Thursday 26 November 2020

Everybody Has a Watershed: Lower Qu'Appelle Watershed Stewards

“In recognizing that there is only a finite amount of water in the world, we realize that the water we drink today is the same water we will drink tomorrow and our grandchildren will drink generations from now. This necessitates the promotion of an ethic of water usage and a realization that water is simply too valuable not to manage properly.” 
(Right Hon. Jean Chrétien) 

“Everybody lives in a watershed,” says Alice Davis, Watershed Manager for the Lower Qu’Appelle Watershed Stewards. “We’re all responsible for protecting the water that drains out of our region into nearby lakes, rivers, and streams. It would be sad if we didn’t feel safe to swim or fish because of septic tank leakage or other forms of pollution.” 

In 2001, 700 people became ill after drinking contaminated tap water in North Battleford. Fortunately, no one died, but it was a warning that care needed to be taken to protect our water sources. In 2003, the provincial government implemented Source Water Protection Planning, a process specific to a defined watershed or aquifer, in which stakeholders and local residents collaborate to develop a plan to prevent the pollution of lakes, reservoirs, rivers, streams, and groundwater that serve as sources of drinking water. The province currently has 11 non-profit watershed stewardship groups that receive an annual grant from the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency, which is supplemented by membership fees and grants. 

The Lower Qu’Appelle Watershed Stewards (LQWS) is committed to protecting the water in the Lower Qu’Appelle River watershed, which stretches from close to the town of Craven to the Manitoba border. “We’re slightly different from other watersheds as we include 6 recreational lakes,” explains Alice Davis. In addition, 16 First Nations own land surrounding the river and are significant stakeholders. The LQWS supports the First Nations Water Association, the personnel responsible for operating the First Nations water treatment plants. Their goal is to build capacity at the community level for the care and control of water on reserve. 

Alice Davis says that the organization keeps its eyes and ears open regarding issues that could affect the health of the watershed. “We’re very fortunate,” Alice says, “as the Qu’Appelle River is a favorite of many people. We have a huge volume of volunteers and advocacy groups who are more than willing to jump in and help. Without those people, we wouldn’t be where we are today.” The river has also been the basis for many different university research projects with professors more than willing to lend a hand. “The river is Peter Leavitt’s love and joy,” Alice says. 

When a potash company wanted to set up a mine within the watershed, LQWS learned that it had very limited time to read 3 huge binders of information and provide feedback as part of the environmental assessment. “We put a call out to university people who had an interest and asked them to review the material and give their opinion,” Alice explains. “Within a week we had about 8 people providing opinions and strategies. It feels good; we’re all working towards a common goal.” 

Volunteers play a valuable role in sharing information with locals. “We’re trying to educate everyone on beneficial management practices,” Alice says. “We can’t direct information to just certain people. Everyone should know it.” One of the pressing issues at the moment is blue-green algae. The heavy algal blooms are caused by excess phosphorus and nitrogen and can harm humans and animals as well as damaging the ecosystem. Alice says that farm runoff is one source of excess nutrients, but it’s a delicate issue with local farmers as none of us likes to be told what to do or how to do it. The association works with its partners on education-based approaches to try and reduce the impact of agricultural practices in the watershed and supports the financial incentives currently available from the Ministry of Agriculture. 

We all manage a piece of land. Whether it’s a backyard garden, a local business, or a farm, each of us uses water and needs to consider our impact on our watershed. Alice and her husband stopped weeding along the shoreline this year and have noticed that they have far more wildlife – beavers, killdeer, and turtles. “If we protect our watersheds, we protect our lakes and rivers and the water we rely on for drinking, agriculture, recreation, and wildlife,” Alice says. 

See Also 
Farmland Drainage and the Environment Virtual Conference - Dec. 7-11 & Jan. 11-15 

Photo credits: Lower Qu’Appelle Watershed Stewards

Tuesday 24 November 2020

EcoSask News, November 24, 2020


"Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky." Kahlil Gibran

Upcoming Events 
Droughtproofing, Dec. 1 (online) 
Rob Gardner will talk about droughtproofing your land at noon, Dec. 1, as part of the Native Prairie Speaker Series. 

Waste to Energy, Dec. 3 (online) 
The Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council is offering a full-day workshop on waste to energy technologies on Dec. 3. 

Canadian Bat Project, Dec. 4 (online) 
Learn about the work done by the Canadian Bat Project at the WildEcol Seminar at 3:30 pm, Dec. 4. 

Guided Hike, Dec. 5 (Regina) 
Nature Regina is offering a guided hike of A E Wilson Park starting at 10:15, 10:30, 10:45, and 11 am, Dec. 5. RSVP as registration is limited. 

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

Local News 
For Our Kids Saskatchewan (formerly Parent Climate Challenge) is part of a national network of parents and grandparents working on climate issues. They held an initial meeting on Nov. 23. 

Nature Regina has published its first winter edition of the Wandering Wednesdays outdoor adventure guides. All the guides are available and can be downloaded from their website. 

Over 500 people have joined a Facebook group opposing a proposed peat moss harvesting operation in northern Saskatchewan. 

Energy Bites 
An Indigenous-owned solar farm will supply a quarter of Fort Chipewyan’s electricity needs, helping to reduce the need for almost a million litres of diesel each year

The transition to renewable energy relies on mining. Can it be done responsibly? 

From Information to Action 
A new paper by Miistakis Institute shows a multi-species approach to prioritizing road mitigation efforts across an 84,000 square kilometer region. 

A French court ruling holds the national government accountable for insufficient action in addressing climate change targets.

An international research study determines that greener farming methods don’t compromise yields

Passive and net-zero housing can cut carbon emissions and energy bills

Plants provide a cheaper, more environmentally sustainable way to clean contaminated industrial sites and bodies of water.

“The great thing about natural restoration of forests is that it often requires nothing more than human inaction.” And it’s more effective than tree planting

Renewable energy from rotting vegetables – a prize-winning invention. 

We were given so much – it’s our duty to protect Mother Nature [award-winning 4-minute film]

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). 

Bushes play such an important role in winter by providing shelter and food for small birds and animals (Nature Companion - a free nature app for the 4 western provinces

Tuesday 17 November 2020

EcoSask News, November 17, 2020

Bald Eagle

Upcoming Events 
LEED Green Associate Training, Nov. 19 (online) 
USask students are invited to attend a LEED Green Associate training from 4-8:30 pm, Nov. 19. Check the CPAWS announcement for a discount code. 

Ministry Research, Nov. 20 (online) 
Learn about current wildlife research at the Saskatchewan Ministry of the Environment at the Wild Ecol Seminar at 3:30 pm, Nov. 20. 

Oil, Noise & Songbirds, Nov. 24 (online) 
There will be a discussion about the effects of oil development and anthropogenic noise on grassland songbirds at noon, Nov. 24, as part of SK PCAP’s Native Prairie Speaker Series. 

Natural Ecosystems, Nov. 24 (online) 
Branimir Gjetvaj will offer insights into ways to increase resilience of natural ecosystems in an online Sustainable Speakers series presentation from 7-8:30 pm, Nov. 24. 

Winter Cycling 101, Nov. 24 (online) 
Bridge City Bicycle Co-op and Saskatoon Cycles are offering tips and tricks on winter cycling at 7 pm, Nov. 24. 

Arthropod Enthusiasts, Nov. 27 (online) 
Arthropodata is offering a series of monthly webinars for arthropod and insect enthusiasts. The first webinar is from 1-2 pm, Nov. 27; register online. Follow Arhropodata on Twitter to stay up to date on speakers and seminars. 

Looking Ahead 
Teaching Outside in Cold Weather, Dec. 2 (online) 
Presented by Green Teacher, 4 Saskatchewan-based teachers from different age groups will answer questions about practical approaches to teaching outside in cold weather at 6:30 pm, Dec. 2.

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

Organizational Updates 
The Prince Albert Parkland Permaculture Guild is looking for volunteers to help replenish and organize the seed library (Covid protocols will be observed). 

The Saskatchewan Chapter of the Wildlife Society is encouraging wildlife and conservation professionals to purchase a membership to help keep the organization viable in a difficult period. Follow them on Facebook for the latest wildlife conservation news and events. 

SOS Trees Coalition is looking for volunteers to join their planning committee for the 2021 Arbor Week celebration. If you’re interested, email

In place of the traditional NatureCity Festival, Wild About Saskatoon will be launching the NatureCity Experience with adventure guides to local natural areas, a podcast, a potential speaker series, as well as contests, prizes, and posts to help build community. 

Campus Corps, an offshoot of The Climate Reality Project Canada, offers university students an opportunity to lead climate action and raise ambitions on their campuses. Complete information is available on the Campus Corps website.

Local News 
FSIN Vice-Chief Heather Bear says, “Not only in our region but throughout Canada, throughout North America, water is a resource that is so at risk right now because of industry.” 

Fields with “messy” stuff – wetlands, wooded areas, fence rows, pastures – are more productive. 

bald eagle

From Information to Action 
The shipping of goods around the world produces more CO2 than the aviation industry. The industry must set a net-zero target for 2050 and a realistic plan to meet it

For the Young (and the Young at Heart) 
Kids can explore sailing, coastal communities, and marine conservation virtually with Outdoor Council of Canada’s Ships2Shores

Imaginative program adaptations – an online summer camp, streets for kids, and a park scavenger hunt. 

Save the Earth with a Sketch - looks like fun and you could win a contest and get published as well. 

Just for Fun 
From a hippo herd to graceful seals, photographs remind us why conservation matters

Dutch students have built a two-seater electric car made entirely from waste

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). 

Did you know? The bald eagle’s wings are flat as a board when they fly.

Tuesday 10 November 2020

EcoSask News, November 10, 2020


Upcoming Events 
Beaver Creek Tour, Nov. 7, 14, 21, 28 (Saskatoon) 
Enjoy a one-hour guided family or couples tour at Beaver Creek Conservation Area on Saturdays in November (fee ranges from $79-114). 

Beyond Pesticides, Nov. 10 (online) 
Christy Morrissey will discuss Beyond Pesticides: Challenging the Paradox of Agriculture and Environment in an online event from 3-4 pm, Nov. 10. 

Saskatoon Cycles AGM, Nov. 10 (online) 
Saskatoon Cycles is holding its annual general meeting at 7 pm, Nov. 10, on Zoom. 

Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas, Nov. 11 (online) 
The Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas are holding an online annual general meeting at 7 pm, Nov. 11. 

Invasive Species in Sask River System, Nov. 12 (online) 

Train the Trainer, Nov. 14 (Regina) 
Nature Regina members are invited to learn about birds, native plants, and wildlife from 10-11 am or 11 am-noon, Nov. 14, so that they can then help with the Get Outside! Kids Club and other upcoming events. 


Birding at City Park, Nov. 15 (Saskatoon) 
Saskatoon Nature Society will be birding at City Park from 2-3 pm, Nov. 15. Field trips are currently for members only, so sign up now

Contemporary Art & Climate Change, Nov. 16 (online) 
Adrian Stimson and Laurier St. Pierre will discuss The Black Snake & Secret Gardens: Contemporary Art and Climate Change online from 6-7:30 pm, Nov. 16. 

Discard Twitter Conference, Nov. 16 & 17 (online) 
If you’re concerned about waste, check out the Discard Studies Twitter conference schedule for Nov. 16 & 17. 

Climate Change & Forests, Nov. 17 (online) 
Mark Johnson will discuss Climate Change and its Impact on Canada’s Forests: How are we Adapting? in an online Café Sci presentation from 7:30-8:30 pm, Nov. 17. 

Recording Bird Sounds, Nov. 19 (online) 
John Patterson will discuss recording bird sounds and behaviours at the 7:30 pm, Nov. 19 online meeting of the Saskatoon Nature Society. Join the Society to participate. 

Looking Ahead 
Below Zero, Nov. 26 & Dec. 3 (online) 
SaskOutdoors is offering a virtual Below Zero workshop with classroom resources for teaching about wildlife in winter from 7-9 pm, November 26 and December 3.
Restoration & Reclamation in a Changing Environment, Feb. 1-5 (online) 
Registration is now open for the online Native Prairie Restoration/Reclamation Workshop from Feb. 1-5. 

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

Local News 
Wild about Saskatoon invites you to come and explore the Northeast Swale.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada has established a new conservation site in the Milk River Basin Natural Area in southwestern Saskatchewan. 


Gaining Steam: A Regulatory and Policy Framework for Geothermal Energy Development in Alberta (Environmental Law Centre) could prove useful in Saskatchewan when considering issues such as licensing and environmental assessment. 

Urban Life 
Fencing is an effective and realistic way to reduce roadkill. A step-by-step plan helps transportation managers decide on length and where to place them. 

“It’s past time to accept that lethal methods and relocation are neither effective, sustainable nor humane approaches to human-wildlife conflicts.” There are alternatives

Book Review 
“Narratives of eternal technological progress obscure the alternative of making do with what we already have. It closes our imagination to the possibility of choosing smaller and simpler over bigger and better.” [The Age of Low Tech: Towards a Technologically Sustainable Civilization

Thank you for reading EcoSask News. If you enjoyed it, please share it with someone – or many someones! 

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 3 November 2020

EcoSask News, November 3, 2020


Upcoming Events 
Water Docs Film Festival, Nov. 4-15 (online) 
Water Docs, an environmental documentary film festival celebrating all things water, is screening 20 films digitally from Nov. 4-8 while a full pass gives you access until Nov. 15. 

Library of Things, Nov. 7 & 21 (Saskatoon) 
Saskatoon’s Library of Things is open on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month. Items are reserved online.

Home Energy Loans, Nov. 10 (online) 
Hilary Carlson, City of Saskatoon, will collect feedback on recommended program options for the Home Energy Loan Program at the Nov. 10 online meeting of the Energy Management Task Force. 

Looking Ahead 
Winter Camp, Dec. 5 & 6 (PANP) 
Whatever your skill level, you’re invited to join SaskOutdoors for their annual winter camp on Dec. 5 and 6 in Prince Albert National Park. 

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

From Information to Action 
Environmental destruction such as land clearing, deforestation, climate change, intense agriculture and the wildlife trade is leading humans into a pandemic era

A BC conservation association is buying up the hunting rights in the Great Bear Rainforest to prevent trophy kills

A wildlife crossing over the busiest freeway in North America is scheduled to break ground next year. 

Vancouver’s ambitious climate action plan incorporates economic, social, and environmental goals

The new EcoLogistics Principles provide specific guidance to local governments for creating more resource-efficient urban goods distribution systems. 

Cat-faced Orbweaver

Nature’s Wonders 
A time-lapse video of mushrooms evolving in slow motion

Nature's weirder side - the sex life of spiders.

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 1 November 2020

Have Fun Outdoors This Winter

prairies in winter

Winter is on its way, but that’s no reason to stay indoors. We’ve updated our list of outdoor winter activities in Saskatchewan with everything from downhill skiing to pishing. We’ve tried to keep in mind current Covid-19 restrictions, but do check with local organizers for the most up-to-date information. 

Did we miss anything? Let us know and we’ll be happy to add it to the list. 

PS SaskOutdoors is hosting a Winter Camp, December 5 and 6. A great way to start off the season 

Take EcoFriendly Sask’s Nature Companion, a free nature app for Canada’s four western provinces, with you when you head outdoors

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

Upcoming events (online and in person) can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar