Tuesday, 11 December 2018

EcoSask News, December 11, 2018

traces of last summer

"Climate change is sometimes misunderstood as being about changes in the weather. In reality it is about changes in our very way of life." - Paul Polman

Upcoming Events
Sustainability on Campus, Dec. 14 (Saskatoon)
Join the U of S Office of Sustainability from 12-1 pm, Dec. 15.

Repair Café Prince Albert, Dec. 15 (Prince Albert)
Share and learn skills to repair things at Repair Café Prince Albert from 1-4 pm, Dec. 15. Supplies will also be available to remake mitts from old sweaters.

Saskatoon Enviro Collective, Dec. 18 (Saskatoon)
Saskatoon Enviro Collective will be discussing how we can support a healthy, environmentally-oriented community from 6:30-8 pm, Dec. 18.

Manitoba Burrowing Owl Recovery Program, Dec. 19 (webinar)
Participate in a webinar about Manitoba’s burrowing owl recovery program at noon, Dec. 19.

Sacred Birds, Dec. 21 (Saskatoon)
Lyndon Penner will discuss the ways in which birds are honoured and worshipped at Wild Birds Unlimited at 5 pm, Dec. 21.

Looking Ahead
Passive House Design & Construction, Jan. 24-27 (Saskatoon)
Passive House Canada is offering a 4-day course on passive house design and construction in Saskatoon from Jan. 24-27.

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

In the News
If you’re concerned about farmland drainage, consider signing this petition to the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

The Government of Saskatchewan is providing financial assistance to the oil industry by introducing a Waterflood Development Program. “Waterflooding is a secondary recovery oil production technique that re-pressurizes an oil reservoir to boost total oil recovery from the reservoir.”

The City of Saskatoon is looking into ways to reduce the number of birds that fly into windows and die using strategies such as decals and reduced lighting at night.

Xcel Energy, one of the biggest utilities in the US, has committed to going completely carbon-free by 2050 (and 80 percent carbon-free by 2030).

In a democracy, should nature have a vote?

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 December 2018

2018 Christmas Bird and Mammal Counts in Saskatchewan

Bald eagle

Join a century-old tradition by participating in the 2018 Christmas Bird and Mammal Count in Saskatchewan. No experience is necessary. Count birds at a feeder on your property or join a team that is covering part of a count circle. Organizers ask that you register as soon as possible.

Christmas bird counts are for all ages! Check out the Christmas Bird Counts for Kids in Regina and Saskatoon (see below).

Moose Jaw Nature Society plans to hold a search, but the date is not yet set. Contact them if you’re interested in participating (Lorna Arnold, 306-690-8739).

Dec. 14 – Fort Qu’Appelle (contact Keith Stephens at 306-334-2862 or 306-332-3070)

Dec. 15 – Clark’s Crossing – Warman, Martensville, Osler, North Saskatoon (contact John Patterson at jrpatterson@shaw.ca or 306-249-0468)

Dec. 15 – Craven (contact Chris Harris at chrisgharris2013@gmail.com, call 306-569-5300, or text 306-515-0195; or contact Nature Conservancy of Canada)

Dec. 16 – Qu’Appelle – Elbow (contact Michael Williams at 306-242-5383)

Dec. 17 – Gardiner Dam (contact Guy Wapple at gswap@sasktel.net or 306-249-3280)

Dec. 18 – Shell Lake (contact Nature Conservancy of Canada)

Dec. 21 – Borden/Radisson (text Kyron Giroux at 306-281-6996 or email kyrongiroux@gmail.com

Dec. 26 – Saskatoon (contact Stan Shadick at trips@saskatoonnaturesociety.sk.ca or 306-652-5975)

Dec. 29 – Regina (contact Brett Quiring at bquiring@sasktel.net or 306-551-8729)

Jan. 5 – Balgonie (contact Brett Quiring at bquiring@sasktel.net or 306-551-8729)

Jan. 5 – Pike Lake (contact Murray Morgan at bevnmurray@gmail.com or 306-290-4078)

Christmas Bird Counts for Kids
Dec. 27 – Saskatoon – Saskatoon Zoo Society is hosting a Christmas Bird Count for Kids at Beaver Creek Conservation Area. No registration is necessary. For more information, contact Greg Fenty (greg.fenty@gmail.com or 306-343-6943).

Jan. 5 – Regina – Nature Saskatchewan is hosting a Christmas Bird Count for Kids at Wascana Centre. For more information, contact Lacey Weekes (laceyweekes@naturesask.ca or 306-780-9481).

Thursday, 6 December 2018

We're Losing our Wetlands - and That's a Big Problem


Illegal drainage causing flooding of a downstream yardsite and sending water into the Quill Lakes

“Wetlands provide us with water, they protect us from floods, droughts and other disasters, they provide food and livelihoods to millions of people, they support rich biodiversity, and they store more carbon than any other ecosystem. Yet, the value of wetlands remains largely unrecognized by policy and decision makers.” (The Global Wetland Outlook, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands) 

The world’s freshwater supplies are threatened as never before says Jay Famigletti, Executive Director of the University of Saskatchewan’s Global Institute for Water Security. World-wide, wetlands are being destroyed at 3 times the rate of forests (35% losses since 1970) and one-quarter of wetland plants and animals are at risk of extinction. Improved water management and governance are essential if we want to ensure future water and food security.

When the glaciers receded after the last Ice Age, they left behind an array of shallow depressions providing the Prairie Pothole Region with a wealth of small wetlands storing water and providing habitat for a wide variety of plants and animals. In the past, farmers worked around the wetlands, but large farms, massive equipment, and a drive for greater efficiency and productivity have led to farmers draining the potholes.

There’s a strong sentiment among landowners that they can do what they want on their own land and that they should be applauded for their contributions to feeding the world. However, the farmers’ short-term interests are at odds with the long-term interests of the general public. Draining wetlands leads to flooding downstream, increases erosion, lowers the water table, and reduces the supply of water in times of drought. It also fails to recognize wetlands’ important role in carbon sequestration.

Illegal drainage on Van Pattens Creek, a major fish spawning creek

Saskatchewan’s Agricultural Water Management Strategy 
In 2015, the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency (WSA) implemented the Agricultural Water Management Strategy in an effort to support responsible drainage. All existing and new drainage now requires WSA approval. To streamline the process, the agency has adopted a network approach working with all the farmers in a specific drainage area.

The Water Security Agency approved the first drainage network at Dry Lake northeast of Weyburn in 2017, issuing approvals for the 73 farmers in the network to drain a total of 586 acres of wetlands or 90% of the wetlands in the area. Mitigation in the form of restoring or retaining wetlands accounted for less than 10% of the loss area. No other efforts were made to mitigate for the impacts to water quality and loss of habitat. There was no evaluation or monitoring of the immediate or cumulative impact on water quality and loss of wetland habitat. The Saskatchewan public as a whole and Saskatchewan’s Indigenous people were not consulted.

More than 8 additional farmland drainage projects are now underway. Wetland loss in the Blackbird Creek and Saline Lake network is expected to exceed 90%.

Large ditch draining a 100-acre wetland along with bush clearing to turn the area into cultivated land

Focus & Fragmentation 
A recent article pinpoints the problem with the government’s Agricultural Water Management Strategy as follows: “The Province has drawn a clear line around drainage management, one focused on land and infrastructure owners and operators, and where the goal is to control the movement of water within a specific area. Unfortunately, this approach has isolated drainage from other related sectors. Perhaps most obviously, drainage is directly linked to general watershed management, as both are managed by the WSA, which is the hub for all water issues in Saskatchewan. Despite sharing an institution, presently there are no explicit links between drainage and other branches of water management.”

The authors go on to state, “The challenge with Saskatchewan’s Agricultural Water Management Strategy is not so much what is included, but what is not. . . . It is also unclear what, if any, role there is for conservation groups, water stewardship groups, agricultural associations, local governments, and others in drainage planning and decision making. So, despite the connection between wetland drainage, watershed management, and conservation, these links are not explicitly recognized in the regulatory process. The drainage approval process ‘informally considers’ water quality and wetlands, but there are limited policies and no formal ties between these informal considerations and existing source water protection plans or watershed management plans.”

The lack of a comprehensive approach to farmland drainage pits farmers against those downstream who face flooding and loss of water quality. The water level in the Quill Lakes has been rising for over a decade and, as a terminal basin, there is nowhere for it to go. The water is high in inorganic salts that could damage fisheries, wildlife habitat, and water quality if introduced into nearby freshwater systems, affecting cottage-owners’ water supply as well as Last Mountain Lake, an important migratory bird sanctuary. Proposed solutions to date have been inadequate as they didn’t meet the needs and concerns of all the interested parties.

Urban residents tend to view farmland drainage as a rural issue, which doesn’t affect their lives. And yet the impact can be significant. The City of Des Moines, Iowa, has taken several upstream farmland drainage districts to court claiming that the release of nitrates from farmland into the Raccoon River has resulted in unacceptably high nitrate levels in the city’s water supply. The city has been forced to introduce a variety of treatment techniques to purify the water and expects to be forced to build a new treatment plant to deal with the issue in future.

Drainage into a slough that then drains into the Quill Lakes watershed

Farmland Drainage Roundtable Initiative 
In June 2018, a group of concerned citizens met to discuss and develop an action plan to address concerns around farmland drainage. A report has been published documenting the findings of the two-day roundtable and covers perceptions of land ownership and farmland drainage; environmental impacts; farmland drainage policies, legislation and enforcement; and a call to action in addressing the key challenges.

Subsequent to the two-day get-together, a not-for-profit organization, the Citizens Environmental Alliance – Saskatchewan, was established to address the issues and actions coming out of the Farmland Drainage Round-table Initiative. The non-profit organization plans to facilitate communication, resource sharing, and coordination of actions to eliminate duplication of efforts.

Photos courtesy of the Citizens Environmental Alliance - Saskatchewan

Further Info 
Protecting and Constructing Urban Wetlands
Call to Action: Findings from Farmland Drainage Roundtable Initiative
When a Water Problem Is More Than a Water Problem: Fragmentation, Framing and the Case of Agricultural Wetland Drainage
Quill Lakes Water Crisis Receives International Attention

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

EcoSask News, December 4, 2018

canada geese on snow

Upcoming Events
Pesticides in the Prairie Pothole Region, Dec. 7 (Saskatoon)
There will be a discussion of ecological risk assessment of pesticides in the prairie pothole region at 3:30 pm, Dec. 7, as part of the WildEcol Seminar Series.

Winter Wonder, Dec. 9 (Great Blue Heron Provincial Park)
Join SaskOutdoors at Sundogs Excursions from 10 am-3 pm, Dec. 9, for a wildlife scavenger hunt, snowshoeing, and more.

Community Climate Conversation, Dec. 9 (Regina)
There will be group discussions following the short presentations at the Community Climate Conversation in Cathedral, Dec. 9, 6:30-9:30 pm.

Hogs on the Lam, Dec. 13 (Saskatoon)
Professor Ryan Brook will discuss wild pigs and the rapid rise in their numbers at the 7:30 pm, Dec. 13, meeting of the Saskatoon Nature Society.

Looking Ahead
Outdoor Education (Regina, Saskatoon)
If you’re interested in outdoor education, take a look at the workshops being planned for the new year by SaskOutdoorsProject Wet (Regina & Saskatoon), Project Wild (Regina & Saskatoon), Below Zero (Regina & Saskatoon), NaturePlay (Saskatoon), and Flying Wild (Regina & Saskatoon).

Edible Foraging Tours (Regina)
Edible Landscapes Permaculture Design & Consulting will be offering two series of seasonal foraging tours (one urban) in 2019.

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

Energy Transitions
This week brought a number of excellent articles about the future of coal and the transition to a coal-free future.

Climate Justice Saskatoon published a report entitled Bridging the Gap: Building bridges between urban environmental groups and coal-producing communities in Saskatchewan based on their conversations with local residents in Coronach and Estevan.

Life after Coal looks at the situation in Alberta. A parallel article looks at why oil communities in Alberta need a transition plan, not new pipelines.

The World Needs to Quit Coal. Why is it so hard? looks at the situation globally.

goose prints

In the News
Germany’s plan to fight plastic waste includes eliminating unnecessary packaging and replacing existing packaging with environmentally friendly alternatives.

What is the best way to save nature – to cordon off areas for parks and open space or to integrate conservation measures on working lands? Or should we do both?

Denmark is considering food labels that indicate environmental impact.

The Netherlands is pioneering a new approach to generating and sharing energy through neighbourhood microgrids.

Spanish people support banning cars in the centre of any town over 50,00 residents.

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).

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

EcoSask News, November 27, 2018

Common Goldeneye

Upcoming Events
Permaculture Regina, Nov. 27 (Regina)
The Permaculture Regina board is meeting tonight at 6 pm at 2138 McIntyre Street (use side door). Everyone welcome - bring your ideas and enthusiasm.

Gardiner Dam Birding, Dec. 1 (Saskatoon)
Join Saskatoon Nature Society on a birding trip to Gardiner Dam from 9 am-5 pm, Dec. 1.

Storytime at the Zoo, Dec. 4, 5, 11, 12 (Saskatoon)
Enjoy a story in the company of an animal at the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo from 1:30-2:30 pm, Dec. 4, 5, 11, & 12.

Lakeview Community Climate Conversation, Dec. 4 (Regina)
Jared Clarke’s grade 6-7 class is hosting the second Lakeview Community Climate Conversation at 6:30 pm, Dec. 4, in the Lakeview School gymnasium. They’ll be showing An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.

Check out this video where the students share the importance of solar power to Saskatchewan.



Enviro Collective Regina, Dec. 5 (Regina)
The Regina Enviro Collective will be meeting at 7 pm, Dec. 5, at the Artesian.

Outdoor Educator Social, Dec. 5 (Saskatoon)
SaskOutdoors invites all outdoor educators to a social from 3:30-7 pm, Dec. 5, in Saskatoon.

Energy Efficiency Alberta, Dec. 5 (Saskatoon)
Peter Love will discuss Energy Efficiency Alberta at the Dec. 5 breakfast meeting of SK Energy Management Task Force.

Winter Commuter Cycling Workshop, Dec. 6 (Regina)
Bike Regina is hosting a winter cycling discussion at 7 pm, Dec. 6.

Climate Alarm March, Dec. 8
Citizens for Climate are inviting communities around the world to join with people in France in holding a climate alarm march on Dec. 8 to to encourage COP24 world representatives to adopt important measures limiting global warming.

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

Art & Nature
Artist Gerald Beaulieu's road-killed crows are too large to ignore - they say what most roadkill never get the chance to say - notice me.

An exhibit of 3 centuries of American art at Princeton University uncovers relationships between art, nature, politics, slavery, national parks, and more.

In the News
Saskatchewan lakes and dugouts act as carbon sinks - one more reason to stop draining our farmlands

Birds of Saskatchewan is available for pre-order. Order your copy now.

 

A useful overview of the history of Alberta's oil industry. If it's in trouble now, it's because of past choices. Should government intervene now when companies rejected intervention in the past?

Pedestrianized streets are kid-friendly - and everyone benefits.

What makes a transit system great? An excerpt from Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of US Transit by Christof Spieler.

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).

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

EcoSask News, November 20, 2018

20181116-P1100009

Upcoming Events 
Why We Should Listen to the Plants, Nov. 20 (Saskatoon)
Dr. Prakash Venglat will discuss what we can learn from plants about stress, adaptability, and thriving in new environments at the 7:30 pm, Nov. 20, meeting of Café Scientifique Saskatoon.

Human-Polar Bear Conflicts, Nov. 23 (Saskatoon)
There will be a presentation on Human-Polar Bear Conflicts at 3:30 pm, Nov. 23, as part of the WildEcol Seminar series.

Ferruginous Hawks, Nov. 24 (Fort Qu’Appelle)
Ryan Fisher will discuss ferruginous hawk research on the Prairies at the 7 pm, Nov. 24, meeting of the Fort Qu’Appelle Nature Society. Meetings are held at the Fort Qu’Appelle Train Station.

Species at Risk: Grasslands National Park, Nov. 26 (Val Marie)
Parks Canada ecologists will provide an update on species at risk in Grasslands National Park at 7 pm, Nov. 26, in Val Marie.

Greater Sage-Grouse Update, Nov. 27 (Glentworth)
Ministry of Environment will provide an update on their work with Greater Sage-Grouse at 7 pm, Nov. 27, in Glentworth.

Forestry Farm Park & Zoo, Nov. 27 (Saskatoon)
The City of Saskatoon is hosting an information session to share the new Master Plan for the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo at 7 pm, Nov. 27. The Plan will be available online effective Nov. 28.

DIY Green Cleaners, Nov. 27 (Regina)
Learn how to eliminate toxins from your home and create natural cleaning products from 7-8:30 pm, Nov. 27, at the Sunrise Branch, Regina Public Library.

Storytime at the Zoo, Nov. 27/28 (Saskatoon)
Enjoy a story in the company of an animal at the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo from 1:30-2:30 pm, Nov. 27 & 28.

Sea of Life, Nov. 28 (Regina)
Sea of Life, a visit to the world’s oceans, will be screened at 6:30 pm, Nov. 28, in Regina.

Sharp-tailed Grouse, Nov. 29 (webinar)
Brandon Burda will discuss Sharp-tailed Grouse: Tools for Managing in a Changing Environment in a noon-hour webinar hosted by SK PCAP on Nov. 29.

Christmas in Who-scana-ville, Dec. 1 (Regina)
Wascana Centre is hosting an outdoor nature program for kids from 12-3 pm, Dec. 1.

20181116-P1090906

Looking Ahead
Climate Alarm March, Dec. 8
Citizens for Climate are inviting communities around the world to join with people in France in holding a climate alarm march on Dec. 8 to to encourage world representatives during the COP24 to make serious commitments to adopt important measures limiting global warming.

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

In the News
Kristen Martin and Jared Clarke are fighting climate change with conviction and native grasses.

The City of Regina set a new record this year by collecting over 800 tonnes of leaf and yard waste. Due to increased volumes, they’ll be replacing current depots with a single site open from April-November with additional operating days.

Congratulations to Max Abraham on receiving the Meewasin Conservation Award 2018.

Saskatoon’s Northeast Swale Watchers are sharing information from panelists who presented at their last event – MORE Than an Urban Park on their Facebook page.

How will Saskatoon’s George Genereux Urban Regional Park be affected by development plans for the surrounding area?

The plastic backlash - what’s behind our sudden rage and will it make a difference?

Pathways to zero-energy buildings need to focus on energy efficiency as well as renewable energy options such as solar.

Both parks and cemeteries support bird diversity. More trees and a larger site contribute to greater species richness.

Conflicting priorities - grand old trees vs affordable housing.

World Climate Simulation game players come away with a strong desire to learn and do more about climate change.

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, 18 November 2018

Alternate Voices: Reconnecting Humans with Nature


It’s easy to get caught up in the mainstream flow of media, but there are alternate voices. Here are just a few that we enjoy reading. Let us know what you read when exploring the connections between humans and nature.


Beside
Beside magazine out of Montreal prides itself on “bridging the gap between humans and nature.” The magazine is printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper produced at a Quebec mill that runs on biogas, purifies the water it uses, and ships its waste to nearby farms to feed the soil. Printing and distribution are also as environmentally friendly as possible.

The articles range from invisible roads and wildlife crossings to raptors, technology, and back-to-basics living. The most recent issue, released November 15, explores the ways in which we are building our future with nature. You can purchase a paper copy, sign up for a monthly email newsletter, or receive some of their articles via RSS feed. There’s also a quarterly dispatch of audio stories.


Earth Island Journal
Earth Island Journal’s goal is to “highlight the subtle but profound connections between the environment and other contemporary issues.” As the media arm of the Earth Island Institute, their goal is to “make a passionate argument for defending Earth.” Their most recent issue includes articles on noise pollution in the wild, breaking down the barriers (women climate scientists, queering the environmental movement), and dogs that are sniffing out killer whale scats. The Journal is a quarterly paper publication. Many articles are available on their website.


New Nature
New Nature is a digital youth nature magazine out of the UK. It’s written, edited, and produced entirely by young people under 30. The current issue includes articles on social media as a resource for ecological research, sundews, shrews, and prescriptions for nature. You can subscribe to or download the magazine from their website.


Orion
Orion is an American magazine exploring the connection between nature and culture. The current issue includes articles on climate adaptation and new ways of thinking about medicine, witnessing a solar eclipse, and a piece by Wendell Berry. Paper and digital subscriptions are available and some articles are available online.


Resurgence & Ecologist
Resurgence & Ecologist is a British magazine offering “positive perspectives on a range of engaging topics covering ecology, social justice, philosophy, spirituality, sustainable development and the arts.” The current issue includes articles on hope despite extinction and deforestation, a rewilding project in the Netherlands, and tips on how to minimize waste in the holiday season. Subscribers have access to articles online as well as PDF and paper versions of the magazine as a whole.


The Ecological Citizen 
The Ecological Citizen is a digital, peer-reviewed ecocentric journal “confronting human supremacy in defence of the earth.” Recent articles discuss humans’ relationship with the biosphere, dying ecologically, and a critique by George Monbiot of the belief that everything has a price.

You May Also Enjoy
Alternatives Journal - Alternatives Journal says its mandate is to “promote an understanding of ‘environment’ in the broadest sense of the word, including social and political dimensions, and stimulate dialogue about environmental issues”

Anthropocene - Anthropocene is a print and digital publication explores “how we can create a sustainable human age we actually want to live in”

Ensia - Ensia is a “a solutions-focused nonprofit media outlet reporting on our changing planet” and motivating people to create a more sustainable future

The Narwhal - The Narwhal is a digital publication by a team of investigative journalists dispelling myths about Canada’s natural environment

The Nature of Cities - The Nature of Cities is an international platform for discussing ideas about “cities as ecosystems of people, nature, and infrastructure”

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

EcoSask News, November 13, 2018

sunrise across the park

Upcoming Events 
Smarter Science, Better Buildings, Nov. 13-16 (Prince Albert) 
Grade 7 students and the general public are invited to view the Smarter Science, Better Buildings exhibit in the foyer of Prince Albert’s City Hall from Nov. 13-16.

East Africa Trip, Nov. 19 (Regina)
Dale Hjertaas will present on his recent trip to East Africa at the 7:30 pm, Nov. 19, meeting of Nature Regina.

Hidden Bird Song, Nov. 20 (Prince Albert) 
Join Nature Prince Albert for a talk on bird song from 7-9 pm, Nov. 20.

Man of the Trees Book Launch, Nov. 20 (Saskatoon) 
Join Paul Hanley at McNally Robinson Booksellers at 7 pm, Nov. 20, for the launch of his new book, Man of the Trees: Richard St. Barbe Baker, The First Global Conservationist.

Indigenous Green Energy Forum, Nov. 21 (Saskatoon) 
First Nations Power Authority is hosting the 4th annual Indigenous Green Energy Forum from 8 am-4 pm, Nov. 21, in Saskatoon.

Trash Talk, Nov. 22 (Saskatoon) 
You’re invited to attend a waste reduction workshop offering tips and tricks on how to reduce your waste footprint from 6:30-9:30 pm, Nov. 22.

Saskatoon Cycles AGM, Nov. 23 (Saskatoon) 
Saskatoon Cycles is holding their annual general meeting at 5 pm, Nov. 23, at Venice House on Central Avenue.

EcoHack, Nov. 23-25 (Saskatoon) 
Participate in EcoHack, Nov. 23-25 at the U of S, and help solve local environmental and sustainability challenges.

Carbonless Concert, Nov. 24 (Saskatoon)
Enjoy local music at a carbonless concert from 6:30-9 pm, Nov. 24.

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

sunrise through the trees

In the News
Minneapolis is stepping up enforcement of sidewalk snow removal to increase walkability. 

Our wilderness areas are often noisy places.

“Those of us who study insects are passionate about them in a way that can seem incomprehensible to outsiders. People get why Jane Goodall loves chimps; they are less sanguine about my fondness for earwigs.”

Owls, hares, and butterflies - three great new nature reference guides.

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).

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

EcoSask News, November 6, 2018

seeds and bridge

Upcoming Events 
Wildlife Disease Ecology, Nov. 9 (Saskatoon) 
The WildEcol seminar series is held at 3:30 pm, every other Friday, on the U of S campus:
Nov. 9 – Wildlife disease ecology

Decorate a Tree, Nov. 14 (Moose Jaw) 
Decorate a tree for birds and wildlife at the 6:30 pm, Nov. 14, meeting of the Moose Jaw Nature Society.

Regina Beach Enviro Collective, Nov. 14 (Regina Beach) 
The Regina Beach Enviro Collective will be holding their first meeting at 7:30 pm, Nov. 14, at Regina Beach.

Bat Migration, Nov. 15 (webinar) 
Erin Swerdfeger will discuss bat landscape use during migration in Saskatchewan in a noon-hour webinar hosted by SK PCAP on Nov. 15.

SK Breeding Bird Atlas, Nov. 15 (Saskatoon) 
Kiel Drake will update the Saskatoon Nature Society on the SK Breeding Bird Atlas at 7:30 pm, Nov. 15.

Sustainability on Campus, Nov. 16 (Saskatoon) 
Join the U of S Office of Sustainability from 12-1 pm or over a pint at 5 pm, every third Friday of the month.

Repair Café Prince Albert, Nov. 17 (Prince Albert) 
Share and learn skills to repair things at Repair Café Prince Albert from 1-4 pm, Nov. 17.

Household Hazardous Waste Day (Saskatoon) 
You can dispose of household hazardous waste in Saskatoon from 8 am – 2:30 pm, Nov. 17.

bare branches by the river

Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
Nov. 11, 1-5 pm, Pike Lake Birding
Nov. 25, 2-3 pm, Pre-Grey Cup Birding, President Murray Park
Everyone is welcome. 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 Saskatoon Nature Society is accepting applications by December 31, 2018, for the Kids in Nature grant. Additional information is available online.

Join an Enviro Collective group in Saskatchewan. “It’s a group of people who meet. Like a 'book' club, we’ll eat, drink and socialize but while we are hanging out, we’ll also be engaging in meaningful discussions about how we can take individual and collective steps to live more environmentally friendly lives. What’s potentially different about this environmental initiative is that we’re going to make it fun. And by getting together as a collective, we might feel more inspired than by simply acting on our own.”

The Canadian Network for Environmental Education and Communication is inviting proposals for presentations, workshops, or posters on Action on Climate Change through Education for the May 10-12 conference in Saskatoon. The deadline is January 15.

The Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area advises drivers to slow down and look out for deer on Valley Road and Cedar Villa Road.

Churchill Community High School hosted the 2nd Northern Saskatchewan Eco Conference Oct. 26-27.

“The loss of biodiversity is a silent killer” - stop biodiversity loss or we could face our own extinction.

11 wildly coloured moths to brighten your day.

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, 4 November 2018

Nature is All Around Us: Defining & Promoting Urban Natural Areas

island bird life
Island bird life, Saskatoon

We don’t need to go to Cypress Hills or Waskesiu to experience nature. We don’t even need to be in a park. In our towns and cities, nature is all around us – in our backyards, vacant lots, and railway rights of way as well as our riverbanks and parks.

As part of the development of a Green Strategy, the City of Saskatoon held meetings with interested locals on October 29, 2018, to obtain input into draft Natural Areas Standards and an Urban Forestry Management Plan. It was an interesting process and raised a number of questions that merit further discussion and are relevant no matter where you live.

What is a Natural Area?
Saskatoon’s Green Strategy states that the City “will strive to ensure all residents have access to a network of high quality, multifunctional, seamlessly integrated green spaces.” The Strategy then sets out a number of ways in which the City will work to achieve this goal. The majority of the strategies are focused on human interests, but they do include conserving “biodiversity through the identification and conservation of natural areas and by increasing their interconnections.”

Workshop participants pointed out a number of gaps in the current map of Saskatoon’s natural areas. These include (but are not limited to):
  • Omission of the river; 
  • Failure to recognize the important wildlife habitat provided by areas such as cemeteries; 
  • Omission of wildlife corridors, such as the river valley and railway rights of way; 
  • Need to incorporate light pollution mitigation strategies and dark sky areas into natural areas standards; 
  • Fragmentation of natural areas (Saskatoon’s Northeast Swale has been divided into a recreational zone and a core ecological zone) and failure to provide a connection to the river for animals such as deer; 
  • Inclusion of dog parks, which damage plants and grasses and preclude wildlife habitat; and 
  • Need to respect the integrity of the ecosystem as a whole by establishing connectivity between natural areas both within and without the city. 
Other issues that were raised included:
  • Need for cities to take ownership beyond their formal boundaries (New York City is taking responsibility for maintaining the quality of its watershed); 
  • Need to provide leadership by offering incentives and regulations for commercial green infrastructure (e.g. green roofs, permeable parking lots); 
  • Need for a comprehensive strategy: Do we prioritize areas with species at risk? Do we prioritize areas of abundance? Do we protect areas that are no longer wholly natural or do we eliminate them from further consideration because there has been some degradation or they were used for farming in the past? Do we simply maintain and protect or do we attempt to restore? 
  • Need to recognize that some areas have important ecological value in some seasons or some years but not necessarily all the time (migration staging areas change from year to year, wetlands may only be wet on a seasonal basis); 
  • Need to identify the requirements of different species. Insects and deer, for example, require different amounts of space and use the land very differently; and 
  • Need to design parks that help people “understand, appreciate, and stand up for nature, rather than thinking of parks as simply playgrounds.” 
Untitled
Hyde Park, Saskatoon
Urban Trees
Saskatoon is developing an Urban Forest Management Plan and has identified different categories of trees. Remnant aspen stands and original forested areas are particularly important. It would be interesting to map food forests and analyze their role in ensuring food security. Dead trees play an important role as wildlife habitat and need to be maintained rather than being viewed as messy or potentially dangerous.

Trees have a value far beyond their replacement cost. They provide shade and shelter, wildlife habitat, beauty, and tranquillity. Neighbourhood trees have social and cultural value, forming part of our sense of place and belonging. Discussions around when trees should be maintained, when it’s okay to remove them, and how to compensate for their loss need to consider all these factors. This is particularly difficult when considering trees on private property and requires a designation scheme that takes into consideration heritage value, age and species, etc.

Jackrabbit

Nature Is All Around Us
Pinpointing natural areas on a map fails to recognize that nature is all around us. Wild animals need a suitable habitat, but that may not be “a remote wilderness or protected sanctuary; it must only have sufficient resources to attract and support a population.” There are 3 times as many endangered species in Australian cities than there are in the country’s rural areas.

Once we accept that we share our cities with other wildlife, we can begin to look at the best ways of cohabiting for mutual benefit. There will need to be educational programs (co-existing with coyotes), infrastructure upgrades (wildlife resistant garbage cans, non-reflective treatments for glass), and clear policies (rules of engagement).

An emerging field is biodiversity-sensitive urban design (BSUD) that contributes to biodiversity, building “nature into the urban fabric by linking urban planning and design to the basic needs and survival of native plants and animals.” BSUD is based on 5 principles: protect and create habitat, help species disperse, minimise anthropogenic threats, promote ecological processes, and encourage positive human-nature interactions. The principles can be applied to individual houses (e.g. green roofs, mix of native trees and plants, reduced building footprint, keeping cats indoors) and extends to neighbourhood design (wide boulevards, courtyard-focused buildings).

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

EcoSask News, October 30, 2018

Red-shafted Northern Flicker

Upcoming Events 
Going Solar in SK, Nov. 1 (Regina) 
Find out about solar energy in Saskatchewan fromSkyFire Energy from 6:30-8 pm, Nov. 1, at the Regina Science Centre.

Regional Approaches to Energy Diversification, Nov. 7 (Saskatoon) 
Sandra Moore will discuss regional approaches to energy diversification at the Nov. 7 breakfast meeting of SK Energy Management Task Force.

Walking Saskatoon, Nov. 4 (Saskatoon) 
Everyone is welcome to attend Walking Saskatoon’s meeting from 1-2:30 pm, Nov. 4, at Tastebuds Café, 1624 Lorne Avenue. Discussion topics will include infill housing, loss of traffic safety revenue, and progress on Vision Zero.

Radiance Cohousing Open House, Nov. 10 (Saskatoon) 
Tour Radiance Cohousing, a cohousing project pursuing Passive House certification, on Nov. 10.

Looking Ahead
Indigenous Green Energy Forum, Nov. 21 (Saskatoon)
First Nations Power Authority is hosting the 4th annual Indigenous Green Energy Forum from 8 am-4 pm, Nov. 21, in Saskatoon.

EcoHack, Nov. 23-25 (Saskatoon) 
Participate in EcoHack, Nov. 23-25 at the U of S, and help solve local environmental and sustainability challenges.

Wilderness First Aid, Nov. 30-Dec. 2 (Saskatoon) 
SaskOutdoors is hosting a Wilderness & Remote First Aid Workshop Nov. 30-Dec. 2 (location near Saskatoon).

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

Red-shafted Northern Flicker

In the News
Regina commits to 100% renewable energy by 2050 

There’s been lots of news coverage of this past weekend’s Just Transitions Summit. Here are articles from Global News and CBC

A proposed diamond mine on sacred Indigenous territory in Fort a la Corne forest passes environmental review. The proposed site would cover 9200 hectares in the forest

University of Saskatchewan environmental law professor Jason McLean says we should kill Bill C-69 as it undermines efforts to tackle climate change. The alternative? "Canada should assess all economic projects on the cumulative basis of a “net contribution to sustainability test.” If a proposed project doesn’t make an overall contribution to sustainability and decarbonization, then it doesn’t proceed." 

Some ecologists believe that we should save endangered species by introducing them into our cities - not everyone agrees

Batteries will always have adverse environmental impacts, but ongoing development and invention can do much to minimize them

The sharing economy continues to expand - swap goods or expertise for accommodation during Barter Week

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).

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

EcoSask News, October 23, 2018

backlit grass

Upcoming Events
Take Me Outside Day, Oct. 24
Teachers are encouraged to take their students outside for at least an hour on Oct. 24, Take Me Outside Day.

Art & Science in Wildlife Management, Oct. 26 (Saskatoon)
The WildEcol seminar series is held at 3:30 pm, every other Friday, on the U of S campus:
Oct. 26 – Bridging the gap between art and science in wildlife management

Anthropocene, Oct. 26 (Saskatoon)
Anthropocene, a cinematic overview of humanity’s reengineering of the planet, is being screened at the Roxy Theatre on Oct. 26. Check for the book, with photographs by Edward Burtynsky, in your local library or bookstore.

Travels South of the Equator, Oct. 27 (Fort Qu’Appelle)
Jean and Peter Ascroft will share their travels south of the equator on two continents at the 7 pm, Oct. 27, meeting of the Fort Qu’Appelle Nature Society (at the Fort Qu’Appelle Train Station).

NE Swale: More than an Urban Park, Oct. 30 (Saskatoon)
Join the Northeast Swale Watchers from 7-9 pm, Oct. 30, to learn about the Northeast Swale, progress to date, and ongoing challenges.

There will be 5 short presentations: Renny Grilz, Meewasin, What's in the Swale: The Unique Wildlife and Plants of the Northeast Swale; Dr. Ryan Brook, University of Saskatchewan, Monitoring and Mitigating the Impacts of Roads on Wildlife; Rick Huziak, Sask Light Pollution Abatement Group, Reducing Night Lighting for a Healthy Swale; Brenda Wallace, City of Saskatoon, Protecting What Matters - Policy Perspectives; Candace Savage, The Last Refuge: Why Protecting the Swale Matters.


Household Hazardous Waste Day, Oct. 28 (Saskatoon)
You can dispose of household hazardous waste in Saskatoon from 8 am-2:30 pm, Oct. 28.

Lakeridge Park Field Trip, Nov. 3 (Regina)
Join Nature Regina from 10 am to noon, Nov. 3, on a birding field trip at Lakeridge Park.

Library of Things Volunteer Orientation, Nov. 3 (Saskatoon)
Saskatoon’s Library of Things is hosting a volunteer orientation from 12-1 pm, Nov. 3.

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

In the News
Two articles raise serious concerns for Saskatchewan residents:
     Air quality readings are off the chart in southeast Saskatchewan
     The government needs to allow regulators to enforce the regulations

Turtles survived the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs, but will they survive the Anthropocene? Where have all the turtles gone and why does it matter?

Coyotes can help build back biodiversity in rural and urban areas

5 ways cities could dramatically cut carbon emissions

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, 21 October 2018

Wildlife, Land, and People

hawk

It’s a hefty tome, but we’re intrigued by the premise behind Donald G. Wetherell’s book, Wildlife, Land, and People: A Century of Change in Prairie Canada. The book examines the relationships people have had with wild animals on the Canadian prairies between 1870 and 1960. 

Here are just a few excerpts from the Introduction. If you’re interested in environmental history and the changing, complex relationships between humans and non-humans, you can order the book from your library or bookstore. 


“Aboriginal economies and the fur trade had depended on wild animals, but the new prairie farm economy had no such long-term needs. Indeed, its success was predicated upon changes in regional fauna and flora. . . . In part this reflected that most Euro-Canadian settlers did not see wild animals as having intrinsic values, nor did they see any personal gain to be derived from accommodating the region’s existing natural systems.”

“An equally important impact of agriculture was the change that it brought to the land. Whatever the number of wild animals killed, the greatest overall change in animal populations and distribution came because of habitat change. Clearing and breaking the land and dedicating every available acre of land to production devastated the habitat of some species while inadvertently creating new niches for others.”

“Legislation about wildlife was important well beyond its enforcement for it created and shaped standards for public encounters with wildlife and asserted the state’s legal authority over all wild animals. This legislation also validated certain patterns of behaviour towards wild animals, explicitly and implicitly promoted assumptions about the value of individual species, and sustained particular social and political relationships with them, including their treatment as natural resources to be exploited and managed for long-term productivity.”

“Keeping wild animals as pets, watching them in national parks or zoos, visiting museums, and participating in natural history outings and meetings often validated human dominance and use of the natural world. But it is equally evident that, for some people, such activities reflected their curiosity and fascination with wild animals and that watching, studying, and interacting with them revealed the magic of life and provided a connection to the world.”

“Bison, for example, only became nostalgic symbols of the prairie past when they had been confined to zoos and parks and no longer challenged Euro-Canadian agricultural settlement.”

“The history of people’s relationships with wild animals on the Canadian prairies can help us understand that while these relationships have often been sorry ones, more sensitive and respectful models and attitudes have been present all along and can be drawn upon to inform our ongoing interaction with the natural world.”

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

EcoSask News, October 16, 2018

Mallard duck (female)

Upcoming Events
Smarter Science, Better Buildings, Oct. 15-Nov. 12 (Yorkton) 
Grade 7 students in Yorkton can visit the Smarter Science, Better Buildings exhibit at the Western Development Museum from Oct. 15-Nov. 12.

Let’s Make Regina 100% Renewable, Oct. 16 (Regina) 
Regina's Blue Dot Movement and some of Regina's City Councillors are hosting a panel discussion on making Regina 100% renewable by 2050 from 7-8:30 pm, Oct. 16.

Car Seat Recycling, Oct. 17 (Regina & Saskatoon) 
Take advantage of a one-month pilot project to recycle infant seats, convertible seats, and booster seats in Regina and Saskatoon starting Oct. 17.

Nature Immersion Walks, Oct. 18 & 19 (Saskatoon) 
Participate in a nature immersion walk from 1-3 pm, Oct. 18 or from 1-3 pm, Oct.19.

Sustainability on Campus, Oct. 19 (Saskatoon) 
Join the U of S Office of Sustainability from 12-1 pm or over a pint at 5 pm, every third Friday of the month.

Repair Cafés, Oct. 20 (Prince Albert & Saskatoon)
Bring your broken things to be mended at Repair Cafés in Prince Albert and Saskatoon:
     Prince Albert - 1-4 pm
     Saskatoon - 10 am-4 pm


Mallard duck

Seed Saving Workshop, Oct. 23 (Prince Albert) 
Join the Prince Albert Permaculture Guild at 7 pm, Oct. 23, as they package seeds for the Prince Albert Seed Library.

Nature and Me, Oct. 24 (Regina) 
Join Nature Conservancy of Canada at 7 pm, Oct. 24, for a discussion about our complicated relationship with nature and how it stands to impact our future. Obtain a 40% reduction when you register with the promo code NCCFRIENDS.

Standing Rock, Oct. 24 (Regina) 
Cinema Politica Regina is showing two films about Standing Rock at 6:30 pm, Oct. 24.

Sustainability Lunch & Learn, Oct. 24 (Regina) 
Learn about the City of Regina’s recycling and waste reduction/diversion plans at a lunch & learn at Innovation Place at 12 pm, Oct. 24.

Hallowe’en Nature Program, Oct. 27 (Regina)
Kids will enjoy meeting live animals and making spooky discoveries at the Wascana Spooktacular, 12-3 pm, Oct. 27.

Dark Skies at the Creek, Oct. 27 (Saskatoon) 
Celebrate International Bat Week at the Beaver Creek Conservation Area from 12-5 pm and from 6:30-11 pm, Oct. 27. Meet some nocturnal animals and view the night sky. Book your spot now for the evening event as registration is limited.

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

Birds of Saskatchewan 
Birds of Saskatchewan by Alan R. Smith, Stuart C. Houston, and J. Frank Roy is now available from Nature Saskatchewan. The 800-page, full-colour book provides a comprehensive compendium of Saskatchewan’s birds. Receive a discount by purchasing before December 15.


In the News 
Cowessess First Nation solar and wind power site is expected to generate up to 400 kilowatts of renewable energy

Differing opinions on the cause of Quill Lakes flooding are delaying a solution

Canada should prioritize land conservation in high-priority regions (as illustrated) and promote connectivity

New technologies make it easier to reduce energy demand at peak times

Dismantling buildings piece by piece to preserve the reusable parts keeps materials out of landfills and creates more jobs than demolition 

Reduction of hydrofluorocarbons could buy us time until carbon emissions are brought under control

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).