Tuesday, 14 January 2020

EcoSask News, January 14, 2020


Upcoming Events
Human-Induced Climate Change, Jan. 16 (Regina) 
Academics for Climate – Regina Chapter is hosting a discussion of the evidence for human-induced climate change at 7 pm, Jan. 16.

Full Tilt, Jan. 17/18 (Regina) 
Enjoy contemporary dance fuelled by a love of birds at 7:30 pm, Jan. 17, and at 2 and 7:30 pm, Jan. 18.

Renewable Energy, Jan. 20 (Prince Albert) 
Join RPIC from 6:30-8 pm, Jan. 20, to discuss plans for the early-April Smarter Science Better Building initiative.

Big Quill Lake, Jan. 20 (Regina) 
Jenya Kinstinov will present his undergraduate research on the Big Quill Lake Drainage Basin at the 7:30 pm, Jan. 20, meeting of Nature Regina.

Learn to Camp, Jan. 20 (Saskatoon) 
Parks Canada will provide an introduction to basic camping skills from 6:30-8:30 pm, Jan. 20.

Saving Our Swales, Jan. 21 (Saskatoon)
Meghan Mickelson and Warrick Baijius will share insights and recommendations for sustaining the Small and Northeast Swale ecosystems at 7 pm, Jan. 21.

Seeds of Change, Jan. 22 (Regina) 
Seeds of Change, documenting the impacts genetically engineered canola is having on farmers and rural communities in the Canadian Prairies, will be shown at 6:30 pm, Jan. 22, in Regina.

What Is Climate Change, Jan. 23 (Regina) 
David Sauchyn will discuss What is climate change? What impact is it having in Saskatchewan? from 7-9 pm, Jan. 23, as part of the Academics for Climate Community Series.

Net Metering, Jan. 23 (Regina) 
SaskPower will present their net metering program at noon, Jan. 23, at Innovation Place Regina.

Downy woodpecker

Secret Lives of Woodpeckers, Jan. 23 (Saskatoon) 
Lyndon Penner will discuss woodpeckers at 7 pm, Jan. 23, at Wild Birds Unlimited.

Watersheds Conference, Jan. 23-24 (Saskatoon) 
The Saskatchewan Association of Watersheds is holding their annual conference in Saskatoon Jan. 23 and 24.

Building Operator Training, Jan. 24/Feb. 28 (Regina/Saskatoon) 
The Saskatchewan Environmental Society is hosting a workshop to introduce custodians and building operators to energy conservation principles, new technologies, and facility retrofits that will save energy and money from 9 am-4 pm, Jan. 24, in Regina and on Feb. 28 in Saskatoon.

Growing Up Wild & Wet, Jan. 25 (Regina) 
SaskOutdoors is offering a Growing Up Wild and Getting Little Feet Wet workshop from 1-5 pm, Jan. 25, in Regina.

Native Plant Conference, Jan. 25/26(Regina)
The Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan is holding its annual meeting and conference in Regina Jan. 25 and 26. The Aquatic Ecosystems module of the Saskatchewan Master Naturalist Program will be presented on Jan. 26.

Cross-Country Ski Weekend, Jan. 25/26 (Regina)
Wascana Centre is hosting a cross-country ski weekend from 11 am-4 pm, Jan. 25 & 26.

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

In the News
The newly created Academics for Climate - Regina chapter is on Facebook.

The Honnold Foundation is now accepting grant applications from organizations or projects that use solar energy to increase social and economic equity and reduce environmental impact.

Students across Canada will be collecting data on trembling aspens for University of Saskatchewan researchers.

Presentations from a recent workshop on Putting Beavers to Work for Watershed Resiliency and Restoration make it clear there are no simple answers when it comes to coexisting with beavers, but the potential benefits are many, including wildfire resiliency and enhanced fish growth rates.

Moving beyond net zero through home renovation rather than new build.

9 articles about sustainable fashion – from buying less vs. buying green to false claims of carbon neutrality and fighting climate change.

squirrel in the yard

In a changing climate, will small forest creatures help by distributing nuts or seeds they’ve never seen before?

Just for Laughs 
Innovative responses to Thailand’s plastic bag ban. What will it be? A wheelbarrow or a laundry basket?

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, 7 January 2020

EcoSask News, January 7, 2020

frost and ice

Upcoming Events
50th Anniversary Celebrations (Saskatoon) 
The Saskatchewan Environmental Society is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2020 with a series of fundraising events to ensure their ongoing sustainability. Events include a music series, a picnic, a spin class, and a trivia night.

Implementing Regulatory Commitments, Jan. 8 (Saskatoon) 
David Stevenson, Government of Saskatchewan, will present an update on the implementation of regulatory commitments made in Prairie Resilience at noon, Jan. 8, at the U of S.

Microscopic Organisms, Jan. 16 (Saskatoon)
Find out about the microscopic organisms below the surface in your backyard at the 7:30 pm, Jan. 16, meeting of the Saskatoon Nature Society.

Electronic Recycling, Jan. 16 (Saskatoon)
Find out how the Electronic Recycling Association is reducing electronic waste and reusing unwanted equipment at noon, Jan. 16, at Innovation Place.

Repair Café, Jan. 18 (Prince Albert) 
Celebrate and share maintenance and repair skills from 1-4 pm, Jan. 18, at Repair Café Prince Albert.

Snowshoe & Skate, Jan. 18 (Echo Valley)
Check out the new skating trail and participate in a guided snowshoe hike at Echo Valley Provincial Park from 11 am-4 pm, Jan. 18.

Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
Saskatoon Young Naturalists 
Mar. 7, 1-3 pm – Owl Pellets
Mar. 28, 1-2:30 pm – Birdhouses
Apr. 19, 7-8:30 pm – Crocus Hike
May 2, 1-3 pm – Pike Lake Field Trip
Space is limited; register early to avoid disappointment.

Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
Feb. 1, 1-3 pm – Beaver Creek Twigs & Bark
Feb. 8, 2-3:30 pm – Forestry Farm Bird Walk
Feb. 23, 2-3:30 pm – City Park Bird Walk
Feb. 29, 9-4:30 pm – The Leap to Gardiner Dam

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 12-year-old says cigarette butts should be part of a federal single-use plastic ban expected in 2021.

The fracking industry has to stop flaring and venting so much methane.

Major oil companies, facing the prospect of reduced demand for their fuels, are ramping up their plastics output.

From domination to fellow beings - a tidal shift in how Americans view wildlife.

“Over the years, clothes have been my comfort blanket and confidence boost. They’ve been a recreational hobby, a competitive sport and a way to bond with people in pub toilets”: her New Year’s resolution - and she stuck to it - no new clothes for a year. Here are some tips for following her example.

Shifting baseline syndrome, collective amnesia about past natural abundance, is a curse for conservation.

Turning contaminated land into a solar park.

Icarus Complex, a European biannual magazine, is an in-depth look at the issues surrounding climate change. The first issue included articles about ClientEarth, a charity using the power of the law to protect the planet, and about the American Conservative Coalition, which is seeking “to activate the conservative movement . . . . through the promotion of free-market and pro-business environmentalism.”

Food in the nude: “a group of supermarkets have abandoned the use of plastic wrapping for virtually all of their fruit and vegetables.”

The City of Vancouver is slowly eliminating single-use plastics.

Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale by Adam Minter looks at what happens to our stuff when we no longer want it - from “thrift stores in the American Southwest to vintage shops in Tokyo, flea markets in Southeast Asia to used-goods enterprises in Ghana.”

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, 5 January 2020

Dare to Dream: 2019 EcoFriendly Action Grants

In 2019, 54 organizations and individuals in Saskatchewan applied for an EcoFriendly Action Grant because they believed that they could make a difference by undertaking a project to protect, preserve, or repair our natural environment. EcoFriendly Sask supported their efforts with over $33,600 in grants.

From individuals and small rural communities to provincial organizations, their efforts involved bees and other pollinators, waste reduction, food security, land and water, trees and shrubs, nature activities for kids, organizational development, and Saskatoon’s NatureCity Festival. Take a look at what they accomplished.

Dare to Dream

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, 31 December 2019

New Year's Eve Special 2019

Turkey vulture

Greetings! We’ve got apps, comic strips, Instagram accounts, graphic novels, and even a game to help you welcome in a green new year.

A new generation of naturalists & environmental activists:
BirdGirl is a 17-year-old birder and environmentalist who wants to remove the barriers from visual minority ethnic (VME) people getting into nature.

Diary of a Young Naturalist chronicles 15-year-old Dara McAnulty’s world in Northern Ireland.

@glacier996girl introduces climate change to a younger audience.

Next Generation Naturalists is a Kamloops group for 17-22 year olds, facilitated by the Kamloops Naturalist Club.

Comic strips, graphic novels, games, & Instagram:
Consider the vulture: a comic strip that gently reminds us that we will all return to the earth someday.

Follow the story of two ecologists studying quail in the Sierra Nevada in a short art game.

@colinfranksphotography takes photos of birds in Victoria, BC.

@everydayclimatechange, photographers on six continents, document climate change.

Rain, a graphic novel by Mary and Bryan Talbot, is both a love story and a flood story: “ a desperate appeal on behalf of our land, our lives and the lives of our “non-human fellow earthlings.”

There’s an app for that:
Eevie is an eco habit tracker, designed to help you improve your carbon impact by making small changes every day.

Lens is designed to help us explore our surroundings - from identifying plants and animals to scanning and translating text or seeing what’s popular on menus.

They may be shy and retiring, but they still leave tracks in the snow. Find out their identity with iTrack Wildlife.

Help identify plants as part of a citizen science project with Pl@ntNet.

“The only lost cause is the one we give up on before we enter the struggle.” – Vaclav Havel

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, 24 December 2019

Christmas Eve Special 2019

water lily and reflections

“Is this peace? A small glen: 
a winding footpath, the sun 
resting beneath the flowers, 
rippling water postponing each and every answer” 
(Japanese Garden, Honolulu, Sapardi Djoko Damono, Translated from Indonesian by John H. McGlynn, published in Here: Poems for the Planet

“Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas! from the pen of Stephen Moss. Partridges in pear trees, Colly Birds, large flocks of Turtle Doves and swans and geese – but where do all the other species come from? Stephen Moss uses his wit and wisdom to retrofit a bunch of birds to the Christmas carol and does it with quite some aplomb.

“This [The Twelve Birds of Christmas] is a book that is worth reading at any time of year and is essentially twelve chapters about the biology, folklore and history of a slightly random bunch of species stitched together with anecdotes from Stephen’s birding life.”

In Gun Island, Amitav Ghosh, explores climate change and global migration, seeking insight from 16th and 17th century Italy, a time when “the rise of vast European empires setting up colonies around the world, disrupting Indigenous ways of life and setting the stage for global discontent and migration” signifies the starting point of climate change.

Here: Poems for the Planet, edited by Elizabeth J. Coleman, is a call for hope and action, on behalf of a planet in crisis. The poems in Here are introduced by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and followed by an activist guide written by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Stars & Planets
“The night has captured our imaginations since the beginning of time. After all, half our lifetimes are spent in darkness, and when our instincts kick in and our more primitive senses are heightened, who knows what weird and wonderful stories will unearth themselves?” - 10 books that capture the world of night

The Night Sky app is a “planetarium in your pocket. Day or night, just aim your device skyward to see a live 3D map of the heavens, complete with beautifully illustrated constellations, stars, planets, and satellites.”


Youthful pranks, family disagreements, dance moves, and camouflage. All are present in the 2019 Comedy Wildlife Photography Award winners.

Happy Christmas from Penny and Andrew at EcoFriendly Sask!

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

EcoSask News, December 17, 2019


Upcoming Events
Zero-Waste Gift Wrapping, Dec. 21 (Saskatoon) 
Wrap your gifts with used gift wrap or cloth from 10 am-5:30 pm, Dec. 21.

Science Experiments, Dec. 27 (North Battleford) 
Children ages 5-12 are invited to play with science from 2-3 pm, Dec. 27, in North Battleford.

Mindfulness Cross-Country Ski, Dec. 28 (Macdowall) 
Enjoy a cross-country ski with the 306 Outdoor Tribe at Eb’s Trails from 1-4 pm, Dec. 28.

Promoting Energy Efficiency, Jan. 8 (Saskatoon) 
Dave Stevenson, Ministry of Environment, will discuss energy efficiency promotion in Saskatchewan at the Jan. 8 breakfast meeting of the Saskatchewan Energy Management Task Force.

Meadow Lake Tracks & Crafts, Jan. 11 (Meadow Lake) 
Enjoy a guided snowshoe hike and craft from 1-3:30 pm, Jan. 11, at Meadow Lake Provincial Park.

Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
Saskatoon Young Naturalists 
Jan. 18, 1-3 pm – Tracks & Scats
Feb. 8, 1-2:30 pm – Chickadee Pishing
Space is limited; register early to avoid disappointment.

Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
Jan. 12, 2-3:30 pm – Sanatorium Site Birding
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
Wetland / Waste Land: A Conservation of Change is a 25-minute documentary looking at the emerging conflicts in the Canadian prairies over the apparently conflicting needs of wetlands and agriculture.

Researchers have found toxic chemicals used in smartphones, televisions, computer displays, and solar panels in nearly half of dozens of samples of household dust. “These chemicals are semi-liquid and can get into the environment at any time during manufacturing and recycling, and they are vaporized during burning. Now we also know that these chemicals are being released by products just by using them,” said Giesy, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Toxicology, University of Saskatchewan.

The National Farmers Union’s report on Tackling the Farm Crisis and the Climate Crisis: A Transformative Strategy for Canadian Farmers and Food Systems examines the impacts of climate change on agriculture in Canada as well as the opportunities that agriculture provides to become part of the solution.

The City of New York has passed a bill “that will update the building code with design and construction requirements aimed at making buildings safer for migratory birds. It will require exteriors on the lowest 75 feet of new buildings, and on any structure above a green roof, to have avian-friendly materials such as patterned glass that make transparent surfaces more visible to birds flying at full speed. The bill doesn’t include a mandate to retrofit existing buildings, but requires any future renovations to comply with the standards, which are set to take effect in December 2020.”

Alberta is building a wildlife overpass east of Canmore, the first outside Banff National Park, and adding an underpass in the Crowsnest Pass. The locations were chosen as being hot spots for collisions.

Boston plans to build a bridge that will ban single-occupancy cars and favour pedestrians and cyclists.

“Wildlife biologist and science communicator David Steen has taken the most common snake myths, tall tales and snake safety rules and applied real science to them in his wildly entertaining Secrets of Snakes: The Science Beyond the Myths.” [book review]

This is the last issue of EcoSask News for 2019. We’ll be in holiday mode for the next two weeks with Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve Specials - interesting and unexpected items for you to enjoy over the holidays. 

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, 12 December 2019

CPAWS-SK: Addressing Environmental Concerns from the Boreal Forest to the Prairie Grasslands

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is a national environmental organization. Their vision is “to protect at least half of our public land and water so that future generations can experience Canada’s irreplaceable wilderness.”

CPAWS was founded in 1963 and has 13 community-based chapters as well as a national office in Ottawa. The Saskatchewan chapter was established in 1976 and was initially located in Prince Albert with a focus on sustainable forest management practices and the protection and conservation of woodland caribou. While those issues continue to be of great importance, CPAWS-SK has recently established staff and set up an office in Saskatoon to respond more effectively to issues affecting all parts of the province. Stewart Coles is the manager of operations and programs for southern Saskatchewan and outlined the work that CPAWS-SK is currently involved with.

Northern Initiatives 
Canada’s boreal forest is larger, wilder, and more intact than almost any other forest on earth. The greatest threat is human activity. CPAWS is a signatory on the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, which brought forestry companies and environmental organizations together to collaborate on long-term land planning and management. It continues to sit at the table with a role of representing environmental and ecosystems perspectives when establishing forest management plans for northern Saskatchewan.

Woodland caribou are shy creatures that roam Canada’s northern forests and wetlands; however, their numbers are in decline, suggesting that the entire boreal landscape is suffering. The Conservation Strategy for Boreal Woodland Caribou in Saskatchewan was finalized in 2014 and CPAWS-SK is assisting the province in obtaining a better understanding of woodland caribou ecology through its monitoring efforts. CPAWS-SK is currently active in the area north of Hudson Bay using cameras and on-site visits to report on caribou activity and habitat.

The Sturgeon River Plains Bison, the last wild Saskatchewan herd in their traditional habitat range, roam in and around Prince Albert National Park. Since 2005, when the herd numbered around 500, numbers have been in steep decline, due in part to overharvesting and an anthrax outbreak in 2008. Local First Nations recently held a Buffalo Treaty gathering, providing an opportunity for the local First Nations to take leadership in bison conservation and for youth to connect with the land and elders in rebuilding traditional relationships and hunting practices. CPAWS-SK was instrumental in helping Mistawasis Nêhiyawak First Nation to obtain funding through the Indigenous Guardians Program for this purpose and hopes to obtain additional funding from Patagonia to assist with this work.

Southern Initiatives 
According to Nature Canada, “grasslands are the most endangered, the most altered, and least protected ecosystem on the planet.” CPAWS-SK has been working closely with other provincial environmental organizations to advocate for the protection of Saskatchewan’s remaining native grasslands. This has included writing letters and sharing its concerns with government and media about the need for a full environmental review of the proposed Saskatoon freeway through Saskatoon’s Northeast Swale and the potential impact of the now approved Project Albany potash mine southeast of Regina.

The Quebec chapter of CPAWS recognized a need to protect natural urban areas and established a municipal fund for biodiversity, which has supported projects addressing climate change, connectivity, and protecting natural areas. CPAWS is now in the process of establishing similar pilot projects in Saskatoon, Edmonton, and Halifax. CPAWS-SK is working with the City of Saskatoon and Meewasin Valley Authority to establish the fund.The fund’s primary focus would be to address climate change through nature-based solutions, such as protecting the Northeast Swale and other key nature corridors from further degradation, loss, and fragmentation.

Stew Coles and colleague, Sarah Schmid
CPAWS has historically emphasized advocacy and active involvement on the ground. Its advocacy initiatives have often gone unrecognized, so CPAWS-SK is making a concerted effort to improve its communications and reach out to involve the public. “We want to bring the public into the conversation and to help decision-makers make good decisions,” explains Stewart Coles. “We’re not against development, but decisions and endorsements must be made with the full facts and located in the appropriate places.”

On a national level, CPAWS is collaborating with other environmental organizations on the Make Room For Nature campaign, encouraging Canadians to hold all levels of government to account for the promises they have made for nature. Global biodiversity is in steep decline, and it is clear Canadians want – and expect – more protection of Canada’s wild and natural spaces.

CPAWS-SK is active on social media and has instituted a blog to share ideas more widely. They can be seen at various events throughout the summer months in Prince Albert, Saskatoon and Regina, including a booth at the University of Saskatchewan during orientation, where they hope to establish a CPAWS student society at the University of Saskatchewan.

CPAWS-SK has also developed several campaigns to raise public awareness and generate additional funds. Caribrew beer, made in partnership with Saskatoon’s Prairie Sun Brewery is brewed with peat-smoked malt harvested in caribou country. They have also launched a haskap gin in partnership with Black Fox Farm & Distillery that incorporates haskap berries from boreal forests around the world.

Get Involved
You can contribute to CPAWS’ work in protecting Canada’s forests, lakes, rivers, wetlands, grasslands, and wilderness areas. Volunteer your time; sign a petition or call to action; make a donation. Visit their website and follow CPAWS-SK’s activities on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Photo credit: CPAWS-SK Facebook page

See Also 
Stewardship: A Critical Role for Landowners (2012 interview with Gord Vaadeland, CPAWS-SK Executive Director, about the Sturgeon River Plains Bison)

Natural England: Working with Developers to Protect Wildlife and Natural Areas (2013 interview with Stewart Coles about his work experience in the UK)