Tuesday 29 June 2021

EcoSask News, June 29, 2021

Bumble bee on lilac

This Week’s Highlights 
Nature Conservancy of Canada – Saskatchewan is hosting a webinar at 6:30 pm, July 6, on the importance of dark skies as well as tips and tricks for stargazing and nighttime photography. 

Lone trees make it easier for birds and bees to navigate farmlands, providing shelter, food, and places to land. [The Conversation

Upcoming Events 
Saskatoon Nature Society has two upcoming field trips to look for orchids on July 1 and butterflies on July 3. 

Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas will be holding bio blitzes every Sunday at 2 pm from July 4-Sept. 26.

There will be a free online workshop on food forest design from 10:30 am-1:30 pm, July 6. 

Find out how time and weather influence Saskatchewan’s largest snake in a noon-hour webinar on July 8 with SK-PCAP. 

Local News 
The Water Security Agency has received a failing grade from the Provincial Auditor for failing to regulate wetland drainage. For further information, read the Citizens Environmental Alliance's newsletter.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Asquith site is now open to the public and has a mowed trail with interpretive signs provided with the support of the Saskatoon Nature Society. 

Cindy Wright’s watercolours portraying the importance of bees in our society will be on display at Handmade House in Saskatoon from June 28-Aug. 21.
juvenile magpie beside nest

Light Pollution 
“Fireflies use their bioluminescence to flirt in the dark. . . . Under artificial light, males flash about half as often, while females rarely, if ever, flash back.” You can help by installing motion detectors, timers and shielding to ensure that light goes only where people need it, when they need it; keeping lights as dim as possible; and opting for monochrome red LEDs. [The Conversation

Office buildings that leave their lights on overnight pose a serious risk for migrating birds. A research team studied one building and estimated that turning off half the lights could reduce bird deaths by 11 times in the spring and 6 times in the fall. [Anthropocene

Do you wonder why some birds visit your backyard and not others? Many common species avoid noisy areas and even more will stay away when there is both noise and light pollution. [SciTech

Municipal Climate Action 
Miistakis Institute in Alberta has produced the following free, downloadable research reports to assist municipalities in addressing climate action: 

Did You Know? 
Wales plans to freeze road construction projects and focus on maintaining existing roads in a bid to reduce its carbon emissions. [Planetizen]

Project Noah is a site for photographers and naturalists. Share your photos, learn from the experts and take advantage of educational videos, lesson plans, and outdoor learning activities. [Project Noah]

Just for Fun 
How and what do you feed 2,700 animals on a daily basis? Take a look behind the scenes at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. [Smithsonian Magazine]

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or subscribe by email (top right corner).

Thursday 24 June 2021

The Butterflyway Project Takes Off in Saskatchewan

“We have more privately owned land than parks,” says Gail Fennell, Regina Butterflyway Ranger. “If we change what we plant in our cities and on acreages, we can lower the heat, alter the climate, and increase the number of pollinators.” 

In 2017, the David Suzuki Foundation initiated the Butterflyway Project in 5 Canadian cities. Volunteers were invited to plant native wildflowers in at least a dozen pollinator-friendly patches throughout their community. Since that time, the Foundation has recruited and trained 1,008 Butterflyway Rangers in over 100 communities. 

There are Butterflyway projects in Humboldt, Prince Albert, Regina, Regina Beach, Saskatoon, and Yorkton. We chatted with 4 of their Butterflyway Rangers to find out what they were doing and what had motivated them. 

Prince Albert 
Amy McInnes joined the Butterflyway Project in 2020. She had hoped to garden alongside members of the Boreal Rangers Outdoor Adventures 4-H Club, but Covid forced a change of plan. Instead, she expanded the food forest in her front garden and shared seeds with 4-H families and friends, contributing to 8 gardens during her first summer. 

“Lots of those involved had never focused on native species and pollinators before as they’d been growing flowers and vegetables,” Amy explains. “They’ve come a long way in terms of what they’re trying to plant.” Amy’s personal goal is to plant a couple of new native species each year. She’s also enthusiastic about contributing to a butterflyway corridor extending from Saskatchewan to the States. 

Gail Fennell has been gardening since the ‘70s and spearheaded the rejuvenation of Nature Regina’s Native Plant Garden, which now has 22 active volunteers and is doing so well that they can give away plants and seeds. When Gail moved to a new subdivision in 2005, there were no insects. She started putting in more and more native plants and within 4 years had butterflies, hummingbird moths, beetles, and bees. She also helped a friend manage the thistles in the naturalized area near her home by replacing them with native plants (mostly rescued from new housing sites). With many more native plants, the stormwater pond area was soon thriving with bees and butterflies and there are more ducks and songbirds because they have more food. 

While in Edmonton, Gail offered native plant seeds to City staff, who were delighted by the phenomenal germination rate and are now growing their own native plants. Gail recommends a low-key approach when promoting native plants. “Set an example and make suggestions. Don’t criticize,” she says. “Give people a chance to do the right thing.” 

Gail’s concerns about decreasing biodiversity and the climate crisis turned to action after reading Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard by Douglas W. Tallamy. When she heard about the Butterflyway project, she was quick to sign up and has distributed native plant seeds to more than 60 people since March, in Regina as well as other Saskatchewan communities. In Regina, Butterflyway gardens are being developed in people’s home gardens but also parks and schools. Gail is working with acreage owners who have more substantial space to grow plants so that there will always be surplus plants and seeds if individual gardens have seasonal failures. 

Gail is quick to promote Saskatchewan native plants. “We’re not the poor cousins of Ontario and British Columbia,” she says. “We have our own unique plants and environment in Saskatchewan and we need to celebrate.” 

Every Ranger sets their own goals with a basic requirement of involving 12 other people. Gail is dreaming big and taking steps to create a pollinator corridor that stretches from Regina (maybe Prince Albert) to Last Mountain Lake and south to Joplin, Missouri, where her daughter lives. “It will help migratory birds as well as pollinators,” she explains. She was excited to learn that the Ministry of Transportation is planting native seeds and plants along highways near Saskatoon and sees it happening along grid roads where farmers are protecting native plants. “All of us can do lots through individual actions,” Gail says. “The first step is to connect people and communities. I hope we’ll stay in touch and work on more projects together.” 

Regina Beach 
Wendy Bot was searching for something positive to do during the pandemic. She saw a call-out for Butterflyway Rangers and it spoke to her. “I’m not a gardener, but I have a large area of influence and felt I could positively influence others,” Wendy says. She posted an announcement on Facebook hoping 15 people would be interested enough to set up pollinator patches. The project took off faster than Wendy expected and she has handed out over 50 seed packets. 

Wendy’s main pollinator garden is in her front yard as she wanted it to be visible to promote the Butterflyway project. Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre has got their garden up and running as well. Most of the patches will be in Regina Beach, but she’s also distributed seeds to people in Craven, Tuxford, Lumsden, Yorkton, and Lloydminster. Wendy hopes to get the municipality on board as she would love to see pollinator patches planted along the town’s walking/cycling path. 

Wendy plans to raise funds so that everyone who has planted a native garden can display a sign. “It doesn’t matter if their garden is large or small,” Wendy says. “They’ve taken the time to show their interest and they need recognition. Inclusivity and flexibility are part of the beauty of this project. We can use and do something with whatever you have to offer in terms of both space and time.” Wendy is also open to new ideas. She didn’t know that milkweed seeds needed a cold treatment. Her seeds grew and thrived without it. “My newness may actually result in new ways of doing things,” she says. 

A collaborative approach works best, Wendy believes. While Gail is mentoring her on plants and gardens, Wendy is happy to share her project management and fundraising expertise and plans to raise enough money so that Regina and Regina Beach gardeners receive signs. She’s hoping that corporate sponsors will plant gardens as well as provide funds and points to the Liberty Utilities project in Missouri as an example. 

The project has been a huge learning experience and very rewarding. “The results are right in front of your eyes. If you see more birds and bees, you’ll know the project is working.” 

Candace Savage, an active member of Wild About Saskatoon, became a Butterflyway Ranger in 2021. She and her husband Keith have been transitioning their garden from lawn to native plants for the past 6-8 years. “There are large elms in the front yard, so we’ve created an understory garden with northern bedstraw, wood violet, and many other species,” Candace says. “Every year we dig up a few more metres of boulevard and we have large beds in the backyard as well. There are a couple of hundred species. Once they start blooming, it’s just so busy with bees they’re stumbling over each other.” 

Candace’s love of native plants stems from her childhood when her mother introduced her to the different species as well as her awareness of the catastrophic loss of grassland species. “This is something we can do with our own hands. We can create a refuge for insects,” Candace says. 

The importance of native plant gardens fits well with the other projects undertaken by Wild About Saskatoon to celebrate wildlife and wild spaces. They have added materials on growing and gardening with native plants to their website and a group of them are actively developing native plant gardens. “About a dozen of us are attending meetings and sharing information,” Candace says. Inspired by the Suzuki Foundation’s Butterflyway and a similar project in Hamilton, they’ve established Pollinator Paradise YXE and have developed signage as another way of spreading the idea.

Photo 1: Regina's Native Plant Garden
Photo 2: Amy's native plant garden in Prince Albert
Photo 3: Gail Fennell with Donna & Jim Holmes who were instrumental in developing the Angus Street Boulevard Garden
Photo 4: Wendy transplanted Meadow Blazing Star, Giant Hyssop, Wild Bergamot, and Milkweed

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or subscribe by email (top right corner).

Tuesday 22 June 2021

EcoSask News, June 22, 2021

Blue Jay

This Week’s Highlights 
Help weed and mulch the 200 fruit-bearing trees and shrubs on the east side of the river between the Circle Drive and train bridges from 1-4 pm, Saturday, June 26. Tools will be provided. Contact Jordan for additional information (306-380-9565, jrs260@usask.ca). 

Want to reduce your carbon footprint? Switch from videoconferencing to voice-only online meetings and you’ll reduce your environmental impact by 96%. [Anthropocene

Upcoming Events 
Have your say on the City of Saskatoon’s Green Infrastructure Strategy at a virtual workshop from 1-3 pm, June 24, or 7-9:30 pm, June 29. Or you can complete an online survey from now until July 4. 

Nature Conservancy of Canada is hosting a webinar on tackling invasive species from 11:30 am-12:30 pm, June 24. 

City of Regina residents can dispose of hazardous waste from 4-7 pm on Friday, 9 am-4 pm, Saturday, and 9 am-4 pm, Sunday, June 25-27. 

EnviroCollective Regina will be holding an online meeting from 7-9 pm, June 28.

Looking Ahead 
Enjoy art classes in a natural setting at Ness Creek from July 26-29.
Silver-spotted skipper

Local News 
“In a province that’s home to nearly half of Canada’s arable land . . . the impact of farming operations on downstream water bodies is huge. . . . a careful balance has to be struck between the vital economic necessities of farming and protecting the environment for the future” [Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Find out more about the prairies with games and activities from the Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan, including an interactive game, a field guide to the plants and animals living on the prairies, and field activities. 

What a Good Idea! 
E-scooter fees will partially fund a $2 million program to add 3 miles of protected bike lanes in downtown Miami. [Planetizen

The online shopping boom calls for new urban freight options to reduce emissions, air pollution, and traffic congestion. Here are 10 proven options as well as 4 new ones. [Pembina Institute

Ten Bold Ideas: Accelerating Climate Action in the 2020s offers some intriguing ideas, such as a repair workshop on every main street, menu flipping, and real golf. [Possible

Over 100 wildflower meadows, funded by the municipalities, have been planted in Germany’s largest cities over the past 3 years. Their goal is to protect Germany’s wild bees, more than half of which are endangered or on the verge of extinction. [The Guardian

A colony of rare orchids, thought to be extinct in the UK, has been discovered in the rooftop garden of a London bank, demonstrating that green infrastructure can protect and maintain biodiversity. [The Guardian

We Can Do Better! 
Cascades: Creating a Sustainable Health System in a Climate Crisis wants to engage the health care community in climate action and is hosting a listening tour, starting July 7. [Centre for Sustainable Health Systems

A proposed lithium mine in Nevada highlights a dilemma facing green tech: it’s still reliant on extractive industries. Opponents “assert that the mining industry is simply greenwashing old practices and exploiting the political climate that favors green energy, while using the laws that have enabled dispossession and destroyed environments for over a century.” [Earth Island Journal

“Peatlands, such as fens, bogs, marshes and swamps, cover just 3% of the Earth’s total land surface, yet store over one-third of the planet’s soil carbon.” They’re drying out or being destroyed, and that’s a problem. [The Conversation

If you’re looking for hard economic data to support climate action, check out The economics of climate change: no action not an option, which states, “The world economy could be 10% smaller if the 2050 net-zero emissions and Paris Agreement targets on climate change are not met.” [Swiss Re Institute

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or subscribe by email (top right corner).

Nature Companion, a free nature app/website for Canada's 4 western provinces

Thursday 17 June 2021

Community Highlights: Boreal Rangers Outdoor Adventures 4-H Club

1. How and when did you form your group? 
Amy McInnes is the general leader of the Boreal Rangers Outdoor Adventures 4-H Club in Prince Albert. She and her husband Aron grew up on farms and met when they were in the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves. They believe their “Adapt and Overcome” philosophy blends nicely with the 4-H motto, “Learn to Do by Doing”. 

There are 11 members in the club this year, ranging in age from 8 to 18 (younger children were not invited due to the focus on online activities this year). Amy and Aron try to make links to what the members are learning in school, the kids’ interests, and the club’s learning goals. The club is constantly linking to other programs and groups, such as SaskOutdoors and Water Rangers. 

Amy says a lot of knowledge passes back and forth between the leaders and the kids based on what the kids ask about and the information the leaders obtain so they can teach the kids. 

2. What are your principal activities and why do you believe they’re important? 
At the beginning of each year, 4-H clubs choose a number of different projects to work on during the year. The Boreal Rangers' focus is very hands-on and outdoor adventures and sustainability are a staple. This includes camping, hiking, and learning about falcons, wolves, and owls. Aron works with the older kids on sustainability. Discussions often centre around features of the McInnes home, including solar panels, a forest garden in the front yard, an aquaponics set-up in the dining room, and vermicomposting. In addition, the 4-H club donates time and plants to two community gardens that are designed to help families that are struggling. 

3. What were your successes (big or small) in 2020? 
How the club functions was definitely affected by Covid, but the club has used the time to adapt and find new ways to connect and experience things they might not have taken the time to do otherwise. Most of the programming over the past 12-14 months has been online as a group with members sending in photos to show how they followed through with what they learned. Zoom meetings are offered but for shorter time periods as attention span is less on a computer. 

The times the group did gather were very different, but they are looking every day for ways to build a positive outlook into what they are learning from this experience. The group couldn’t go snowshoeing together so everyone received a voucher for equipment rental and went out in family bubbles (thanks to a grant from SaskOutdoors). Drama activities took place on Zoom. The volunteer running the sessions had a theme and would suggest activities such as emotional responses to music clips, ad lib, and coming up with and sharing a character. 

4. What would you like to achieve in 2021? 
The club has been planning an Indigenous culture project that will get underway this summer. They hope to return to their family-inclusive outdoor adventures as well. 

5. If you could have 3 wishes for improving your community, what would they be? 
  1. Increased connection within Prince Albert city and area, through programming or volunteering. We’d like to learn the local history and respect its place in how the community was formed. 
  2. Community members consider sustainability in their daily lives. 
  3. Listen to youth! They have ideas that can and will shape the future. 

6. Are there volunteer opportunities with your organization? 
Amy says she and Aron involve other leaders for activities that aren’t within their areas of expertise, such as this year’s drama and canine projects. They are working with Cree and M├ętis Elders and Knowledge-Keepers on an Indigenous culture project. They also take advantage of local expertise, learning about owls with Harold Fisher, falcons with Lynn Oliphant, and honey with Hannigan Honey.

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or subscribe by email (top right corner).

Tuesday 15 June 2021

EcoSask News, June 15, 2021

Barn swallows

This Week’s Highlights 
Canadian swallow populations are in rapid decline. Home and farm owners can make a difference by not removing or damaging nests [Nature Canada

A film tour of the proposed peat-mine site in northern Saskatchewan will be followed by a discussion and question period from 7:30-8:30 pm, June 15. 

Upcoming Events 
Protecting, better managing, and restoring Canada’s wetlands (including peatlands), grasslands, and forests can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To learn more, register for a webinar at 10 am, June 16. 

The City of Saskatoon will be reporting on the natural areas screening that was completed as part of planning for the University Heights 3 development online from 7-8:30 pm, June 21. This area includes both Swales as well as various other remnants of native prairie. 

Michael Nemeth will discuss lessons learned from Saskatoon’s Radiance Cohousing in a Passive House Canada webinar from 10 am-12 pm, June 25. 

Urban Development 
“CPAWS-SK remains engaged in urban and near-urban conservation discussions and will continue to broaden our engagement at a local, regional, and national level to ensure the opportunities for and values of urban conservation are shared and prioritized. . . . We must find new ways to encourage and incentivize our municipalities and governments to see the merit – economic included – of protecting our most valued habitats and species in perpetuity and providing these landscapes with the necessary buffers and connectivity for both flora and fauna to thrive” [CPAWS-Sask

Food Production 
Emissions from food production have been underestimated for decades. A new study shows that, taken as a whole, the food system generates 20-40% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide [Inside Climate News

Competing interests: Louisiana farmers, the majority of whom lease their land, support state legislation to block solar projects from receiving industrial tax credit [Planetizen]
pronghorn and fawn

“I wish that everyone who said they believed in angels would actually believe in insects” is the first line of Jay Griffiths’ book Why Rebel? . . . Here, then, the causes for rebellion: survival and awe, beauty and necessity, grace and grief” [book review, Earthbound Report

“We need a new language to communicate about the climate crisis and justice — one that embraces creativity and culture. . . . My activism is no longer rooted in fear or anger, but in love: a love for the people, humanity, and the planet, and love will always be greater than fear. There also has to be a place for fun in the climate justice movement if we’re going to pick ourselves up and keep going after every setback” [op-ed, Teen Vogue

Protecting Wildlife 
For pronghorn and mule deer, fences can change migration routes and cause death or injury. Removing or replacing fences is expensive, hence a software package illustrating the most problematic sections [The Revelator

Check out these online resources on gardening for birds [Nature Canada

The pileated woodpecker – a regal presence with a maniacal call [Wild Life

Did you know? New mule deer mothers usually give birth to a single spotted fawn, while older mothers usually have twins [Nature Companion

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or subscribe by email (top right corner).

Tuesday 8 June 2021

EcoSask News, June 8, 2021

Choke Cherry flowers

This Week’s Highlights 
What impact does mountain biking have on wildlife? How can parks managers reconcile their dual mandate of nature conservation and human recreation? 

Wascana Junior Naturalists is hosting nature programming for kids in Regina every Saturday from June 19-Aug. 21 from 9-10 am. 

Upcoming Events 
Nature Conservancy of Canada is presenting a webinar with 10 stories of Canadian wildlife recovery and why they matter at 12:30 pm, June 10. 

Regina Public Library is offering a virtual series of short talks with artists with environmental elements to their practices at 7:30 pm, June 15. 

As part of this year’s Spring Meet, Nature Saskatchewan is hosting a variety of online activities, including Nature Trivia on June 15, a presentation on Leave-No-Trace outdoor cooking on June 16, a photo/video sharing session on June 17, and an AGM at 7 pm, June 21. 

The Provincial Association of Resort Communities of Saskatchewan is hosting a virtual panel discussion on waterways, wetlands, and stewardship at 7 pm, June 16. 

SK-PCAP is hosting a native plant Id and quiz webinar at noon, June 16, as part of Native Prairie Appreciation Week. 

Partners FOR the Saskatchewan River Basin is hosting an online annual general meeting at noon, June 16. 

SK-PCAP is hosting a webinar on Stewards of Saskatchewan: prairie species at risk at noon, June 16, as part of Native Prairie Appreciation Week.

Local News 
Ron Jensen will be banding ruby-throated hummingbirds at Beaver Creek Conservation Area. The hummingbird feeders were donated by Wild Birds Unlimited.

Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre has gathered 3,000 signatures, calling on the City of Saskatoon to ban the use of neurotoxins on pigeons

Let’s Get Practical 
Canada Greener Homes Grants – who is eligible, what they cover, drawbacks, and how to get the most bang for your buck. 

Should you replace a used car with an EV? That depends on how many miles you’ll put on it and on how electricity is produced in your area. 

Art & Nature 
“Cities around the world should identify, protect and make accessible places in nature that are dedicated to silence in the outer sense and stillness in the inner sense.” 

An online photography exhibit explores 3 themes: Incredible Wildlife, Wildlife in Crisis, and Reasons for Hope. 

The arts can help solve the climate crisis by telling stories that persuade people to “fall in love with nature again” and prompt government to back green policies. 

Success Stories 
Toronto’s TD Centre is undertaking North America’s largest bird-safe building retrofit by installing bird collision deterrent markers on glass. 

People are more likely to install solar panels if their neighbours have already done so

A 5-storey residence at Red Deer College is covered in solar glass cladding on 3 sides

Did you know?
Bears pull chokecherry to the ground and tear its branches apart in their eagerness to eat the fruit (Nature Companion, a free nature app, downloadable directly from its website

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or subscribe by email (top right corner).

Thursday 3 June 2021

The Natural Wonders of Pine Cree Regional Park

White-tailed deer

Just 300 metres below the sun-drenched prairie is a small campsite nestled in a grove of pine trees beside a quietly flowing stream. Pine Cree Regional Park, located 13 km northeast of Eastend, Saskatchewan, offers 28 non-serviced campsites and features rare orchids, possible cougar sightings, and a wide variety of birds and animals. There are three self-guided trails through the park that can be booked through the park officer. One trail takes you up to the highest point in the park where you will discover teepee rings, while another leads you up above the Hermit’s Cave. All three trails are described in Robin and Arlene Karpan’s book, Saskatchewan’s Best Hikes and Nature Walks

The park’s website provides lists of the flowers you may spot while walking on the prairie or in the forest. If you’re very fortunate, you’ll spot the blunt-leaved bog orchid, the green bog orchid, or the round-leaved orchid, all of which flower in June-July. You may also spot the northern bog violet, the western Canada violet, or the downy yellow violet. The western Canada violet spreads rapidly via its roots and is often found in clumps. 

If you look closely, you’ll find so many different flowers among the prairie grasses. Wild licorice has spike-like clusters of narrow pea-like yellowish-white flowers with an erect upper petal. The hooked bristles on the seed pods catch and cling to animal fur and human clothing distributing the seeds to new areas. Later in the summer, you’ll see purple prairie clover and goldenrod.
Purple prairie clover

Sit quietly and you may be fortunate enough to spot moose, white-tailed deer, coyotes, and bobcats. Moose are the largest members of the deer family and are so tall that they prefer to browse on higher plants as it can be difficult to bend their head to ground level. They are often seen in lakes or wetlands feeding on aquatic plants. They have poor eyesight but a strong sense of smell. 

White-tailed deer are the smallest North American deer with white fur around their eyes and nose. They raise their tail, displaying its white underside, to signal danger. White-tailed deer use scent to communicate with other animals. Every step is marked by a smelly substance from glands between their toes. 

Listen for coyotes calling at night. They are very vocal with a wide range of calls to greet and communicate with each other or warn of danger. 

Bobcats are twice the size of a domestic cat. They are solitary animals and fierce hunters, silently stalking their prey before taking it down in one enormous leap. 

Cougars live in the Cypress Hills and there’s a chance you may spot one in the park. Cougars are shy animals that keep to themselves and prefer isolated areas. The park pamphlet explains that cougars will normally avoid people; “however, if you see a cougar and it doesn’t run off, it may be sick, have a food kill nearby, or young, and could feel threatened by you.” In this situation, “Make yourself big and loud. . . . Maintain eye contact, and back away slowly. . . . Cougars are big cats and lazy, so if you appear to be a lot of work, they will likely leave, or give you an opportunity to back away.” 

Pine Cree Regional Park is home to pink-sided dark-eyed juncos, mountain bluebirds, great horned owls, and common poorwill. Great horned owl are forest dwellers and have a deep hooting voice that is unlike any other North American owl. They hunt at night, using their large, strong talons to break the spine of large prey.

great horned owl

Starry Skies 
The southwestern corner of Saskatchewan is an excellent spot for star-gazing as there are large wilderness areas and only small urban centres. Both Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park and Grasslands National Park are Dark Sky Preserves, sanctuaries where people can enjoy the night skies. 

See Also 

Heading outdoors? With the Nature Companion app on your phone, you’ll have easy access to information about over 300 common plants, trees, birds, animals, insects, reptiles and amphibians in Canada’s four western provinces. The Nature Companion app/website was developed by EcoFriendly Sask and is free (and ad-free) and can be downloaded directly from its website

EcoFriendly Sask
supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or subscribe by email (top right corner).

Tuesday 1 June 2021

EcoSask News, June 1, 2021

Canada Geese goslings

This Week’s Highlights 
SaskPower is holding online conversations on June 9 & 16 to consult with the public on its long-term power strategy. You can register for morning or afternoon sessions. 

“Environmentalism emerged from the 1960s as a movement to save the natural world. Now it seems to have been appropriated to describe the fight to save industrial civilisation — life as we know it.” 

Upcoming Events 
Margret Asmuss will provide an overview of climate impacts and action in Saskatchewan at 6:30 pm, June 3, online. 

City of Saskatoon residents can dispose of household hazardous waste from 9 am to 3:30 pm on June 6. 

There will be a noon-hour webinar on bats on June 8 as part of the Native Prairie Speaker Series. 

The Provincial Association of Resort Communities of Saskatchewan is hosting a webinar with Jo Jozsa discussing zoning bylaws to protect lakes at 7 pm, June 9. 

Project WILD and Flying WILD will be combined in a one-day virtual workshop on June 10. 

City Life
Form follows fuel: “From the earliest known archeological remains to the trends of the 21st century, the availability of energy has shaped architecture. That’s a perspective that deserves exploring, especially since the energy constraints imposed by climate change now present ‘the toughest challenge the world of architecture has ever faced’.” [book review] 

Canadian cities tend to sprawl – and sprawl costs money, time, and energy. What if we moved away from that model to the “20-minute city” where everything you need (work, grocery store, coffee shop) is within 20 minutes? “Touted benefits include better air quality, a healthier population, higher property values and lower transportation costs for those who can eschew an automobile. . . . Making cities more walkable involves creating a more compact footprint, where more businesses are built near existing homes. But it also means building housing near existing businesses, such as stores and restaurants.”

Canmore, AB, has grown from a small coal-mining community to a large bustling tourist destination. Residents are now struggling to reconcile tourism development with climate, transportation, and housing goals, as well as protection of an important wildlife corridor. A group of residents hopes to purchase a piece of land to create a permanent conservation area and affordable housing. 
Spotted sandpiper

We Can Do Better 
Smokescreen: Debunking Wildfire Myths to Save Our Forests and Our Climate by Chad T. Hanson explains why wildfire are beneficial, the role fire-burned trees play in maintaining biodiversity, and the need to focus on home fire safety and defensible space as opposed to back-country vegetation management. [book review] 

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are used in air conditioning and refrigeration systems and are “hundreds to thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere”. Refrigeration systems in supermarkets aren’t air-tight, so they lose 25% of their refrigerant every year – “that amounts to emissions equivalent to more than 12 million cars driving for a year”. There are alternatives, as demonstrated by a New York City grocery store, but no easy answers. [podcast & transcript] 

Arbor Week 

Did you know? Female Spotted Sandpipers mate with up to 5 males, leaving the males to incubate the eggs and feed the young [Nature Companion is downloadable directly from its website

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or subscribe by email (top right corner).