Got drought? Bring in the beavers

Guest blogger: Heidi Perryman

Martinez Beavers

Now a December article in Canadian Geographic by Frances Backhouse,”Rethinking the Beaver”, considers how beavers affect wetlands and watersheds with an eye on how that could be a plus in dealing with heightened risk of drought.

The material presented isn’t especially new. But if cycles of drought and flood become more regular spectres it’s worth looking at ways to mitigate those impacts.

Nice article from North County Public Radio in New York, which even links to my father beaver movie. I’ve been having a little fantasy about telling all the folks who get FEMA money for drought that they if they’re killing beavers they ‘opt themselves out’ of federal support. It reminds me of that old joke about the minister during the flood. As the water rises around his house, a neighbor paddles by and offers to bring him to safety. “The lord will provide” is his answer, and he sends the neighbor on his way.

He and his family have to move onto the second floor when the waters rise. Now it’s a police boat that motors over, shouting over the megaphone to lower the children down first. He waives them away. “I’m not worried and we’re not leaving.” He dismisses. “The lord will provide.” The police leave – stunned.

The rains continue to fall and that water fills the second floor. The man raises his children and wife onto the roof where they scramble to survive. From the east the noise of a helicopter approaches. As it gets louder a ranger in rescue clothes lowers down from above and reaches for the children. The minister shouts his dissent. “WE’RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE. THE LORD WILL PROVIDE!” He shouts and turns his back on the rescue worker, clutching his bible. The worker shrugs with despair and is raised away on the hook back to the helicopter.

The water continues to rise.

It crests the roof and the chimney, drowning first the children, then the wife and finally the old minister. As the water fills his lungs his bible floats out of his fingertips and the man’s spirit rises to heaven, remembering everything that he lost and will never have again. When he sees god he explodes in fury.

“What kind of God are you! I lived a good life. I did everything I was supposed to for you. I put my faith in you! How could you let this happen? Why didn’t you provide for me and my family?”

God is nonplussed. “Are you kidding? I sent you two boats and a helicopter!‘

Which is to say more than 50 percent of the US faced extreme drought this year, and its going to get worse as climate change continues and these states that are relying on federal money to feed their families are turning away the very help that could save their lives, and water their crops, and support their cattle.

And I’m talking about beavers here.

“My land dried up, and my livestock died and my corn withered. Lord, I trusted you. My family lived by your laws. We went to church on sunday. Why didn’t you provide?”

And God says in my daydream. “Are you kidding? I sent you beavers!“

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