Founder Heidi Perryman talks beavers
By DAVID SCHOLZ
MARTINEZ, Calif. – More than eight years after one woman spearheaded an effort to address the plight of one fury creature from demise in Alhambra Creek, that effort subsequently generated national interest and has given more attention to the health and welfare of beavers everywhere.This Earth Day, April 23, at the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, Heidi Perryman and the organization Worth A Dam will be honored with the Environmental Education Award from the John Muir Association.
TRIBUNE: When was your organization founded and how many members are currently part of it?
PERRYMAN: Worth A Dam was founded in March of 2008. And our core membership is eight. But we have several folks that play an important role and are helpful to our projects.
TRIBUNE: What was your reaction to receiving the honor?
PERRYMAN: Delighted that Worth A Dam could be recognized for showing how and why cities can learn to live with beavers. California needs more “water savers,” not less!
TRIBUNE: How has the perception of beavers changed through the years as a result of the attention your group has given to their plight?
PERRYMAN: The national publicity of the Martinez Beavers showed countless other cities about beaver benefits and how conflicts could be managed. Back when Martinez was first facing this issue there were three websites on the entire Internet about humane solutions.
That was part of the motivation for our website, which had very broad readership. With our help it is much easier to find information about why to live with beavers and how you can.
TRIBUNE: How might the health of beavers be a barometer for the health of the Martinez area creek system?
PERRYMAN: Beavers are one of the hardiest species in the creek. They can manage in places where plenty of other species can’t. The amazing thing is they improve those places to make it more habitable for others.
Founded in 2008 by Perryman, Worth A Dam is a nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to the value, importance and contributions of beavers in the ecosystem. Perryman, through Worth A Dam, focuses her educational approach on the fact that co-existing with beavers ensures the strength of the overall ecosystems of creeks and surrounding areas. Worth A Dam’s co-existence model has been adopted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and, most recently, Napa has adopted the model. Perryman has co-authored numerous published articles regarding beavers. Worth A Dam founded the Martinez Beaver Festival, now in its eighth year, with a wide breadth of wildlife and conservation groups, which helps raise awareness of protecting wildlife and preserving healthy environments and ecosystems.