Tuesday 27 July 2021

EcoSask News, July 27, 2021


This Week’s Highlights 
With gratitude for the lifelong contributions of Stuart Houston, 1927-2021 [Bridges, Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Science magazine has published a special edition on plastics. Articles include The plastic eaters, Achieving a circular bioeconomy for plastics, and Toward polymer upcycling – adding value and tackling circularity. [Science

Upcoming Events 
Learn to orienteer with Nature Regina from 10-11:30 am or 10:30 am-noon, Aug. 2. 

South of the Divide Conservation Action Program (SODCAP) will be holding its annual general meeting on Aug. 9 in Frontier. 

All events are listed on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar

Greenland has suspended all new oil and gas exploration. Government officials said they believe the "price of oil extraction is too high," citing both economic considerations and the fight against climate change. [CBS News

Storing excess renewable energy in batteries and releasing it when needed is more effective with collective, neighbourhood battery storage. [Anthropocene

Conservation Needs & Successes 
Loss of habitat deprives woodland caribou of safety from predators, food, and safe nursing grounds and leads to increased competition and disease. [CPAWS-SK

A conservation agreement with Nature Conservancy and Ducks Unlimited of Canada will protect over 3000 acres in the Moose Mountain Natural Area. The landowners have agreed not to subdivide, develop the property, drain the wetlands, or harvest the trees. [Discover Weyburn]

Elm Spanworm moth

That’s Amazing 
7 incredible moths - from one species that drinks the tears of birds to another that lives in the fur of sloths. [Smithsonian Magazine

Did you know? In very hot climates adult killdeer shade their eggs at midday and may soak their belly feathers to help cool the eggs. 

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 subscribing by email (top right corner).

Thursday 22 July 2021

Community Highlights: Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas

1. How and when did you form your group? 
The non-profit Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas Inc. was created to preserve and restore the 326-acre Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and the George Genereux Urban Regional Park in compliance with the City Council decision that these areas “be preserved in perpetuity.” Situated on the western edge of the city, the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and George Genereux Urban Regional Park are unique natural semi-wilderness habitats of great biodiversity. They are areas of all-season mixed woodland beauty with special geological, geographical, and historical elements, including Paleo-Indian and First Nations heritage. 

These man-made forests on the prairies are the only remaining portions of a 1970s City Plan to create a greenbelt around Saskatoon and were planted in response to the Green Survival program promoted in the US and Canada at that time. The afforestation area’s 50th birthday will be celebrated in 2022. We often remember City Manager Murray Totland’s words, “What would Saskatoon look like if it grew to half a million people?” and then we need to consider, “What do we want it to look like?” Greenspaces are not only nature-based solutions for climate action, but they promote health and wellness and support biodiversity and ecosystems. 

The Friends became an official environmental charity in October 2019 and received provincial non-profit incorporation in August 2019. Before that the Stewards and Stakeholders of the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area volunteers were a loosely knit group of people meeting regularly to conduct afforestation area clean-ups and speak before City of Saskatoon council and committee meetings. 

2. What are your principal activities and why do you believe they’re important? 
We believe this project can be part of an effective long-term strategy to focus our vision of living together on the land in the spirit of Witask√™win. In a significant way this project allows the past to meet the present and future. The rich geological, historical, natural, and cultural heritage of the areas honours where we have been. Science, conservation, and hands-on learning about the land, the environment, and sustainability ensure our future. “In the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.” (Baba Dioum) 

Richard St. Barbe Baker said it best when he adopted the African Kikyuyu word Twahmwe meaning “all as one” or “pull together” as the slogan for the International Tree Foundation when he initiated the Watu wa Miti Forest Guardians who had three missions: 
1. Plant ten trees, seedlings, or seeds each year. 
2. Do a good deed every day. 
3. Care for trees everywhere. 

3. What were your successes (big or small) in 2020? 
We worked with University of Saskatchewan classes, engaged in virtual tours, education and awareness campaigns, and supported the “Take it Outside” City of Saskatoon program during COVID, promoting the use of about 475 acres of greenwoods for social distancing with seating and bird stations in the forest. 

We were very grateful to Paul Hanley and Robert White, who personally knew Richard St. Barbe Baker, for increasing public awareness of the great humanitarian efforts achieved worldwide by Baker. 

We appreciate the volunteers who come out to document flora and fauna on the iNaturalist app (individually or during bio-blitzes) to assist the City of Saskatoon and the Meewasin Valley Authority develop their ecological assessment, which will lead to the Master Plan for the afforestation areas in conjunction with the Blairmore Sector development plan. 

On June 5, 2021, World Environment Day, an amazing team of volunteers removed 9,860 kg of trash from George Genereux Park. In the spring, we removed a make-shift log structure which had started to fall down and could have harmed both people and the nearby ecosystem. 

In the past few years, the Friends have organized community volunteer clean-ups removing over 21,790 kg of trash from George Genereux Urban Regional Park and over 38,300 kg of illegally dumped materials from the two afforestation areas. This has made the areas safe for public enjoyment and a variety of recreational and educational user activities. 

4. What would you like to achieve in 2021? 
The afforestation areas have received $100,000 of federal funding to build barriers to stop motorized vehicles from entering and dumping garbage. We will also be installing identification signage, conducting ecological surveys and bio-blitzes to identify significant species and landscape features, and holding garbage clean-ups and educational programming. 

With this Government of Canada funding, it is hoped that environmental protection programming can take place in healthy green spaces. Classes can take part in bio-blitzes; families can engage in nature walks; wedding parties can come out for photographic sessions; and folks can come out and gaze at the meteor showers. 

We look forward to working with our partner, SOS Trees, on climate action activities the Friends will be undertaking. 

5. If you could have 3 wishes for improving your community, what would they be? 
1. To welcome to both afforestation areas those users who appreciate the value of these hidden treasures – man-made mixed woodland oases on the prairies. Benefits are community development, user health and wellness, alongside fabulous all-season nature sightseeing at both the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and the 148-acre George Genereux Urban Regional Park. Everyone is welcome to join the Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas and recognize the true treasure and value of the afforestation areas, which have great potential. (https://stbarbebaker.wordpress.com, friendsofafforestation@gmail.com, 306.380.5368) 

2. That people recognize the importance and value of EcoFriendly Sask and their invaluable service to green groups and the environment of Saskatoon and area. Thank you for your funding support and for all that you do, because EcoFriendly Sask is a mentor and provides role models for improving the community in Saskatoon. 

3. “It is fitting that the afforestation area named after Richard St Barbe Baker, arguably the first global conservationist, be protected and become a site where the public can see the rich biodiversity resulting from planting trees in what was a summer fallow field in 1972.” (Robert White, Masters in Science in Ecology, Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas Inc.) 

Photo Credits: #1 Vivian Allan, #2 Shwetha Gopinath, #3 Julia Adamson

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 subscribing by email (top right corner).

Tuesday 20 July 2021

EcoSask News, July 20, 2021

Northern Crescent ?

This Week’s Highlights 
One quarter of methane emissions on oil and gas sites come from tanks, which are designed to allow the methane to off-gas: that’s not a leak, that’s a design problem. [CBC]

Beavers are being reintroduced to Utah’s desert landscape. If they become established, “their impacts can be wide-reaching. Just one beaver dam can improve water quality, as well as acting as a firebreaker for the surrounding land.” [BBC

Upcoming Events 
Efficiency Canada is hosting a virtual energy efficiency networking event from 1-1:45 pm, July 22. 

Join a nation-wide backyard bioblitz coordinated by the Nature Conservancy of Canada, July 29-Aug. 2. 

City of Saskatoon residents can dispose of household hazardous waste from 9 am-3:30 pm, Aug. 8. 

All events are listed on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar

Local News 
SOS Trees is urging Saskatoon residents to ask City Council to eliminate landfill fees for the safe disposal of elm as a contribution to protecting the city’s urban forest. [SOS Trees

Global warming, urban growth, and spring run-off from farm fertilizers are degrading surface waters in southern Saskatchewan and creating poisonous toxins. [Regina Leader Post

The Wildlife Rescue Society of Saskatchewan and The Fur-Bearers address issues surrounding human-wildlife coexistence through local efforts to protect a family of foxes and to respond to the trapping and killing of coyotes in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. [WRSOS, The Fur-Bearers

Prince Albert's plastic bag ban will go into effect Oct. 12 after being delayed due to the pandemic. Saskatchewan produces the second-most waste per capita in Canada. [CBC]
Leconte's Haploa Moth ?

Reuse & Repair
Some reusable kitchenware products have a greater environmental impact than single-use products. Silicone sandwich bags and beeswax wraps use too much water and energy to be beneficial. [Anthropocene

More and more products aren’t easily repairable – from laptop computers to farm machinery. Here's why we need the right to repair and what it should entail – information, parts and tools, legal unlocking, and accommodating repair in design. [New York Times Wirecutter

Retrofitting Our Homes & Cities 
“Pavement — comprising roads and parking lots — takes up roughly 30% of the city surface. . . Removing urban pavement would reduce stormwater run-off and treatment, rebuild natural climate buffers in cities, release soil from confinement, make space to plant trees, sequester carbon, and allow people to breathe fresh air, not asphalt.” [Next City

Home energy renovations (insulation, heat pumps, better windows) could create jobs and save on healthcare costs. [Pembina Institute report

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).

Did you know? Hawk Moth fly and move like hummingbirds and can be seen hovering in front of a flower while they unfurl their long tongue and insert it in the flower to sip the nectar.

Thursday 15 July 2021

Nature Activities for Kids, Summer 2021

Meewasin trail

We’ve come across some great nature activities for kids in Saskatchewan to enjoy this summer. You will find more possibilities in Nature and Environmental Programming for Children and Youth

Notice Nature 
EcoFriendlySask partnered with the North Saskatchewan River Basin Council on the Notice Nature project. If you’re in their area, you can win prizes, but even if you’re not, the bingo cards offer a wide variety of different outdoor activities and can be downloaded from the Notice Nature website

Woodland Art Adventures 
Prepare for adventure by borrowing a nature backpack from Woodland Art Adventures. The backpacks include indoor and outdoor activities, craft supplies, several scavenger hunts, and the materials to make a nature clipboard. There are backpacks on animal tracks, birding, botany, navigating by nature, and pond exploration. 

Themed art kits are also available covering topics such as snowflakes and exploring the night sky. 

Outdoor Science Kit
The Saskatchewan Science Centre is offering a kit packed with fun experiments and activities for kids to discover science in the outdoors. Kids will get to explore leaves, campfires, bugs, animal poop, tornadoes, microorganisms, sunshine, and stars. The kit is portable and all the instructions are included. 

Summer Camps - Regina 
Join the Wascana Junior Explorers on Saturday mornings from 9:00-10:30 am for fun nature programming. There will be different activities each week. 

The Saskatchewan Science Centre is offering week-long, science-themed day camps in August. Kids will build bridges, learn how to make soap, go on a virtual star tour, and much, much more. 

Summer Camps - Saskatoon 
Meewasin Valley Authority is offering eco adventure camps at Beaver Creek Conservation Area on Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout July and August. Topics include rodents, birds, aquatic invertebrates, and nature navigation. 

You may also enjoy: 

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

Tuesday 13 July 2021

EcoSask News, July 13, 2021


Upcoming Events 
Library of Things, Saskatoon, is reopening on July 17 from 1-4 pm. Pick up is by reservation only from the back door in the alley. 

Learn about bats from 7-8:30 pm, July 22, at Station 20 West in Saskatoon. Email communitygardens@chep.org to register (space is limited). 

Golden Eagles, a sub-group of the Saskatoon Nature Society, will be holding a variety of events on Thursdays in July and August. 
July 15 - Maymont area 
July 22 - Northeast Swale 
July 29 - Round Prairie 

Local News 
The Saskatchewan Environmental Society has spoken out on the importance of ensuring the safety of the Line 5 pipeline: “The Governor of Michigan and its residents have legitimate reasons to be concerned about Enbridge’s safety record. . . . The governments of Saskatchewan, Alberta and Canada should not simply be asking for Line 5 to remain open, but should simultaneously be pressing Enbridge to greatly improve its attention to pipeline safety in the state of Michigan and ensure full compliance with its easement agreement.” [Saskatchewan Environmental Society

The Village of Riverhurst is restoring a wetland at the entrance to their village. “We're hoping to use this as a demonstration site for other landowners and municipalities so they can know how to protect their own wetlands. For school-aged kids, they'll be able to come to learn about all the different birds and plants that live in a wetland." [West Central Online

Canada spent $23 billion to support pipelines in just 3 years: “When government money is tied up in a polluting industry there’s less money to invest in clean energy.” [The Tyee]

James Glennie, formerly of SaskWind, says Saskatchewan will lose jobs and engineering innovation through its emphasis on oil rather than renewables: “We should be developing a local supply chain because we do have the best wind and solar resources in Canada . . . . We have nothing to deliver on that and I think that’s a shame, a real shame.” [Regina Leader Post]

Carbon capture isn’t the answer: “Our state is addicted to fossil fuels and, like many addicts, instead of seeking to break our addiction. We seek ways to become functional addicts.” [DeSmog

Sustainable Choices
Don’t (just) fight the plastic, challenge those producing it. Write to the companies that use plastic packaging and ask what they’re doing to reduce their use of plastic. [The Earthbound Report]
Renting clothes is not a sustainable fashion option after all due to dry cleaning, delivery, and packaging costs. “You want to be sustainable? Buy less, buy better.” [The Guardian

Bumblebee on flowering Linden tree 

Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) proposes to preserve a 2,000 mile stretch of the Continental Divide eco-region by connecting recognized wildlife strongholds (Yellowstone, Banff, Jasper) with habitat bridges, wildlife corridors, and wildways. It’s an exercise in cooperation, “trying to blend conservation needs with the interests of local human communities.” [book excerpt, The Revelator

Florida has committed to establishing a wildlife corridor from the Alabama state line to the Florida Keys, nearly 800 miles. [New Yorker

Let's Hear It For the Birds!
The winners of the 2021 Audubon Photography Awards. And, advice from the award winners on how to become a better bird photographer

Two sandhill cranes in Alberta celebrate the birth of their young with song and dance. [Red Deer Advocate]

Did you know? Sandhill Crane mate for life and can live for up to 36 years.

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 8 July 2021

EcoFriendly Sask is 10 Years Old!

How time flies! EcoFriendly Sask is 10 years old! We hope you enjoy our summary of activities.

We published our first post on July 4, 2011. Since that date, we’ve published over 850 articles, provided 294 EcoFriendly Action Grants, and released Nature Companion, a nature app/website for Canada’s four western provinces. 
Thank you for your support, encouragement, and ideas! 

Andrew McKinlay & Penny McKinlay

Tuesday 6 July 2021

EcoSask News, July 6, 2021

White-tailed deer

Upcoming Events 
Sierra Club – Prairie Chapter is organizing a series of hikes in Saskatchewan this summer: 
7 pm, July 6 – Cranberry Flats Conservation Area, Saskatoon (1.8 mile loop, easy) 
7 pm, July 9 – Northeast Swale, Saskatoon (5 km, easy) 
1:30 pm, July 15 – Anglin Lake Loop, Prince Albert (9 km, moderate) 
noon, July 20 – Fairy Hill Trail, Regina (5.6 km, moderate) 
11 am, July 21 – Wascana Trail Loop, Regina (4.8 km, easy) 

There will be a Train the Trainer: Orienteering workshop in Regina from 10 am-noon, July 10. 

City of Saskatoon residents can dispose of household hazardous waste from 9 am to 3:30 pm on July 11. 

Miniature urban forests, from 6 to 250 square metres, may not solve climate change but “can have positive impacts on things like urban cooling, water regulation, and biodiversity.” [National Geographic

Canadian government and industry representatives are lobbying against a California proposal that would protect intact boreal forests and respect Indigenous rights. [The Narwahl

Protecting endangered species is never easy and often conflicts with industry. Take, for example, the marbled murrelet in BC: “The marbled murrelet may be small, but its nesting habitat requirements are vast and specific. Just a moss covered branch that’s high in the canopy of a centuries-old tree, close— but not too close—to the sea.” [Capital Daily

Urban Opportunities 
What a wealth of natural resources and biodiversity in the area currently under consideration for the new University Heights neighbourhood in Saskatoon! Rare plants and birds, wetlands, native grasses, a sharp-tailed grouse lek, and more are all at risk from construction, roads, and houses. [City of Saskatoon

Cities can help solve the biodiversity crisis with wildlife creating niches in unexpected places - from golf courses and cemeteries to community gardens, backyards, and vacant lots. [Yale Environment 360

Green roofs have an important role in climate action and sustainable, energy-efficient and biodiversity-integrated design and development. [National Environmental Treasure

A water treatment plant in Halifax will supply renewable energy to six mixed-use buildings. [Water Canada

Diesel subsidies to remote communities impede transition to clean energy systems. [Pembina Institute]

What a Great Idea! 
A decommissioned bridge across the Mississippi River could be turned into a national park and wildlife bridge. [Inhabitat

Alex Honnold’s Sustainability Tick List outlines small steps leading to big change in lowering our environmental impact. [Honnold Foundation

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).