There has been a lot going on this summer including changes due to COVID-19, the Saskatoon Freeway project, and a promising new collaboration.
The pandemic continues to affect our regular activities as we move towards our Fall programming. Since the University of Saskatchewan remains closed to the public and with ongoing public health concerns, we will no longer be having live in-person general meetings but will move online to virtual presentations. These meetings will still include announcements from myself. If anyone has an announcement or notice, please contact me at least 2 days before the scheduled general meeting, which is always the third Thursday of the month. For security purposes and ease of distribution, we will be sending the Zoom information for our general meetings to current members (who have registered an email) only. Please remind previous members to renew their membership and encourage new interested members to join us on this year’s learning experiences. We also continue to have field trips available to members only and by contacting the respective leaders.
The Saskatoon Freeway project has entered into the Phase 2 Functional Planning Study, with focus groups and design workshops. A few of our members, including myself and Stan Shadick, participated in the focus groups in July and the design workshop in late August. Notes from the focus groups taken by their project team can be found at https://saskatoonfreeway.org/phase-2. We are also now a member of the Environment & Heritage Technical Working Group with Highways, representing an environmental/nature-centered view. This group discusses and attempts to inform decisions regarding the Freeway.
This phase, Phase 2, is the one which passes through both the Small Swale and the Northeast Swale. It is very important to increase public awareness of these areas, recognizing the value of the native grassland ecosystem (including wetlands/sloughs) and to advocate for the habitat, specifically in relation to increased research/data on the area; including Species at Risk surveys and a formal Environmental Impact Assessment. The “Habitat Evaluation of the Saskatoon Freeway Project Through the Northeast and Small Swale Complexes – 2020 Report” can be found at https://saskatoonfreeway.org/reports (note on page 6 that Valerie Martz is our current Past President and the list of members involved is not inclusive). To voice your opinion on the impact it may impose on this sensitive area, you can send a letter of concern to your MLA, your city councillor, the Mayor, Minister of Highways & Infrastructure, the Minister of Environment, the Municipality of Corman Park, and/or the Premier of Saskatchewan. Information to do so and a template letter can be found on the Endangered Grasslands Alliance page at endangeredgrasslandsalliance.ca/call-to-action under the “Send a letter of concern” heading. Additional information and maps of the project can be found on the Ministry of Highways & Infrastructure website at saskatoonfreeway.org.
On a very happy note, I am excited to announce that the SNS Board has recently been working with the Nature Conservancy of Canada on an agreement regarding development/conservation of a property near Asquith, Saskatchewan. Portions of the land are perfect examples of prairie habitat and others seem promising for management to return it to its native roots. This joint venture should directly align with our purpose to conserve and educate people about nature, not to mention provide a great place to enjoy escape to our local prairie roots! We are very thankful that this opportunity is made possible through the thoughtful and generous bequest left to us by Patricia Anne Thomas. As we move along in this process, I will keep the membership updated.
An extra note to please spread the word about SNS membership: The membership fees generally cover the cost of mailing out the newsletter and the printing and mailing out of membership cards. Don’t forget, perks of an SNS membership include a 10% discount on bird related products at Wild Birds Unlimited, a 10% discount on bird seed, houses, and books at Early’s, and a discount on photo finishing at Don’s photo. Another great benefit of being a member is access to the knowledge of other members. We have amazing members with a vast array of nature knowledge to share! To renew a membership or have a new member sign up, please visit our membership page by clicking on the following link. saskatoonnature.org/membership.
Western Red Lily Sara Bryson
Saskatoon Nature Society
Connecting People and Nature
Saskatoon Nature Society
Box 27013 Grosvenor Park
Saskatoon, SK S7H 5N9