Tuesday, 16 July 2019

EcoSask News, July 16, 2019


Upcoming Events
Change the Debate on CBC, July 17 (Regina, Saskatoon) 
Regina and Saskatoon are joining a nation-wide rally to urge the CBC to host a debate on climate issues during the upcoming federal election. Meet in front of the CBC studio at 6 pm, July 17, in both Regina and Saskatoon.

YXE Talks Trash, July 23 (Saskatoon) 
City of Saskatoon is inviting businesses and organizations to share their ideas on recycling and organics policies and programs from 7 am-8 pm, July 23.

Farmland Drainage, July 24 (Saskatoon) 
Jeff Olson will speak on Farmland Drainage: A Looming Environmental Crisis at 7 pm, July 24, as part of the National Farmers Union Region 6 convention. The public is welcome.

Busy Bees, Please!, July 24 (Gravelbourg) 
Kids are invited to build a bee bath from 3-4 pm, July 24, at Gravelbourg Public Library.

Go Science Program, July 25 (Springside) 
Join the Saskatchewan Science Centre in Springside for a nature/science program for kids from 1-4 pm, July 25.

Snakes, July 26 (Cypress Hills) 
Join bull snake researcher, Noah Johnson, for a presentation on Saskatchewan snakes at 7:30 pm, July 26, Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park.


Looking Ahead
Putting Beavers to Work, Oct. 23 & 24 (Calgary) 
A two-day seminar in Calgary on Oct. 23 & 24 will look at beavers’ role in watershed resiliency and restoration through both talks and a coexistence tools demonstration.

Agricultural Drainage & the Environment, Nov. 6 (Regina) 
The Citizens Environmental Alliance and its partners are hosting a one-day conference on agricultural drainage and the environment on Nov. 6 in Regina. Topics include carbon and habitat loss, enforcement and compliance, and water quality. For more information, contact Jeff Olson at cea.sask.2018@gmail.com

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

In the News
Do you live in the Saskatoon neighbourhoods of Aspen Ridge, Silverspring, or Evergreen? If so, help the City of Saskatoon in its land use planning by completing a survey on the value of the Northeast Swale.

“People can’t see noise, but if you were to kind of visualize it, it’s like if everybody was throwing candy wrappers out here as they were driving by with those modified mufflers.”

What if we could heat our home by burning our trash?

“We organised a conference for 570 people without using plastic. Here’s how it went.”

Pop-up parks can increase biodiversity, especially if you include organic materials and lots of plants.

San Francisco's coyote families: a wildlife soap opera.

San Francisco residents have launched a campaign to install 1000 drinking fountains.

An online course explores the captivating behaviour and creative genius of crows.

The UK’s Food Forest Project has been established to help communities to plant food forests – growing food for the local community and providing food and habitats for wildlife.

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, 9 July 2019

EcoSask News, July 9, 2019

Bald eagle

Upcoming Events
Grassroots Voices, July 8-11 (Saskatoon)
Join Saskatoon’s climate justice community in Kiwanis Park from Monday to Thursday evening, July 8-11, to let the premiers know that you’re concerned about the climate crisis, the Trans Mountain pipeline, the transition to fossil fuels, and the response to the MMIWG Commission report.

The Natural World, July 11-Aug. 8(Eastend)
Kids can enjoy activities involving the natural world from 10 am-12 pm, every Thursday morning, from July 11 to Aug. 8 at the Eastend Public Library.

The Natural World, July 12-Aug. 16 (Maple Creek)
Kids can enjoy activities involving the natural world from 2-4 pm, every Friday afternoon, from July 11 to Aug. 16 at the Maple Creek Public Library.

Falconry, July 14 (Saskatoon)
Join Wild Birds Unlimited for a visit to Drs. Lynn and Rhonda Oliphant’s 2019 brood of falcons at 6:30 pm, July 14. Carpooling is available.

All About Water, July 17 (Gravelbourg)
Kids can learn about water conservation and watersheds from 3-4 pm, July 17, at Gravelbourg Public Library.

Garden Patch Bioblitz, July 17 (Saskatoon)
Learn about biodiversity and identify plants and insects with members of the Saskatoon Nature Society at the Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre’s Garden Patch from 5:30-7:30 pm, July 17.

Butcher Birds, July 18 (Val Marie)
There will be a presentation on butcher birds and the Stewards of Saskatchewan at 7 pm, July 18, in Val Marie.

Going Zero Waste, July 18 (Regina)
Find out how to go zero-waste and minimize your impact on the environment from 7-8 pm, July 18, at the Regent Place Branch Library.

Bald eagle (juvenile)

Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
Saskatoon Young Naturalists
July 17, 11 am-1 pm – Butterfly Field Trip
Sept. 28 – Sandhill Crane field trip
Space is limited; register early to avoid disappointment.

Golden Eagles
July 18, 8 am – Stuglin Acreage & Gardens
Retirees and partners who are interested in birds and the natural world are invited to participate.

Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
July 13, 8 am-8 pm – Ponass Lake IBA
July 27 – Shorebird Trip
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
Public Pastures Public Interest has made a video showing the impact of a solution potash mine on the environment. “The well sites cover 14 acres, stripping off the soil and plant cover, leveling the land into a sterile gravel and sand-scape. The pipelines or “flow lines” cut a 100 metre swath of disturbed land connecting well sites to the plant. New roads are built much wider than one would think necessary, introducing noxious weeds. Dust and noise from heavy equipment and trucks fills the air; municipal roads degrade and in spring duck cannons fire off every few minutes to keep waterfowl from lighting on toxic wastewater ponds. The land becomes for all purposes an industrial zone. Is this what the people of Sedley and Vibank want for their land when the Province gives its blessing to Rio Tinto for Project Albany? Will the surface lease income justify the loss of beauty and quiet in the landscape?” 

SaskEnergy has announced a $650 rebate for the purchase and installation of a new high-efficiency furnace between Aug. 1 and November.

Natural gas production is a failing business model and can’t compete with renewables.

Wetlands packed with soaking wet layers of peat can act as a fire break to stop wildfires from spreading.

We walk less, but we die more. Pedestrian deaths increased by 51% in the United States from 2009-2018. In Europe, they declined by 36%.

Take Bugs 101, a free online entomology course, and take away a new appreciation for the diversity and importance of insects to human society.

We've all benefited from China's rare earth minerals in our high-tech products. Should we help pay for clean-up?

Sustainable transport options – stop, share, switch.

The new leftwing economics wants to see the redistribution of economic power so that it is held by everyone – how a network of thinkers is transforming capitalism.

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, 7 July 2019

Saskatchewan Contributes to a Green New Deal for Canada

pool surrounded by greenery

In February 2019, two Democratic members of the US House of Representatives introduced a Green New Deal resolution. The plan incorporated “a massive program of investments in clean-energy jobs and infrastructure, meant to transform not just the energy sector, but the entire economy. It is meant both to decarbonize the economy and to make it fairer and more just.” The proposal has generated interest worldwide, responding to a common concern that governments are not doing enough to address the climate emergency and social injustice.

In Canada, a coalition of concerned citizens and organizations decided to instigate a Green New Deal for Canada. The coalition invited Canadians to sign a Pact for a Green New Deal, which “demands we cut emissions in half by 2030, protect critical cultural and biological diversity, create a million jobs, and address the multiple crises we face through a holistic and far reaching plan that respects the constitutionally enshrined and internationally recognized rights of Indigenous peoples.”

The coalition went on to invite communities across Canada to hold town hall meetings to develop and refine the plan for a Green New Deal. Over 150 events involving more than 7,000 people were held in communities across Canada in May 2018.

Saskatchewan hosted 3 town hall meetings in Prince Albert, Regina, and Saskatoon, all of which were very well attended.

Prince Albert
Nancy Carswell, Council of Canadians – Prince Albert Chapter, reports that they were very pleased with the turnout in Prince Albert.

On a national level, Prince Albert participants wanted to hold corporations accountable for pollution and regulate automakers to achieve higher sustainability standards. They recommended that the government improve building standards, invest in renewable public transportation, ban single-use plastics, end uranium extraction, and legislate earth-friendly and healthy food production (e.g. eliminate pesticides, restrict hormones, limit distances food can travel). Participants supported proportional representation, a national basic annual income, universal pharmacare and dental care, as well as a national housing first policy offering cooperative, low-carbon affordable green housing, especially for Indigenous communities.

On a local level, participants focused on personal initiatives. These included travelling less and avoiding use of cars, investing in solar and wind energy, shopping locally and supporting farmers’ markets, participating in climate justice activism, voting for candidates who are committed to the environment, working in solidarity with Indigenous people, and embracing and becoming an advocate for diverse communities.

moss and leaves

Jim Elliott, Council of Canadians – Regina Chapter, says there was a mix of local, provincial, and national issues raised at their town hall meeting. These ranged from stopping construction on flood plains to eliminating urban sprawl and tax havens for the rich, and abolishing the Indian Act. There were lots of ideas on energy conservation, ending oil and gas subsidies, and achieving renewable quicker.

Jim says, “What was rewarding was the breadth of thought from cultural industries to housing, education, water, agriculture, welcoming refugees, and listening to children and elders.”

Dianne Rhodes, a member of Climate Justice Saskatoon, was one of the organizers of Saskatoon’s town hall meeting.

Federal concerns included transportation (need for better bike lanes, electric cars, and green electricity sources); keeping air, water, and soil clean; the federal election as an opportunity to move things forward; and reconciliation. Participants wanted to work with unions to find green jobs for workers on pipelines and in extractive industries. They felt it was important to work together and to counteract what the public is hearing from the extractive industries.

The discussion on community initiatives focused on personal, individual actions such as composting, talking to family and friends about what’s going on, retrofitting homes, gardening, spending time outdoors, and learning more about nature.


National Compilation
Each group forwarded the local feedback for compilation into a national plan. Responses were then sorted into categories with the following areas emerging as key priorities:

Economy and Government: a legally binding climate target keeping global warming to 1.5°C; a green jobs plan ensuring fossil fuel workers and affected community members receive the training and support needed to guarantee good, dignified work; increased unionization and implementation of workers’ rights; and personal and public subsidies for greener technology.

Green Infrastructure: massive public investments in the infrastructure to build a 100% renewable energy economy, sustainable public transportation, and prioritization of local renewable energy creation.

Social Justice: justice and equity for marginalized communities, free post-secondary education, full access to quality public services, permanent resident status and family unity for refugees and immigrants, and payment of Canada’s share of the climate debt of southern countries impacted by practices and decisions in Canada and of corporations operating abroad.

Fossil Fuels: freeze all new projects, develop a plan to phase out fossil fuels and move to 100% renewable energy by 2040, and eliminate fossil fuel subsidies from provincial and federal governments.

Biodiversity & Nature: grant personhood protection to forests and bodies of water, create an environmental bill of rights, stop dumping waste into bodies of water, greater protection for critical biodiversity and natural areas, and protection of at least 30% of land and waters by 2030.

Plastics: develop alternatives to single-use plastics, legislate curtailment of excessive packaging, and end boil water advisories in Indigenous communities.

Democracy: end corporate lobbying and introduce proportional representation. Indigenous Sovereignty: full recognition of Indigenous title and rights.

Moving Ahead
The town hall meetings were an initial step towards uniting, developing a voice, and obtaining a green new deal. National organizers are recommending continued discussions and further coalition-building, particularly with groups that are not traditionally included in environmental discussions.

Plans are in place nationally to hold 100 non-partisan, all-candidate debates on the environment prior to the federal election.

Both Prince Albert and Regina are planning follow-up meetings.

Saskatoon is planning a full-day event on September 20 as part of the global Climate Strike initiative. All local groups will be invited to participate. “We want it to be a big, family-friendly day of coming together and sharing information,” Dianne says.

Climate Justice Saskatoon is following Regina’s lead and has initiated a petition encouraging the City of Saskatoon to become a blue dot community in support of the right to a healthy environment. The Council of Canadians’ Prince Albert chapter has been working on a similar initiative with a specific focus on water.

To get involved, contact one of the following organizations: 
Council of Canadians – Prince Albert Chapter
Council of Canadians – Regina Chapter
Climate Justice Saskatoon

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

EcoSask News, July 2, 2019

black bear

E. O. Wilson’s most fervent dream: “That somehow we have as a value, a human value, that we not destroy but we protect and study and understand and love the environment that was our birthplace.”

Upcoming Events
Seeds & Plants, July 3 (Churchbridge) 
Learn how to plant seeds plus reading and activities from 2-3 pm, July 3, at Churchbridge Public Library.

Pasqua Nature Conservancy Hike, July 4 (Fort Qu’Appelle) 
The Fort Qu’Appelle Nature Society is planning a nature hike in the Nature Conservancy Pasqua land on July 4. Meet at the train station at 7:30 am to car pool. The hike will last from 8-11 am.

The Natural World, July 6 (Prince Albert) 
Join the Saskatchewan Science Centre for a nature/science program for kids from 9 am-12 pm, July 6.

Hidden Valley Wildflowers, July 6 (Regina) 
Join Nature Regina in looking for wildflowers from 8 am-12 pm, July 6, as they hike their Hidden Valley sanctuary.

Household Hazardous Waste, July 7 (Saskatoon) 
You can dispose of household hazardous waste at City of Saskatoon’s Civic Operations Centre from 9 am–3:30 pm, July 7.

AB Greater Sage-grouse Recovery Program, July 9 (webinar) 
Joel Nicholson, Senior Wildlife Biologist with AB Environment and Parks, will discuss Alberta’s greater sage-grouse recovery program in a noon-hour webinar on July 9.

Composting Workshop, July 11 (Saskatoon) 
Join Saskatoon’s compost coaches for a workshop on composting and low-waste strategies from 7-9 pm, July 11.

black bear eating weeds

Looking Ahead
Wanted – Volunteers, Aug. 25 (Regina) 
Friends of Wascana Marsh are looking for volunteers with a nature/biology background to help them set up a booth, host activities such as pond dipping, and offer guided tours at Harbour Landing’s Summer Bash on Aug. 25. Email friendsofwascanamarsh@gmail.com if you’re interested.

Putting Beavers to Work, Oct. 23 & 24 (Calgary) 
A two-day seminar in Calgary on Oct. 23 & 24 will look at beavers’ role in watershed resiliency and restoration through both talks and a coexistence tools demonstration.

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

In the News
The Endangered Grasslands Alliance has made it easy to express your concerns about the perimeter highway running through the Northeast Swale by emailing your letter to local and provincial politicians directly from their website.

The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities will be working with First Nations Power Authority and the U of S School of Environment and Sustainability to develop better wind and solar power systems for rural communities.

Federal and provincial government funding will support transition away from coal in Saskatchewan’s mining communities.

Local theatre group tries to promote hope and change in all-ages play about climate change.

Take your car to a self-service car wash – you’ll save water and avoid runoff pollution.

Raymond, AB plans to go solar for all its municipal energy needs – from heating buildings to streetlights.

Growth is pointless in a mature economy. We should be looking for “qualitative improvement rather than economic enlargement.”

A female Arctic fox travelled more than 3500 km from Norway to Canada in just 76 days.

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, 27 June 2019

Building Energy-Efficient Homes

It takes a lot of energy to heat the average home, especially during Saskatchewan’s cold winters, but it doesn’t have to. We have the knowledge, techniques, and materials to build energy-efficient homes. All we need is the political will and public interest to improve our building standards.

The Saskatchewan Conservation House in Regina was completed in 1977 and combined superinsulation, airtightness, and a heat recovery system. Over the years, a number of people have pushed the Saskatchewan government to introduce more stringent building standards with little success. That has begun to change. The Government of Saskatchewan introduced energy efficiency standards in January 2019 and recent interest in passive house design has resulted in several energy-efficient residential buildings in Saskatoon (Temperance Street Passive House, Radiance Cohousing).

Michael Nemeth, engineer and Passive House Canada instructor, provided an overview of the current provincial legislation, its strengths and weaknesses, and the direction he believes we should be taking.

Current Saskatchewan Legislation 
The Saskatchewan government has adopted the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings 2017 (commercial) and Section 9.36 – Energy Efficiency of the National Building Code 2015, Energy Efficiency (residential) for any permits issued after January 1, 2019. Under the new standards, builders are required to measure energy efficiency based on 3 possible paths or models:

The prescriptive path sets specific values that must be met for building materials, insulation, and heating equipment. For example, residential windows and doors must have a maximum U-Value of 1.60 W/m²K .

The trade-off path allows builders to substitute a less energy-efficient feature in one area so long as another feature exceeds requirements. For example, if the windows are of a higher standard, the insulation in the walls can be of a lower standard.

The performance path measures the overall energy efficiency of the building rather than measuring individual features. The efficacy of this model very much depends on what you are using as a reference model. For example, a building with small windows can have a lower energy rating if it’s compared to a building with large windows.

Requiring an energy model raises awareness and Michael hopes this will encourage builders to raise their standards. Overall, however, the standards set a low threshold for energy efficiency and Michael suspects they will remove bad behaviour and poor building practices but fail to increase energy efficiency. Both the prescriptive and trade-off paths focus on individual elements rather than looking at how the building functions as a whole. The performance path measures overall energy efficiency; however, by substituting one feature for another, builders can continue most of their current practices.

BC’s Energy Step Code
In 2017, British Columbia introduced the Energy Step Code as an alternative to the prescriptive approach. The Step Code establishes higher standards than the national code, requiring both an energy model and an airtightness test. It offers a stepped approach to allow municipalities to improve energy efficiency on a gradual basis. The lower steps are fairly easy to meet, while the upper steps are more ambitious, empowering “builders to pursue innovative, creative, cost-effective solutions” and “incorporate leading-edge technologies as they come available.” The province’s goal is to have everyone at passive house or net zero ready standards by 2032.

The stepped approach provides flexibility as municipalities can choose the step which best suits their community’s current capacity, although Michael believes it would be more efficient in the long run for builders to retool immediately to meet the optimum standards.

As of September 2018, 14 local governments referenced the Step Code in a policy, program, or bylaw, and 30 were consulting on the Code. Together with the City of Vancouver, which has set its own energy efficiency targets, the communities represent 61% of BC’s population. The majority are considering and/or implementing the lower steps, particularly for houses and small buildings. Some communities have introduced incentives for voluntary adoption of the Step Code or to encourage builders to achieve higher steps.

Measuring Overall Heating Requirements 
Michael firmly believes that the best approach for ensuring energy-efficient buildings is to set overall space heating targets. Space heating measures the energy required to heat a square metre, taking into consideration the characteristics of the building, the heating system, solar gains, and external weather conditions. (The Canadian average is 150 kilowatt-hours per square metre (kWh/m²). whereas passive house certified homes are at 15 kWh/m².) This comprehensive approach acts as an incentive for increased research and development into more energy-efficient products (e.g. windows) and provides builders with increased flexibility when developing their plans.

A good example is Souls Harbour Rescue Mission in Regina, a 4-storey facility housing emergency shelter for 24 men, soup kitchen, free clothing store, daycare, and 17 low-income residential units. The building will come very close to meeting passive house certification standards with space heating at 22 kilowatt-hours per square metre.

Building an energy-efficient home doesn’t have to cost more money, but it does require rethinking standard models. For example, Souls Harbour Rescue Mission saved $180,000 on mechanical equipment by replacing a more traditional boiler with four furnaces and a very high-efficiency ventilation system. The savings were invested in energy-efficient insulation, windows, and doors with an added bonus of reduced maintenance expenses with furnaces rather than a boiler.

Energy-Efficient Retrofits 
Raising standards for new builds isn’t sufficient. Government needs to introduce incentives to support energy-efficient retrofits of existing buildings. Michael points to PACE, Property Assessed Clean Energy, as a useful financing model. PACE programs provide homeowners with the upfront capital to finance renewable energy or efficiency upgrades to their property. This is already happening in Alberta and some US states. With minor changes to the Cities Act, Saskatchewan municipalities could finance a PACE program through property taxes. Monthly cost of living in these homes would be lower with ongoing energy savings, and the homes would be more attractive with improved thermal comfort and sound attenuation. Homeowners could also recoup the cost of the retrofits when selling their home as the expense would remain embedded in the property taxes.

Energy Monitoring 
Constructing or retrofitting an energy-efficient home is only the first step. Consideration must also be given to how much energy is being consumed within the home by appliances. Energy monitoring, using a system such as Sense, can improve occupant behaviour by increasing awareness of how much energy is consumed by the refrigerator, television, and other devices.

See also: 
Passive House: Comfortable, Energy-Efficient Homes 
Temperance Street Passive House: Saskatoon’s First Passive House

Photo credit: Souls Harbour Rescue Mission, Michael Nemeth

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

EcoSask News, June 25, 2019

Great blue heron

“The greatest wealth, the only enduring wealth, the most precious gift given humankind, is the wealth of life that defines our home in the universe.” Douglas H. Chadwick, The Photo Ark

Upcoming Events
Saskatoon’s Beavers, June 26 (radio)
Jan Shadick, Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation, and Penny McKinlay, EcoFriendly Sask, discuss the importance of Saskatoon’s beavers on From the Ground Up, Climate Justice Saskatoon’s program on CFCR radio, at 6:30 pm, June 26. You can also catch the program on replay (after 7 pm) on SoundCloud.

BC Energy Step Code, June 26 (webinar) 
A webinar outlining lessons from the BC Energy Step Code will be held at 11:30 am Pacific time, June 26. (The Step Code introduces much higher standards than the current National Energy Code.)

Get Wild, July 3 (Saskatoon) 
Meet and learn about animals that have ended up at Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation from 10:30-11:30 am, July 3, at the Frances Morrison Library.

Zoo Society Story Time, Fridays, July 5-Aug. 9 (Saskatoon) 
Listen to a story and meet an animal up close with a Saskatoon Zoo Society interpreter at the Alice Turner Library on Fridays at 10:30 am from July 5 to Aug. 9.

Burrowing Owls, July 6 (Val Marie) 
Geoff Holroyd and Helen Trefry, retired Environment Canada biologists, will talk about burrowing owls on the Canadian prairie at 7 pm, July 6, in Val Marie.

Sask Parks BioBlitz, July 7-13 (Saskatchewan) 
Using iNaturalist, participate in one of Sask Parks’ 2019 BioBlitzes between July 7 and 13.

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

In the News
“Agricultural drainage continues unabashed and uncontrolled. It is time to stand up for the environment. This photo was taken in the Yorkton area last week.” Citizens Environmental Alliance - Saskatchewan

The Honey BuZzz Apiary, near Mortlach, SK, is partnering with Ducks Unlimited to help the birds and the honey bees.

Setting aside wilderness areas in remote parts of the country isn’t enough. “For conservation to succeed, Canadians need to find ways to better integrate human spaces with the wilderness that is on the doorstep.”

Canadian subsidies to the fossil fuel sector are almost 7 times greater than the revenue from the pipeline expansion the federal government pledges to invest in clean energy and green technology.

The debate surrounding the Trans Mountain pipeline isn’t over. It’s become a proxy battle, pitting the urgency of the climate crisis against near-term economic concerns.

A radical electoral platform to phase out fossil fuel production in the US provides a blueprint for Canada.

5 questions Canadians should ask when evaluating federal election platforms.

wasp ?

Minnesota will pay homeowners to replace traditional lawns with bee-friendly wildflowers, clover, and wild grasses.

Cities can play an important role in protecting bees and other pollinators. [visual storytelling] 

Philadelphia plans to create a citywide network of up to 25 composting sites, designed to reduce food waste and create organic soil for residents to use for gardens and crops.

Shipping our waste overseas is not a solution. Canada should support the UN ban on exporting waste to developing countries.

You’re recycling plastic all wrong. The only real solution – make and consume less plastic.

Human noise pollution is interfering with bird communication, with implications for survival and population numbers.

Six months after it opened, a wildlife-only overpass is already saving lives – both animals and drivers. And more species than expected are using the overpass – from moose, deer, and raccoons to bobcats, cougars, and marmot.

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 June 2019

Volunteer Opportunities

wild roses

We've added a new page to our website outlining volunteer opportunities with nature and environmental organizations in Saskatchewan.

Who did we miss? Email us to suggest additional volunteer opportunities. And be sure to check our list of environmental organizations who are always ready to welcome new members.

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, 18 June 2019

EcoSask News, June 18, 2019

Pink-edged sulphur ?

Upcoming Events
Household Hazardous Waste Days, June 21/22 (Regina)
City of Regina is holding household hazardous waste days on June 21 and 22.

Green Initiatives, June 22/23 (Gravelbourg)
Gravelbourg Green Vert Initiatives will be at Gravelbourg’s Summer Solstice Festival, June 22-23, with information on recycling, waste reduction, and helping the environment.

Butterfly Count, June 23 (Fort Qu’Appelle) 
The Fort Qu’Appelle Nature Society is holding its annual butterfly count on June 23, weather permitting. Contact Keith at 306.334.2862 if you would like to participate.

Ask-Me Cart Volunteers, June 24 (Saskatoon) 
The Saskatoon Zoo Society is holding a training session for summer weekend interpreters for their biological artefact carts from 6-8 pm, June 24. Email info@saskatoonzoosociety.ca to register.

Rural Communities & Climate Change, June 25 (webinar) 
The Sustainability Network and the National Farmers Union – Ontario are offering a webinar on how to engage rural communities on climate change at 11 am CST, June 25.

Looking Ahead 
Prairie Wind Art Exhibits, June 27 (Val Marie) 
Meet the artists of Prairie Wind & Silver Sage’s current art exhibitsThe Living Grasslands, photographs by James R. Page, and Small Works from a Big Land with artwork from across the province – from 7:30-9 pm, June 27.

Wilderness First Aid, Sept. 13-15 (Lumsden) 
SaskOutdoors is hosting a wilderness first aid training course Sept. 13-15 at Lumsden.

wasp ?

Saskatoon Nature Society
Golden Eagles 
June 20, 7:30 am – NCC property near Maymont
July 11, 8 am – Birds, Gardens & Art
Retirees and partners who are interested in birds and the natural world are invited to participate.

Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
June 26, 7:15-8:30 pm - May Haga Memorial Bird Walk
July 1, 9:15 am-2 pm – Wild Orchids Field Trip
July 6, 8:45 am-? – North American Butterfly 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 
Saskatoon’s swales are under threat says a recent report by a U of S graduate student. We can have “a functioning native prairie landscape with its biodiversity and wetlands intact, or some more roads and buildings,” but we can’t have both.

Why construct artificial wetlands and stormwater retention ponds if natural wetlands such as Saskatoon’s Northeast Swale are already available?

Canada’s clean energy sector is growing faster than the rest of the country’s economy.

The province of Manitoba has established a $52 million fund to pay farmers for preserving and protecting wetlands on their farms.

The number of plants that have disappeared from the wild is more than twice the number of extinct birds, mammals, and amphibians combined.

Why are highway expansion projects approved with little debate or criticism, while more cost effective and beneficial bikeway and bus service improvements controversial and unfunded?

Victoria, BC, hopes to create life-long transit users by offering free transit to youth under 18.

Canada’s hospitals couldn’t function without single-use plastics.

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, 11 June 2019

EcoSask News, June 11, 2019

Chickadee singing

Upcoming Events
Live Animal Show, June 15 (Saskatoon) 
Lisa Wrangler will bring some of her reptiles to Wild Birds Unlimited at 4 pm, June 15.

Repair Café, June 15 (Prince Albert) 
There will be a Repair Café in Prince Albert from 1-4 pm, June 15.

Native Prairie Appreciation Week, June 16-22 (Saskatchewan) 
Saskatchewan Prairie Conservation Action Plan has organized a variety of activities online and in Moose Jaw, Regina, and Swift Current to celebrate Native Prairie Appreciation Week.

EnviroCollective, June 17 (Regina) 
Regina EnviroCollective is meeting from 7-9 pm, June 17.

Intro to Permaculture, June 19 (Regina) 
Learn about the design principles of permaculture from 7-8:30 pm, June 19, at the Prince of Wales Branch Library.

Bokashi & Vermicomposting, June 19 (Saskatoon) 
Join Saskatoon Compost Coaches for a workshop on bokashi and vermicomposting from 5:30-7 pm, June 19.

Camping Basics for Newcomers, June 20 (Regina) 
Newcomers to Canada are invited to learn the basics of camping from 7-8 pm, June 20, at the George Bothwell Branch Library.

Bat Stewardship & Citizen Science, June 20 (webinar) 
James Page will discuss bat stewardship and citizen science in a noon-hour webinar on June 20.

Coyote Walk, June 21-23 (Regina) 
Artist Jay White will hide from other humans as he walks and camps around Regina from June 21-23. The walk ends prematurely if White is spotted by a human at close range. Members of the public are invited to participate as trackers.

Wildlife Rehab Volunteers, June 22 (Swift Current) 
WRSOS is looking for wildlife rehabilitation volunteers throughout Saskatchewan. They’ll be in Swift Current at 2:30 pm, June 23. Email volunteer@wrsos.org to save your spot.

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

Chickadee with caterpillar

In the News
Put your dollars to work preventing illegal uncontrolled agricultural drainage in Saskatchewan.

WUQWATR is looking for lake enthusiasts in central and southern Saskatchewan to participate in a water sampling project. For more information, contact Melissa Bramham at 306-946-6533 or melissa@wuqwatr.ca.

Endangered Grasslands Alliance, a new Saskatoon-based group, wants to save native grasslands - starting with Saskatoon's Northeast Swale.

Professor Cherie Westbrook is compiling information about Saskatoon’s beavers. Let her know, with GPS coordinates and photograph if possible, if you spot a beaver or a new lodge along the river.

100 all-candidate debates on the environment are being planned across Canada on October 7.

“A one-way flight from Ottawa to Toronto generates roughly 4,718 kg of carbon dioxide, which is about as much pollution as a car emits in an entire year.”

Reusable coffee cups and a package-free supermarket are on trial in the UK.

A municipality is sowing 27 wildflower meadows in its parks and open spaces to create a 7-mile bee corridor.

The Climate Change Toolkit for Health Professionals provides educational and advocacy resources.


“The pigeon is not a glamorous bird,” but Jon Day, author of Homing, “comes to admire their resilience, the ‘cocky, parasitic chanciness’ that allows them to thrive cheek-by-jowl with us.” [book review]

A praise song for unloved animals – even the most maligned creatures of backyards and roadsides have a potent purpose in the world.

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, 4 June 2019

EcoSask News, June 4, 2019

wild roses

Upcoming Events
Green New Deal Town Hall, June 5 (Prince Albert)
Prince Albert Council of Canadians is hosting a Green New Deal Town Hall at 7 pm, June 5.

North Sask River Basin Council AGM, June 5 (Cochin)
The North Saskatchewan River Basin Council is holding its annual general meeting from 9:30 am-2 pm, June 5, in Battlefords Provincial Park. There will be speakers on agricultural water management and stream flow response to anthropogenic change.

Will Carbon Pricing Cause a Recession in SK, June 6 (Regina)
There will be a presentation on the impact of carbon pricing on Saskatchewan’s economy at noon, June 6, in the Multipurpose Hall, CB 139, College Avenue Campus, University of Regina.

School Climate Strike, June 7, 14, 21, 28 (Regina)
School Climate Strikes are ongoing in Regina with events planned on June 7, 14, 21, and 28.

Planting Summer, June 8 (North Battleford)
Kids ages 5-12 are invited to help plant the children’s garden at North Battleford Library starting at 2 pm, June 8.

Snakes in Saskatchewan, June 11 (webinar) 
Christopher Somers will discuss snakes in Saskatchewan in a noon-hour webinar on June 11.

Hug a Tree and Survive, June 13 (Prince Albert)
Prince Albert North Search and Rescue is offering an Adventure Smart program that helps kids lost in the woods at 7 pm, June 13, in Prince Albert.

Looking Ahead 
Sask Summer Star Party, Aug. 28-Sept. 2 (Cypress Hills) 
The annual Saskatchewan summer star party will be held Aug. 28-Sept. 2 at Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park.

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

wild roses

In the News
If you see a bullsnake (dead or alive) during your summer travels, especially in southwest Saskatchewan, email the Royal Saskatchewan Museum at snakes@royalsaskmuseum.ca to contribute to a current research project.

Recycling successes and failures in Regina and Saskatoon.

It’s taken 8 years, but a settlement in a long-running drainage dispute in east-central Saskatchewan is finally in the works.

First Nations Power Authority has entered into an agreement with SaskPower to add 20 megawatts of solar power to the grid in the next 20 years through 2 projects: a solar farm to be constructed by the George Gordon and Starblanket First Nations near Weyburn and a partnership with Cowessess First Nation.

Alberta and Saskatchewan's ever-rising share of Canada's climate pollution is making it increasingly impossible for Canada to meet its climate obligations.

Whistles and cameras could prevent bats and birds from running into wind turbines.

“The Center for Biological Diversity today launched a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program for killing California beavers: ‘Our federal government needs to stop shooting and trapping native beavers whose ponds are safe havens for other wildlife.’ Last year, in response to a similar litigation threat, Wildlife Services agreed to stop killing beavers, river otter, muskrat and mink in Oregon.”

Waitrose, a major supermarket chain in the UK, is trialling package-free shopping.

10 tips to help you save money and reduce vehicle pollution.

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, 30 May 2019

Living with Beavers

A beaver was enjoying a snack in the bushes as we arrived for Saskatoon’s NatureCity Festival paddleboat cruise on The Prairie Lily on May 26, 2019. Apparently, the beavers have a lodge at the dock so there are regular sightings. What really surprised me was to learn that it’s this beaver family that has been active below the Children’s Hospital on the far side of the river. They’re towing the trees they chew down all the way back across the river!

Kenton Lysak, an interpreter with the Meewasin Valley Authority, says the beavers are very savvy. They choose trees high up on a slope so that they can slide them down into the river, using gravity to make their task a little easier. Kenton went on to explain that the City and Meewasin have counted 56 beaver lodges between Saskatoon and the Beaver Creek Conservation Area. That’s a positive sign of a clean, healthy river.

The beavers work together as a unit and can chew down a tree in just a couple of hours. Now, that’s a concern for many nature-lovers as we hate to lose our trees. And, unfortunately, you’re more likely to spot a tree stump than a beaver. But it’s all part of a natural cycle. The removal of a tree creates more light in the understory, allowing native plants and young saplings to have their turn in the sun. The beavers’ favourite meal is poplar, an excellent choice as the tree doesn’t die when its main trunk is removed. Instead, it sends out suckers and develops into a bushy shrub.

We can urge the City of Saskatoon to band some trees to protect them from the beavers, but we need to be careful what we wish for. The City could decide that it is easier to trap and kill a few beavers than to devote human resources to banding the trees. That’s a very short-term solution as beavers are mobile and other beavers will move in to any unclaimed territory. Perhaps the best solution is to recognize that humans are just one of many species inhabiting our river valley. Left undisturbed the coyotes will cull the beavers and maintain a steady population. It’s when humans interfere and disturb the natural cycle that things get out of balance.

If you enjoy seeing beavers by the river, remember to keep your dogs on a leash so they don’t attack the beavers. If you fish, be sure to clean up after yourself and don’t leave fishing line and hooks where they can get swept into the river. Beavers and water birds get tangled in the line and die a very painful death.

We would love to hear about beavers in other Saskatchewan communities, so do send us your stories and we’ll share them with other readers.

Let us know if your community wants to protect its wildlife but is concerned about loss of trees or flooding caused by beavers. EcoFriendly Sask, in co-operation with Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation, will sponsor a free Fur-Bearers’ workshop on healthy coexistence with beavers. The workshop would cover both banding trees and installing flow devices. 

Further information 
10 Surprising Facts About Beavers 

Photo credit: Sean Taylor, Saskatoon Search and Rescue

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

EcoSask News, May 28, 2019

Canada geese goslings

Upcoming Events
Seed Exchange, May 31 (Jansen) 
Jansen Public Library is hosting a seed exchange from 4-8 pm, May 31.

Animal Sanctuary Tour, June 2 (Moose Jaw) 
Join Moose Jaw Nature Society for a tour of the Free to be Me Sanctuary from 1-2 pm, June 2.

Household Hazardous Waste, June 2 (Saskatoon) 
You can dispose of household hazardous waste in Saskatoon from 9 am-3:30 pm, June 2.

Water Conservation, June 4 (Regina) 
Learn about irrigation and water conservation in the garden at 12 noon, June 4, at Innovation Place Regina.

SK Communities and the Coal Phase-out, June 5 (Saskatoon) 
Hayley Carlson and Justin Fisher will discuss communities and the coal phase-out in Saskatchewan at the June 5 breakfast meeting of the Saskatoon Energy Management Task Force.

La Terre Vue du Coeur/ Earth: Scene from the Heart, June 6 (Saskatoon) 
La Terre Vue du Coeur, a documentary about threats to biodiversity, will be shown at the Frances Morrison Library at 6:30 pm, June 6.

Narrative Approaches to Engaging with the Climate Crisis, June 7 (Saskatoon) 
Rachel Malena-Chan will discuss narrative approaches to engaging with the climate crisis at 12:30 pm, June 7, at SERI, College of Education, U of S.

Learn to Camp, June 8 (Saskatoon) 
Learn basic camping and outdoor living skills from 2-4 pm, June 8, at the Round Prairie Branch Library.

Canada geese and goslings

Looking Ahead
Beginner Bird Id, June 13 (Rosthern) 
The Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas is offering a 2-hour beginner bird identification workshop in Rosthern from 7-9 pm, June 13.

Native Prairie Pasture Tour, June 22 (Regina) 
Join PCAP-SK for a guided tour of Caledonia-Elmsthorpe Community Pasture from 4-9 pm, June 22, with buses from Regina. Register by June 14.

Botanizing the Badlands, July 6 (Avonlea) 
Join the Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan in spotting wildflowers in the Avonlea Badlands on July 6.

Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
Golden Eagles 
June 6, 8 am – Chappell Marsh & St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
June 13, 8 am – Turtles at Pike Lake
Retirees and partners who are interested in birds and the natural world are invited to participate.

Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
June 12 & 19 – Invasive Plants Identification Workshop
Everyone is welcome. Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details and updated information.

Canada geese goslings

Birdwatching with Stan (Saskatoon)
Birdwatch with Stan Shadick at Wanuskewin Heritage Park from 7-8:30 am on June 26, July 28, Aug. 18, and Aug. 28. Birdwatch from 7-8:30 pm on June 5, July 14, and Aug. 7 ($20/person). Stan is also offering guided birding tours at Blackstrap and Beaver Creek as a fundraiser for Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation.

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

In the News
Saskatoon is the second Canadian city to join the Urban Wildlife Information Network. The goal is to learn how urbanization affects wildlife in order to preserve urban biodiversity and minimize human-wildlife conflict.

8-80 Cities conducted an active transportation survey in Saskatoon. They learned: people want to cycle but aren’t sure it’s reasonable; sharing the road with drivers and pedestrians is tricky; and fear of bike theft is a barrier for low-income residents.

Slovenia’s capital, Ljubjlana, has a comprehensive waste management program incorporating household repair workshops, zero-waste stores, and recycled toilet paper in municipal facilities.

They may not be cute, but earthworms provide us with fertile soil that retains rainwater. Unfortunately, their numbers are dropping rapidly.

We assume that streetlights make cities safer, but there is no research to back that up.

Textile waste consumes nearly 5% of all landfill space, and 20% of all freshwater pollution is a result of textile treatment and dyeing. Researchers are inventing new ways to turn old clothes into everything from new cotton to fake knees.

70-80 otters live in Singapore. 30,000 people follow their activities on Facebook [video].

If you're in the area, check out the trails at Cannington Lake Resort Hamlet, an EcoFriendlySask Action Grant recipient.

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, 23 May 2019

2019 NatureCity Award Winners and Nominees

Congratulations to the nominees and award winners of the 2019 NatureCity Awards. The awards recognize individuals, organizations, and businesses who advocate for the conservation and restoration of natural areas in and around Saskatoon and promote a relationship of belonging, connection, and care between local residents and the Nature that surrounds us.

The awards were presented on May 21, 2019, by Sheri Benson, MP, and Joseph Naytowhow. Listed below are the award winners and additional nominees.


Wildernook Fresh Air Learning was founded by Jana Miller, an outdoor educator and facilitator, in 2016. It offers nature learning to groups of people who might not otherwise have access to outdoor education. This includes grandparents in partnership with their grandchildren, young women who want to challenge themselves outdoors, and 3-5 year olds. A project this coming summer will focus on sustainability, assisting youth to develop environmental leadership skills through practical hands-on experiences. Wildernook provides an opportunity for participants to renew their connection with the natural world and branch out in new directions as well as fostering resiliency, confidence, creativity, and independence. Wildernook works closely with other organizations, including SaskOutdoors and Ducks Unlimited. Subsidized spots in some of the programs enhance accessibility for people who identify as Indigenous, Newcomers to Canada, or low-income.

Additional Nominees: CanoeSki Discovery/Cliff Speers, Wild Spirit Education

Saskatoon Nature Society was founded in 1955 to promote a deeper knowledge and appreciation of nature. They offer a wide range of birding, botany, and butterfly field trips, speakers, and courses that are open to the public, in most cases free of charge. The Society is an open and accepting community of people who care about nature in Saskatoon and want to preserve it. They are stewards of Saskatoon Natural Grasslands and strong and active advocates for nature at public hearings, committees, and other events. They support youth involvement in nature through Saskatoon Young Naturalists and the Kids in Nature program, which supports NatureCity Festival’s education program. They have published A Guide to Nature Viewing Sites In and Around Saskatoon and provided copies to schools free of charge. The book shows how to access sites by vehicle, bus, bike, or trails, and includes GPS coordinates. There is information about accessibility for those with mobility challenges.

Additional Nominees: Meewasin Valley Authority


Melanie Elliott is a strong advocate for the enjoyment, conservation, and protection of nature through outdoor education programs and wildlife protection and rehabilitation. She is passionate about getting kids outdoors so they know nature is safe and ran the Ecology Camps for Kids program through the Extension division at the University of Saskatchewan for many years. She took children for grassland walks, inviting them to lie down and “bond to the prairies.” Melanie was a founding member of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan. She saves bats, overwinters bats, and helps people love them by sharing her knowledge, introducing her educational bats, and showing people how to build bat boxes. Melanie has mentored many people who have gone on to deliver ecological programming to children in the city and has demonstrated a lifetime of dedication to nature education for all.

Additional Nominees: Nancy Barr, Elizabeth Bekolay, Valerie Martz, Andrew Whiting

2017 Award Winners

Photo Credits: Branimir Gjetvaj