Friday 31 August 2012

Financial Support for Park(ing) Day

EcoFriendly Sask is pleased to support Saskatoon’s first-ever Park(ing) Day events on September 20-21 with grants of $350 each to Our Saskatoon and The Stall Gallery.

Park(ing) Day is an annual event that turns metered parking spots into temporary public parks. The event is designed to promote complete streets that are people- and environmentally-friendly.

Our Saskatoon: A Sustainable Creative City is One Act Away
Our Saskatoon is promoting complete streets in Riversdale by creating safe bike lanes and turning an empty lot into a public square with green space, public seating, pop-up retail stores, and entertainment (everything from storytelling to yoga and movies).

The Stall Gallery 
The Stall Gallery is planning art activities and displays. They are partnering with SCYAP and other professional artists to create a mural portraying urban food gardens and pedestrian/bike-friendly streets. They are also developing a brochure for visiting school classes with 12 different environmental projects based on happenings around the Better Block/Park(ing) Day project.

Parking Day Kick-off, Sept. 20 
Ken Greenberg, one of Canada’s leading urban designers, will be launching Saskatoon’s first Park(ing) Day at 6:30 pm on September 20 at the Broadway Theatre. Greenberg’s book, Walking Home: The Life and Lessons of a City Builder, is well worth reading.

The event will also include a Park(ing) demo, art performances, live music, wine and cheese. Free tickets for the September 20 event can be reserved on Picatic.

Interesting Reading
The Next Generation of DIY Urbanism: So Much Cooler than Parklets
Tiny Games in Public Spaces
Better Streets: Assisting San Franciscans to make street improvements
Complete streets policies spreading quickly

Tuesday 28 August 2012

EcoSask News, August 28, 2012

Taking action, walking to school, stargazing, saving seeds, and going on a picnic

Action Ideas, Aug. 31
Quick! There’s still time to submit your ideas for action on climate change and food justice to Check Your Head. Actions must be youth-led and local. Three action ideas will receive funds to help them come to life. The deadline is August 31.

Powershift, Oct. 26-29
Powershift 2012 is a movement organized by youth for youth whose goal is to build a movement for a just and sustainable future. 1500 youth from across Canada will be meeting in Ottawa from October 26-29.

Saskatoon Young Naturalists
The Saskatoon Zoo Society offers some wonderful field trips for 5 to 11 year olds. Coming up shortly are Sandhill Crane and Whooping Crane Field Trips. Check their website for full details.

Walk to School
Walking or cycling to school contributes to a healthy lifestyle, but it’s far less common nowadays. Parents who walked to school now drive their kids. A survey by Canada Walks suggests some ways of bringing about change:
  1. Provide guidance to parents to organize Walking School Buses and bicycle trains
  2. Promote walking buddy programs for older students so they can have independent mobility with more eyes on the street
  3. Find ways to get bicycle racks at schools, provide bicycling education, and work towards policies that will make this a priority in school transportation budgets.
  4. Continue to work towards infrastructure improvements
  5. Target parents with messaging, especially concerning convenience, weather and trip-chain mentality
  6. Stress the environmental, community and personal well-being benefits associated with the trip
  7. Use event days to show driving parents how little time it takes to walk from their homes

Stargazing in Horizon, Sept. 15
Now here’s something a little different. Take the train from Ogema to Horizon at sunset. Spend an hour looking at the night sky under the guidance of a trained amateur astronomer, and enjoy the poetry of Robert Service. The last trip of the season is on September 15.

SNS Fall Picnic, Sept. 16
Join the Saskatoon Nature Society from 2-7 pm on September 16 for a fall picnic at Eagle Creek Regional Park. They’ll be birding before supper. Full details are available online.

Saving Seeds
Here’s a handy guide to collecting and saving seeds from your garden, ready to use again next year.

Sale of Community Pastures
Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart says that the sale of Saskatchewan’s community pastures is a good idea. Trevor Herriot disagrees. Here are the stories:
Vast tracts of conservation land threatened
Stewart defends divestiture plans
Ranchers may be good stewards but the de facto steward is the marketplace

Environmental Assessments Cancelled
Ottawa has cancelled 700 environmental assessments in Saskatchewan. In The StarPhoenix article, Professor Bram Noble calls the decision “unprecedented” and “a step backward.” “The Federation of Saskatchewan Indians accuses the Canadian and Saskatchewan governments of pandering to corporate interests at the expense of nature.”

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. A complete listing of all upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

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

Tuesday 21 August 2012

EcoSask News, August 21, 2012

Protecting our community's treasures - land, water, birds, and animals

Community Land
Sale of Community Pastures
Trevor Herriot urges people who care about Saskatchewan’s native grasslands and its wild creatures, to send a letter to Brad Wall and Lyle Stewart protesting the proposed sale of the community pastures.

Community Forestry
Community Forestry: Local Values, Conflict and Forest Governance by Ryan Bullock and Kevin Hanna provides case studies in local forest governance, community sustainability, and grassroots environmentalism. Ryan Bullock is a SSSHRC post-doctoral fellow at the University of Saskatchewan.

Meewasin Trail Expansion
This fall, the Meewasin Valley Authority is extending the Meewasin Trail all the way to 71st Street in the city’s north end, with an eventual goal of reaching Wanuskewin Heritage Park. The extension adds more than 3.5 km to the current 60 km of trail.

Bird Walks, Sept. 2 & 8
Join the Saskatoon Nature Society on September 2 for the Meewasin Park Fall Warbler Walk from 7-9 am. Or join the Society for the Fall Bird Count on September 8. Novice birders will be assigned to a group with an experienced leader.

Nature Saskatchewan Fall Meet, Sept. 28-29
Nature Saskatchewan’s Fall Meet will be held in Preeceville September 28 and 29. Field trips will feature the migratory water fowl at Gulka Slough, Ketchen Lake, and Lake Lomond.

Arctic Sea Ice Vanishing
Satellite measurements indicate that Arctic sea ice is melting much more rapidly than anticipated and the Arctic could be free of sea ice in the summer in a decade. “This rate of loss is 50% higher than most scenarios outlined by polar scientists and suggests that global warming, triggered by rising greenhouse gas emissions, is beginning to have a major impact on the region. In a few years the Arctic ocean could be free of ice in summer, triggering a rush to exploit its fish stocks, oil, minerals and sea routes.”

Planning for Healthy Lakes
Dr. Peter Leavitt, University of Regina’s Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change and Society, studied 250 bodies of water across Canada, including several in the Qu’Appelle Valley.

The study points to spectacularly poor water quality in individual lakes across the Prairies and stresses the importance of developing a long-term plan for cleaning them up. Saskatchewan is currently developing a 25-year water plan, and Leavitt emphasizes the importance of considering water quality as well as quantity.

Shoreline Clean-up, Sept. 15-23
We can all do our bit to improve water quality by joining the Great Canadian Shore Clean-up from September 15 to 23.

Eco-school programs in Ontario and England provide a framework to help make sustainability an integral part of school life. The Ontario program focuses on ecological literacy, waste minimization, energy conservation, and school ground greening. British students measure and monitor their school’s environmental performance.

Environmental Leadership
LEAD Canada, the Canadian affiliate of Leadership for Environment and Development International, is accepting registrations for its leadership training program within the sphere of sustainable development. There will be a western Canadian session in late January 2012 in Regina. The program includes online and face-to-face sessions as well as a challenge component involving a real-life situation.

Here’s a trio of interesting articles about waste management:

Turning waste into electricity could make it an energy superstar.

However, dealing with waste - both organic and metals - can be a challenge.

Creative use of wastewater could be the key to quenching global thirst. 

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. A complete listing of all upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

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

Tuesday 14 August 2012

EcoSask News, August 14, 2012

We're on the lookout for sage grouse and salamanders, youth writers and leaders,  
budding entomologists and provincial water strategies

Entomological Extravaganza, August 18
Budding entomologists are invited to join TRoutreach Saskatchewan and the Entomological Society of Saskatchewan for a day in the sun and stream collecting insects. The Entomological Extravaganza is scheduled for August 18 at Pine Cree Creek in the Cypress Hills.

Vote Now, Vote Often
Show your support for Saskatchewan’s endangered species by voting (up to once a day) for Nature Saskatchewan who are participating in Jamieson’s Call for the Wild competition. Jamieson will be giving out $100,000 to five competing organizations, based on the votes they receive. The funds will help support Nature Saskatchewan’s Stewards of Saskatchewan programs.

Tiger Salamanders
Andrew McKinlay recently spotted a couple of tiger salamanders on the Meewasin Trail. Tiger salamanders are the largest land-dwelling salamanders on earth (up to 14"/35 cm in length). They live in deep burrows up to 2 ft/60 cm below the surface. They emerge at night to eat worms, insects, frogs, and even other salamanders and can live on average 10-16 years in the wild.

Sage Grouse
Fifteen percent of Sage Grouse die because they get caught in wire fences. Plastic clips hooked on fence wires are a simple, effective solution.

Obscure and Unloved 
The federal government has refused to list three species as endangered. Is this a reasonable decision, or is it the thin edge of the wedge? The Ottawa Citizen has an excellent review of the topic. For more information, you can follow Laura the Dragonfly, the Sierra Club of Canada’s spokesperson, on Facebook or Twitter.

National Urban Park
CPAWS is urging Canadians to respond to Parks Canada’s on-line questionnaire about Rouge National Urban Park in Toronto. CPAWS believes that the park should have a strong legal mandate prioritizing conservation to avoid the risk of being overrun with visitors and "loved to death."

Developing a Provincial Water Strategy 
The Government of Saskatchewan is asking for public feedback on a 25-year provincial water strategy. Last year’s discussions with key stakeholders indicated that water is a key provincial resource that is extremely volatile due to the prairie climate and recommended that the government establish provincial and sectoral water management goals. The government proposes establishing a new corporation that would be responsible for consolidating government's core water management expertise and reduce current overlaps.

Drought in the Midwest 
William G. Moseley argues that the drought in the Midwest could be beneficial if it inspires greater crop diversification and decentralization.

The Island President
Did you get a chance to see the film about the Maldives, which are flooding due to rising ocean levels? If not, here’s a 45 minute video discussion with Bill McKibben ( and Jon Shenk (the filmmaker).

Next Up Leadership Program
Applications are now being accepted for Next Up, a leadership program for young people committed to social and environmental justice. The deadline for Next Up Saskatchewan is September 14.

Young Writers Awards for Excellence
Youth ages 15 and under and 16 to 21 are encouraged to apply for the Paul Beingessner Award for Excellence in Writing from the National Farmers Union. The essay topic is “Cooperatives: An Exercise in Democracy,” and there is a $500 prize in both age categories.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. A complete listing of all upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

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

Friday 10 August 2012

TRoutreach Saskatchewan

TRoutreach Saskatchewan is a small, enthusiastic group of Biology graduates from the University of Saskatchewan. They are studying the aquatic insects that filter the water in Saskatchewan streams and turn decaying plant and animal material into food. The insects are also an important food source for trout.

Each insect species reacts to pollutants in a characteristic manner, responding quickly to any stressor they encounter. Because they play a key role in the food chain and are relatively sedentary, the impact of pollution on these insects is a valuable clue to the overall health of the aquatic ecosystem.

Fish & Insects
TRoutreach has been involved in several different research projects this summer. As part of an ongoing project, they are studying the trout in Pine Cree Creek in the Cypress Hills.

They visit the site monthly to collect aquatic insects in order to recreate the diet of the brook trout using stable isotope analysis. This is cutting-edge technology that will provide a much more accurate assessment of what the fish eat than would be provided by analysing the gut contents of fish.

The group has also immersed baskets of local pebbles in three different streams in the province. They will go back at the end of the summer to collect the baskets and count the insects that colonized the area. By immersing the baskets at different levels of sedimentation, they will be able to judge tolerance to stressors, such as sedimentation.

TRoutreach members are also collecting beetles at Gardiner Dam using pitfall traps. These are yogurt containers that have been set into the ground. When the beetle walks over the trap, they fall in and are captured. The group’s goal is to develop an effective method of trapping beetles and to determine what beetles can be found at Gardiner Dam.

Outreach is an integral part of all their work as TRoutreach members want to share their enthusiasm and love of the environment with others. They work with school groups, helping the students to “see” all the insects in the water.

Budding entomologists are invited to join TRoutreach and the Entomological Society of Saskatchewan for a day in the sun and stream collecting insects. The Entomological Extravaganza is scheduled for August 18 at Pine Cree Creek in the Cypress Hills. Everyone is invited to attend.

TRoutreach Saskatchewan receives administrative assistance from the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation.

You can follow the group’s progress on Facebook. Donations would be appreciated to finance the stable isotope analysis.

(TRoutreach Saskatchewan has successfully applied for two EcoFriendly Action Grants.)

Tuesday 7 August 2012

EcoSask News, August 7, 2012

Spreading the word about geothermal power, little green thumbs, prairie bees and warblers, Saskatoon’s car share co-op, and and a gourmet feast

Upcoming Events
Warblers and Songbirds, August 19 & 25
Join the Saskatoon Nature Society as they look for warblers and other songbirds. On Sunday, August 19 from 8 to 10 am, they’ll be in Cosmopolitan Park, while on Saturday, August 25, the walk will be held at the Forestry Farm.

Sustainable Gourmet, September 22
The Saskatchewan Environmental Society is hosting their annual fundraising dinner on September 22 at the Saskatoon Club. All the main ingredients are grown by local producers. The guest speaker is Candace Savage.

David Suzuki & Jeff Rubin, October 2
Join award-winning geneticist and broadcaster David Suzuki and bestselling author and economist Jeff Rubin on October 2 at 7 pm for an evening of discussion on how to create a truly sustainable future. The event is being held at the Broadway Theatre. Tickets are $15 and available at McNally Robinson Booksellers.

Saskatoon CarShare Co-operative
The Saskatoon CarShare Co-operative is conducting a feasibility study to better determine start-up locations and practices. Like their Facebook page and complete the survey.

Municipal Efforts to Reduce GHG
An interactive map showcases Canadian municipal efforts to reduce greenhouse gases - from hybrid buses to organic waste collection programs.

Sustainable Consumption
Greendex 2012: Consumer Choice and the Environment—A Worldwide Tracking Survey measures consumer behavior in areas relating to housing, transportation, food, and consumer goods. The top-scoring consumers of 2012 are in the developing economies of India, China, and Brazil, while the lowest scores are all earned by consumers in industrialized countries.

American consumers’ behavior still ranks as the least sustainable of all countries surveyed since the inception of the study, followed by Canadian, Japanese, and French consumers.

Consumers in countries such as Mexico, Brazil, China, and India tend to be most concerned about issues like climate change, air and water pollution, species loss, and shortages of fresh water—all factors affecting the planet’s ability to support life. In contrast, the economy and the cost of energy and fuel elicit the most concern among American, French, and British consumers.

Geothermal Power
Plans are underway for Canada’s first geothermal power plant. It is expected to supply the Hamlet of Fort Liard, NWT, with 600 KW of electricity, with the future option to use waste heat in direct use applications. The community currently produces all its power through diesel generation.

Bees: Farmers’ Friends
Cory Sheffield, the new curator of invertebrate zoology at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum is using photography to identify native bees that can help fight the current pollination crisis due to the declining numbers of honey bees.

Community Pastures
Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart says that the farmers who have been using Saskatchewan’s 60 community pastures should be prepared for change and re-emphasized the government’s intention to sell the pastures.

Agriculture in the Classroom
 There’s a garden in the Confederation Park school yard being carefully tended by students in the Little Green Thumbs program. You can read all about it in the August 3 edition of the Saskatoon Wellbeing Magazine.

Five Saskatoon schools participate in this program run by Agriculture in the Classroom, an educational charity dedicated to connecting children with agriculture. They welcome donations – both of money and gardening supplies.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. A complete listing of all upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

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