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