Reading Ben Goldfarb’s book, “Eager: The Surprising Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter,” was unexpectedly delightful. I don’t know why I was surprised. Everyone who told me about the book recommended it the same way: “It’s a fascinating read. I think you’ll be surprised.”
So, yes, the title absolutely delivers on its promise. The Spokesman-Review Outdoors editor Eli Francovich will lead the conversation with Goldfarb at the Northwest Passages Book Club on Wednesday at Montvale Event Center.
Here are five things to know about Goldfarb and his #YearOfTheBeaver research, which resulted in this book:
There Is a Beaver Whisperer: Goldfarb grew up on the East Coast and was a casual observer of the critter until 2015, when he got caught in the spell of Kent Woodruff, a (now-retired) U.S. Forest Service ranger and director of the Methow Beaver Project.
Goldfarb’s journey went from writing a few articles for the High County News to writing “Eager,” which won the E.O. Wilson Prize for Literary Science Writing from PEN America and Best Outdoor Book of 2018 by Outside Magazine.
Leave It to Beaver: Goldfarb’s book helped influence the creation of BeaverCon 2020. (Not kidding – beavercon.org.) Scheduled for its inaugural event in Baltimore in March, its purpose is “to bring professionals, practitioners and others dealing with beaver issues and wetland restoration together on the East Coast for the first time to share the latest research and best management practices for ‘Nature’s Engineer.’ ”
Justin Beaver: It is one of the most popular names for rescued and relocated beavers. Goldfarb also has heard all of the beaver jokes and innuendos, ones that certainly are not suitable for a family newspaper.
Busy As a Beaver: Goldfarb was recently published in National Geographic with “The Secret Lives of Fish-Eating, Beaver-Ambushing Wolves of Minnesota.” His next project, a result of being awarded an Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship, has a working title of “Mean Streets: Road Ecology and the Future of Transportation Infrastructure.”
Anteaters also has been a subject of Goldfarb’s recent tweets, so perhaps he is working on a “Secret Lives” anteaters project! (Follow him @ben_a_goldfarb for all things Castor canadensis.)
Beaver Believer: We are at the start of a Beaverlution. And Spokane is at the forefront, being the home of the Lands Council and environmental journalist Ben Goldfarb. Please join us to learn more from both of them on Wednesday at Montvale Event Center.
More Beaver Believer Books for Your Bookshelf:
“The Beaver: Its Life and Impact,” by Dietland Müller-Schwarze, is designed to satisfy the curiosity and answer the questions of anyone with an interest in these animals, from students who enjoy watching beaver ponds at nature centers to homeowners and land managers.
Concluding with the near extinction of the buffalo in the late 1800s, “Fur, Fortune and Empire,” by Eric Jay Dolin, is an epic history that brings to vivid life 300 years of the American experience, conclusively demonstrating that the fur trade played a seminal role in creating the nation we are today.
Eric Collier is a forgotten pioneer of conservation and the reintroduction of animals to a habitat where they have been driven to extinction by man. He brought beavers – and much other wildlife – back to a dessicated landscape west of the great Fraser River in Canada. Collier told his story in a book published in New York in 1959 – “Three Against the Wilderness.”
In interviews recorded in 2006, his son Veasy, who was his partner in a remarkable venture in the wilds of British Columbia, brought that story up to date. Or at least to 2006.
Local journalism is essential.
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