Thursday 27 April 2017

Distance Learning Students Go Winter Camping

EcoFriendly Sask was pleased to provide Sun West School Division’s Distance Learning Centre with an EcoFriendly Action Grant to help their Outdoor Education Club have a more sustainable winter camping trip. 

"At the Sun West Distance Learning Centre, we started up an Outdoor Ed Club for the first time ever. The first event we planned was a Winter Camping Trip that took place March 14-15 at Elk Ridge Resort. The purpose for this trip was to allow our Distance Ed students the chance to connect and build relationships with other DLC students and their teachers while also letting them discover a variety of outdoor activities that promote a healthy lifestyle. The weather for outdoor activities could not have been better!

"Our students arrived via their own transportation and we spent two days outside participating in winter hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, nature photography, curling, ice skating, a scavenger hunt, tobogganing, and roasting our lunch over the fire. We also had two presenters from Sundogs come up and give a presentation on dog sledding! They even brought one of their sled dogs, Aster, and their dog sled for us to try out. At the end of the day we took advantage of the waterslide, hot tub, and pool inside at the Elk Ridge Resort to relax before hitting the sack.

"We had many activities planned and had a hard time getting students to move onto the next activity because they were so engaged. We all tried something new during the trip! We shared many laughs together especially over our attempts at curling on the pond, falling down while cross-country skiing on the trails, and tobogganing down the hill in tractor tire tubes.

"When we needed a break from the outdoor elements we came inside the cabin and baked bannock, made jam, and whipped butter ourselves. We also did a relaxing ‘soap stone carving’ activity where we warmed up and carved our soaps into little figurines. All activities were intended to celebrate outdoor education and bond together as a group.

"With the grant money that was provided to us by EcoFriendly Sask we were able to buy reusable camping equipment to completely eliminate the need for paper cups, plates, and utensils. This was an investment that we will use year to year as we plan to do more winter camping excursions and plan a spring canoe trip as well. We also purchased a few outdoor-related clothing from a local thrift shop as some students were not able to bring the clothing they needed to be outdoors. This has helped us to make a sustainable club for years and years to come.

"Thank you so much for providing us with this grant money. The students and teachers had a phenomenal experience and we are already counting down the days to our next big adventure together!"

Tuesday 25 April 2017

EcoSask News, April 25, 2017

larch flower

Upcoming Events
Meditations on a Prairie Landscape, May 1-June 30 (Saskatoon)
John Penner’s photography exhibit, Meditations on a Prairie Landscape, is on display at The Eye Gallery from May 1-June 30.

SK Master Naturalist Program, May 3 (webinar)
Join Chet Neufeld, Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan, at noon, May 3, for a webinar on the Saskatchewan Master Naturalist Program (SK-PCAP Native Prairie Speaker Series).

Saskatoon’s GHG Emissions, May 3 (Saskatoon)
Natasha Spence will report on the City of Saskatoon’s GHG emissions accounting at the May 3 meeting of the Saskatchewan Energy Management Task Force.

Identifying Local Wildflowers, May 4 (Saskatoon)
Join Renny Grilz at Wild Birds Unlimited at 7 pm, May 4, for help in identifying wildflowers of the Saskatoon area.

Subatlantic Video Essay, May 4-July 5 (Regina)
Check out Ursula Biemann’s science fictional video essay on the changing environment from May 4-July 5 in the Central Library Mediatheque, Regina.

Compost Workshop, May 6 (Prince Albert)
Prince Albert Parkland Permaculture Guild is hosting a compost workshop from 10 am-12:30 pm, May 6.

Jane’s Walk (Regina, Saskatoon)
Find out about urban water issues and gardening at 6:30 pm, May 5Saskatoon.

Join a guided walk of the Northeast Swale at 8 pm, May 5, Saskatoon.

Join Nature Conservancy of Canada for a walk through Wascana Marsh and learn about urban ecosystems at 7 pm, May 6, Regina.

From boulevard gardens to a parklet, explore how residents are bringing life back into roadways at 1:30 pm, May 7, Saskatoon.

larch flower

NCC Conservation Volunteer Program, May (SK)
The Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Conservation Volunteers program provides opportunities to get outside and protect or repair damage to the environment. There are 3 volunteer opportunities in May in Saskatchewan.
May 6, 9 am-3 pmMay the Forage Be With You Part Two – Meetup at Meeting Lake 3

May 26, 9 am-3 pmPeeping it Real at Reed Lake (Part 1)

May 27, 9 am-3 pmPeeping it Real at Reed Lake (Part 2)

Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
May 6, 9 am-3 pm – Waterfowl Outing to Dundurn Area
May 7, May 14, May 21, May 28, 7-9:30 am – MVA Trail Bird Walk
Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details and updated information.

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

In the News
The City of St. Louis is encouraging residents to connect with nature with a poster listing places and opportunities.

Most businesses on urban streets make their money from pedestrians and cyclists.

What kind of education are we giving our kids if we, the adults in their lives, don't know much and can't share about the natural history of where we live?

The March for Science was the first step. We need to follow through in our personal lives as well as in our community.

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 20 April 2017

Natural Areas Clean-up Grants 2017

American Robin

Raising money for your club, sports team, or voluntary organization? EcoFriendly Sask is offering a limited number of $500 grants to clubs and voluntary organizations for cleaning up a natural area in or around their community.

Apply by sending us an email telling us about your group and your clean-up plans. We’ll let you know whether or not your grant application is approved.

Groups that are approved for a grant will be sent a cheque once we’ve received a photograph of your clean-up crew and the garbage you’ve collected.

See also:
Meewasin Annual Clean Up Campaign

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

EcoFriendly Sask informs, encourages, and supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication and Action Grants. EcoFriendly Action Grants are intended to prevent, reduce, or repair damage to the environment. 

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

Proud to partner with Leave No Trace Canada, a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and inspiring responsible outdoor recreation.

Tuesday 18 April 2017

EcoSask News, April 18, 2017

Prairie crocuses

Upcoming Events
Negative Emissions Technology, Apr. 20 (Regina, Saskatoon) 
Dr. David Reiner, UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre, will discuss negative emissions technology in a video conference at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy from 10:30 am-12 pm, Apr. 20.

Prairies, Wetlands, and Riverbanks, Apr. 25 (Saskatoon)
Wild about Saskatoon is partnering with Café Scientific for a presentation by Kenton Lysak on Prairies, wetlands, and riverbanks...Oh my! Why we need to reconnect with Saskatoon's Natural Areas at 7:30 pm, Apr. 25.

SK Environmental Society AGM, Apr. 25 (Saskatoon)
The Saskatchewan Environmental Society is holding their annual general meeting from 6:30-9 pm, Apr. 25. Brett Dolter will discuss Greening the Grid: Pathways for Decarbonizing Electricity in Saskatchewan and Canada.

Citizen Science, Apr. 26 (webinar)
Brenda Dale is offering a webinar on citizen science at noon on Apr. 26 as part of SK-PCAP’s Native Prairie Speaker series.

Edible Landscapes, Urban Foraging, Apr. 27 (Regina)
Join the Regina Horticultural Society for a workshop on urban foraging at 7 pm, Apr. 27.

Household Hazardous Waste Day, Apr. 29 (Prince Albert)
You can dispose of household hazardous waste in Prince Albert from 9 am to 3 pm on Apr. 29.

Breeding Bird Atlas Workshop, Apr. 29 (Saskatoon)
Find out more about the Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas and how you can participate from 9 am to 3 pm, Apr. 29, in Saskatoon.

Breeding Bird Atlas Workshop, Apr. 29/30 (Fort Qu’Appelle)
Join local regional coordinators for a Breeding Bird Atlas training workshop in Fort Qu’Appelle from 7-9 pm, Apr. 29, and from 1-3 pm, Apr. 30.

People’s Climate March, Apr. 29 (Regina)
There will be a People’s Climate March in Regina from 12-2 pm, Apr. 29.

Carbonless Concert, Apr. 29 (Saskatoon)
Jason Maillet is hosting the sixth in a series of carbonless concerts from 6:30-9 pm, Apr. 29.

Prairie crocuses

Looking Ahead
South American Birds & Music, May 5 (Regina)
Enjoy a presentation on grasslands conservation in South America and South American music at a fundraiser for PPPI’s Public Grasslands Defense Fund, at 7 pm, May 5, in Regina.

Meewasin Trail Count, May 13/14 (Saskatoon)
Sign up for a 1 or 2-hour count and user survey on the Meewasin Trail in May. Training sessions will be held at 12 pm, May 13 and 14.

Expedition to the Cypress Hills, June 15-18 (SK)
Join the Explorers’ Club for an expedition to the Cypress Hills, June 15-18.

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

In the News
If we woke up tomorrow and found that half our local bird population was lying dead on our lawns, there’d be a crisis. If it happened over a lifetime, we wouldn’t notice. That’s exactly what has happened, and not just with birds.” 

Co-existence is best for sheep, wolves, and people. Let’s put an end to bounty hunts and killing contests.

Want to avoid traffic jams, pollution, and urban sprawl? Don't let people park for free.

Urban nature is full of surprises.

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).

Monday 17 April 2017

Dead Trees Full of Life

Downy woodpecker

How often do you see dead trees or fallen logs in our city parks? Rarely – and that’s a huge mistake because, as forest ecologist Jerry Franklin, likes to say: "A dead tree is more alive than a live tree."

Wildlife Condo
“Hard to believe, but trees can actually provide more habitats for wildlife dead than when they are alive. Standing dead and dying trees, called snags or wildlife trees, are important for wildlife in both natural and landscaped settings, occurring as a result of disease, lightning, fire, animal damage, too much shade, drought, root competition, as well as old age.

“Birds, small mammals, and other wildlife use snags for nests, nurseries, storage areas, foraging, roosting, and perching. Live trees with snag-like features, such as hollow trunks, excavated cavities, and dead branches can provide similar wildlife value. Snags occurring along streams and shorelines eventually may fall into the water, adding important woody debris to aquatic habitat. Dead branches are often used as perches; snags that lack limbs are often more decayed and, may have more and larger cavities for shelter and nesting. Snags enhance local natural areas by attracting wildlife species that may not otherwise be found there.” (1)

Mass Extinction
“It’s frightening but true: Our planet is now in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of plants and animals — the sixth wave of extinctions in the past half-billion years. We’re currently experiencing the worst spate of species die-offs since the loss of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural background rate of about one to five species per year. Scientists estimate we’re now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day. It could be a scary future indeed, with as many as 30 to 50 percent of all species possibly heading toward extinction by mid-century.” (2)


Restoring Biodiversity in Urban Areas
Urban centres have a tremendous impact on a region’s biodiversity, drawing on its resources while simultaneously hindering or actively decreasing biological diversity. And yet, it doesn’t have to be that way.

“Urban environments usually include a great diversity of habitats (such as water retention ponds, industrial parks, railway rights-of-way, greenways, and others) which may support some wildlife and plant species. In some cases, urban habitats may even play a significant role in the conservation of 'rare' or 'threatened' species.” (3)

Along with creating buffer zones, planting a variety of species, and establishing corridors and stepping stones to promote connectivity, it’s important to create “multi-age ecosystems” and to leave “stumps, leaves, snags and logs on-site to enhance the ecosystem's natural structure, maintain the nutrient cycle, and provide habitat for wildlife and other organisms.” (3)

For More Information
(1) Snags – The Wildlife Tree, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

(2) The Extinction Crisis, Center for Biological Diversity

(3) Biodiversity and the Restoration of the Urban Forest Ecosystem, Restoring the Urban Forest Ecosystem, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida Extension

Check out EcoFriendly Sask's Nature Companion, a free nature app for Canada's 4 western provinces.

Thursday 13 April 2017

2017 Earth Day Activities in Saskatchewan


The following activities have been promoted as Earth Day activities. For a full list of upcoming events, take a look at the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar.

Prince Albert
Earth Day in PA, Apr. 22
Council of Canadians – Prince Albert Chapter will be celebrating Earth Day on Apr. 22 with movies, music, speakers, lunch, and a march.

It’s Seedy Saturday as well at the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library.

Earth Day Celebration, Apr. 22
An Earth Day celebration of live music, yoga, activist, art, speakers, drumming, film, and workshops will be held from 10 am to late at the Artful Dodger Café & Music Emporium.

Regina Recycles, Apr. 22
Join the City of Regina’s Solid Waste staff for an afternoon of recycling fun for the entire family from 1:30-3:30 pm, Apr. 22, at the Glen Elm Branch, Regina Public Library.

Ross Avenue Garden Party, Apr. 22
Help clean up Regina and plant a garden at the Ross Avenue Garden Party.


Earth Day Celebration, Apr. 22
Celebrate Earth Day with the Saskatoon Unitarians who are hosting a celebration (10 am) and a fair (11 am to 1 pm) including games, food, activities, drumming, a composting demo, educational displays, and art making.

Good Morning Earth, Apr. 22
Wildernook Fresh Air Learning is offering a free morning nature experience designed for children ages 2-5 and their adult parent or guardian. The Apr. 22 event intends to offer a helping hand to local species.

March for Science, Apr. 22
March for Science, a call to safeguard and support the scientific community, will be held in Saskatoon on Apr. 22.

Earth Day Fun Runs, Apr. 23
The Saskatchewan Environmental Society is organizing an Earth Day Fun Run on Apr. 23 to support the Society.

The Saskatoon Zoo Society is hosting its annual Earth Day Fun Run on Apr. 23. Funds raised helped support the Society's environmental education programs.

Waste Not YXE Earth Day Clean-up, Apr. 23
Waste Not YXE is organizing an Earth Day Clean-Up from 2-5 pm, Apr. 23, in Saskatoon.


Celebrate Earth Day with YFBTA, Apr. 22
The Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail Association will be celebrating Earth Day at 12:30 pm, Apr. 22, St. Gerard Parish Hall, Yorkton. Speakers include Kelsey Marchand (turtles), Kenton Lysak (grasslands), Ray Poulin (snakes), and Harold Fisher (owl banding).

Do let us know if we have missed any Earth Day activities and we'll add them to the list.

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

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

Tuesday 11 April 2017

EcoSask News, April 11, 2017

spring thaw

Upcoming Events
Bird Impact Reduction Day, Apr. 11
Windows – in our homes, offices, stores – can be a death sentence for birds. Here are 10 things we can do to save birds’ lives.

Easter Week at the Creek, Apr. 17-21 (Saskatoon)
Visit Beaver Creek during Easter break, Apr. 17-21. You can hike a nature trail, feed the chickadees, or explore the interpretive centre.

Sask Breeding Bird Atlas, Apr. 18 (Nature Prince Albert)
Nature Prince Albert is looking for people to help with the Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas. Additional information will be provided at their Apr. 18 meeting from 7:30-9 pm.

Visit the Zoo, Apr. 18, 19, 20 (Saskatoon)
Visit the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo from 1-3 pm, Apr. 18, 19, and 20, and Saskatoon Zoo Society interpreters will introduce you to some of the socialized animals.

Sustainable Landscapes, Apr. 18 (Saskatoon)
Patricia Hanbidge will provide tips on how to design, grow, and maintain a sustainable landscape and garden at 7 pm, Apr. 18, at the Frances Morrison Library as part of the Sustainable Speaker Series.

Saskatoon Seed Library, Apr. 18 (Saskatoon) 
Karen Farmer, Saskatoon Seed Library, will talk about how to get seeds, Canadian seed insecurity, and the work being done around Saskatoon at the Cliff Wright Library from 1-2:30 pm, Apr. 18.

Bugs on the Menu, Apr. 19 (Regina)
The Royal Saskatchewan Museum is screening Bugs on the Menu at 6:30 pm, Apr. 19, as part of Canada Film Day 150.

Bidder 70, Apr. 19 (Regina) 
Cinema Politica will be screening Bidder 70 about climate activist Tim DeChristopher at 7 pm, Apr. 19, in Regina.

Overlapping Human & Animal Behaviour, Apr. 20 (Saskatoon) 
Dr. Joe Stookey will discuss the similarities between animal and human behaviour at the Apr. 20 meeting of the Saskatoon Nature Society.

Wildernook Launch Party, Apr. 21 (Saskatoon) 
Celebrate the launch of Wildernook Fresh Air Learning from 7:30-9:30 pm, Apr. 21, at Drift Café.

Zoo Run, Apr. 23 (Saskatoon) 
The Saskatoon Zoo Society is hosting its annual Zoo Run from 9-11 am, Apr. 23.


Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
Saskatoon Young Naturalists
Apr. 18, 6:30-8 pm – Crocus Hike
May 31-June 30 – Bluebird Trail
July 14, 1-3 pm – Butterfly Field Trip
Space is limited; register early to avoid disappointment.
Golden Eagles
Apr. 20, 8 am – Brightwater Marsh
Apr. 27, 8 am – Osler area, including Neuhorst Sloughs
Retirees and partners who are interested in birds and the natural world are invited to participate in Golden Eagle field trips.
Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
Apr. 15, 2-4 pm – Crocus Hike to Cranberry Flats
Apr. 22, 4:45-8 am – Short-tailed Grouse Dance to NE Swale
Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details and updated information.

Nature Regina Field Trips
Apr. 15, 8:30 am-4 pm – Spring Discoveries on Route 99
Check Nature Regina’s website for full details and updated information.

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

In the News
The Prince Albert Seed Library is a collaborative effort between Prince Albert Parkland Permaculture Guild and John M. Cuelenaere Public Library

The Prairie Climate Centre has launched a new series of publications on building climate-resilient cities - from ecosystems to food and water to economics

Dressing to impress has an environmental cost - 1 kg of denim generates 23 kg of greenhouse gases

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

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

Sunday 9 April 2017

Nature Activities for Kids

We've pulled together a list of environmental programs and camps for kids in Regina and Saskatoon.

Take a look and see if there is something that would be of interest to your family.

Do let us know if we've missed activities in other parts of the province.

Nature Activities for Kids

Tuesday 4 April 2017

EcoSask News, April 4, 2017

swelling buds

Upcoming Events
Medical Students Take the Pledge, Apr. 5-6 (Saskatoon) 
College of Medicine students are being invited to take the pledge to make an eco-friendly change on Apr. 5-6 in the Health E Wing Atrium.

Feral Boars & Farmland Moose, Apr. 6 (Indian Head) 
Join The Indian Head Natural History Society at 6 pm, Apr. 6, for presentations on feral boar and farmland moose.

SK Living Green Expo, Apr. 7-9 (Saskatoon)
Saskatchewan Living Green Expo is this weekend, Apr. 7-9, with a full range of displays and activities.

The Grasslands Project, Apr. 11 (Saskatoon) 
The Grasslands Project, a film about southern prairie communities, will be shown at 2 pm, Apr. 11, at the Alice Turner Library.

Environmental Behaviour, Learning, and Place-based Locations, Apr. 13 (Saskatoon)
Nicole Ardoin, Stanford University, will discuss environmental behaviour, learning and place-based locations from 3-4 pm, Apr. 13, at the U of S.

NCC Volunteer Opportunities, Apr. 17 (Regina) 
Ashley Rankin will talk about volunteer opportunities with the Nature Conservancy of Canada at the Apr. 17 meeting of Nature Regina.

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

Looking Ahead 
Nature Grandparenting, May 9-30 (Saskatoon)
SaskOutdoors invites grandparents to experience nature with their 3-5 year old grandchild on Tuesdays at 10 am from May 9-30 with Wildernook Fresh Air Learning.

swelling buds

In the News
In San Francisco they’re imagining a world in which cars share the road with birds, bees, butterflies, and bicyclists - 115 miles of habitat corridors

New York is turning out the lights from 11pm to dawn during spring and fall migrations in state-owned and -managed buildings

5 fictional books for kids about the environment

Airline passengers generated 5.2m tonnes of waste in 2016 - something has to change

The Pembina Institute says the National Energy Board requires structural change in order to establish fair, rigorous energy project reviews

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 2 April 2017

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority: A Role Model for Meewasin Valley Authority?

Last week’s critique of the independent provincial assessment of the Meewasin Valley Authority pointed out that the assessment tried to compare apples and oranges by comparing small recreational parks with Meewasin’s mandate for planning, development, conservation, and recreation over a large area.

Only one comparator park appeared relevant: the North Saskatchewan River Valley parks system. We pointed to other relevant examples across Canada, from Fish Creek Provincial Park in Calgary to Pippy Park in St. John’s.

A reader suggested that we take a look at the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) whose mission and mandate are very similar to Meewasin Valley Authority’s although they operate on a much larger scale.

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority 
With more than 60 years of experience, the TRCA works with municipalities and other partners to look after the watersheds of the Toronto region and the Lake Ontario waterfront. Acknowledging that nature and people are interconnected, the health of one directly impacting the other, they’ve made it their mission to ensure the health of both. “By committing ourselves to protecting, restoring and enhancing nature, we allow the natural world to bestow its many benefits on our bodies, our minds, our spirits and our communities.” 

Their mandate includes the following:
  • Take care of nine watersheds and the Lake Ontario shoreline, in partnership with municipalities, the Province, and other stakeholders 
  • Work to preserve and protect the land, improve wildlife and plant habitats 
  • Encourage people of all ages to get out and enjoy nature for optimal health and well-being 
  • Monitor and report on the health of Toronto’s environment 
  • Provide input and expertise on water management, resource conservation, natural heritage, and cultural heritage 
  • Run programs that teach a greater appreciation of the environment and ways to adopt sustainable technologies 
  • Reduce human impact on natural resources while acquiring, protecting, and restoring conservation lands to further watershed and resource management 

A Cleaner, Greener, and Healthier Place to Live 
Toronto and Region Conservation Authority recognizes the importance of their work: “With the help of our partners, TRCA is creating a cleaner, greener and healthier place to live — for you today, and for your children tomorrow. Together, we aim to improve the health of the natural environment and create opportunities for a sustainable future. By doing so, we ensure we live in harmony with nature and are a healthier society as a whole.” 

Let’s follow their lead by sustaining and enhancing the role of the Meewasin Valley Authority.

Photo credit: Terri Jackson