What to do about beavers and otters in Sonoma Creek

Posted on December 30, 2019 by Sonoma Valley Sun
Reader opinion by Tom Rusert
Advice to Sonoma City and CO government officials and agencies by local “citizen scientists”: beavers build dams. Otters live in Sonoma Creek as well but do not build dams.
(The suggested solution), Cutting a notch, will simply engage the beaver to repair the damage in no time. Putting in a “pond leveler,” also known as a beaver deceiver, will allow water flow management and the beavers with their dam can stay in the channel/creek and be enjoyed by all. This simple inexpensive device has been employed in nearby cities since 2008, inexpensive to build, and requires little, if any, maintenance over time. CDFW, agencies, and government officials are clearly in catch up mode on this subject.
These devices have been successfully employed on Alhambra Creek and throughout the country where urban beaver habitats occur. At least our government didn’t explode the dam and exterminate as many cities typically do. Beaver habitats, managed properly, enhance habitat for a wide variety of species including birdlife, fish populations, and humans. Beaver can help in groundwater recharge. We need to co-exist with them and it is easy when we work smart with a little planning and effort.  There have been several expert panel discussions and nature lectures in Sonoma on these very subjects over the past decade. Beavers, like mountain lions, bears, badgers, otters and birds are often misunderstood. As for beavers, there are several youtube videos of pond levelers if you want to see how they can make an appreciable difference.
Fire, ready aim…. Experts? Biologists? Mitigations? OK? Permission to notch a beaver dam? Misidentifying with great authority the animals and wildlife impact and not employing the obvious well know beaver damn habitat solutions long ago? A solution successfully employed across the west coast for years. An informed citizen pretty much hit the nail on the head. Why would Sonoma County officials not turn to the City of Martinez, a major beaver city success story in America since 2008 on this challenging subject of managing urban beaver habitats?
Responsible stewardship of beaver habitats has been known to educate and bring communities together. John Muir once said, “when we try to pick out anything by itself we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”  Sonoma is a community of informed citizens known to “Celebrates Our Good Nature”. Thank you Mother Nature for reminding us of our responsibility. This will be a good community test in the months to come.
— Tom Rusert is the co-founder of

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