Heidi Perryman – Martinez Tribune https://martineztribune.com The website of the Martinez Tribune. Fri, 13 Jan 2017 21:30:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.1 Flood waters engulf parts of Martinez https://martineztribune.com/2017/01/13/flood-waters-engulf-parts-of-martinez/ Fri, 13 Jan 2017 21:29:27 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=6315 By E. CLARK Martinez Tribune Tribune welcomes letters, columns and other contributions of all sorts. This page is for our readers – a place where you can voice your opinions, share your stories, and even publish your poems or artwork. All we ask is for contributors to keep opinions about the subjects and issues, and …

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By E. CLARK
Martinez Tribune

Tribune welcomes letters, columns and other contributions of all sorts. This page is for our readers – a place where you can voice your opinions, share your stories, and even publish your poems or artwork. All we ask is for contributors to keep opinions about the subjects and issues, and please refrain from criticizing people who may have differing opinions. Whether we like what others contribute or not, we can all take away something from the contents on this page. Sometimes, it may be strengthening our own stances; other times it may be opening ourselves up to other viewpoints. Hopefully, questions will be asked here that will spur further investigation and lead to positive change within our city. I like this quote by Thomas Jefferson: “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”

BOY, this rain sure has been something. There was quite a lot of excitement and worry around town on Tuesday night as the creek crept farther and farther up, threatening to spill over into neighboring businesses and homes.

My family and I walked around the downtown, surveying the situation. From our vantage point, the creek seemed highest around the bridge near Escobar Street and Alhambra Avenue. Rushing water was just a few feet below the top of the retaining wall next to Creek Monkey Tap House, with that section of Escobar completely blocked to traffic. An excavator or tractor-like heavy equipment was parked near the bridge, and there were city officials on site. This was around 9 p.m.

Around that same time, the 500 block of Main Street was flooding, in part due to traffic. There were a lot of rubbernecks out and about, and according to a post by Linda Meza on the Martinez Raves Facebook page, Leanne Peterson of the Main Street Martinez organization, along with Travis and Candice Gliatto,  Earl Dunivan and Bob Cellini, were all out directing traffic, trying to steer curious folks from driving near Main Street.

Later in the evening, some adventurous spirits even took to wakeboarding in front of the Amtrak station! There’s a funny video of that by Mac Thompson that we’ve shared to the Martinez Tribune Facebook page.

COULDN’T help but wonder as we watched Alhambra Creek rise this week, how the local beavers were faring. Thankfully, Heidi Perryman of the Martinez-based beaver organization, Worth a Dam, has been blogging about it at www.martinezbeavers.org.

Perryman said on the website the beavers “wisely thought to get outta town before all this flooding so they couldn’t be blamed.” She said rain doesn’t hurt the critters, and that she’s seen the local beavers swim “effortlessly upstream in a torrent.”

I hope they will all return, but as I said in this column last week, I also hope a solution is found to allow sufficient water flow through their dams so that southern areas of the creek can receive the much needed ebb and flow of ordinary tides.

STILL no word on what will ultimately happen to the Contra Costa County District Attorney, Mark Peterson, after he was found to be misusing campaign funds. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike the guy. We’ve met on a few occasions and he’s always been pleasant. And many in his office say he’s a skilled leader. It’s just an unfortunate situation for all involved that easily could have been avoided.

The Fair Political Practices Commission will meet Jan. 19 to revisit the case, as only three members were in attendance at their Dec. 15 meeting. It takes three votes to initiate action, and at the last meeting, the vote was 2-1 in favor of penalizing the DA. He’s already, in recompense, voluntarily paid the $45,000 fine the FPPC could impose. So at this point, frankly I’m unsure what other punishment could be administered. I guess we’ll know after Jan. 19.

We can be sure of one thing, though. If Peterson continues to carry out his duties till the next election and chooses to try for another term, whomever steps forward in the race for the DA’s seat will have some ammunition to use. There hasn’t been much interest in that post, however. Surely Peterson wouldn’t run again unopposed, would he?

Share your thoughts. Email admin@martineztribune.com.

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Possible beaver spotted in Alhambra Creek https://martineztribune.com/2016/05/06/possible-beaver-spotted-in-alhambra-creek/ Fri, 06 May 2016 08:00:55 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=4033 UPDATE: Two beavers were filmed by Moses Silva the evening of May 4, 2016. MARTINEZ, Calif. – According to local beaver advocacy group “Worth A Dam,” a possible beaver spotting in Alhambra Creek took place Monday, May 2. The group’s founder, Heidi Perryman, said beaver enthusiast Moses Silva reached for his camera after he spotted …

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UPDATE: Two beavers were filmed by Moses Silva the evening of May 4, 2016.

MARTINEZ, Calif. – According to local beaver advocacy group “Worth A Dam,” a possible beaver spotting in Alhambra Creek took place Monday, May 2.

The group’s founder, Heidi Perryman, said beaver enthusiast Moses Silva reached for his camera after he spotted what was believed to be a beaver swimming in the creek, but the creature quickly slipped from view.

“I’m too emotionally beaver-scarred to be excited by this, but against my better judgment, I’m very hopeful,” Perryman wrote on the group’s website, www.martinezbeavers.org.

Monday’s sighting would mark the first known time beavers have been spotted in the creek since 2015, when several beaver kits were found deceased from unknown causes. One kit was found in a sickly condition and underwent treatment at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum hospital, but was too ill to recover and was ultimately euthanized.

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‘Worth A Dam’ to be honored by Muir Association https://martineztribune.com/2016/04/15/worth-a-dam-to-be-honored-by-muir-association/ Fri, 15 Apr 2016 17:30:07 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=3854 Founder Heidi Perryman talks beavers By DAVID SCHOLZ Martinez Tribune 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. …

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Founder Heidi Perryman talks beavers

By DAVID SCHOLZ
Martinez Tribune

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.

Worth A Dam founder Heidi Perryman. (HEIDI TAING / Courtesy)
Worth A Dam founder Heidi Perryman. (HEIDI TAING / Courtesy)
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.

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Parks & Rec considers beaver mural, dog park, pickleball https://martineztribune.com/2015/11/20/parks-rec-considers-beaver-mural-dog-park-pickleball/ Fri, 20 Nov 2015 17:50:24 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=2489 By DONNA BETH WEILENMAN Martinez Tribune MARTINEZ, Calif. – The family of beavers that made its home in Alhambra Creek may have left Martinez after the loss of this year’s kits and an older yearling brother. But a mural proposed for a bridge near their damsite near Marina Vista Avenue would commemorate their years in …

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Heidi Perryman (at left) presents Mario Alfaro and his painting of a proposed beaver mural at the Nov. 17, 2015, meeting of the Parks, Recreation, Marina and Cultural Commission. (DONNA BETH WEILENMAN/Martinez Tribune)
Heidi Perryman (at left) presents Mario Alfaro and his painting of a proposed beaver mural at the Nov. 17, 2015, meeting of the Parks, Recreation, Marina and Cultural Commission. (DONNA BETH WEILENMAN/Martinez Tribune)

By DONNA BETH WEILENMAN
Martinez Tribune

MARTINEZ, Calif. – The family of beavers that made its home in Alhambra Creek may have left Martinez after the loss of this year’s kits and an older yearling brother.

But a mural proposed for a bridge near their damsite near Marina Vista Avenue would commemorate their years in Martinez, illustrate the value of Alhambra Creek beyond a place where some people throw trash, and serve as a reminder of a time of collaboration by hundreds of people with varying points of view.

That’s what Heidi Perryman told the Martinez Parks, Recreation, Marina and Cultural Commission Tuesday, Nov. 17. Perryman is a founder of Worth a Dam, a grassroots organization that advocated for the beavers that some Martinez residents wanted to kill before their dam flooded the downtown business district.

Instead, after a 2007 City Council meeting was attended by 200 to 300 people, solutions were proposed that allowed installation of a device that would allow creek water to flow despite the beaver dams.

However, earlier this year, the corpses of several of the 2015 litter of kits were found, and another sickly kit later died during treatment. California Fish and Wildlife specialists oversaw necropsies on the little animals, but no cause of death could be determined, Perryman said.

During a recent desilting of the creek, city employees said they discovered little evidence that the adult beavers remained in Alhambra Creek.

Perryman herself told the commission it’s likely the adults left after the creek became an inhospitable place for them to live.

However, the animals’ years in the creek need to be remembered and memorialized with a mural, she urged.

Besides the animals themselves, the mural would be a reminder of the creek as a biodiverse wildlife neighborhood and of a time a large group of people came together and worked to find a compromise that would allow the beavers to live in the Martinez downtown.

During their stay, the animals became an attraction and an icon of the shopping area.

Perryman said the mural could be placed on the 28-foot bridge for about $6,000, and offered to split the cost between the City of Martinez and Worth a Dam.

The Commission took the proposal under advisement and referred it to one of the panel’s subcommittees for further discussion.

In another matter raised by residents, the commission has scheduled two workshops on establishing a dog park in Martinez.

The first will be at 6:30 P.M. Dec. 9 at Martinez City Hall, 525 Henrietta St., at which those attending will hear an overview of the efforts to get a dog park established and the basics of starting a dog park. Time will be allowed for discussion of possible locations for a park in Martinez.

The second, at 6:30 p.m. Jan 13 at City Hall, will cover a review of the results of the first workshop, the evaluation of possible park sites, cost and maintenance of a park and the next steps toward founding a park.

Rick Marazzani, one of the residents pressing the city to get the park built, reminded the panel that park advocates have spent hours researching and formulating a proposal for the park, which he said he has sent to outgoing City Manager Rob Braulik.

Additional public art could come to Martinez, with painters using utility boxes as their canvases.

The idea is that vandals would be less likely to tag the painted utility boxes, and that would reduce the likelihood of graffiti, recreation coordinator Barbara Patchin said.

However, ownership of the utility boxes must be determined before artists are sought to paint them, she said.

“We have to get permission to paint them,” she said. Once that permission is obtained, she said, the City Council would be asked to approve a stipend for the artists.

Among staff reports, the panel heard that a council subcommittee on pickleball courts has recommended re-striping one tennis court at Hidden Valley Park on Center Avenue for dual purposes, to let pickleball players have a court on which to play their game as well.

Picxleball players would have priority from 5-7 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 8:30 a.m. to noon Fridays and Saturdays, the subcommittee recommended.

In addition, the subcommittee has proposed such long-range projects as building six to eight pickleball courts with suitable lighting and parking, possibly at Hidden Valley Park. A source of funding for the construction needs to be found, the subcommittee has recommended.

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City works to remove Alhambra Creek silt, improve flow during rains; ‘beaver deceiver’ also removed https://martineztribune.com/2015/10/20/city-works-to-remove-alhambra-creek-silt-improve-flow-during-rains-beaver-deceiver-also-removed/ Wed, 21 Oct 2015 03:05:16 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=2018 By DONNA BETH WEILENMAN Martinez Tribune MARTINEZ, Calif. – Martinez Public Works employees have been working up Alhambra Creek in hopes that anticipated El Niño rains won’t cause flooding in the downtown business district. Meanwhile, employees are keeping an eye open for any sign that the Martinez beavers still live in the downtown area. Public …

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The "beaver deceiver," a flow device installed in Alhambra Creek to prevent flooding near a primary beaver dam in Martinez, lays in the mud before its removal by city crews this week. (HEIDI PERRYMAN / Courtesy)
The “beaver deceiver,” a flow device installed in Alhambra Creek to prevent flooding near a primary beaver dam in Martinez, lays in the mud before its removal by city crews this week. (HEIDI PERRYMAN / Courtesy)

By DONNA BETH WEILENMAN
Martinez Tribune

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Martinez Public Works employees have been working up Alhambra Creek in hopes that anticipated El Niño rains won’t cause flooding in the downtown business district. Meanwhile, employees are keeping an eye open for any sign that the Martinez beavers still live in the downtown area.

Public Works Superintendent Bob Cellini said he has been working hand in glove with California Department of Fish and Wildlife Warden Nicole Kozicki on the project, making sure that the wildlife inhabitants of Alhambra remain undisturbed by removal of accumulated silt, particularly that which has gathered in the crooks of the creek’s turns.

However, those who advocate for the golden beavers that have inhabited the creek since late 2006, have expressed concern that the work being performed might lead to creek bank destabilization.

Normally, such work should cease by Oct. 15 each year. But Cellini said concern for the beavers delayed the project’s start, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife agreed to issue the city a variance so the cleanup could extend beyond the normal deadline.

Employees tackled the southern downtown portion of the creek Oct. 14 and 15, working along the Ward Street bridge and Escobar Street. They started cleaning nearer Main Street and parts north Oct. 16. That included removing a silt island that had formed opposite Starbucks, Cellini said.

Those walking alongside the creek may have noticed long stakes and black netting lying on the creek banks. That is protective silt fencing that is required by Fish and Wildlife to reduce the chances of contamination.

Cellini said it’s been some time since city crews undertook such work, although in 2000, they made improvements that increased the creek’s water flow so that during rains, the creek wouldn’t flood adjacent property owners.

City crews at work in Alhambra Creek this week, removing the “beaver deceiver” device installed near the beaver dam just off Estudillo Street in downtown Martinez. (HEIDI PERRYMAN / Courtesy)
City crews at work in Alhambra Creek this week, removing the “beaver deceiver” device installed near the beaver dam just off Estudillo Street in downtown Martinez. (HEIDI PERRYMAN / Courtesy)

Fish and Wildlife employees gave Martinez permission to remove low-hanging tree branches and the remains of the “beaver deceiver,” designed by Skip Lisle and installed between Escobar Street and Marina Vista, site of the primary beaver dam, to make sure water levels behind the dam never rose too high.

Lisle developed the trapezoid-shaped assembly in the 1990s while working with the Penobscot Nation in Maine. His design called for fencing that extends too long for beavers to try to dam and plug a culvert. His design redirects the beavers’ activities, and is supposed to reduce the sound of water that motivates the animals to build dams. Piping redirects the water and maintains its flow.

But much of the old pipe and the metal caging rotted away, Cellini said. He blamed saltier water that has seeped into the creek.

“As the flow goes, it deposits silt on the inside of the turns,” Cellini said. “It’s normal.” But it also clogs the stream.

Crews are pulling out arundo, the invasive, cane-like plant that has been growing in the creek. It’s prevalent in the channel near the Amtrak station, but crews won’t attack those growths until next year, Cellini said.

Along the Escobar Street bank slopes, the city will seed and put in special mats that are designed to control erosion, Cellini said. That method of controlling erosion is required by Fish and Wildlife, he said. Kozicki is well aware of what the city is doing and was instrumental in outlining the tasks employees would undertake, he said.

While at work, these employees have been looking for signs of the beavers. Cellini said it’s unusual for work crews to see the animals themselves. “The only way we’d know is to see trees gnawed on,” he said. “You could tell they’d been there.” But the indicators aren’t positive.

Martinez lost this year’s beaver litter and at least one of the kits born last year, Heidi Perryman, president of Worth a Dam, a beaver advocacy organization, and Conrad Jones, senior environmental scientist and supervisor with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, said in September.

One sickly kit died while being treated and the bodies of others were found in Alhambra Creek starting in July. Unfortunately, necropsies have not pointed to any definite cause of the kits’ deaths.

Tests on the creek’s water bore no clues, either – they were negative for such toxins as rat poisons, antifreeze or other chemicals. However, necropsies did uncover that people have been feeding the beavers illegally, although Jones said that hasn’t appeared to be a contributing factor in the beavers’ deaths.

Information from the necropsies and water tests have been shared with the University of California, Davis, but no new conclusions have been drawn, only adding to the mystery and concern.

During walks along the creek Cellini and Kozicki made prior to the project’s undertaking, as well as during this latest work, no one has reported seeing any secondary evidence of beaver activity.

“The last sighting was in mid-September. I’m not sure there are any left,” Cellini said.

Not everyone agrees with the city’s activities in the creek.

Perryman, Worth a Dam and its website, www.martinezbeavers.org/wordpress, have challenged whether the work is warranted, calling it “bank destabilization.” One posting said: “Martinez is being deeply stupid at the moment.”

The site has complimented Utah State University researcher Elijah Portugal and USU Department of Watershed Sciences adjunct faculty member Nick Bouwes, their students and community volunteers who collaborated this month on two pond levelers on Logan, Utah, property owned by Walmart.

Another posting praises Mike Settell, executive director of the Watershed Guardians, who installed another pond leveler at Rapid Creek near Pocatello, Idaho, and on Dempsey Creek in Lava Hot Springs in the same state, to prevent flooding while allowing beavers to construct their dams.

Perryman said she had heard of the city’s concern about El Niño storm flooding, but said, “This concern has existed for a year,” adding that the municipality didn’t address it until near the Fish and Wildlife Oct. 15 deadline.

“Public Works did confer with me to verify that we haven’t seen a beaver in a month and don’t know where they are,” she said. “I have no idea how ripping out the creek and the vegetation is going to help us with El Niño.”

Perryman questioned why the city hadn’t started the work earlier in the year, but Cellini said city employees didn’t want to get into the creek and risk disturbing the surviving beavers.

When the beavers first were spotted in Alhambra Creek, they not only sparked a lot of attention for themselves, they also created some awareness of the creatures that live in the creek, such as the turtles that Cellini said have moved nearer to Green Street. More people began talking about the environment of the creek.

The first two beavers built a 30-foot dam and demolished about half of the landscaping installed in 1999 to prevent the type of flooding that happened in 1997, although the area flooded again in 2005 despite the nearly $10 million planting project.

Concerned the beaver dam would exacerbate the area’s tendency to flood, Martinez officials first sought to exterminate the beavers since California forbids moving beavers elsewhere.

Alarmed residents opposed to killing the animals formed Worth a Dam. With support from such diverse groups as the Sierra Club and local schools, they worked actively to get that decision reversed.

Mayor Rob Schroder appointed a subcommittee to study the matter, and Martinez hired Lisle to install the “beaver deceiver” flow device.

Later, the city approved the installation of a tile mural donated by Worth a Dam and created by school children to illustrate the wildlife of Alhambra Creek, including the beavers. Worth A Dam began celebrating the beavers in 2008 with an annual Beaver Festival.

From the time the presence of the beavers was known, concern came from all sides for wildlife that had taken up homes in what Cellini described as a flood control channel.

“It put us on the map all over the country,” he said. The beavers’ presence also helped educate local children about the animals, and it gave city employees and beaver advocates a chance to work together, he said. He called it “a good experience.” Martinez became the place other cities called when beavers showed up.

“When they were here in full strength, the creek water was clean. It created an ecosystem,” he said. “But with the drought, there is no downstream water.” In addition, it has experienced greater saltwater intrusion.

Cellini acknowledged the criticism city employees receive about their approaches to handling the creek.

“We’re looked on negatively when we try to do the right thing,” he said, explaining that’s to maintain and protect both the creek’s delicate ecosystem and its water flow, he said.

Stormwater drains into the creek. “It’s probably not the best place for a beaver colony,” Cellini said.

But city employees work on municipally-owned land. Other portions of the creek are bounded by private property. What happens on that land impacts the creek too, Cellini said.

So he and his employees want to develop and provide information to those landowners, so they can also prepare for the rains and have their questions answered.

They need to maintain their trees, because falling trees can cause a backup in the creek, he said. “It could flood in minutes.”

Not only should they check their trees, they also should look in their back yards for items that could be blown into the creek in a storm, such as lawn chairs, umbrellas and any other items they’ve stored unsecured.

The public can also help city staff and employees monitor the creek, Cellini said. The state of California has water testing equipment at the Martinez Pier to obtain information it uses for regulating water in the Delta. Cellini said he has observed changes in other indicators for years, especially in populations of fish, from anchovies to big species.

So he values information from residents and visitors who may see things as they walk along the creek.

“Notify us if something doesn’t seem right or is out of character,” he said. “There are so many ways to report, and we will respond. I think the public does a good job. They’re our eyes and ears,” he said.

“And use trash receptacles,” he urged. “During that first storm, you’ll see a lot of stuff get into the creek.”

Cellini said there are plenty of beverage cups and food wrappers that have landed on the banks and in the waters. Others have seen suitcases and sofa cushions tossed onto the banks, turning them into dumping grounds.

He said he hasn’t seen many signs of other contamination, and said his employees have not heard of anyone poisoning the creek. But Cellini acknowledged, “A lot is done in the darkness of night.

“My guys get frustrated,” he said. They tell him how they clean an area of trash and garbage, then come back the next day to the same place, only to find it just as dirty as it was before.

“It’s the same thing with keeping the bathrooms clean,” he said. Two hours after a restroom is cleaned, it’s dirty again, he explained.

The litter comes from people from all walks of life, not just the downtown area’s homeless population, he said. “It’s not because there’s a lack of garbage cans. It’s disheartening,” he said.

Martinez Public Works can be reached at (925) 372-3580, and its website is http://www.cityofmartinez.org/depts/public_works/.

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