Tuesday, 10 September 2019

EcoSask News, September 10, 2019

pronghorn and fawn

Upcoming Events
Paris to Pittsburgh, Sept. 10 & 12 (Saskatoon) 
Watch a short documentary about the forgotten people affected by climate change at 6:45 pm, Sept. 10 and 12.

Nature Photo Walk, Sept. 11 (Regina)
Join a nature photo walk at Condie Nature Refuge at 5:30 pm, Sept. 11.

Singing for a Better World, Sept. 12 (Saskatoon) 
Learn songs about protecting the earth and building peace and justice from 7-9 pm, Sept. 12.

Climate Change, Land & Food, Sept. 13 (Saskatoon) 
Margot Hurlbert, Canada Research Chair in Climate Change, Energy and Sustainability Policy, will speak on climate change, land, and food from 10:30 am-12 pm, Sept. 13.

Crows, Jays, Magpies, Sept. 13 (Saskatoon) 
Lyndon Penner will talk about crows, jays, and magpies at 7 pm, Sept. 13.

Household Hazardous Waste Day, Sept. 14 (Prince Albert) 
Dispose of household hazardous waste in Prince Albert from 9 am-3 pm, Sept. 14.

Saving the Sage Grouse, Sept. 14 (Val Marie)
Help make fencing more wildlife-friendly at the Nature Conservancy’s Wideview property from 10 am-3 pm, Sept. 14.

Nature Immersion Walks, Sept. 14 & 15 (Saskatoon) 
Immersed in Nature Photography is hosting nature walks at 9 am, Sept. 14, and 1 pm, Sept. 15. 

Moose Jaw River Superheroes, Sept. 15 (Moose Jaw) 
Discover insects in and around the Moose Jaw River from 2:30-4 pm, Sept. 15.

Native Plant Garden Anniversary, Sept. 16 (Regina)
Celebrate the 25th anniversary of the native plant garden at 7 pm, Sept. 16.

110 Nature Hot Spots, Sept. 16 (Regina) 
Jenn Smith Nelson will present her book, 110 Nature Hots Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, at the 7:30 pm, Sept. 16, meeting of Nature Regina.


YXE Talks Trash, Sept. 16 & 19 (Saskatoon) 
The City of Saskatoon is hosting come-and-go workshops to review options for a mandatory recycling and organics program for businesses and organizations on Sept. 16 and Sept. 19.

Science Experiments for Kids, Sept. 17 & 20 (Regina)
Kids ages 7-12 can find out how chemical reactions work from 3:30-5 pm on Sept. 17 at the and Sept. 20.

Swift Fox Recovery in Montana, Sept. 17 (webinar) 
Heather Harris, wildlife biologist, will discuss swift fox recovery in Montana at a noon-hour webinar on Sept. 17.

From Coal to Renewables, Sept. 17 (Saskatoon) 
Mark Bigland-Pritchard will discuss his research on a reliable, renewables-only provincial electricity grid at 7 pm, Sept. 17.

Adaptation to Climate Change, Sept. 18 (Regina) 
Learn about the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative at noon, Sept. 18, at Innovation Place Regina.

Seed Saving, Sept. 18 (Saskatoon) 
Find out how to save seeds while helping to harvest the Saskatoon Seed Library’s garden from 5:30-8 pm, Sept. 18.

Solar 101, Sept. 19 (Regina)
Learn how solar PV systems work and review Saskatchewan case studies from 6:30-8 pm, Sept. 19.

Farmland Moose Project, Sept. 19 (Saskatoon) 
Ryan Brook will discuss the SK Farmland Moose Project at the Sept. 19 meeting of the Saskatoon Nature Society.

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

In the News
“We can’t be approving these kinds of extractive projects that are going to pollute and remove a whole bunch of water from the water cycles.”

“It’s open season on the forest up here and we’re going to absolutely destroy our boreal forest in Northern Saskatchewan if we don’t change.”

A property owner in southwest Saskatchewan is partnering with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to protect sensitive grassland and wetland areas.

Katy Prairie, just outside of Houston, is one of the country’s few remaining tall-grass prairies and a wintering ground for millions of migrating birds. It could be replaced by a highway and urban sprawl.

Pro-nuclear and anti-nuclear are not considered policy positions. They are identities, ways of signaling membership in a tribe. . . . If you approach nuclear power as a policy question, on the merits, you will find that, like most things, it’s complicated; there are multiple, overlapping issues involved, and the answers cannot be captured in a single binary.”

Discarded fishing line and hooks are killing wildlife.

Memphis area mayor proposes that multi-car owners pay a sustainability fee.

Using new technology, researchers can watch as trees grow, shrink, drink, and breathe.

Vancouver and Lower Mainland are looking for a better way to handle thousands of tonnes of dog poop.

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, 5 September 2019

Art-Science Programming for Indigenous Youth

Two university graduate students, Janay Fox and Alexandra Nordstrom, were eager to offer summer programming for students in grades 5-9 at Chief Poundmaker School. Their aim with the Asokan Project was to bridge gaps between arts and science, and Indigenous and western knowledge systems in order to facilitate more productive and sustainable conversations regarding conservation in Saskatchewan. EcoFriendly Sask provided them with a $500 EcoFriendly Action Grant to help them with this initiative. The following is Janay Fox’s account of the event. 

We provided 4 days of summer art-science programming for Indigenous youth on Poundmaker and Little Pine First Nations that focused on the intersection between arts, science, and conservation from an Indigenous perspective. We had 15 students attend each day and provided them with arts supplies that they could take home, prizes that encouraged scientific learning, outdoor activities, and healthy food every day. Students were able to learn from professional Indigenous artists, hear from real scientists leading conservation in Saskatchewan, and participate in programming that creates space for the exploration of Cree culture and Indigenous ways of learning – an opportunity that is rarely given in western institutions. We also took students to performances put on by the Storyteller's Performance Festival so that they could engage in the wider artistic and Indigenous community.

Our project also impacted the community by supporting two local Indigenous-owned companies (the caterer and the bus driver) as well as supporting an Indigenous artist (Dana Standinghorn). Leftover food from each day was sent home with students and the rest was donated to the local homeless shelter. Remaining art supplies were donated to Chief Poundmaker School.

We allowed students to engage in productive dialogues about how we can communicate environmental issues through art practice from an Indigenous perspective. We also allowed students to learn about art and science together as opposed to the diametrically opposing way they are taught in western schooling. The project helped foster connections between the local school, art and conservation communities, and the community at large and contributed to important discussions about conservation in our area. We hope that we helped students see that their perspectives have an important place in the scientific community and that they can meaningfully participate in environmental conservation.

The biggest success was the relationship we built with our students. From the beginning we wanted to maintain an environment where there was no hierarchy between instructors and students, working to create a space of openness and support where all people involved could learn from each other. Accordingly, my colleague and I found ourselves learning so much from our students and noticed that they felt comfortable to speak their minds. Additionally, all of the students gave us feedback on what we could change for next time and expressed interest in attending another camp put on by us.

We learned many lessons regarding what kind of activities students like to engage in (especially needing to include more physical activities!), what age groups would be best to break groups into, general logistical things that we did not think of, and also just to relax a little more during the actual camp (The kids have more fun if you're having fun too!). Honestly, there is nothing that immediately comes to mind to change. It was an extremely successful first run and while we had hoped for more students, more than 15 would have likely been unrealistic for us to handle. One thing that we will put in place for future camps will be the incorporation of a land-based learning component and the use of locally employed youth mentors.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

EcoSask News, September 3, 2019


Upcoming Events
Nature Photography
One way to enjoy and share the beauty of the natural world is through photography. Both the Saskatoon Camera Club and the Regina Photo Club offer a varied program, including field trips.

Public Astronomy Nights, Sept.-Dec. (Regina) 
Join members of the Royal Astronomy Society – Regina Centre for public astronomy nights from 8-9:30 pm, Sept. 6 & 27, Oct. 4 & 25, Nov. 22 & 29, and Dec. 6 & 20.

Nature Immersion Walks, Sept. 7 & 8 (Saskatoon) 
Immersed in Nature Photography is hosting walks to help you connect with the natural world from 9-11 am, Sept. 7 & 8.

Household Hazardous Waste, Sept. 8 (Saskatoon) 
You can dispose of household hazardous waste at City of Saskatoon’s Civic Operations Centre from 9 am – 3:30 pm, Sept. 8.

SK Hummingbirds, Sept. 11 (Regina) 
Find out about hummingbird migration patterns from 7-8:30 pm, Sept. 11.

Composting, Sept. 11 (Saskatoon) 
Saskatoon Compost Coaches are offering a Composting 101 workshop at The Garden Patch on Sept. 11 from 5:30-7 pm.

Hug a Tree and Survive, Sept. 12 (Prince Albert) 
Find out how children can stay safe in the woods at 7 pm, Sept. 12.

grass flowers

Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
Golden Eagles
Sept. 5, 8:30 am – Blackstrap Birding
Sept. 19, 9 am – Birding at Donna L. Birkmaier Park
Retirees and partners who are interested in birds and the natural world are invited to participate.

Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
Sept. 7 – Fall Bird Count
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
Environmental groups are concerned about demolition plans for Saskatoon's SLOWPOKE-2 nuclear reactor.

Advocates in the Prince Albert area say there isn't enough public awareness and hasn't been enough consultation for a 20-year logging plan for the nearby boreal forest.

Town of Canora considers its waste management options.

"With a lack of any detailed environmental assessment prior to determining the freeway's routing, CPAWS-SK is concerned decisions and endorsements are being made without the necessary information."

“As climate change intensifies and fire frequency continues to increase we are likely to see a greater area of boreal forests shifting from carbon sinks to carbon sources and large declines in old growth conifers by the end of the 21st century.”

237,750 people attended The Open, golf’s oldest major championship. For the first time in decades, there were no single-use plastic water bottles.

“For 10,200 miles the monarchs were my guide. They provided the route. They were my teachers. . . . By crossing a continent alongside the monarch butterfly, my migrant teachers taught me how to see.”

British retailers are banning microplastics such as glitter from Christmas cards and wrapping paper.

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, 29 August 2019

Cities Combatting Light Pollution

Vancouver night skyline

If you live in North America, chances are you can’t see the Milky Way. But that’s not the worst impact of light pollution. It’s also affecting our health and the health of plants and wildlife. An earlier article, based on an interview with Rick Huziak, explores light pollution in greater detail. For now, let’s look at what cities (and countries) around the world are doing to combat light pollution.

Tucson and Flagstaff, Arizona, have been attempting to reduce light pollution since 1958. And it’s working. You can see the Milky Way from downtown Flagstaff. Streetlights and parking lot lights must be shielded. They’ve banned upward-facing billboard lighting and restricted the type and amount of light per acre.

“The key factor is getting people passionate about the value of clear night skies, and how light pollution takes them away. To that end, the Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition hosts annual star parties in the fall and year-round events—art exhibits, lectures, and musical performances—that promote cultural connection to the night sky.”

High Line Park, New York
High Line Park’s designers tried to ensure there was enough lighting to keep pedestrians safe while also ensuring they could still see the night sky. “They chose to use warmer tones in their lighting, and installed the fixtures such that they are hidden, which creates the effect of a pleasant, subtle glow. The lighting is oriented such that it is no higher than waist level, thus reducing glare.”


Mont-Mégantic Dark Sky Reserve, Quebec
The Mont-Mégantic Dark Sky Reserve is centred around the national park and observatory, but it also includes the City of Sherbrooke and 34 other municipalities.

San Francisco
Lights Out, a voluntary program, encourages building owners, managers, and tenants in San Francisco to turn off lights from dusk until dawn during migration season. “This includes internal lighting, external decorative lights and lobby or atrium lights.”

Following community consultation, Grenoble made changes to its street lighting: the lights “are now switched off from 12.30 a.m. to 4.30 a.m. on weekdays and from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Saturday nights/Sunday mornings. Among other planned developments, sensor-controlled lighting is an option being considered in certain neighborhoods.”

Toulouse’s lighting master plan includes test projects involving solar and motion-sensing lighting in pedestrian areas.

Norway is experimenting with radar-controlled street lights along a stretch of highway. “The radar units . . . detect traffic along the route and its speed. The lights are then increased to full brightness in the path of the vehicle from the default illumination of 20 per cent of full output.”

dock at night

On January 1, 2019, France adopted one of the world’s most progressive light pollution abatement policies. The goal is to establish regulations “to prevent, limit and reduce light pollution, including excessive disturbance to persons, fauna, flora or ecosystems, causing energy wastage or preventing observation of the night sky” and will apply to both public and private lighting. It covers a wide variety of areas including light over waterways, light trespass into private dwellings, and the restriction of blue light.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

EcoSask News, August 27, 2019

bee on globe thistle

Upcoming Events
Eco-Scavenger Hunt, Aug. 31 & Sept. 7 (Saskatoon) 
Join Meewasin’s Eco-Scavenger Hunts on Aug. 31 and Sept. 7. Great opportunities to explore the Northeast Swale in the company of experts and try your hand at identifying all the species you discover. The Small Swale isn’t normally open to the public so don’t miss this opportunity on Sept. 7.

Energy Usage & GHG, Sept. 4 (Saskatoon) 
Kevin Hudson will discuss energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions at the Sept. 4 breakfast meeting of the SK Energy Management Task Force.

Looking Ahead 
Saving the Sage Grouse, Sept. 14 (Val Marie) 
Help make the fencing more wildlife-friendly at the Nature Conservancy’s Wideview property from 10 am-3 pm, Sept. 14.

Junior Nature Sketch, Sept. 21-Nov. 2 (Saskatoon) 
Junior Nature Sketch, Sept. 21-Nov. 2, is a 6-week program guided by an artist and a naturalist for children ages 5-12.

Adult Nature Sketch, Sept. 21-Nov. 2 (Saskatoon) 
Adult Nature Sketch, Sept. 21-Nov. 2, is a 6-week program guided by an artist and a naturalist.

Festival for Future, Sept. 27 (Regina) 
Regina Festival for Future is looking for speakers, musicians, artists, poets, and more to participate in the festival from 7-10 pm, Sept. 27.

Nature Retreat, Sept. 27-29 (Ness Creek) 
Join SaskOutdoors for a nature retreat at Ness Creek from Sept. 27-29.

Nebo Photography Walk, Sept. 28 (Prince Albert) 
Practise your photography at Nature Conservancy’s Nebo property from 10 am-3 pm, Sept. 28.

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

Yellowjacket wasp collecting wood fiber

In the News
Waterflooding, a conventional form of oil extraction, could contaminate Saskatchewan’s drinking water. [@BeingGreenSask told us on Twitter, “Stopped recently at #alberta tourism in Lloydminster. Temporary boilwater signs getting old there now. Staff advised not filling our water bottles. Quote: 'This is Husky land'. Yes. Seriously said that.”]

Prairie grasslands – diversity rivalling anything you've ever seen – and all below knee level.

Eleven nature books for children, including one by Saskatchewan’s own Candace Savage.

UK scientists have found that biodiversity, particularly water plants and beetles, is much higher in beaver ponds than in other wetlands in the same region.

The Netherlands’ climate plan is wide-ranging, from overhauling homes to better manure-processing techniques.

Littering the moon's surface are 181,000 kg of forgotten trash. From outer space to the depths of the ocean, “we are garbage.”

Reinventing the small wind turbine could address issues of reliability, embodied energy, and limited power output – and improve public acceptance.

“The ‘war on cars’ is a bad joke. . . . Much of what motorists call a ‘war on cars’ consists of efforts to increase the safety, convenience and comfort of other travel modes.”

The media plays a role in shaping societal attitudes. It’s encouraging to see The Guardian newspaper promoting car-free holidays, such as Leave the car at home, see the UK coast without driving or How to see five UK national parks by public transport.

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 August 2019

EcoSask News, August 20, 2019

Indian Paintbrush

Upcoming Events
Avonlea Badlands Tour, Aug. 24 (Moose Jaw) 
Members and would-be members of the Moose Jaw Nature Society will be hiking the Avonlea badlands on Aug. 24.

Low Emissions Community, Aug. 26 (Saskatoon) 
Join Climate Justice Saskatoon for a discussion about the City’s low emissions plan from 12-1 pm, Aug. 26, in front of City Hall.

Saving Wildflower Seeds, Aug. 28 (Saskatoon)
Renny Grilz, Blazing Star Wildflowers, will share how to find and harvest wildflower seeds from 5:30-7 pm, Aug. 28.

Looking Ahead
Curbside Swap, Sept. 7 (Saskatoon) 
Put out swappable items as part of the city-wide Curbside Swap on Sept. 7.

Damsels in Wilderness, Sept. 12-Dec. 12 (Saskatoon) 
Young women ages 10-12 who crave more time exploring outdoors and connecting with nature are invited to participate in Damsels in Wilderness, on Thursdays from 4-5:45 pm from Sept. 12 to Dec. 12.

Nature Saskatchewan Fall Meet, Sept. 13-15 (Greenwater) 
Nature Saskatchewan is holding its Fall Meet from Sept. 13-15 in Greenwater Lake Provincial Park.

Swap in the Park, Sept. 22 (Saskatoon) 
Bring what you want, take what you want at a reduce-reuse-recycle event from 9 am-4 pm, Sept. 22.

Indian Paintbrush

Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
Golden Eagles 
Aug. 29, 8 am – Lakewood & Heritage Parks
Retirees and partners who are interested in birds and the natural world are invited to participate.

Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
Aug. 24, 8-11 am – Warbler Walk at Forestry Farm
Aug. 31, 8-11 am – Warbler Walk to Green Ash Forest
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
A recent survey shows that Canadians care about climate change, many view it as an urgent emergency, and the majority believe legally-binding emissions targets must play a role in addressing this crisis.

Current global warming can be directly linked to the Industrial Revolution, clearing of forests, population growth, and use of fossil fuels.

The federal government is proposing building conduits from Lake Diefenbaker to Pasqua Lake and the Qu’Appelle Valley to irrigate as much as 100,000 new acres of land.

The Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council is planning to host a repair café in each Saskatchewan city on Oct. 26. Volunteers are needed who are handy at fixing things.

“There’s a critical need for long-term—years to decades—monitoring for potential contamination of drinking water resources not only from fracking, but also from conventional oil and gas production.”

The “Swiss Army Knife” of New York: A rooftop garden is providing food to residents, shelter for migratory birds, absorbing storm water and air pollution, and lessening noise pollution.

Green chemistry labs teach university students a sustainable and innovative mindset.

A handy guide to some of the most popular Canadian butterflies.

Denmark’s waste-to-energy plant: a global model of sustainable design.

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 August 2019

10 Surprising Facts about Pigeons


1. A pigeon saved the lives of 194 American soldiers who were under a constant barrage of both enemy and friendly fire at the end of World War I. The pigeon flew 25 miles to headquarters, even though it had been shot in the chest, blinded by shrapnel, and lost a leg.

2. It’s not only humans and monkeys that can learn abstract mathematical rules. Pigeons learned to peck images on a screen in order, from lower to higher numbers of objects in the group.

3. Pigeons tend to always land on the same foot. A majority land on their right foot first, while a small percentage land on their left foot first (about the same percentage as humans who are left-handed). A very small number of pigeons land on both feet at the same time or alternate.

4. Most birds fill their beaks with water and then tip their heads back to swallow. But not pigeons! They keep their heads down, sucking up the water as if through a straw.

pigeon bath

5. Pigeons have extraordinary vision and can distinguish between almost identical shades. They can also track moving stimuli far more closely than humans. A motion picture would look like a slideshow to a pigeon.

6. Homing pigeons regularly fly over 500 miles per day at over 60 miles per hour. They can reach top speed within seconds and one pigeon was recorded flying at 110 miles per hour for several hours.

7. The Maiden Form brassiere company made a vest “to protect carrier pigeons as they parachuted through the air strapped to the chest of paratroopers during World War II. Once the paratroopers hit the ground behind enemy lines, they would release the pigeons so they could fly off to deliver important messages.”

8. Charles Darwin, like many people in Victorian England, bred and raised pigeons. He spent hours reading self-help manuals and chatting with other pigeon breeders.


9. Pigeons with white rump feathers are less likely to be killed by falcons than pigeons with blue rump feathers. The white feathers appear to distract the falcon, causing it to miss its target.

10. In the past, pigeons and doves were seen as one common group of birds. Scientists are now differentiating between the two species. The old name of Rock Dove (or common pigeon) was recently corrected to Rock Pigeon. (with thanks to Stan Shadick, Saskatoon Nature Society, for providing this updated information)

See Also 
10 Surprising Facts About Beavers - And Why They Make Great Neighbours

8 Cool Facts About Bats - And What to Do If You Find One In Your Home

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

EcoSask News, August 13, 2019

Red fox

Upcoming Events
Enviro Collective, Aug. 13 (Regina) 
Enviro Collective Regina is meeting at 7 pm, Aug. 13.

Learn to Hike, Aug. 14 (Saskatoon)
Outter Limits is hosting a learn to hike info night from 7-8:30 pm, Aug. 14. It’s free but you need to register in advance.

From Seed to Seed, Aug. 16 (Regina) 
The film From Seed to Seed about a farming family blending ancient traditions with cutting-edge science will be shown at 7 pm, Aug. 16, as part of the Regina International Film Festival.

Go Science, Aug. 16 (Lipton)
Join the Saskatchewan Science Centre in Lipton for a nature/science program for kids from 1-4 pm, Aug. 16.

Help our Bees, Aug. 18 (Moose Jaw) 
Join the Moose Jaw Nature Society to learn about bees and make your own bee bath from 4-6 pm, Aug. 18.

Nature Activity, Aug. 20 (Springside) 
Springside Public Library is hosting a special guest from the Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail Association for a nature activity from 1:30-2:30 pm, Aug. 20.

Singing for a Better World, Aug. 20 (Saskatoon) 
Learn some songs about protecting the earth and building peace and justice from 7-9 pm, Aug. 20.

AB Mammal Monitoring, Aug. 20 (webinar) 
Find out about wildlife monitoring in Alberta in a noon-hour webinar on Aug. 20 presented by PCAP-SK.

Intro to Permaculture, Aug. 21 (Regina) 
Learn about the design principles of permaculture from 7-8:30 pm, Aug. 21, at the Connaught Branch Library.

Hot Composting, Aug. 21 (Saskatoon)
Saskatoon Compost Coaches are offering a hot composting workshop on Aug. 21 from 5:30-7 pm.

Nature Activity, Aug. 22 (Springside)
Springside Public Library is hosting a guest from the Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail Association from 1:30-2:30 pm, Aug. 22.

Hug a Tree & Survive, Aug. 22 (Prince Albert)
Join Prince Albert North Search and Rescue for a program teaching lost kids how to survive in the woods at 7 pm, Aug. 22.

Family Paddle, Aug. 23 (Regina) 
SaskOutdoors is hosting a learn to paddle with kids event from 1-3 pm, Aug. 23. Canoe rental will be provided.

Red fox

Looking Ahead
Tiny House Workshop, Sept. 20-22 (Regina) 
Learn how to build your own tiny house from Sept. 20-22 in Regina.

Permaculture Design Course, Oct.-Apr. (Regina) 
Edible Landscapes is offering a permaculture design certificate course over 6 weekends from October to April in Regina. Register in advance and save money.

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

In the News
Fill out a short survey to let Saskatoon's Meewasin Valley Authority know where you would like to see an extension of the trail between the Circle Drive North Bridge and the Chief Mistawasis Bridge. 

Banding ruby-throated hummingbirds takes “a delicate touch, infinite patience and steadfast devotion.” Ron Jensen’s “data-gathering is important work, here in the far reaches of the Ruby-throated hummingbirds’ breeding range, where sightings are less common than in places such as Illinois.”

Saskatchewan has a high risk of water shortages. The study reports the main causes as being agricultural (especially raising livestock), wetland drainage, mining, and oil and gas extraction. Residential and industrial water usage is often inefficient, and climate change could bring prolonged hot or dry spells.

“Coexistence implies simply ‘tolerating the other’ whomever or whatever that is. May I suggest that it is time to co-flourish? Time to find solutions and table policy that genuinely embraces and considers the life and happiness of all parties. Every person, creature, habitat and resource holds a necessary vital part in this world. Some may well be way beyond our present understanding.”

San Francisco international airport says “each airport guest creates a half pound of trash. In an effort to reduce the waste, the airport is limiting single-use food accessories such as napkins, coffee cups and chopsticks. In addition to plastic, SFO is banning items with ‘unsubstantiated claims’ about their sustainability.”

Sand “is an essential component of modern life as we know it, yet, strangely enough, we are starting to run out.”

Using electricity at different times of day (load flexibility) “is a win-win-win. It saves money on utilities, it reduces consumer energy bills, and it helps clean up the grid.”

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).

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Seeds of Change: Farming & the Natural Environment

Spring water, edible weeds, compost and manure – the 12-13 year olds attending CISV Saskatoon’s summer camp excursion to a farm in the aspen parkland had lots to learn about the natural environment of Saskatchewan and the role and impact of agriculture and farming.

Here’s what some of the youth participants had to say:

“I had fun. I liked the compost pile. I learned that farming is a difficult life. There are a lot of jobs with not a lot of help. It’s hard being farmer because there are big companies that make the prices fall. It’s better to support small companies that care about what they do. They care about the soil. It’s important not to support companies that don’t have good ethics.” - Carlos

“I learned that there is not enough wetlands in the world and we need more wetlands. The changing environment has destroyed them, such as things like pollution and building houses on the land, means that we are losing the wetlands that animals live in, and that means that we are losing the animals too.” - Ben

“I learned a lot at the garden, such as you have to take a lot of care of what you want to grow and that sometimes it seems like it is boring but at the end you discover that it is a very fun thing and you can do it happily.” - Martin

“Some weeds are very bad because they are invasive. It was really hard to pull the burdock out of the ground, and it is not good how it takes over. It will be everywhere and it will cause the natural plants to disappear.” - Soren

CISV Saskatoon received an EcoFriendly Action Grant to help pay the costs of the outing. 

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

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

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

EcoSask News, August 6, 2019

Great blue heron

Upcoming Events
Household Hazardous Waste, Aug. 11 (Saskatoon)
You can dispose of household hazardous waste at City of Saskatoon’s Civic Operations Centre from 9 am – 3:30 pm, Aug. 11.

Fabulous Feathered Fun, Aug. 12 (Prince Albert)
Visit the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library for stories, rhymes, and craft featuring our feathered friends at 2 pm, Aug. 12.

Permaculture Garden Tour, Aug. 13 (Saskatoon)
Join Permaculture Saskatchewan for a garden tour and potluck at 6 pm, Aug. 13.

Prairie Bats & White Nose Syndrome, Aug. 14 (Eastend)
There will be a discussion on white nose syndrome on the Canadian Prairies at SODCAP’s AGM at 1 pm, Aug. 14.

Owls on the Prowl, Aug. 14 (Gravelbourg)
Kids can meet a burrowing owl from 3-4 pm, Aug. 14, at Gravelbourg Public Library.

Nature Activity, Aug. 14 (Churchbridge)
Churchbridge Public Library is hosting a special guest from the Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail Association for a nature activity from 2-3 pm, Aug. 14.

Meditations on the Prairie, Aug. 14-Sept. 13 (Saskatoon)
John Penner’s photographs of the Canadian prairie landscape will be on display in The Gallery of the Frances Morrison Library from Aug. 14-Sept. 13.

Great blue heron

Looking Ahead
Meewasin Eco-Scavenger Hunts, Aug. 17, 24, 31 & Sept. 7 (Saskatoon)
Help document active species in the Small and Northeast Swales, Aug. 17 (9 am-4 pm), Aug. 24 (9 am-4 pm), Aug. 31 (8-10 am), and Sept. 7 (9 am-4 pm). People of all experiences and backgrounds are welcome to join.

Wascana Junior Naturalist, Sept-Nov (Regina)
Kids ages 9-13 can participate in a variety of activities at Wascana Junior Naturalist from 6-8 pm on Sept. 10 & 17, Oct. 1, 22 & 29, and Nov. 19 & 26.

Forest Gardening North of the 29th, Sept. 13-15 (Ness Creek)
Richard Walker will share the key skills of forest gardening from Sept. 13-15 at Ness Creek.

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

In the News
Friends of Wascana Marsh is looking for volunteers to help with pond dipping and marsh hikes during the Harbour Landing Summer Bash from 10 am-6 pm, Aug. 25. Call Ramona at 306.531.9759 if you can help.

Saskatoon residents are encouraged to contact their City Councillor and to show your support for the City’s proposed Low Emissions Community Plan.

Conservation groups in Minnesota are urged to address unregulated agricultural sub-surface drainage tiling. Tiling drains fields rapidly and can lead to loss of wetland wildlife and plants, water pollution, and downstream flooding. A strong response to the article provides additional information both pro and con.

“The current carbon footprint of the fashion industry is over eight per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions, larger than all international travel. . . . The average consumer bought 60 per cent more clothing in 2014 than in 2000, but kept each garment half as long. . . . and less than one per cent of all clothing produced globally is recycled.”

“There is no evidence that fracking can operate without threatening public health directly and without imperiling climate stability upon which public health depends.”

Energy development and commercial interests win when pitted against endangered species.

Wales’ Wildlife Trust has developed a short film based on Wind in the Willows to shed light on the problems faced by wildlife today. What if we developed a similar film for Saskatchewan based on Who Has Seen the Wind or Wolf Willow?

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, 1 August 2019

What a Mess! Thank You for Cleaning it Up

Hudson Bay Park/Mayfair/Kelsey Woodlawn Community Association
The Bad Guys 
Plastic – it’s polluting our land and oceans, killing fish, birds, and wildlife and even showing up in our food. But the most common form of pollution is one you may not have even considered. Approximately 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are discarded every year and they’re deadly.

The filters are made of plastic that will never break down entirely. They “are laced with chemicals including arsenic and heavy metals which can end up in the water supply, and is dangerous to animals, marine life and anyone who ingests them.” (1) They’re often mistaken for food by fish, dolphins, birds, and other sea turtles, showing up in the stomach of dead or dying sea creatures.

The damage cigarette butts cause doesn’t stop there. Recent studies have shown that the chemicals used to make the filters more flexible reduce the germination rate and growth of plants. (2)

The next most common forms of waste are plastic-lined coffee cups, plastic bottles, and food wrappers (chip bags, chocolate bar wrappers, etc.).

The top 5 plastic polluters in Canada in 2018 were Nestlé, Tim Hortons, PepsiCo., The Coca-Cola Company, and McDonald’s Corporation. “Their brands’ contribution to plastic pollution is alarming, but unsurprising given the billions of single-use plastic packaged products they churn out yearly. Pop and water bottles, rogue bottle caps, Lay’s chip bags, Kit Kat and Coffee Crisp bar wrappers; chances are that any cleanup conducted will reveal plastic pollution associated with these companies.” (3)

Natural Resource Technologies students
The Good Guys 
EcoFriendly Sask provides annual clean-up grants of $500 to those groups who are prepared to get out there and clean up the mess. 13 organizations across Saskatchewan received grants in 2019. They ranged from student groups in Preeceville, Prince Albert, and Saskatoon to community organizations in Denare Beach, Lampman, and Martensville.

The Denare Beach New Horizon’s Club used a canoe to pick garbage out of the water near the shore.

65 volunteers from the Hudson Bay Park/Mayfair/Kelsey Woodlawn Community Association collected 1,840 kilos of waste, including 20 tires, 2 pails of hazardous waste, and a large amount of batteries.

Club Joy in Martensville was pleased to be able to clean up the park and pond for the ducks and inspired others in the park area to help them.

Students in the Natural Resource Technologies program at Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Prince Albert, cleaned a 4 km stretch of Highway 55. Vehicles honked their horns to show support and the students hoped that their efforts would have a positive impact on the children riding the many school buses passing by.

Centennial Collegiate’s Outdoor Club held two clean-up events – at Saskatoon’s Northeast Swale and in Greenwater Provincial Park.

Saskatoon Search and Rescue spotted beavers as they cleaned up along the Meewasin trail.

Saskatoon Search and Rescue
You’ll find a complete list of the Clean-up Grant recipients on our website.

(1) https://usmc-mccs.org/articles/the-most-common-type-of-litter-in-the-world/

(2) https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/cigarette-butt-filter-environmental-damage-plant-growth-study-a9011616.html

(3) https://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/story/5346/and-the-top-5-plastic-polluters-are/

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

EcoSask News, July 30, 2019

Purple prairie clover

Upcoming Events
Planet in Peril, Aug. 1, 8, 15 (Regina)
The Regina International Film Festival is showing 3 films by Edward Burtynsky on the human influence on the earth: Manufactured Landscapes at 7 pm, Aug. 1; Watermark at 7 pm, Aug. 8; and Anthropocene at 7 pm, Aug. 15. There will be a panel discussion following the film on Aug. 15.

Get Wild, Aug. 7 (Saskatoon)
Meet and learn about animals that have ended up at Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation from 2:30-3:30 pm, Aug. 7, at the Round Prairie Branch Library.

What’s in your Water, Aug 9 (Osler)
Join the South Saskatchewan Watershed Stewards from 2-3 pm, Aug. 9, at Osler Library to sample water and find out why it’s important to keep our watersheds healthy.

Looking Ahead
Bats then Beers, Aug. 16-17 (Last Mountain Lake)
Join the Saskatchewan chapter of The Wildlife Society at Last Mountain Lake Regional Park Aug. 16-17 as they go looking for bats and enjoy local beer.

Fish Id, Aug. 18 (Echo Lake)
Nature Regina is offering a fish identification workshop from 9 am-3:30 pm, Aug. 18.

Outdoor Adventures for Kids 
Nature Baby, Sept. 10-Oct. 29 (Saskatoon)
Wildernook Fresh Air Learning invites 6-18 month olds and their mobilizers to participate in Nature Baby from 11:15 am-12:45 pm, Tuesdays, Sept. 10 to Oct. 29.

Nature Grandparenting, Sept. 12-Oct. 17 (Saskatoon) 
Grandparents and their 3-5 year olds are invited to participate in Nature Grandparenting from 9:30-10:40 am, Thursdays, Sept. 12 to Oct. 17.

Early Fall Tiny Ones, Sept. 13-Oct. 25 (Saskatoon) 
Timbernook Saskatoon invites caregivers with 1½-4 year olds to enjoy outdoor adventures on Fridays from 9:30-11:30 am, Sept. 13-Oct. 25.

Early Fall Little Wild Ones, Sept. 13-Oct. 25 (Saskatoon) 
Timbernook Saskatoon invites 4-7 year olds who aren’t in school or are home schooling to participate in their forest program on Fridays from 1-4 pm, Sept. 13-Oct. 25.

Purple prairie clover

Saskatoon Nature Society
Golden Eagles 
Aug. 8, 8 am – Nature Walk at Schmeiser’s Acreage
Aug. 15, 8 am – Shorebirds
Retirees and partners who are interested in birds and the natural world are invited to participate.

Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
Aug. 7, 6:45-8:15 pm – Prairie Wildflower & Tree Hike
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
Meewasin Valley Authority is looking for volunteers to put up marker tags to make it easier for wildlife to see fences at Saskatoon’s Northeast Swale. Contact Renny Grilz if you’re interested.

Saskatoon residents are invited to complete a short survey on green infrastructure priorities. The deadline is Aug. 6.

The City of Regina plans to install brighter lighting in Victoria Park to help people feel safer. Are they also taking into consideration the effect of light pollution on plants, animals, and the night sky?

Thousands of people, minimal waste at Saskatoon’s Food Truck Wars.

Women are dominating the deconstruction industry: “Instead of focusing on trendy plastic straw bans, they are recycling whole houses.”

“ ‘Conserving the diversity in our soils may be the most effective health intervention we can ever make.’ . . . by getting your hands dirty planting trees or building soil erosion control structures — you are not only conserving biodiversity, you are also inoculating yourself with microbes that you yourself may need.”

Ikea’s new store in Greenwich, UK, combines solar, geothermal, orchards, rainwater harvesting, and much more.

Could large-scale biogas systems be the next big thing in green energy?

These photographs of urban trees are heartbreaking, “but in almost every photo, there is hope in the sense that the trees and topiary are still emerging through the cracks, taking back the land, or not necessarily playing by man’s rules due to their inherent qualities of being wild.”

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, 25 July 2019

The Art of the Urban Wild


“Can we learn to look more thoughtfully, and therefore see more fully the natural vibrancy that is all around us in cities? And also along the way see what vibrancy our cities may be lacking? It is a vibrancy that weaves—or should weave—together nature and people and built form in ways that make cities rich—rich in biodiversity, human society, sustainability, resilience, and livability.” (David Maddox, Imaging the Urban Wild)

Over 80% of Canadians live in urban centres and our focus tends to be on the built environment, but our towns and cities are constructed on and in the natural environment. The juxtaposition of natural and man-made can be dramatic, but there are also opportunities for integrating the two, for appreciating our wild neighbours and our living architecture.

“Why is it that we call ourselves human and all other living things nature?” (Patrick M. Lydon)

contrast of garden & mall

The juxtaposition of natural areas and the built environment can shock and yet the distinction is entirely artificial. The challenge is to integrate the natural and the built environment in ways that respect the value and needs of all urban residents.

“It is the wilderness come back again, a lagoon with our city reflected in its eye.” (Spirit of Place: Great Blue Heron, William Stafford)

great blue heron

Mike Houck is the Executive Director of the Urban Greenspaces Institute in Portland, Oregon, and has been promoting urban wildlife refuges since 1982. He fought hard to protect the Heron Pointe Wetland.

“I was paddling my kayak around Ross Island in downtown Portland and was blown away by the juxtaposition of the Great Blue Heron colony on the downstream tip of Ross Island with the new condominium towers at South Waterfront, Portland’s newest neighborhood on the west bank of the Willamette. . . . after two years of planning the Willamette River Greenway, the residents of the condos can now actually observe Bald Eagle picking young herons out of their nests. Not for the squeamish, perhaps, but pretty damn impressive in the heart of downtown Portland.” (Mike Houck)

Wild Neighbours
“Most of us will never see a polar bear, will never see a lion. Modern day society is so disconnected from nature. Urban wildlife provides a bridge to that gap.” (Bertie Gregory)


Our wild neighbours are a source of both joy and frustration. We delight in watching flocks of bohemian waxwings descend on a mountain ash and devour the berries, but we’re less pleased when Canada geese make a mess of our parks.

Toronto residents have a love/hate relationship with urban raccoons. The raccoons topple garbage bins and enter homes in search of food. Over half of Toronto residents are in favour of euthanizing them to reduce the population. And, yet, those same residents erected a memorial shrine complete with cards, photographs, and flowers for a dead raccoon that lay on the sidewalk for over 12 hours. 

New York City’s Parks Department has launched an ad campaign recognizing raccoons as true New Yorkers - intelligent and always looking for the best real estate.

Shared Lives
“Three bows, three cucks. I bow back.
Are we friends for fat and kitten kibble?
Did I help you through last winter,
you with short tail feathers?” (Shorty, the Crow, Tricia Knoll)


Living Architecture
“In a quest to live ecologically 
a man seeks to know nature 
in different ways 
To know a tree as he knows a good friend 
living, growing, sensing 
renders betrayal of the tree improbable 
Can we meet a tree 
as we would another human? 
Well, of course 
we can” (Patrick Lydon)


Do you have a favorite tree, one that you’ve watched grow and develop, enjoyed the scent of lime blossoms in the spring or the bright yellow leaves in the fall? Trees are living architecture and play an important role in shaping our neighbourhoods. The avenue of elm trees along Spadina Crescent in Saskatoon is admired by all who drive by. The SOS Elms Coalition invites residents to follow their tree tour showcasing some of the oldest and largest trees in Saskatoon.

Art Imitates Life and Life Imitates Art
There are times when art imitates life and when life imitates art. Here are two examples.

Hanging jellyfish sculpture

beavers at work