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Stories about nature and photography on the Canadian Prairies

Jane’s Walk 2016 – nature photography at Northeast Swale

Posted by on 25. March 2016 in Blog / Journal, Workshops | Comments Off on Jane’s Walk 2016 – nature photography at Northeast Swale

Jane’s Walk 2016 – nature photography at Northeast Swale

I will lead a nature photography walk to Meewasin’s Northeast Swale. This guided photo walk is part of the 2016 Jane’s Walk festival taking place in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. We will focus out lenses on wild critters and details in nature found on a beautiful prairie landscape along the northeast edge of town. Date: Saturday, May 7, 2016 Time: 7 – 8 p.m. Jane’s Walk is a global movement of neighbour-led walking tours inspired by urbanist Jane Jacobs. The idea behind Jane’s Walk is quite simple: encourage people to walk, talk to their neighbours and build a community based on diversity. The Saskatoon festival will start on Friday May 6th and end on Sunday, May 8, 2016.     The nature photography field trip will take place immediately after the guided nature hike with Renny Grilz and Louise Jones (6 – 7 p.m. at the same location). Renny is a Resource Management Officer with the Meewasin. He is an ecologist with over 20 years of managing conservation areas for biodiversity across the Prairie provinces and specialized in native plants. Louise Jones is Chair of the Northeast Swale Watchers, a group of concerned citizens who came together in 2011 to monitor plans for development in and around the NE Swale. Come early and learn about things you will be photographing later during the golden evening light. What to bring: your camera, a macro lens (or a zoom lens that can focus close enough to photograph lichens on rocks), snacks, drinking water, insect repellent and a wind-proof jacket. Optional but recommended: a tripod that can be lowered close to the ground. We will be walking on rough terrain; please bring shoes with adequate ankle support. Event will be cancelled in case of a heavy rain. There is no cost to participate.     Location (updated directions): Meet at the Meewasin Northeast Swale on Lowe Road (Range Road 3050). Drive north on Central Ave (north of Attridge, intersection next to Dutch Growers) to Agra Road  where Central turns to gravel. Pass Fedoruk and turn right on Agra Road and drive to the intersection of Lowe Road, Agra Road and Fedoruk Road. Turn left onto Lowe Road. Look for an orange portapotie and parked vehicles. Northeast Swale is next to the slough on the east side of road before reaching the Sas­katchewan Wildlife Federation building (Range Road 3050 Saskatoon S7S 1N1). Location coordinates: 52°10’36.9″N 106°34’29.7″W (view on the Google Map) Alternate route: if Central Avenue is under construction: Drive north on Central Ave, turn right on Somers Road, turn left on Konohoski Road until the intersection with Fedoryk Drive.  Turn right on Fedoryk Drive and turn left onto Lowe Road; Northeast Swale is next to the slough on the east side of road before reaching the Sas­katchewan Wildlife Federation building (Range Road 3050 Saskatoon S7S 1N1).  ...

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Conservation groups call for protection of former PFRA pastures

Posted by on 4. November 2015 in Blog / Journal, Conservation | Comments Off on Conservation groups call for protection of former PFRA pastures

Conservation groups call for protection of former PFRA pastures

The 23rd Prime Minister of Canada was sworn into the office this morning. There are high expectations from the new federal government under the leadership of Justin Trudeau to repair damage caused by the departing Conservatives, especially in the area of environmental protection and climate change. Three large conservation organizations: Nature Canada, Nature Saskatchewan and Alberta Wilderness Association are calling the new Liberal government to announce an immediate pause in transfer of community pastures formerly managed by the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) to provincial control, until a legally binding plan is in place to protect their ecological value.     Former Conservative government announced in 2012 that it was cancelling the community pasture program, administered by the PFRA, and transferring the Crown land to the provinces. The Saskatchewan government, in turn, announced that it would sell or lease the former federal community pastures to individual pasture patron groups. Twenty out of the 62 pastures covering 720,000 hectares have already been transferred to patron groups or associations in Saskatchewan. Management structure and the ability to sustainably use the pastures differ widely between the groups. Situation is slightly different in Manitoba; the provincial government is supporting a more unified management structure through a non-profit Association of Manitoba Community Pastures. The AMCP is currently operating 14 pastures, with 9 more to be included in the network.     The community pasture system was created in 1930s with a goal to reclaim badly eroded soils, conserve natural prairie landscapes and provide grazing resource to small and medium size mixed-farm producers. Over the years, the management system under PFRA was developed to include maintenance of critical wildlife habitat, biodiversity protection and increase ecosystem resilience to climate change through water retention and ground aquifer replenishment. Government assistance in protection and management of these unique grassland areas is critical, especially in today’s ever-changing market conditions. Secure access to grazing space for livestock is important to small rural communities. It is also important to protect natural prairie landscapes from negative impacts caused by drought, over-use, development or conversion to intensive crop production. Call for an immediate pause on transfers of former PFRA community pastures should be followed by a commitment by federal and provincial governments to develop a unified plan to conserve native grasslands across the prairie provinces. We can not afford to lose more grasslands, the most threatened ecosystem in Canada.   Related news: Nature Saskatchewan wants pastures on Liberal agenda (Regina Leader Post) Province passes management of community pasture program to non-profit organization (Government of Manitoba press release)...

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Images on display to mark the World Photography Day

Posted by on 19. August 2015 in Blog / Journal, News & Events | Comments Off on Images on display to mark the World Photography Day

Images on display to mark the World Photography Day

Did you know that the World Photography Day is observed around the world on August 19th? It is a day to celebrate the art of photography, whether you are a casual or a full-time professional photographer. Photography has changed the way we see the world around us. It has allowed us to connect and learn about lives and interests of fellow human beings. It allowed us to share our stories, places we have explored and memories of loved ones. In the era of digital photography, this ability to share became ubiquitous – millions of images are posted on “sharing” sites at speeds not possible just a short time ago. Don’t be shy. Grab the camera, snap a few pictures and share the beauty. The World Photography Day was first celebrated in 2009. August 19th was chosen to mark the day in distant 1839, when the French government announced the invention a rather practical gift to the world: the Daguerreotype photographic processes, developed by Joseph Nicephore Niepce and Louis Daguerre. The French government purchased the patent and announced the invention as a gift “free to the world”.     Select London Drugs stores throughout Western Canada will mark the World Photo Day with photography workshops and display of work by local artists. Good folks at the LD photo lab invited me to prepare several images to be printed and displayed at the 8th Street location in Saskatoon. I am honoured that they picked my work to mark this festive occasion. If you have time (and you live in or near Saskatoon), drop by the London Drugs store located at 2323 8th Street East. Walk around and look for 24 x 36 inch prints hanging from the ceiling. You can also enjoy viewing a small selection of landscape images from around Saskatchewan on a massive 75-inch TV screen. The display will be active until Saturday, August 22nd. And while you are at the store, check out the manager’s special – last time I visited they had (my favourite) Lindt chocolates on sale.  ...

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Jane’s Walk – photo walk in downtown Saskatoon

Posted by on 1. May 2015 in Blog / Journal, News & Events | Comments Off on Jane’s Walk – photo walk in downtown Saskatoon

Jane’s Walk – photo walk in downtown Saskatoon

I have been invited to lead a photography walk in downtown Saskatoon as part of the 2015 Jane’s Walk festival. The Saskatoon festival will start on Friday May 1st in the evening and end on Sunday, May 3rd. There will be 16 guided walks this year. The photo walk that I led last year was a great success. On a rather cold and windy morning, a group of brave souls joined me for a walk along the Meewasin Trail. This year I will lead a group to explore the familiar downtown scene with fresh eyes, snap a few pictures and exercise our creative side. The idea is to slow down, look beyond the obvious and make a more personal connection with our city. We will look for reflections, patterns and shapes in facades of downtown buildings and aim our lenses at overlooked architectural details. There are many photography gems hidden in back alleys, waiting to be discovered. Time: Sunday, May 3, 2015 (3:00 to 4:00 p.m.) Place: we will meet at the bandstand (gazebo) at Kiwanis Memorial Park south of Delta Bessborough hotel     I will lead the group along the river past the Friendship Park and spend some time photographing in the River Landing area. After that, we will head north along the 2nd Avenue S, turn east on 21st Street E and return to the starting point via Delta Bessborough hotel. Although we will be walking on a paved surface, please bring shoes with adequate ankle support and non-slip soles. And remember to watch both ways before we walk across busy roads. Bring a camera with a (preferably telephoto) zoom lens. Free parking on Sunday is available along Spadina Crescent E and 20th Street E. Our meeting point is only a few blocks from the main public bus terminal. City of Saskatoon bus route and schedule information is available at www.transit.saskatoon.ca     Jane’s Walk is a global movement of neighbour-led walking tours inspired by urbanist Jane Jacobs. The idea behind Jane’s Walk is quite simple: encourage people to walk, talk to their neighbours and build a community based on diversity. Full schedule for 2015 Jane’s Walk in Saskatoon is listed at www.janeswalk.org/canada/saskatoon (direct link to the photo walk) You can read more about the festival program in this Star Phoenix article by Paul Hanley Yes, there is even an app for Jane’s Walk. You can get a direct access to event details on your phone by downloading a free app Eventbase and search for “Jane’s Walk Saskatoon”...

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Saskatchewan landscapes – an illustrated talk

Posted by on 23. April 2015 in Blog / Journal, News & Events | Comments Off on Saskatchewan landscapes – an illustrated talk

Saskatchewan landscapes – an illustrated talk

Just a reminder that on Friday, April 24, 2015 I will present an illustrated talk Saskatchewan Landscapes at the Frances Morrison Central Library (311 – 23rd St East, Saskatoon). The show starts at 2 p.m, and admission is free. Drawing from over 15 years of exploring the wilds of Saskatchewan, I will share images from my favourite places in the province. If you are passionate about Saskatchewan landscapes, join us for a journey of discovery and inspiration.     In the eyes of many Canadians, Saskatchewan landscapes are no more than endless fields of wheat and barley. In reality, our province is blessed with an immense diversity of landscapes, ranging from sand dunes, rugged badlands, dry grass prairie, to emense boreal forests of the Canadian Shield.     During the first part of the presentation, I will take the audience on a virtual journey around the province; from Cypress Hills and Grasslands National Park in the south, to Prince Albert National Park and Churchill River in the north.     After a few short audio-visual clips, I will talk about my sources of inspiration and what drives me to devote a large part of my life to explore and capture the beauty of natural environments. I have spent may years photographing “birds and the bees”. Recently, I have put more effort in documenting lives of people who live and work on the prairies.  ...

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Ian Toews’ Grasslands film screening in Saskatoon

Posted by on 14. April 2015 in Blog / Journal, Conservation | Comments Off on Ian Toews’ Grasslands film screening in Saskatoon

Ian Toews’ Grasslands film screening in Saskatoon

Saskatoon audiences will have an opportunity to view the poetic documentary about Saskatchewan grasslands this week. The film, produced by Gemini award winning filmmaker Ian Toews, will be shown on big screen at the Frances Morrison Central Library theatre, 311 – 23rd Street East in Saskatoon on Thursday, April 16, 2015 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. There is no admission charge and everyone is invited; bring along a friend or two. Following the screening, author and naturalist Trevor Herriot will provide an update on the state of the province’s grassland, and the work of Public Pastures – Public Interest (a citizen group that draws together rural and urban Canadians who share an interest in conserving public grasslands in Saskatchewan). Author Candace Savage will lead the discussion that follows. We will finish the evening with an informal get-together and refreshments.     The Grasslands documentary is a love letter to Saskatchewan prairies: endangered Greater Sage Grouse perform their mating ritual, herds of bison roam the vast open landscapes. We hear from ranchers and First Nations about their connection to the land. Conservation biologists explain the complexity of protecting the precious remnants of native prairie.     “This film illustrates the beauty and fragility of the grasslands ecosystem, threats to its preservation and efforts to sustain it,” said Trevor Herriot. “The film has been drawing enthusiastic audiences all over the province, a testament the value that Saskatchewan people place on our grasslands. It is an inspiration to those working to preserve this heritage for future generations.” “I wanted to convey that prairie was an expansive, flowing mass of grasslands. And then show people what it is today and what is being done to preserve it,” said the filmmaker and producer Ian Toews.     Originally from Saskatchewan, Toews earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in film production from the University of Regina. His works are primarily concerned with the natural environment and often, its degradation. He is the producer, director, and DOP of 7 short films, more than 60 television episodes, and 5 full-length documentaries. Ian Toews’ films and videos have been widely acclaimed and awarded with numerous international awards, including the Grand Prix at the Tampere International Film Festival, the Jury Award at the New York Exposition of Short Film, Canadian Film & Television Producer’s Association Indie Award, 5 Gemini Award nominations, a Canadian Screen Award nomination, and a 2008 Gemini Award win for Best Arts Documentary Program or Series for the long-running arts series “Landscape as Muse”. Toews has screened his films in over 50 countries throughout North America, Europe and Asia. The official Grasslands movie web site: www.grasslandsdocumentary.com You can see the trailer at vimeo.com/102805861 * Portions of this blog post contain information from a press release that I received this morning.      ...

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