Tuesday 29 September 2020

EcoSask News, September 29, 2020

fall colors

Upcoming Events 
Orienteering for Kids, Sept.-Nov. (Saskatoon) 
SaskOutdoors is offering 6 weekly sessions of orienteering for kids ages 5-12 in Saskatoon. Sessions are on Sundays from Sept. 27 to Nov. 1 (2-3 pm) and on Wednesdays (5:30-6:30 pm) from Sept. 30 to Nov. 4. 

Climate Reality Campus Corps, Sept. 30 (online) 
Find out about Climate Reality Canada’s Campus Corps, a student-led climate action initiative at U of S, in an online presentation at 7 pm, Sept. 30. 

Reclaiming Our Relationship to Mother Earth, Oct. 1 (online) 
Part Four of Mother Earth Justice Advocates’ Declaration for a Better World explores sustainability and local empowerment as they are rooted in kinship relationships from 5:30-7:30 pm, Oct. 1. 

St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Clean-up, Oct. 3 (Saskatoon) 
The Fat Tire Brigade is hosting a clean-up at the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area on Oct. 3. 

Household Hazardous Waste, Oct. 4 (Saskatoon) 
You can dispose of household hazardous waste at City of Saskatoon’s Civic Operations Centre from 9 am-3:30 pm, Oct. 4. 

Build Better Walls, Oct. 7 (online) 
The Energy Management Task Force is hosting an online presentation on building better wall assemblies from 7:30-9 am, Oct. 7. 


Protecting Canada’s Fresh Water, Oct. 8 (online) 
Partners FOR the Saskatchewan River Basin is offering a webinar from 12-1 pm, Oct. 8, on creating a Canada Water Agency

Would you like to replace cement with green shrubs and trees? 
Take a self-paced training program and become a certified Depave Paradise coordinator. For more information, contact Emily Amon at Green Communities Canada

A full list of upcoming events (online and in person) can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

In the News 
A steady diet of fertilizer has turned crops into couch potatoes – “big fat high-yielding crops that look good on the outside but are poor in minerals on the inside

Grass – “It’s a symbol of nature . . . . but a form of nature that’s perfect: uniform, smooth, and hardy” and it entails greenhouse gases, noise pollution, large amounts of water, and loss of biodiversity. 

A tidal wave of climate lawsuits looms over the fossil fuel industry. 

Energy giant BP predicts a “fundamental restructuring” of the global energy system, offering 3 possible scenarios

Natural forest regrowth - “Sometimes, we just need to give nature room to grow back naturally.” 

Canada needs zero-emission vehicle standards – here’s why. 

“A Dutch startup has created a biodegradable living coffin made of a fungus instead of wood that it says can convert a decomposing human body into key nutrients for plants.” 

Canadian and North American research shows that beaver coexistence tools (pond levelers, culvert protectors) are a cost-effective way to manage chronically flooded beaver conflict sites

What type of cloud is that? A basic guide to cloudspotting

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). 

Check out EcoFriendly Sask’s Nature Companion, a free nature app for Canada’s four western provinces

Sunday 27 September 2020

Nature Regina: Watch Them Grow, Part Two

You can grow much more than just plants in a garden, as Nature Regina discovered. We started telling their story in Part One of this article. The story continues. 

Shannon Chernick, a volunteer at the Native Plant Garden that is maintained by Nature Regina volunteers, has two sons, Damon and Graham. They love spending time outdoors so Shannon brought them with her to the garden one day. The other volunteers wanted to know how she got her kids interested in nature and this led to a more general discussion about how to get more kids involved in Nature Regina. When Nature Regina received the public engagement grant from Nature Canada, they immediately thought of Shannon, who has a Bachelor of Education and has worked as a youth engagement coordinator. 

Shannon signed the contract on April 1 when the province was under lockdown. She and her sons took daily walks outside for their mental health. One day, when Damon and Shannon were out walking, he suggested they take photographs to let other families know what was going on outdoors. And that was the start of Wandering Wednesdays which are self-guided, family-friendly hike guides to help families explore the green spaces in Regina. (PS It was Shannon’s husband who came up with the name and the idea of a weekly guide.) 

“It’s my kids’ brain child and they’re the ones making it happen,” Shannon says. “They see things I’d never have seen on my own. They even come up with activities they think other kids would enjoy.” Shannon’s job is to capture photos of their outdoor adventures and put the outdoor adventure guides together. She also needs to identify the insects and plants they’ve discovered. And for that she turns to the other members of her “team” – the knowledgeable people in Nature Regina. “There’s not a week that goes by that I don’t contact Dale Hjertaas or Gail Fennell,” she says. Many other volunteers have also helped, including Glen and Maureen Lee, Brett Quiring, and Kim Mann. 

The family outdoor adventure guides are posted simultaneously on Nature Regina’s website and Facebook page and sent out in the organization’s e-newsletter every Wednesday. With 15 guides and counting, that’s a big commitment from Nature Regina’s communications volunteers. “Every week, our volunteer communications team - Daralyn Sheffield, Ingrid Alesich, and Jim Elliott - are ready to get it posted,” Shannon says. “Without them, no one would know about Wandering Wednesdays.” 

The family outdoor adventure guides are proving extremely popular and both Nature Regina and Shannon want to see them continued. They are looking for outside grants that will support their efforts to provide Regina with kid-friendly outdoor activities. 

Over the summer, Wandering Wednesdays focused on places – Condie Nature Refuge, White Butte Trails, Hidden Valley, Wascana McKell Conservation Park. This winter, Shannon plans to focus on activities like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, winter birdwatching with Wandering Wednesdays - Winter Edition to inspire Regina residents to spend time outside. Her mind is bubbling over with additional ideas. Regina schools have cancelled recess due to the pandemic. Instead, teachers are expected to integrate outdoor activities into their daily schedule with their classes. The schools have banned travel outside of the city and redeployed their outdoor education staff, but they are encouraging in-city travel into green spaces close to schools. Shannon and Nature Regina hope they can be of assistance, especially as there is a Wandering Wednesday site within a 30-minute walk of three-quarters of Regina’s schools. 

“We’re listening and trying to respond to local needs as quickly as possible,” Shannon says. It’s challenging given limited funds, but Shannon is forging partnerships with other organizations to make it happen. Nature Saskatchewan delivers Nature Canada’s Naturehood program of activities designed to get students outside and enjoying nature. Lacey Weekes is their conservation and education manager and has all sorts of resources. 

Lacey and Shannon are working together to assemble materials to assist teachers with outdoor education. “We really want to respond to needs within our community,” Shannon says. “It’s a stressful time for teachers. Not-for-profits have a real opportunity to be part of the solution.” 

Lacey and Shannon have also set up a Get Outside! Outdoor Adventures: Kids Club with help from SaskOutdoors who are managing registration and have developed a participant survey and designed the graphic for the program as they have expertise in those areas. 

Kids Club is proving popular. Registration was at maximum capacity within 12 hours of registration for the first session. Nature Regina is now looking for additional volunteers so they can increase their capacity and give more family groups an opportunity to participate in the program. Each volunteer would lead separate groups of 10 families through a round robin of activities. 

This was the format Nature Regina used at two events earlier this season. One event, at Wascana McKell Park, led families through a series of activities, such as pond dipping. Ducks Unlimited provided background information about the site and led a train-the-trainer session. “We’re working together and not trying to do it alone,” Shannon explains. “Ten people came to train-the-trainer. Three of them had never volunteered for anything before. We’re constantly recalculating to try and make things work.” 

The Royal Saskatchewan Museum and the Saskatchewan Science Centre are adapting to the new reality and working hard to move their activities online during the pandemic. As there are Wandering Wednesday sites close to the Saskatchewan Science Centre and the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Nature Regina has provided them with QR codes for nearby Wandering Wednesday locations. If families arrive and find the buildings closed because hours are limited during the pandemic, they have something to do in the area before heading home. 

Shannon’s energy and enthusiasm is contagious. But she insists that she’s not doing it alone. “We’re working together, establishing teams and partnerships, and people are stepping up.” 

All 15+ Get Outside! Outdoor Adventure Guides are available for download on the Nature Regina website. If you would like to support the Get Outside movement in Regina, you can make a donation or purchase a membership to Nature Regina on their website

Thursday 24 September 2020

Nature Regina: Watch Them Grow, Part One

You can grow more than just plants in a garden. Just take a look at Nature Regina where volunteering for the organization’s Native Plant Garden has led to new members, new activities, and a whole lot of enthusiasm. 

Elaine Ehman is the current president of Nature Regina, but she got her start pulling weeds in the garden. “I can’t identify plants, but I wanted to help,” Elaine says. "I hung around people who knew what they were doing and learned from them. I’m surprised at the number of plants I can now identify.” She’s begun using native plants in her own garden and encourages other people to volunteer. “You’re welcome. There’s a space for everyone in the garden.” Elaine then took one of the bird identification classes offered by the Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas project. “I’m really a novice birder, but in Nature Regina I’m surrounded by people who know them,” she says. 

Nature Regina first started holding meetings in 1933 as the Regina Natural History Society with their first public meeting in March of that year and their first nature hikes in May. Many things have changed over the years, but Nature Regina has never stopped fostering a greater appreciation for nature through field trips, education programs, and environmental advocacy. 

Nature Regina maintains the Native Plant Garden located at the southeast entrance of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum. What is in flower changes from week to week, but it is always busy with butterflies, bees, and insects. Volunteers provided the original seeds and cuttings, and the plants spent their first winter in Wascana Centre’s greenhouse before being planted out in the spring. It takes a lot of work to maintain a garden, and it had stagnated for a few years until Gail Fennell moved to Regina from Edmonton and began organizing volunteer activities in the garden. “She’s a changemaker,” Shannon Chernick says. “She has a five-year vision for the garden, and she keeps everybody informed by sending out a weekly email with photographs to let us know what’s flowering and what insects have been spotted. There’s a real sense of community.” 

Nature Regina produced a calendar with members’ photos to celebrate the garden’s 25th anniversary last year, and it proved so popular that they are producing another calendar this year with photos of outdoor favorites. 

Nature Regina owns a half section of land near Lumsden in the Qu’Appelle Valley. The Hidden Valley property was obtained for $1 from the CPR in 1945. It’s retained as a wildlife sanctuary and members maintain the trails and try to keep invasive species out. They also gather seeds here for the native plant garden. It’s open to the public and they encourage people to use it. 

As president, Elaine hoped that Nature Regina could expand its membership. “I joined when I retired, and I noticed that there were a lot of other older members,” Elaine said. A talk at one of Nature Saskatchewan’s annual meetings led Elaine to investigate the possibility of a grant from Nature Canada designed to create public engagement. It’s a small grant of $8,000, but Nature Regina has put it to good use. Nature Canada conducted an audit of Nature Regina’s activities and organized webinars to guide association members through the engagement process. Of the 8 recommendations, 2 stood out. The association needed to create core teams for main functions and it needed to define its constituency. 

Daralyn Sheffield, Ingrid Alesich, and Jim Elliott were responsible for the website, newsletter, and Facebook, but they were working independently. Their goal was to increase their impact by working together as a team. They started using Mail Chimp for the newsletter and redesigned the website. “It was incredible,” Elaine says. “Way above what I expected. The biggest excitement was the look of it, but we could also do so much more. We could track activity, know who would be coming to an event, and obtain email contacts.” The communications team’s efforts were really put to the test when Nature Regina started posting weekly family activities. They came through with flying colours. 

Fine-tuning how the association functioned led Nature Regina to add more online features. Donations are now accepted on Canada Helps and you can sign up for the weekly newsletter or become a member directly from their website

With a strong team structure in place, it was time for Nature Regina to consider its constituency. They’d been attending volunteer fairs to interest university students, but it wasn’t producing the desired results. “We got speakers for our meetings, but we didn’t get the engagement we were looking for,” Elaine says. They decided to try a new approach and hired Shannon Chernick, a Native Plant Garden volunteer who just happened to have a degree in education and work experience as a youth engagement coordinator. Success? Oh, yes! Stay tuned for Part Two of our article about Nature Regina. 

Tuesday 22 September 2020

EcoSask News, September 22, 2020

Red squirrel

Upcoming Events 
Sustainable YXE, Sept. 24 (online) 
The Saskatoon Public Library is hosting a program to help teens engage with others who share an interest in environmental sustainability. The first session is at 6 pm, Sept. 24. 

International Climate Strike, Sept. 25 (Saskatoon) 
YXE Youth Climate Committee is hosting a socially distanced (masks mandatory) climate strike from 1-2:30 pm, Sept. 25. 

Birds for Beginners, Sept. 25 (online) 
LeeAnn Latremouille, Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas Coordinator, will host a Zoom presentation on beginner bird identification at 2 pm, Sept. 25, for the Saskatoon Public Library. 

Wildlife Rehab AGM, Sept. 26 (online) 
The Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan is holding a virtual annual general meeting at 2 pm, Sept. 26. Register in advance. 

Household Hazardous Waste Days, Sept. 26 & 27 (Regina) 
City of Regina is holding Household Hazardous Waste Days on Sept. 26 (9 am-4 pm) and Sept. 27 (9 am-4 pm). 

Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency, Sept. 30 (online) 
Join Seth Klein, author of A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency, for an evening of music, a reading, author Q&A, and a panel discussion with local climate emergency activists from 7-8:30 pm, Sept. 30.  

Climate Action Networking, Oct. 1 (online)
Are you working on climate change issues in Saskatoon? Register for an evening of networking and presentations on key climate policies from 7-8:30 pm, Oct. 1.

Saskatoon Nature Society 
Golden Eagles 
Sept. 24, 9 am – Petrofka Orchard & Trails 
Oct. 1, 9 am – Radisson Lake 
Oct. 8, 9 am – Whooping Cranes (members only) 
Oct. 15, 9 am – Blackstrap & area 
Retirees and partners who are interested in birds and the natural world are invited to participate

Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
Sept. 26, 1:45-9:30 pm – Goose & Crane Trip 
Oct. 10, 8 am-5 pm – Whooping Crane Field Trip 
Oct. 12, 9:30-11:30 am – Woodlawn Cemetery Bird Walk 
Field trips are currently for members only, so sign up now.

A full list of upcoming events (online and in person) can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

Local News 
Regina citizens have responded to a motion by Regina City Council to go 100% renewable with community meetings and a report emphasizing the need to include equity in the plan. 

Northern Saskatchewan residents can make a valuable scientific contribution by monitoring bird species and letting people know about species decline. 

Northeast Swale Watchers have updated their website – find out why speed kills

Milkweed seeds

From Information to Action 
The less you rake, the more you help fight climate change and save biodiversity. 

A new report demonstrates how countries can tap into the undervalued potential of their wetland systems to fight climate change. 

Reclaiming golf courses and waterways – how volunteer rewilders are building a new harmony with nature. 

That’s Amazing! 
From emergency first aid to spy games and booby traps – how plants defend themselves from insects

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).

Check out EcoFriendly Sask’s
Nature Companion, a free nature app for Canada’s four western provinces

Thursday 17 September 2020

SOS Trees Coalition

autumn leaves

A stroll down Spadina Crescent south of the weir on a summer evening is a delight. The tall elms on either side of the street provide cool, dappled shade and there is a constant chorus of birds. With the help of SOS Trees Coalition (formerly known as SOS Elms Coalition), Saskatoon’s elms are healthy and well maintained.

The situation could have been very different if a group of concerned citizens had not stepped forward to speak for the trees. SOS Elms was established in 1992 in response to a growing threat from Dutch Elm Disease, which was making its way across North America, killing elm trees in its path. 

The American elm is an ideal urban tree. It thrives in our climate, tolerating urban stresses, such as soil compaction, road salt, and poor drainage. But it can’t fight Dutch Elm Disease (DED), a fungus that blocks the tree’s vascular system, which carries water and food to all parts of the tree. DED is spread by the elm bark beetle when it lays eggs in fungus-infected elms. When the new adults emerge, they carry the fungus to healthy trees. Spread of the disease can be halted by not bringing in firewood from other parts of the country and pruning dead or dying wood. (To avoid spreading disease, elm trees should never be pruned between April 1 and August 31.) 

Advocacy efforts by SOS Elms have made a huge difference. The City now prunes its urban trees every 7 years, rather than every 50, and hires students in the summer to survey the city, looking for diseased trees or illegal firewood. One tree had to be removed in 2015, and just this week another case was confirmed. But the City foresters have identified the infected tree and are taking it down along with a few others close by to ensure the fungus hasn’t spread. This is good DED management and we can only hope that we can continue to contain this disease through diligent monitoring. 

fall colors

Based on their success in advocating for elms, the Coalition decided to expand its reach to protecting and fostering all urban trees. Advocacy continues to be an important part of their mandate. Faced by the wholesale destruction of the trees along the 33rd Street rail line, SOS Trees, along with other citizens approached the City, CP Rail, and the media. CP Rail eventually issued an apology and a committee has been set up to make remediation arrangements, including planting low-growing bushes and hopefully some trees. The City of Saskatoon has already planted new trees along the public right of way. 

An ongoing area of concern is providing protection for existing trees when construction work is underway. Most developers have caught on to the fact that they should install protective fencing around established trees on city boulevards. However, they frequently fail to protect the trees’ roots, which extend out to the drip line. “Driving heavy equipment over the area around the tree damages the roots by compacting the soil,” explains Linda Moskalyk, president of SOS Trees. “The damage may not be immediately apparent, but a few years down the road, you’ll see die-off and eventual death.” Developers can avoid compacting the soil and damaging the roots by laying down a thick layer of mulch and not digging within 3 metres of the trunk. 

Trees play an important role in creating a livable city. They lower the heat on hot days, reduce air pollution, and promote biodiversity by providing food and shelter for birds, insects, and small mammals. They also improve our mental health and are a source of beauty. But trees have a tough time in an urban prairie environment and there are only a limited number of species that can withstand the harsh winters, compacted soil, and poor drainage. Disease also plays a role. A cottony ash psyllid outbreak has killed over 7000 ash trees in recent years and the City is struggling to replace them. Residents can play a role by planting trees in their yards and caring for their boulevard trees. 

SOS Trees pairs its advocacy efforts with educational initiatives. The Saskatoon Tree Tour booklet highlights 24 of Saskatoon’s most impressive trees. Copies of the booklet are available for a small donation from several locations around the city. SOS Trees has also led walking and cycle tours. They are currently working with Meewasin Valley Authority to develop a variety of different activities to celebrate Arbour Week in the spring. 

If you have questions about trees, don’t hesitate to contact SOS Trees. They’ll be happy to answer your questions, whether it’s how to care for a tree or the choice of a new one. You can follow SOS Trees on Facebook and they welcome new members
See Also 
Saskatoon's Urban Forest, EcoFriendly Sask
Saskatoon Tree Tour, SOS Trees 
Urban Forestry Booklet, City of Saskatoon 
Urban Forest, City of Saskatoon 

Tuesday 15 September 2020

EcoSask News, September 15, 2020

Sandhill cranes

Upcoming Events
Cycling in Saskatoon, Sept. 15 (online)
Avid cyclist Kira Judge will present possible solutions for people who do not currently ride their bike in Saskatoon in an online Sustainable Speakers series presentation from 7-8:30 pm, Sept. 15.

Outdoor Adventures Kids Club, Sept. 16-Oct. 28 (Regina) 
Nature Regina, Nature Saskatchewan, and SaskOutdoors are offering an outdoor kids club from 10 am-12 pm, Wednesdays from Sept. 16-Oct. 28. The outdoor education program, for kids ages 6-12, is designed to support the science curriculum and will include French enrichment.

Last Mountain Bird Observatory, Sept. 19 (online) 
Nature Saskatchewan is celebrating 30 years at Last Mountain Bird Observatory with a special Zoom presentation by Al Smith at 7 pm, Sept. 19. Pre-registration is required.

Outdoor Adventure Guides, Sept. 21 (Regina) 
Join Nature Regina for a presentation on their new outdoor adventure guides from 7-8:30 pm, Sept. 21. RSVP as seating is limited.

Talking about Climate Change, Sept. 22, Oct. 6 & 20
Climate Justice Saskatoon is offering 3 free webinars on talking with people about climate change during the election campaigns from 7:30-9 pm, Sept. 22, and from 7:30-8:30 pm, Oct. 6 and Oct. 20.

Bison Restoration at Wanuskewin, Sept. 23 (online) 
There will be a webinar about bringing bison back to Wanuskewin at noon, Sept. 23, as part of SK-PCAP’s Native Prairie Speaker series.

Meewasin Valley Summit, Sept. 23 (online) 
Join Meewasin leadership for insight into upcoming strategies, priorities, and projects from 11 am-1 pm, Sept. 23 (online).

SODCAP AGM, Sept. 24 (online) 
South of the Divide Conservation Action Program is holding its annual general meeting online from 2-6 pm, Sept. 24. There will be presentations on helium development and badgers. You can join them at approximately 3 pm for the presentation about badgers.

Tree Wrapping, Sept. 24 (Saskatoon) 
Join Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation, Meewasin Valley Authority, and SOS Trees in wrapping trees to help maintain a balance between food for beavers and urban forest from 5-7 pm, Sept. 24. Sign up to register.

Sandhill cranes

Looking Ahead
World Rivers Day, Sept. 27 (online) 
Safe Drinking Water Foundation, Partners FOR the Saskatchewan River Basin, South Saskatchewan River Watershed Stewards, Meewasin, and The Saskatchewan First Nations Water Association are holding a Virtual World Rivers Day event from 1- 2:30 pm, Sept. 27. Start following them now if you want to win one of the prizes.

Whooping & Sandhill Crane Tour, late Sept.-mid Oct. (Saskatoon) 
Groups of 1-4 using their own vehicle are invited to join Stan Shadick on 1-day and 2-day custom tours to look for Whooping and/or Sandhill Cranes. Proceeds will go to Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation.

WILD Education Facilitator Training, Oct. 5-17 (online & Regina) 
SaskOutdoors is hosting an online WILD Education facilitator training from 7-9 pm on Oct. 5, 7, and 14, and from 10 am-4 pm, Oct. 17, in person, in Regina.

Virtual Repair Café, Oct. 24 (online) 
The Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council is hosting a virtual repair café from 10 am-2 pm, Oct. 24. Register a broken item and you’ll receive a link to a Zoom meeting where knowledgeable volunteers will coach you through fixing your item.

A full list of upcoming events (online and in person) can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

Local News
The Prairie-Hardy Trees Forum is a new Facebook group to discuss, share, and ask questions related to trees.

From Information to Action
“Conservation organizations face a singular opportunity to reshape conservation into a discipline that promotes both the quantity of species and the quality of animal life.”

Geothermal projects in western Canada could herald a new era for an untapped resource and job opportunities for former oil and gas workers.

Should national parks close for a couple of months every year to give them a respite from human traffic?

“Oil and gas executives knowingly pushed the illusion that comprehensive plastic recycling is a viable practice — with no actual intention of making it that way — all in the interest of getting consumers to buy more single-use plastic materials.”

“Many of the world’s largest freight transporters are flailing during the pandemic and will be reliant on government money to survive. . . . governments have leverage to prod these industries to go greener and contribute their fair share to hitting international climate targets.”

Natural Wonders
The Natures Wild Neighbours Society invites you to get outdoors, connect with nature through the creative arts and upload your nature-inspired art, photography, writing, video or music entry before June 1, 2021, for a chance to win some wild prizes.

The miracle of flight – insects in slow motion

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). 

Check out EcoFriendly Sask’s Nature Companion, a free nature app for Canada’s four western provinces

Sunday 13 September 2020

SaskOutdoors is for Everyone

“SaskOutdoors is for everyone, whether you’re a new or an experienced outdoors person,” says Heather Maurer, Vice-President. “Anyone who is interested in the outdoors can be a member.” SaskOutdoors’ mission is “to connect people of Saskatchewan to the outdoors and inspire a sense of curiosity and play within our natural environment by passionately delivering programs and services that promote awareness of outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship.”

Head to the SaskOutdoors’ website and you’ll be surprised to discover just how many programs and resources they offer. Upcoming events, both online and in person, include wilderness first aid training, canoe certification, and educational enrichment programs, such as Project WET and Project WILD.

The organization is also expanding its lending library. Members can borrow everything from bamboo poles and binoculars to water jugs and a solar oven. Backpacking stoves, tents, and fuel bottles have recently been added to the collection.

SaskOutdoors used to host primarily in-person events. This came to an abrupt halt with the COVID19 pandemic, but the organization has turned a potential roadblock into an opportunity. “Our events were normally held in Saskatoon and Regina or up north. By going online we’re hoping to highlight more of the province’s outdoor experts,” Heather says. “People from all over Saskatchewan can now access our programming.”
The organization has taken advantage of technology to launch a podcast about outdoor recreation and education with new episodes every 3 weeks. In the first episode of Let’s Talk Outdoors, the hosts talked with 15-year-old Zev Heuer about his 58-day canoe trip from Canmore to Missinipe. The most recent episode is a conversation with Kenton Lysak about citizen science, conservation, and Saskatoon's NatureCity Festival.

Another new initiative is an interactive map displaying videos of place-based teaching opportunities around the province. Teachers are invited to submit a video illustrating outdoor education in their favorite spot. Take a look at the videos that have gone up to date and you’ll find out that Buffalo Pound Provincial Park is an accessible location well suited to a diversity study or an introduction to fishing. A Saskatoon teacher has used the amphitheatre at River Landing to teach drama lessons (environmental theatre), social studies (Greek history), visual art (statue painting), and English (spoken word poetry performances).

Past webinars are posted on the SaskOutdoors’ website and include Group Excursion & Leadership Preparedness, Overnight (Emergency) Preparedness First Aid in conjunction with Back40 Wilderness First Aid, as well as instructional webinars on Navigating Risky Play and a panel discussion for teachers and outdoor educators.

SaskOutdoors is a professional growth network with the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation so many of their activities are designed to assist teachers and outdoor educators enhance their outdoor learning opportunities. For example, they’re offering an online early childhood education series in November to assist participants in levelling up their outdoor and environmental education experience and resources.

In addition to educational opportunities, SaskOutdoors delivers events for individuals and families to get together and have fun outdoors. Past events have included a winter camp, a diamond willow carving workshop, and a family paddle. “I have a one-year-old daughter,” Heather says. “I’d love to offer more programs for families with young children.”

SaskOutdoors is grateful to receive core funding from Saskatchewan Lotteries through the Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association. “Their support of recreational activities allows us to focus on programming rather than spending a lot of time fundraising,” explains Leah Japp, SaskOutdoors’ General Manager.

You can follow SaskOutdoors on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Take out a membership for $10-30 and you’ll be eligible for a wide range of benefits including discounted registration rates for SaskOutdoors’ events and activities and a copy of the organization’s magazine, Of Land and Living Skies. You can also apply for grants for projects with an outdoor and/or environmental education or environmental action focus.

Tuesday 8 September 2020

EcoSask News, September 8, 2020


Upcoming Events
Going Outside, Sept. 10 & 17 (online) 
SaskOutdoors is offering an introductory webinar for teachers on taking classes outdoors at either 8 pm, Sept. 10, or 4:30 pm, Sept. 17.

Nature Society AGM, Sept. 13 (Moose Jaw) 
The Moose Jaw Nature Society will be holding its annual general meeting at 2 pm, Sept. 13, in Wakamow Park.

Household Hazardous Waste, Sept. 13 (Saskatoon) 
You can dispose of household hazardous waste at City of Saskatoon’s Civic Operations Centre from 9 am-3:30 pm, Sept. 13.

Member Photos, Sept. 17 (online) 
Saskatoon Nature Society has moved online (Zoom) with their first fall meeting presenting members’ photographs at 7:30 pm, Sept. 17. Meetings are currently for members only, so sign up now.


Looking Ahead
Biodiversity Family Camp-In, Sept. 25 (online)
The Saskatchewan Science Centre is hosting a virtual family camp-in from 6:30-10 pm, Sept. 25, with special guest, Ripley’s Aquarium of Toronto.

Wildlife Rehab Orientation, Oct. 3 (online) 
The Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan is hosting an online volunteer orientation at 3 pm, Oct. 3. To apply, fill out an application.

A full list of upcoming events (online and in person) can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

Local News
Hundreds of people participated in a slow roll on Sept. 7 to honour Cathy Watts’ many contributions to making Saskatoon a great place to live. We interviewed her in 2018 about her efforts to get the whole city moving.

Saskatoon’s Library of Things is reopening on the first and third Saturdays of each month from 1-4 pm. Reserve a pick-up time on their website.

Why are provincial and federal governments endorsing the Lake Diefenbaker irrigation project before doing the studies and calculating the costs?

The Big River Recreation and Conservation Association wants to use a 1-year moratorium on logging around Nesslin Lake to study alternative activities.

Birds respond quickly to environmental stressors and habitat change – hence the importance of the Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas project.

Future Majority aims to organize and unite youth voices across Canada and elect leaders who will stand up for young Canadians’ well-being.


From Information to Action
Environmental racism in Canada: what is it, what are the impacts, and what can we do about it?

The Arctic waters are loaded with little bits of jeans: “Special filters attached to washing machines can stop 90 percent of microfibers from flowing out to wastewater treatment plants. Those need to be standard on every new washing machine sold.”

Just one in 10 energy suppliers globally are prioritizing renewable energy over fossil fuel development, according to a new study of 3,000 power companies.

A pilot project to produce carbon-free steel got underway last week in Sweden. 7-9% of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions currently come from the production of steel.

Good News
A small study in Norway showed that painting one blade of a wind turbine black reduced bird mortality by over 70%.

An affordable DIY option to prevent birds from hitting windows.

Orange peels could help recycle old lithium batteries, “a low-cost, sustainable approach to recycling the growing heaps of batteries that end up in landfills every year.”

There are fun activities for kids of all ages on the Nature’s Wild Neighbors Society website.

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). 

Check out EcoFriendly Sask’s Nature Companion, a free nature app for Canada’s four western provinces

Tuesday 1 September 2020

EcoSask News, September 1, 2020

Tricolored Bumblebee on globe thistle

Upcoming Events
Lightspark, Sept. 2 (online)
Energy Management Task Force is hosting an online presentation on Lightspark, a digital platform measuring community carbon reduction from 7:30-9 am, Sept. 2.

Migrating Shorebirds, Sept. 3 (online)
Watch migrating semi-palmated sandpipers and other shorebirds as they congregate on the Bay of Fundy and hear the most up-to-date research on the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s webinar from 12-12:30 pm, Sept. 3 (SK time).

Climate Adaptation, Sept. 10 (online)
Partners FOR the Saskatchewan River Basin will be holding a series of monthly webinars in lieu of an annual conference. The first, from 12-1 pm, Sept. 10, is a report on the City of Saskatoon’s Climate Adaptation Strategy.

Sheep Grazing Demonstrations, Sept. 10-13 & 17-20 (Saskatoon)
View how a herd of sheep are managed as they practise targeted conservation grazing at Beaver Creek Conservation Area from Sept. 10-13 and 17-20.

Electric Vehicles & their Health Benefits, Sept. 11 (online) 
Climate Reality Canada is hosting a webinar on the health benefits of electric vehicles at 9:30 am, Sept. 11 (SK time).

Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
Saskatoon Young Naturalists
Nov. 14, 1-2:30 pm – Bird Feeder Workshop
Dec. 6, 1-3 pm – Paper Making Workshop
Space is limited; register early to avoid disappointment.

Golden Eagles
Sept. 3, 9 am – Gabriel Dumont Park
Sept. 10, 9 am – Cranberry Flats & Beaver Creek
Sept. 17, 9 am – South Saskatchewan Ferry
Retirees and partners who are interested in birds and the natural world are invited to participate.

Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
Sept. 12 – Fall Bird Count (volunteers needed)
Sept. 21, 6-8 pm – Sandhill Crane Viewing
Field trips are currently for members only, so sign up now. Full trip details are available on the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website.

A full list of upcoming events (online and in person) can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar


Local News
Congratulations to the Saskatchewan Environmental Society on 50 years of standing up for the environment.

Saskatoon Nature Society is working with Nature Conservancy of Canada to develop/conserve a site near Asquith. The Society’s president says, “Portions of the land are perfect examples of prairie habitat and others seem promising for management to return it to its native roots.”

Birds in Real Danger, Saskatoon is looking for volunteers to check for birds and feathers in downtown Saskatoon indicating window strikes during fall migration. Window strikes can also be posted online.

Tourism Saskatoon invites you to take a tour of Saskatoon’s trees.

From Information to Action
“Wildfire is just a natural part of the dynamics . . . . I would love to see the day when we give these severely burned forests the protections that they deserve.”

TikTok has 800 million users, many of them conscious young eco-influencers campaigning on issues from climate change to biodiversity . . . . People are genuinely learning things they never learned in school or from their communities.”

“Any creature that appears indoors these days is greeted with fear, hysteria and calls for extermination. . . . ‘Gardens’ are now treated as outside rooms and sterilised in the same way as houses, with the result that tiles, decking, and artificial grass have all but wiped out urban wildlife.”

Earthworms are invading the Arctic.

Can we justify mothing? “They’re delicate creatures being drawn into unnatural conditions for what often is a significant percentage of their adult lives. All is not as harmless it seems at first glance.”

Treeline: The Secret Life of Trees, available on YouTube, follows a group of skiers, snowboarders, scientists, and healers to the birch forests of Japan, the red cedars of British Columbia, and the bristlecones of Nevada.

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).

Check out EcoFriendly Sask’s Nature Companion, a free nature app for Canada’s four western provinces