We recently hosted Ben Goldfarb in San Luis Obispo for a talk on his new book, Crossings: How Road Ecology Is Shaping the Future of Our Planet. Ben’s previous book, Eager: The Surprising and Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter, accelerated the beaver movement on this continent and we were very excited to host Ben here in San Luis Obispo.
It was a super fun and informative evening. The Santa Barbara Permaculture Network delivered Ben Goldfarb to us for an evening talk followed by a walk in the Salinas River to visit the beaver habitat in Atascadero the following day.
We learned about the mule deer and how their migrations are blocked by the “living fence” of I-80 in Wyoming, causing some deer to literally starve to death on one side of the highway while their food sources are only a few short leaps away on the other side of the impenetrable highway. We learned about the mountain lions in Southern California showing signs of inbreeding because of “the 101” blocking off any routes into or out of their territory. We also learned of the incredible work of Beth Pratt and the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing that is being built to cross the 10 lanes of highway to connect the Santa Monica Mountains with the Simi Hills to support the continued existence of these mountain lions and is expected to be completed in 2025.
We also learned of the many smaller crossings that existed here and in other countries; smaller, less expensive crossings for toads, crabs and other amphibians. Less obvious (or elaborate & expensive) underpasses and culverts with bridge-paths that allow for travel through them even in the wet weather. Truly inspiring considerations for the other lifeforms we share our home with.
What we didn’t expect was to see the overlap between Ben’s two books, Crossings and Eager. On November 4th, a 43 pound beaver was found on the side of James Way & Ventana Drive in Pismo.
We had recently discovered a new dam on Pismo Creek and marveled at its closeness to such a busy urban area. Busy highway 101 is in sight of the beaver habitat on Pismo Creek and numerous other smaller roads and bridges cross right over the area where this beaver dam resides.
Needless to say, we are now even more interested in Ben Goldfarb’s book and the work of Road Ecologists everywhere.