Nature City Festival was once again a great success this year! At the awards ceremony on May 22nd the Saskatoon Nature Society was awarded the EcoFriendly Sask NatureCity Award in the community initiative category; while one of our members, Melanie Elliot, was awarded in the individual category. These awards are given to those who advocate for the conservation and restoration of natural areas in and around Saskatoon.
Some of you may be aware that since NatureCity Festival, there has been a lot going on around the Northeast Swale and the future federal highway (Saskatoon Freeway) currently planned to be built through it. In response to these plans, there are multiple groups becoming involved. To help inform our members, I decided to provide a brief summary of some of the groups involved.
As citizens of Saskatoon, we can be proud that our city has now become the second Canadian city (Edmonton is the first) working to become part of the Urban Wildlife Information Network. The keynote speaker of this year’s Nature City Festival was Maureen Murray who began the UWIN project in her studies at the University of Alberta. She now resides in Chicago, Illinois where the network hub is located. During the festival numerous interested parties met at the Forestry Farm and decided to proceed with this wonderful initiative, in order to better understand how wildlife moves and utilizes urban to suburban, out to rural and wild areas, mainly through documenting and tracking wildlife occurrences via a system of trail cameras. There is also a large citizen science component. Logistics are still being determined but stay tuned to help identify the species living in and passing through our fair city.
Northeast Swale Watchers
The Northeast Swale Watchers is a group of concerned citizens who came together in 2011 to monitor plans for development in and around the Swale. Led by Louise Jones, this group actively engages with the city to work towards solutions and mitigate the impact development has on the Swale. Members of the Swale Watchers and their collaborators (including the SNS) are currently involved in ongoing discussions regarding how the new highway may impact the Swale(s), in hopes that an agreement acceptable to all parties may be found.
Endangered Grasslands Alliance
The Endangered Grasslands Alliance is a recently formed (from the Northeast Swale Watchers) group based in Saskatoon that aims to save grasslands, one patch at a time. Their current focus is on the development of the highway through the Northeast and Small Swales. Their website offers a wealth of information on grasslands and what you can do to help in their conservation. I encourage our members to visit the Call to Action page, where a list of government contacts is provided, as well as a draft letter expressing concern for the current development plans of the Saskatoon Freeway.
Several of our members and the executive are involved in these various groups, as well as others. As Saskatoon continues to face issues that threaten the Nature in and around our city, I believe it is important that these groups come together to stand on common ground and have our values and educated opinions heard and weighed in the decisions that will affect not only our future, but the future of the land and those that depend on it.
Saskatoon Nature Society
Connecting People and Nature
Saskatoon Nature Society
Box 448, RPO University
Saskatoon, SK S7N 4J8