Tuesday, 25 April 2017

EcoSask News, April 25, 2017

larch flower

Upcoming Events
Meditations on a Prairie Landscape, May 1-June 30 (Saskatoon)
John Penner’s photography exhibit, Meditations on a Prairie Landscape, is on display at The Eye Gallery from May 1-June 30.

SK Master Naturalist Program, May 3 (webinar)
Join Chet Neufeld, Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan, at noon, May 3, for a webinar on the Saskatchewan Master Naturalist Program (SK-PCAP Native Prairie Speaker Series).

Saskatoon’s GHG Emissions, May 3 (Saskatoon)
Natasha Spence will report on the City of Saskatoon’s GHG emissions accounting at the May 3 meeting of the Saskatchewan Energy Management Task Force.

Identifying Local Wildflowers, May 4 (Saskatoon)
Join Renny Grilz at Wild Birds Unlimited at 7 pm, May 4, for help in identifying wildflowers of the Saskatoon area.

Subatlantic Video Essay, May 4-July 5 (Regina)
Check out Ursula Biemann’s science fictional video essay on the changing environment from May 4-July 5 in the Central Library Mediatheque, Regina.

Compost Workshop, May 6 (Prince Albert)
Prince Albert Parkland Permaculture Guild is hosting a compost workshop from 10 am-12:30 pm, May 6.

Jane’s Walk (Regina, Saskatoon)
Find out about urban water issues and gardening at 6:30 pm, May 5Saskatoon.

Join a guided walk of the Northeast Swale at 8 pm, May 5, Saskatoon.

Join Nature Conservancy of Canada for a walk through Wascana Marsh and learn about urban ecosystems at 7 pm, May 6, Regina.

From boulevard gardens to a parklet, explore how residents are bringing life back into roadways at 1:30 pm, May 7, Saskatoon.

larch flower

NCC Conservation Volunteer Program, May (SK)
The Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Conservation Volunteers program provides opportunities to get outside and protect or repair damage to the environment. There are 3 volunteer opportunities in May in Saskatchewan.
May 6, 9 am-3 pmMay the Forage Be With You Part Two – Meetup at Meeting Lake 3

May 26, 9 am-3 pmPeeping it Real at Reed Lake (Part 1)

May 27, 9 am-3 pmPeeping it Real at Reed Lake (Part 2)

Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
May 6, 9 am-3 pm – Waterfowl Outing to Dundurn Area
May 7, May 14, May 21, May 28, 7-9:30 am – MVA Trail Bird Walk
Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details and updated information.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

In the News
The City of St. Louis is encouraging residents to connect with nature with a poster listing places and opportunities.

Most businesses on urban streets make their money from pedestrians and cyclists.

What kind of education are we giving our kids if we, the adults in their lives, don't know much and can't share about the natural history of where we live?

The March for Science was the first step. We need to follow through in our personal lives as well as in our community.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Natural Areas Clean-up Grants 2017

American Robin

Raising money for your club, sports team, or voluntary organization? EcoFriendly Sask is offering a limited number of $500 grants to clubs and voluntary organizations for cleaning up a natural area in or around their community.

Apply by sending us an email telling us about your group and your clean-up plans. We’ll let you know whether or not your grant application is approved.

Groups that are approved for a grant will be sent a cheque once we’ve received a photograph of your clean-up crew and the garbage you’ve collected.

See also:
Meewasin Annual Clean Up Campaign

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

EcoFriendly Sask informs, encourages, and supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication and Action Grants. EcoFriendly Action Grants are intended to prevent, reduce, or repair damage to the environment. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

EcoSask News, April 18, 2017

Prairie crocuses

Upcoming Events
Negative Emissions Technology, Apr. 20 (Regina, Saskatoon) 
Dr. David Reiner, UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre, will discuss negative emissions technology in a video conference at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy from 10:30 am-12 pm, Apr. 20.

Prairies, Wetlands, and Riverbanks, Apr. 25 (Saskatoon)
Wild about Saskatoon is partnering with Café Scientific for a presentation by Kenton Lysak on Prairies, wetlands, and riverbanks...Oh my! Why we need to reconnect with Saskatoon's Natural Areas at 7:30 pm, Apr. 25.

SK Environmental Society AGM, Apr. 25 (Saskatoon)
The Saskatchewan Environmental Society is holding their annual general meeting from 6:30-9 pm, Apr. 25. Brett Dolter will discuss Greening the Grid: Pathways for Decarbonizing Electricity in Saskatchewan and Canada.

Citizen Science, Apr. 26 (webinar)
Brenda Dale is offering a webinar on citizen science at noon on Apr. 26 as part of SK-PCAP’s Native Prairie Speaker series.

Edible Landscapes, Urban Foraging, Apr. 27 (Regina)
Join the Regina Horticultural Society for a workshop on urban foraging at 7 pm, Apr. 27.

Household Hazardous Waste Day, Apr. 29 (Prince Albert)
You can dispose of household hazardous waste in Prince Albert from 9 am to 3 pm on Apr. 29.

Breeding Bird Atlas Workshop, Apr. 29 (Saskatoon)
Find out more about the Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas and how you can participate from 9 am to 3 pm, Apr. 29, in Saskatoon.

Breeding Bird Atlas Workshop, Apr. 29/30 (Fort Qu’Appelle)
Join local regional coordinators for a Breeding Bird Atlas training workshop in Fort Qu’Appelle from 7-9 pm, Apr. 29, and from 1-3 pm, Apr. 30.

People’s Climate March, Apr. 29 (Regina)
There will be a People’s Climate March in Regina from 12-2 pm, Apr. 29.

Carbonless Concert, Apr. 29 (Saskatoon)
Jason Maillet is hosting the sixth in a series of carbonless concerts from 6:30-9 pm, Apr. 29.

Prairie crocuses

Looking Ahead
South American Birds & Music, May 5 (Regina)
Enjoy a presentation on grasslands conservation in South America and South American music at a fundraiser for PPPI’s Public Grasslands Defense Fund, at 7 pm, May 5, in Regina.

Meewasin Trail Count, May 13/14 (Saskatoon)
Sign up for a 1 or 2-hour count and user survey on the Meewasin Trail in May. Training sessions will be held at 12 pm, May 13 and 14.

Expedition to the Cypress Hills, June 15-18 (SK)
Join the Explorers’ Club for an expedition to the Cypress Hills, June 15-18.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calenda

In the News
If we woke up tomorrow and found that half our local bird population was lying dead on our lawns, there’d be a crisis. If it happened over a lifetime, we wouldn’t notice. That’s exactly what has happened, and not just with birds.” 

Co-existence is best for sheep, wolves, and people. Let’s put an end to bounty hunts and killing contests.

Want to avoid traffic jams, pollution, and urban sprawl? Don't let people park for free.

Urban nature is full of surprises.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Monday, 17 April 2017

Dead Trees Full of Life

Downy woodpecker

How often do you see dead trees or fallen logs in our city parks? Rarely – and that’s a huge mistake because, as forest ecologist Jerry Franklin, likes to say: "A dead tree is more alive than a live tree."

Wildlife Condo
“Hard to believe, but trees can actually provide more habitats for wildlife dead than when they are alive. Standing dead and dying trees, called snags or wildlife trees, are important for wildlife in both natural and landscaped settings, occurring as a result of disease, lightning, fire, animal damage, too much shade, drought, root competition, as well as old age.

“Birds, small mammals, and other wildlife use snags for nests, nurseries, storage areas, foraging, roosting, and perching. Live trees with snag-like features, such as hollow trunks, excavated cavities, and dead branches can provide similar wildlife value. Snags occurring along streams and shorelines eventually may fall into the water, adding important woody debris to aquatic habitat. Dead branches are often used as perches; snags that lack limbs are often more decayed and, may have more and larger cavities for shelter and nesting. Snags enhance local natural areas by attracting wildlife species that may not otherwise be found there.” (1)

Mass Extinction
“It’s frightening but true: Our planet is now in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of plants and animals — the sixth wave of extinctions in the past half-billion years. We’re currently experiencing the worst spate of species die-offs since the loss of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural background rate of about one to five species per year. Scientists estimate we’re now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day. It could be a scary future indeed, with as many as 30 to 50 percent of all species possibly heading toward extinction by mid-century.” (2)


Restoring Biodiversity in Urban Areas
Urban centres have a tremendous impact on a region’s biodiversity, drawing on its resources while simultaneously hindering or actively decreasing biological diversity. And yet, it doesn’t have to be that way.

“Urban environments usually include a great diversity of habitats (such as water retention ponds, industrial parks, railway rights-of-way, greenways, and others) which may support some wildlife and plant species. In some cases, urban habitats may even play a significant role in the conservation of 'rare' or 'threatened' species.” (3)

Along with creating buffer zones, planting a variety of species, and establishing corridors and stepping stones to promote connectivity, it’s important to create “multi-age ecosystems” and to leave “stumps, leaves, snags and logs on-site to enhance the ecosystem's natural structure, maintain the nutrient cycle, and provide habitat for wildlife and other organisms.” (3)

For More Information
(1) Snags – The Wildlife Tree, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

(2) The Extinction Crisis, Center for Biological Diversity

(3) Biodiversity and the Restoration of the Urban Forest Ecosystem, Restoring the Urban Forest Ecosystem, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida Extension

Thursday, 13 April 2017

2017 Earth Day Activities in Saskatchewan


The following activities have been promoted as Earth Day activities. For a full list of upcoming events, take a look at the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar.

Prince Albert
Earth Day in PA, Apr. 22
Council of Canadians – Prince Albert Chapter will be celebrating Earth Day on Apr. 22 with movies, music, speakers, lunch, and a march.

It’s Seedy Saturday as well at the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library.

Earth Day Celebration, Apr. 22
An Earth Day celebration of live music, yoga, activist, art, speakers, drumming, film, and workshops will be held from 10 am to late at the Artful Dodger Café & Music Emporium.

Regina Recycles, Apr. 22
Join the City of Regina’s Solid Waste staff for an afternoon of recycling fun for the entire family from 1:30-3:30 pm, Apr. 22, at the Glen Elm Branch, Regina Public Library.

Ross Avenue Garden Party, Apr. 22
Help clean up Regina and plant a garden at the Ross Avenue Garden Party.


Earth Day Celebration, Apr. 22
Celebrate Earth Day with the Saskatoon Unitarians who are hosting a celebration (10 am) and a fair (11 am to 1 pm) including games, food, activities, drumming, a composting demo, educational displays, and art making.

Good Morning Earth, Apr. 22
Wildernook Fresh Air Learning is offering a free morning nature experience designed for children ages 2-5 and their adult parent or guardian. The Apr. 22 event intends to offer a helping hand to local species.

March for Science, Apr. 22
March for Science, a call to safeguard and support the scientific community, will be held in Saskatoon on Apr. 22.

Earth Day Fun Runs, Apr. 23
The Saskatchewan Environmental Society is organizing an Earth Day Fun Run on Apr. 23 to support the Society.

The Saskatoon Zoo Society is hosting its annual Earth Day Fun Run on Apr. 23. Funds raised helped support the Society's environmental education programs.

Waste Not YXE Earth Day Clean-up, Apr. 23
Waste Not YXE is organizing an Earth Day Clean-Up from 2-5 pm, Apr. 23, in Saskatoon.


Celebrate Earth Day with YFBTA, Apr. 22
The Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail Association will be celebrating Earth Day at 12:30 pm, Apr. 22, St. Gerard Parish Hall, Yorkton. Speakers include Kelsey Marchand (turtles), Kenton Lysak (grasslands), Ray Poulin (snakes), and Harold Fisher (owl banding).

Do let us know if we have missed any Earth Day activities and we'll add them to the list.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

EcoSask News, April 11, 2017

spring thaw

Upcoming Events
Bird Impact Reduction Day, Apr. 11
Windows – in our homes, offices, stores – can be a death sentence for birds. Here are 10 things we can do to save birds’ lives.

Easter Week at the Creek, Apr. 17-21 (Saskatoon)
Visit Beaver Creek during Easter break, Apr. 17-21. You can hike a nature trail, feed the chickadees, or explore the interpretive centre.

Sask Breeding Bird Atlas, Apr. 18 (Nature Prince Albert)
Nature Prince Albert is looking for people to help with the Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas. Additional information will be provided at their Apr. 18 meeting from 7:30-9 pm.

Visit the Zoo, Apr. 18, 19, 20 (Saskatoon)
Visit the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo from 1-3 pm, Apr. 18, 19, and 20, and Saskatoon Zoo Society interpreters will introduce you to some of the socialized animals.

Sustainable Landscapes, Apr. 18 (Saskatoon)
Patricia Hanbidge will provide tips on how to design, grow, and maintain a sustainable landscape and garden at 7 pm, Apr. 18, at the Frances Morrison Library as part of the Sustainable Speaker Series.

Saskatoon Seed Library, Apr. 18 (Saskatoon) 
Karen Farmer, Saskatoon Seed Library, will talk about how to get seeds, Canadian seed insecurity, and the work being done around Saskatoon at the Cliff Wright Library from 1-2:30 pm, Apr. 18.

Bugs on the Menu, Apr. 19 (Regina)
The Royal Saskatchewan Museum is screening Bugs on the Menu at 6:30 pm, Apr. 19, as part of Canada Film Day 150.

Bidder 70, Apr. 19 (Regina) 
Cinema Politica will be screening Bidder 70 about climate activist Tim DeChristopher at 7 pm, Apr. 19, in Regina.

Overlapping Human & Animal Behaviour, Apr. 20 (Saskatoon) 
Dr. Joe Stookey will discuss the similarities between animal and human behaviour at the Apr. 20 meeting of the Saskatoon Nature Society.

Wildernook Launch Party, Apr. 21 (Saskatoon) 
Celebrate the launch of Wildernook Fresh Air Learning from 7:30-9:30 pm, Apr. 21, at Drift Café.

Zoo Run, Apr. 23 (Saskatoon) 
The Saskatoon Zoo Society is hosting its annual Zoo Run from 9-11 am, Apr. 23.


Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
Saskatoon Young Naturalists
Apr. 18, 6:30-8 pm – Crocus Hike
May 31-June 30 – Bluebird Trail
July 14, 1-3 pm – Butterfly Field Trip
Space is limited; register early to avoid disappointment.
Golden Eagles
Apr. 20, 8 am – Brightwater Marsh
Apr. 27, 8 am – Osler area, including Neuhorst Sloughs
Retirees and partners who are interested in birds and the natural world are invited to participate in Golden Eagle field trips.
Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
Apr. 15, 2-4 pm – Crocus Hike to Cranberry Flats
Apr. 22, 4:45-8 am – Short-tailed Grouse Dance to NE Swale
Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details and updated information.

Nature Regina Field Trips
Apr. 15, 8:30 am-4 pm – Spring Discoveries on Route 99
Check Nature Regina’s website for full details and updated information.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

In the News
The Prince Albert Seed Library is a collaborative effort between Prince Albert Parkland Permaculture Guild and John M. Cuelenaere Public Library

The Prairie Climate Centre has launched a new series of publications on building climate-resilient cities - from ecosystems to food and water to economics

Dressing to impress has an environmental cost - 1 kg of denim generates 23 kg of greenhouse gases

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Nature Activities for Kids

We've pulled together a list of environmental programs and camps for kids in Regina and Saskatoon.

Take a look and see if there is something that would be of interest to your family.

Do let us know if we've missed activities in other parts of the province.

Nature Activities for Kids

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

EcoSask News, April 4, 2017

swelling buds

Upcoming Events
Medical Students Take the Pledge, Apr. 5-6 (Saskatoon) 
College of Medicine students are being invited to take the pledge to make an eco-friendly change on Apr. 5-6 in the Health E Wing Atrium.

Feral Boars & Farmland Moose, Apr. 6 (Indian Head) 
Join The Indian Head Natural History Society at 6 pm, Apr. 6, for presentations on feral boar and farmland moose.

SK Living Green Expo, Apr. 7-9 (Saskatoon)
Saskatchewan Living Green Expo is this weekend, Apr. 7-9, with a full range of displays and activities.

The Grasslands Project, Apr. 11 (Saskatoon) 
The Grasslands Project, a film about southern prairie communities, will be shown at 2 pm, Apr. 11, at the Alice Turner Library.

Environmental Behaviour, Learning, and Place-based Locations, Apr. 13 (Saskatoon)
Nicole Ardoin, Stanford University, will discuss environmental behaviour, learning and place-based locations from 3-4 pm, Apr. 13, at the U of S.

NCC Volunteer Opportunities, Apr. 17 (Regina) 
Ashley Rankin will talk about volunteer opportunities with the Nature Conservancy of Canada at the Apr. 17 meeting of Nature Regina.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar

Looking Ahead 
Nature Grandparenting, May 9-30 (Saskatoon)
SaskOutdoors invites grandparents to experience nature with their 3-5 year old grandchild on Tuesdays at 10 am from May 9-30 with Wildernook Fresh Air Learning.

swelling buds

In the News
In San Francisco they’re imagining a world in which cars share the road with birds, bees, butterflies, and bicyclists - 115 miles of habitat corridors

New York is turning out the lights from 11pm to dawn during spring and fall migrations in state-owned and -managed buildings

5 fictional books for kids about the environment

Airline passengers generated 5.2m tonnes of waste in 2016 - something has to change

The Pembina Institute says the National Energy Board requires structural change in order to establish fair, rigorous energy project reviews

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority: A Role Model for Meewasin Valley Authority?

Last week’s critique of the independent provincial assessment of the Meewasin Valley Authority pointed out that the assessment tried to compare apples and oranges by comparing small recreational parks with Meewasin’s mandate for planning, development, conservation, and recreation over a large area.

Only one comparator park appeared relevant: the North Saskatchewan River Valley parks system. We pointed to other relevant examples across Canada, from Fish Creek Provincial Park in Calgary to Pippy Park in St. John’s.

A reader suggested that we take a look at the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) whose mission and mandate are very similar to Meewasin Valley Authority’s although they operate on a much larger scale.

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority 
With more than 60 years of experience, the TRCA works with municipalities and other partners to look after the watersheds of the Toronto region and the Lake Ontario waterfront. Acknowledging that nature and people are interconnected, the health of one directly impacting the other, they’ve made it their mission to ensure the health of both. “By committing ourselves to protecting, restoring and enhancing nature, we allow the natural world to bestow its many benefits on our bodies, our minds, our spirits and our communities.” 

Their mandate includes the following:
  • Take care of nine watersheds and the Lake Ontario shoreline, in partnership with municipalities, the Province, and other stakeholders 
  • Work to preserve and protect the land, improve wildlife and plant habitats 
  • Encourage people of all ages to get out and enjoy nature for optimal health and well-being 
  • Monitor and report on the health of Toronto’s environment 
  • Provide input and expertise on water management, resource conservation, natural heritage, and cultural heritage 
  • Run programs that teach a greater appreciation of the environment and ways to adopt sustainable technologies 
  • Reduce human impact on natural resources while acquiring, protecting, and restoring conservation lands to further watershed and resource management 

A Cleaner, Greener, and Healthier Place to Live 
Toronto and Region Conservation Authority recognizes the importance of their work: “With the help of our partners, TRCA is creating a cleaner, greener and healthier place to live — for you today, and for your children tomorrow. Together, we aim to improve the health of the natural environment and create opportunities for a sustainable future. By doing so, we ensure we live in harmony with nature and are a healthier society as a whole.” 

Let’s follow their lead by sustaining and enhancing the role of the Meewasin Valley Authority.

Photo credit: Terri Jackson

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Wildlife 911

Spring means new life with baby birds and animals in our gardens, parks, and rural areas. If we see a baby bird on the ground or a tiny fawn all alone, our first impulse is to rescue it. But hold on a moment and make sure that they really do need to be rescued.

What Should I Do?
The Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan (WRSOS) has a very informative webpage listing what to do if you find a bird, mammal, or reptile in distress. Here are a few key points to keep in mind before heading over to the WRSOS website for further instruction.
  • Be patient and watch the animal for several hours, from a distance so as not to scare the mother away. Some animal parents leave their babies alone for extended periods for their own protection or while the parent feeds. Unless the baby is in immediate danger, contact the WRSOS before removing them from the wild. 
  • Make sure the animal is in need of help before intervening. The WRSOS website lists signs of normal behaviour as well as signs of distress. 
  • A baby animal's best chance for survival is to be raised by its natural parents. Be very sure it’s necessary before removing an animal from the wild. 

Wildlife Hotline
If you’ve been observing an animal for a while and you really do think it needs help, it’s time to call the WRSOS Wildlife Hotline – 306-242-7177.

WRSOS operates a Wildlife Hotline 12 hours a day, 365 days a year. Volunteers respond to public inquiries about injured and orphaned wildlife and assess the situations by asking a series of questions designed to determine if the animals are in need or exhibiting natural behaviours.

WRSOS receives over 2,000 calls per year. They provide the initial triage, assessment, and vet care (if needed) so that the wildlife rehabilitators can focus directly on the animals.

In cases that do require intervention, WRSOS has approximately 70 volunteers around the province who help transport injured wildlife to one of the province’s 20 licensed rehabilitators or to one of the veterinary clinics that support the work of WRSOS.

Spring Baby Boom
May to July are exceptionally busy months for wildlife rehabilitators and WRSOS is always looking for volunteers to help feed injured animals, answer the wildlife hotline, provide transportation, or help with duck rescue.

WRSOS provides volunteer training sessions. You can also contact a wildlife rehabilitation centre in your area.
     Healing Haven Wildlife Rescue, Meadow Lake
     Wild and Cared Free Wildlife Rehabilitation Inc., Moose Jaw
     Salthaven West, Regina
     Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation, Saskatoon

Additional Information
Wildlife 911 – always make sure an animal is actually in need before intervening
Volunteer Opportunities 
Wildlife Rehabilitation Internship Opportunity
Wildlife Rehabilitation: Knowledge, Expertise, Hard Work – and Love
Wildlife Hotline - 306-242-7177

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

EcoSask News, March 28, 2017

windblown chickadee

Upcoming Events
Radiation Heating, Apr. 6 (Saskatoon)
Vic Ellis will discuss radiation heating at the Apr. 6 breakfast meeting of the Saskatchewan Energy Management Task Force.

Beaver Flow Devices for Managers, Apr. 6 (webinar)
Learn how to successfully implement flow devices for beaver management in your community with The Fur-Bearers’ Apr. 6 webinar on Beaver Flow Devices for Managers.

Caribrew Release Party, Apr. 8 (Saskatoon)
Join CPAWS Saskatchewan and Prairie Sun Brewery on Apr. 8 for the release of Caribrew, a stout containing malts smoked with peat moss collected from Reindeer Lake, SK. Proceeds for the beer will go to support CPAWS’ work protecting habitat for Boreal Woodland Caribou.

Wildlife Rehab. Volunteer Orientation, Apr. 9 (Saskatoon)
Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan is hosting a volunteer orientation session from 1-3 pm, Apr. 9, in Saskatoon. Come out and offer your help during the spring baby boom.

Household Hazardous Waste Day, Apr. 9 (Saskatoon)
You can dispose of household hazardous waste in Saskatoon from 9 am – 3:30 pm, Apr. 9.

birch bark

Looking Ahead
Building Operator Training, May 5 (Saskatoon)
Non-profits and small businesses are invited to learn how to efficiently operate their lighting, electrical equipment, heating, ventilation and cooling, and reduce water use at a one-day Building Operator Training in Saskatoon on May 5.

Wings Over Wascana Fundraising Dinner, May 8 (Regina)
Friends of Wascana Marsh are holding their annual fundraising dinner on May 8. Kelsey Marchand will talk about Western Painted Turtles in the Marsh.

Canoe Certification, May 20-22 (Saskatoon)
SaskOutdoors is offering a Paddle Canada Lake Canoe Skills certification course from May 20-22 in Saskatoon.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar

Dew on spider web

In the News
The Government of Saskatchewan is asking for the public’s input on how pasture land formerly used for the Saskatchewan Pastures Program will be owned and operated in the future. The survey is open online until May 8.

Prairies matter because of their immense root systems; dense, sprawling, complex biological systems that store one third of the world’s carbon and subsequently clean our future water . . . . lawns do not compare and never will.”

The Federal Government’s Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development's report on protected natural areas highlights the need for longer term thinking and larger-scale and better connected protected areas networks.

The Honda Smart Home uses passive house design, rooftop solar panels, a geothermal heating and cooling system, and greywater capture.

The world's spiders devour 400-800m metric tons of insects yearly and play a big role in keeping pests and disease-carriers away.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include.

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Sunday, 26 March 2017

A Critique of the Independent Provincial Assessment of the Meewasin Valley Authority


MNP LLP prepared a governance and operational assessment of the Meewasin Valley Authority for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport. The report, published in November 2016, was recently posted on the Ministry’s website.

A review of the report raises a number of questions regarding the validity of the assessment’s findings.

Comparator Parks
MNP compared the Meewasin Valley Authority with 8 other Canadian parks “in order to evaluate best practices in the areas of governance, organizational structure, and funding mechanisms.” The report states that the comparator parks were chosen based on size, location, urban population, and the park’s conservation activities.

Park Size
Reviewing the report, one has to wonder if MNP wasn’t trying to compare apples and oranges. The MVA is responsible for 6,278 hectares. Of the 8 comparator parks, only 3 are over 200 hectares and only 2 are over 500 hectares.

Park Location
The report states that most of the comparator parks are funded primarily by the local municipality. However, 41% of the MVA is Crown land outside of municipal jurisdiction. In addition, Meewasin includes a river valley, placing it under federal as well as provincial jurisdiction.

Conservation Activities
Unlike the majority of the comparator parks, Meewasin Valley Authority is responsible for carrying out a review of proposed developments within the Meewasin conservation zone that are in the river channel or have an aggregate worth of over $25,000.

The MVA also carries out a variety of conservation activities that are under provincial and federal jurisdiction (control of invasive species control, reports on species at risk and water quality).

Of the comparator parks, only 3 carry out any conservation activities. These are, in most cases, limited and carried out by volunteers.

prairie crocus

Alternate Park Comparisons
Only one of the comparator parks, the North Saskatchewan River Valley parks system, has a similar size (18,000 ha.) and scope (municipal parks, city-operated public facilities, and provincially-owned sites) with the MVA. The River Valley Alliance is responsible for coordinating river valley planning and development within the seven member municipalities. 69% of its funds are provided by the federal and provincial governments. The North Saskatchewan River Valley Conservation Society is responsible for protecting and enhancing biodiversity while the City of Edmonton has a natural areas conservation plan.

Fish Creek Provincial Park, located in southwest Calgary, is Canada’s second largest urban park and is under provincial jurisdiction.

Rouge National Urban Park in metropolitan Toronto is under federal jurisdiction. The Parks Canada website says that the park is “home to amazing biodiversity, some of the last remaining working farms in the Greater Toronto Area, Carolinian ecosystems, Toronto’s only campground, one of the region’s largest marshes, unspoiled beaches, amazing hiking opportunities, and human history dating back over 10,000 years, including some of Canada's oldest known Indigenous sites.” Similar features are found in the Meewasin Valley.

Pippy Park in St. John’s is a 1,376 ha. land reserve, nature conservation and recreation area close to the downtown core. In addition to providing local residents with recreational opportunities, it's responsible for protecting and conserving natural habitats and features. It’s a semi-autonomous Crown Corporation.

gopher (ground squirrel)

Mandate and Scope
The assessment report recommends transferring responsibility for primary funding of the MVA to the City of Saskatoon and cancelling funding from the Ministry, with the possible exception of the Crown lands. They suggest that the province could provide the MVA with funding for conservation and resource management on Crown lands or the lands could be returned to the Crown for their oversight. To divide up responsibility for a river valley rather than maintaining a comprehensive approach to conservation and development seems short-sighted. The Edmonton River Valley parks system receives provincial and federal funding and shares responsibility among 7 member municipalities.

In addition, the Province of Saskatchewan does not have a good track record for grassland conservation. In its most recent budget, the government stated that it plans to dispose of 51 community public pastures, despite the fact that 80% of the province’s grasslands are already in private hands.

The report questions Meewasin’s future vision of becoming a world-class corridor and suggests that their plans to purchase additional land are a sign of “scope creep.” For those of us who place a high value on protecting our natural resources for future generations, it is heartening to see that the MVA shares those values. To restrict the MVA’s mandate would be short-sighted.

What is your reaction to the assessment report? How do you envision the future of the Meewasin Valley Authority?

See Also
Toronto and Region Conservation Authority: A role model for Meewasin Valley Authority?

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

EcoSask News, March 21, 2017

Goldeneye taking off

Upcoming Events
Ecosystem Services Provided by Native Prairie, Mar. 24 (webinar)
Sue Michalsky, Ranchers Stewardship Alliance, will discuss ways of valuing ecosystem services in a Mar. 24 webinar (SK-PCAP Native Prairie Speaker series).

Carbonless Concert, Mar. 25 (Saskatoon)
The fifth Carbonless Concert with solar-powered audio is being held from 6:30-9 pm, Mar. 25, at d’Lish by Tish Café.

Sustainability Slam & Carbonless Concert, Mar. 29 (Saskatoon)
The U of S Graduate Students’ Association is holding a Sustainability Slam & Carbonless Concert from 6-9:30 pm, Mar. 29.

Sage Grouse & Cropland Conversion, Mar. 29 (webinar)
Joe Smith, University of Montana, is offering a webinar on greater sage grouse and cropland conversion at noon, Mar. 29 (SK-PCAP Native Prairie Speaker series).

WUQWATR AGM, Mar. 30 (Lumsden)
Wascana Upper Qu’Appelle Watershed Association Taking Responsibility (WUQWATR) is holding its AGM from 6:30-8 pm, Mar. 30, in Lumsden.


Bicycle Mechanic Workshops, Mar/Apr (Saskatoon)
Bridge City Bicycle Co-op is offering weekly workshops from Mar. 30 to Apr. 27 on how to repair parts of your bike.

World Water Day Movie, Apr. 3 (Prince Albert)
Council of Canadians – Prince Albert Chapter is hosting a showing of the movie Above All Else at 7 pm, Apr. 3.

Nature Regina Field Trips
Mar. 25, 10 am - noon - NATUREWALK in Wascana
Apr. 8, 9 am – 4:30 pm – Early Arrivals & Winter Birds at Echo Lake & Fort Qu’Appelle
Check Nature Regina’s website for full details and updated information.

Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
Young Naturalists
Apr. 18 – Crocus Hike
Space is limited; register early to avoid disappointment.

Golden Eagles
Apr. 6, 8 am – Bluebirds in Merrill Hills Area
Apr. 13, 8 am – Crocuses and Bluebirds
Retirees and partners who are interested in birds and the natural world are invited to participate in Golden Eagle field trips.

Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
Apr. 1, 9 am – 2 pm – Bluebird Trip to Pike Lake
Apr. 5, 7-10 pm – Saw-whet Owling near Pike Lake
Apr. 12, 6:30-8 pm – Gull Identification
Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details and updated information.


Looking Ahead
SK Living Green Expo, Apr. 7-9 (Saskatoon)
The Saskatchewan Living Green Expo, Apr. 7-9, includes presentations on solar energy, socially responsible investing, and reducing chemicals in the home. There will be bats and snakes in the Kidsphere, and DIY workshops on choosing a green builder, green heating options, and eco retrofits. Frank Wolf, long-distance wilderness canoeist, will talk about his 1800 km, 44-day expedition from La Ronge to Baker Lake.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

In the News
Buy a rain barrel and support the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan’s efforts to help injured and orphaned wildlife. Rain barrels are $70 each and must be pre-ordered online.

The Council of Canadians Prince Albert chapter has won their city council executive committee's support for the human right to water and publicly financed, owned, and operated water and wastewater services.

JNS Yoga, Saskatoon, is committed to zero waste. First step - switching from paper to cloth towels.

3 easy step to take to protect wild bees.

15 ways to stop microfiber pollution now.

A New Zealand river is the first in the world to be given legal human status and is quickly followed by the Ganges and Yamuna rivers in India.

The burial industry is starting to offer greener end-of-life options.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Made to Last

Keep? Throw away? Our grandparents bought durable products and repaired them when they broke down. That hasn't always been the case for our generation. But times are changing and people are becoming more aware of the cost to the environment of our disposable consumer culture. They’re reinventing ways to repair, reuse or reduce, and reestablishing and strengthening the power of the consumer.

When something breaks, our tendency is to replace it; we’ve lost the knowledge that past generations had. But there are other options.

Repair Cafés 
Grassroots groups are organizing repair cafés where neighbours help neighbours to repair items. It reduces waste, saves money, and offers people a chance to socialize. Toronto Repair Café and Brighton Repair Café (photo) are two examples of a global movement.

Fix It 
iFixit is a wiki-based site that teaches people how to fix almost anything and empowers individuals to share their technical expertise. For example, they’ll show you how to replace the Home button on your iPhone and you can order all the necessary parts and equipment through their website.

Spareka, a French website, believes that the majority of broken appliances can be repaired. The website helps you identify the problem, buy the necessary repair parts, and carry out the repairs. If you want to repair your dishwasher, Spareka explains how it works, provides an overview of all the component parts, tips on how to maintain it in good condition, a checklist to diagnose the problem, and videos on how to repair specific problems, such as replacing the pump or the door closure. Technicians are on hand if you can’t find the solution to your problem online.

Regen Box 
Where there’s a will there’s a way, and one determined individual has set up Regen Box, an open-source regenerator for non-rechargeable alkaline batteries. The goal is to establish a community of beta testers to try it out with all the different types of batteries currently on the market.

Create Café
3D Printing Technology creates opportunities as well as roadblocks. Digital saws, laser cutting tools, and 3-D printing provide new options for repairing or creating. Create Cafe 3D Printing is a Saskatoon-based 3-D printing and coffee shop. They favour 3-D printing due to the low waste produced, cost benefits, and dynamic abilities.

Equipment and materials don’t have to end up in the landfill. Here are a few alternatives.

If you’re doing home renovations, why not donate old fixtures and appliances to Habitat for Humanity? ReStore resells quality new and gently used building materials and home furnishings.

PSI Technologies Inc. crushes and recycles up to 2,500 tonnes of material a day using concrete collected from demolished commercial and industrial buildings in and around Saskatoon. During demolition,

Innovation Place salvages as much material as possible so that doors, ceilings, light fixtures, and other items can be reused. If there is surplus material, it is donated. (photo: Marks & Spencer, UK)

Reconditioned Appliances and Electronics 
Back Market bills itself as a supermarket for reconditioned electronics (from cameras and smart phones to coffee makers and toasters). NEU Appliances of Austin, Texas, cleans, tests, warranties, and sells used appliances.

Recycled Jeans 
REMADE in France uses old jeans to make new ones. Their goal is to save water and reduce pesticide contamination as growing cotton requires immense amounts of water and uses 24% of the world supply of pesticides.

Magasin pour Rien 
Magasin pour Rien in Mulhouse, France, accepts items that people no longer want and then gives them away. People are invited to visit once a week and pick out 1-3 free items, including children’s clothing and toys, dishes, and small electrical appliances. Social service agencies now direct their clients to the store.

Ads encourage us to buy, buy, buy while manufacturers control availability and information. Reestablishing and strengthening the power of the consumer is happening in various different ways.

In 2014, France passed a law to enhance the rights of consumers. Manufacturers are expected to provide a 2-year warranty (in place of 6 months) and to list the availability of replacement parts.

Sweden has introduced tax breaks for repairs in a bid to cut waste.

Putting an End to Planned Obsolescence 
HOP: Halte à l’Obsolescence Programmée, a French advocacy group, has 3 principal objectives: inform and speak out against planned obsolescence, bring people (from citizens to academics to manufacturers) together to take action, and put forward research papers and proposals to support a different economic model.

The most effective means of valuing natural resources and preventing waste is by reducing consumption.

Made to Last
Individuals and companies are encouraging consumers to buy less stuff by buying good-quality, durable products.

Made to Last, a UK website, profiles products that have been hand selected for the quality of their workmanship and designed to stand the test of time. Products must have a clear guarantee and a high utility value.

BuyMeOnce “finds and promotes products that don't break the bank, don't break the planet ... that don't break at all!” They challenge manufacturers to build stuff that really lasts.

Sustainable Fashion
The fashion industry, with its seasonal trends and cheap, badly made clothes, is responsible for a great deal of waste. A few companies are breaking with that pattern with clothes made with recycled or organic materials. Patagonia is leading the trend with a mission statement to “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”

Fairphone “is a Dutch social enterprise that makes smartphones with easily replaceable components, encourages the recycling of e-waste, uses materials that support local economies, and advocates fairness among its partners.”

Say No to Greenwashing 
In a joint position paper on Bioplastics in a Circular Economy, Friends of the Earth Europe stress the need to focus on waste reduction and prevention to avoid false solutions. “Our overconsuming, throwaway culture is tied to a linear buy-use-dispose economy, and will not be solved by relying on technological solutions. Instead, we need behavioural and production change and for government priorities to be on prevention and reuse.”

Values Reset 
In most parts of the world, the focus is on continuous economic growth sustained by the non-stop acquisition of goods and materials as measured by the Gross Domestic Product. Some countries and regions have chosen to follow a different path.

Kerala, in southern India, follows a model of equitable growth, emphasizing land reforms, poverty reduction, access to education, and child welfare rather than a high GDP.

Bhutan champions “a new approach to development, which measures prosperity through formal principles of gross national happiness (GNH) and the spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of its citizens and natural environment.”

Each of us as individuals chooses how to define success and prosperity. By making changes in our personal lives and advocating for society-wide changes, we can make a difference.

See Also
Landfills, Organic Waste, and Recycling

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

EcoSask News, March 14, 2017

frost and ice

Upcoming Events
Northern Owling Overnight Trip, Mar. 18/19 (Saskatoon)
The Saskatoon Nature Society is planning a northern owling overnight trip on Mar. 18/19. Check their website for more detailed information.

Saskatoon Zoo Society AGM, Mar. 19 (Saskatoon) 
Find out about the programs offered by the Saskatoon Zoo Society at their annual general meeting, 1:30-3 pm, Mar. 19.

SK Breeding Bird Atlas, Mar. 20 (Regina) 
Dr. Keil Drake will present the Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas project at the Mar. 20 meeting of Nature Regina.

Healthy Yards for Prairie Gardeners, Mar. 21 (Saskatoon) 
Find out about home composting, water conservation, native plants, pesticide reduction, and more at 7 pm, Mar. 21, at the Frances Morrison Library as part of the Sustainable Speaker Series.

GHG Reductions through Electrification, Mar. 21 (Regina/Saskatoon) 
Alan Fogwill, Canadian Energy Research Institute, will speak on greenhouse gas emissions reductions in Canada through electrification of energy services from 10:30-noon, Mar. 21. The Johnson Shoyama Graduate School public lecture can be heard in either Regina or Saskatoon.

sun on floating ice

Zoodles, Mar. 22-Apr. 27 (Saskatoon) 
Ryan Schmidt’s portraits of animals living at the Saskatoon Forestry Farm & Zoo will be on display in the Gallery at Frances Morrison Library from Mar. 22-Apr. 27.

Seed Bombs, Mar. 24 (Regina) 
Teens are invited to a talk about native plants and creating green spaces in the community from 7-8:30 pm, Mar. 22, at the Prince of Wales Branch, Regina Public Library.

SK Wildlife Society AGM, Mar. 25 (Regina) 
Todd Whiklo will talk about Alberta’s Sage Grouse Recovery Program during The Wildlife Society – Saskatchewan chapter’s AGM from 4-5:30, Mar. 25.

Public Pastures Public Interest AGM, Mar. 25 (Regina) 
Public Pastures Public Interest will be holding their annual general meeting from 1-5 pm, Mar. 25.

Burrowing Owls, Mar. 25 (Regina) 
Meet a burrowing owl at 1:30 pm, Mar. 25, at Cabela’s in Regina as part of SK-PCAP's Native Prairie Speaker series.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

frost and ice

In the News
Usask Worms hopes to kick-start a vermicomposting revolution at the U of S

An on-campus solar array at the U of S will provide students with hands-on experience in renewable energy technologies

Saskatoon groups are proposing an electric car-share pilot program

Bokashi balls can clean polluted waterways. For more information, talk to Saskatoon’s Bokashi Ninja 

The City of Regina's Landfill Gas to Energy Project generates one megawatt of power — enough to power 1,000 homes

 Illegal farmland drainage is a huge problem in Saskatchewan (article and column)

Nature Conservancy of Canada has unveiled a new conservation area next to Grasslands National Park

An Ontario city is temporarily closing a road to protect endangered salamanders

Useful tips on how to protect existing trees on building sites

Reliance on hazardous pesticides is a short-term solution that undermines the right to adequate food and health for present and future generations” (United Nations)

Inhabit: a documentary film looking at permaculture people and practices in over 20 rural, suburban, and urban environments

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).