solution. Although this is a global scale, much of the impacts are local. For example, snow cover is projected to drastically decline. Forest disturbance will occur and at the end of the 21st Century there will be twice as much forest burned in Washington as in the 20th Century.  Sea level rise presents a problem. With just a 1 foot rise of sea level, an event like Hurricane Sandy, which may only occur every 100 years, becomes a once in 10 years event. With a rise of 2 feet, that even will happen yearly. Ocean acidification is rising, it is at 30% now but expected to be at 100-150% by 2100.

The problem is a cycle. Many people face this challenge with denial and confusion, which leads to inaction. We need to break this and turn this into a circle of practical economic solutions leading to results-oriented policies. Although it is called “Global Warming” much of the action must be local. By 2017, continuing with no action taken to stop this, emissions will be “locked in” and it will be increasingly harder to turn back. The Keystone Principle presents one answer: Stop Making it Irrevocably Worse!  Huge long-term mistakes we have the opportunity to not make. Clean Energy Revolution is good for us, but bad for the coal industries, who are turning to building coal plants in less developed countries. This can lead to a great climate disruption if it isn’t stopped.   

This is a technological and moral issue. A solution is to transition out of fossil fuels to more renewable resources. Also using biocarbon and scaling up carbon storage, taking back some of the carbon we’ve released. This leads to a bioeconomy. In the May 10th issue of the New York Times, it was being described as “game over for climate.” It isn’t a game, and it isn’t over. Adaptation and resilience is a must, limits on carbon pollutions, energy efficiency and renewables, international leadership, will help to tell everyone that someone’s doing something about it.

Helpful websites:
Stop keystone XL: