Tuesday 31 December 2019

New Year's Eve Special 2019

Turkey vulture

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

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

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

@glacier996girl introduces climate change to a younger audience.

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

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

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

@colinfranksphotography takes photos of birds in Victoria, BC.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner). A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar

Tuesday 24 December 2019

Christmas Eve Special 2019

water lily and reflections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Happy Christmas from Penny and Andrew at EcoFriendly Sask!

Tuesday 17 December 2019

EcoSask News, December 17, 2019


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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
Jan. 12, 2-3:30 pm – Sanatorium Site Birding
Everyone is welcome. Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details and updated information.

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


In the News
Wetland / Waste Land: A Conservation of Change is a 25-minute documentary looking at the emerging conflicts in the Canadian prairies over the apparently conflicting needs of wetlands and agriculture.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 12 December 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: CPAWS-SK Facebook page

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

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

Tuesday 10 December 2019

EcoSask News, December 10, 2019


Upcoming Events
Climate Strike Organizing, Dec. 12 (Regina) 
Help plan future climate strikes in Regina from 5-7 pm, Dec. 12.

Pronghorn & Connectivity, Dec. 18 (webinar) 
A webinar on pronghorn: a focal species for grassland connectivity will be offered at noon, Dec. 18, by the Saskatchewan Prairie Conservation Action Plan.

Looking Ahead 
Kalium Observatory, Feb. 3 (Regina)
Sign up before Feb. 1 for a visit with Nature Regina to the Kalium Observatory from 7-8:30 pm, Feb. 3, hosted by the Royal Astronomical Society Regina Centre.

Project Wild/Below Zero, Feb. 8 (Regina)
SaskOutdoors is offering a Project Wild/Below Zero workshop from 9:30 am-4 pm, Feb. 8, in Regina.

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


In the News
Maintaining grasslands near agricultural fields can boost crop production; improve biodiversity, soil health, and water quality; and support pollinators and predators that will control pests.

Lorne Scott, farmer-conservationist, confirms that agricultural drainage is destroying wildlife habitat.

“We often view mosquitoes as bloodsuckers that do nothing but make our lives miserable.” However, “indiscriminate mass elimination of mosquitoes would impact everything from pollination to biomass transfer to food webs.”

“Soil is a breathing, squirming, thriving, living thing. It gives back to its environment and helps it survive and thrive. That interconnection is important in a world where we are increasingly disconnected from nature.” Do we lose that connection with soil-less agriculture?

Michigan’s second-highest court has ruled that bottled water is not an essential public service or a public water supply, making it harder for Nestlé to privatize water.

“I looked down at the plastic chair I occupied and saw my gray stretchy corduroy pants, and I realized that both the chair and my clothing were made from the same raw material: oil. I looked at the carpet beneath my feet—it was also made of oil. . . . I had a sudden image of a wardrobe that would be made from natural fibers and dyes grown within a strategic area centered on where I lived.”

“The most effective planning choices are not always the most popular.” To reduce traffic congestion, you need to remove car lanes, restrict traffic, and improve public transit.

The world’s first funerary human composting facility is slated to open in the spring of 2021 in Washington state.

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

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

Thursday 5 December 2019

2019 Christmas Bird Counts in Saskatchewan

Song sparrow

Join a century-old tradition by participating in one of the 2019 Christmas Bird Counts in Saskatchewan. No experience is necessary and it’s a great way to learn about identifying birds as each count is led by an experienced birder. Organizers ask that you register as soon as possible. 

Christmas bird counts are for all ages! Check out the Christmas Bird Counts for Kids in Regina, Saskatoon, and Yorkton (see below).

Dec. 14 – Clark’s Crossing (Warman, Osler, Martensville, NE Swale), register online or call 647-390-6645

Dec. 14 – Craven & area, contact Chris Harris for details (306-569-5300, chrisgharris2013@gmail.com)

Dec. 14 – Shell Lake, contact Ryan Dudragne for details (306-520-4824, laniusludo@gmail.com)

Dec. 14 – Swift Current, contact Arnie Ens (arnie.ens@gmail.com)

Dec. 15 – Qu’Appelle Dam (Elbow, Douglas Park), register online or call 306-242-5383 or 306-652-5975

Dec. 16 – Gardiner Dam, register online or call 306-249-3280

Dec. 17 – Fort Qu'Appelle, call Keith at 306-332-3070

Dec. 21 – Borden/Radisson, register online or call 306-281-6996

Dec. 21 – Saltcoats & area, call Arden & Donna Bradford at 774-7730 or Gerri & Ron Knudsen at 744-2969, rgknudsen@sasktel.net

Dec. 26 – Saskatoon, register online or call 306-652-5975

Dec. 26 – Moose Jaw, call 306-690-6267 

Dec. 28 – Regina, contact Brett Quiring for details (306-551-8729, bquiring@sasktel.net)

Jan. 4 – Balgonie, contact Brett Quiring for details (306-551-8729, bquiring@sasktel.net)

Jan. 4 – Pike Lake/ Whitecap, register online or call 306-956-3437

Song sparrow

Christmas Bird Counts for Kids
Dec. 8, 2 pm – Yorkton – Ages 5-15 accompanied by an adult. Meet at the Tupper Avenue entrance to Logan Green. Bring binoculars if you have them and dress warmly.

Jan. 2, 9:45 am-3 pm – Saskatoon – Saskatoon Nature Society and Saskatoon Zoo Society are hosting a Christmas Bird Count for Kids at the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo. There will be 20-30 minute bird walks at the top of each hour. Further information available online or call 306-370-8839.

Jan. 4, 1-4 pm – Regina – Nature Saskatchewan is hosting a Christmas Bird Count for Kids at Wascana Centre. There will be a special visit from Loki, the crow, courtesy of Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation. Register early as spaces are limited (306-780-9481 or rmagnus@naturesask.ca).

Note: With thanks to Nature Regina, Nature Saskatchewan, Saskatoon Nature Society, Saskatoon Young Naturalists, and Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail for the information they provided.

We’ll  update this list if we receive additional information.

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 3 December 2019

EcoSask News, December 3, 2019

ice on the river

Upcoming Events
Woodland Caribou, Dec. 10 (Saskatoon)
Branden Neufeld will discuss his research into conserving Canada’s woodland caribou at 7 pm, Dec. 10, as part of the Sustainable Speaker series.

Great Plains Toad, Dec. 12 (Saskatoon)
Learn about the natural history, distribution, and habitat of the great plains toad at the 7:30 pm, Dec. 12, meeting of Saskatoon Nature Society.

Nachos & Nature, Dec. 14 (Saskatoon) 
Outdoor and environmental educators in the Saskatoon area are invited to a free nachos and nature social sponsored by SaskOutdoors from 2-4 pm, Dec. 14.

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

Around the Province 
Battlefords Climate Action is a group of volunteers in North Battleford and area promoting action on the climate crisis. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

The City of Regina is hosting Reimagine Conference 2020: Roadmap to Sustainable Cities from May 20-21. The City of Regina has targeted fully renewable city operations within the next 30 years. “This conference recognizes the importance of strategic partnerships with our energy and business sectors, community leaders, and fellow municipalities. We hope to attract delegates from all areas to learn how we can work together with mutual goals of becoming more renewable and sustainable.”

In the News
A scientific article explains why small modular reactors may not be able to solve the problems confronting nuclear power. A second article agrees with Ann Coxworth, Saskatchewan Environmental Society, urging caution: “SMRs are not going to help in the next decade because they are just not available. By the time they turn up we can see if they are still cost effective or if renewable’s have gone beyond.”

Stop! Don’t send that email. If you do, you will add to your carbon footprint.

If we want to conserve little brown bats, we need to stop evicting them from buildings. “The long-term viability of vulnerable species requires recognition of critical habitats,” they write, “including those also occupied by humans.”

They’re still logging the Great Bear Rainforest, including very old, very large cedars.

ice on the river

‘Tis the Season
The stuff we consume — from food to knick-knacks — is responsible for up to 60 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and between 50 and 80 percent of total land, material, and water use.”

Share the love without the stuff – an alternate gifting site that helps you create certificates for gifts of time or baking or shared experiences.

CPAWS Saskatchewan offers some excellent advice for keeping Christmas green.

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).