Posts Tagged "bison"

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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World Wildife Day – March 3, 2014

Posted by on 4. March 2014 in Blog / Journal, Conservation | 2 comments

World Wildife Day – March 3, 2014

March 3, 2014 has been designated the first ever World Wildlife Day by the United Nations. It is an opportunity to celebrate our planet’s incredible variety of animals and plants, and to raise awareness about the need for global conservation of all living creatures on our planet. This day was chosen as the World Wildlife Day as it was on this day the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was adopted. The Convention plays an important role in ensuring that international trade does not threaten the species’ well being. Here is a small gallery of images showing wild creatures that can be found on the Northern Great Plains. Burrowing owl. Great Sand Hills, Saskatchewan Black-tailed prairie dog, American Prairie Reserve, Montana Northern Showeler, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan American Avocets. Saskatoon,Saskatchewan Western Madowlark. Zortman, Montana Mule deer. Great Sand Hills, Saskatchewan Canada Goose. Sakatoon, Saskatchewan Least Bittern. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Plains bison grazing. Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan...

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Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson visit PFRA Community Pastures

Posted by on 27. June 2013 in Blog / Journal, Conservation, News & Events | Comments Off on Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson visit PFRA Community Pastures

Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson visit PFRA Community Pastures

Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson, two of Canada’s most acclaimed writers and lifelong conservationists will be in Saskatchewan from June 24 to 28, 2013 for the Prairie Passages Tour. The two writers are Joint Honorary Presidents of BirdLife International’s Rare Bird Club. During the tour, Atwood and Gibson will visit PFRA community pastures and Grasslands National Park. The purpose of this tour is to raise public awareness of the national and international significance of the PFRA heritage rangelands for plant and animals that live on them – natural prairie and the 32 species at risk – and the need to conserve these lands for future generations. This is also an educational tour; several prominent members of BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of conservation organizations, are joining the group. The tour will include a lot of bird watching and meetings with conservationists and livestock producers who depend on the PFRA pastures for their livelihood. Following the the tour, Atwood and Gibson will share their experiences during the Atwood and Gibson Prairie Passages Dinner, co-emceed by CBC Radio One’s Sheila Coles, host of the CBC Morning Edition and Candace Savage, one of Canada’s most celebrated nature writers. The event is sponsored by Nature Canada, Public Pastures-Public Interest and CBC Saskatchewan. After the dinner, Atwood and Gibson will speak, reflecting on their visit to our grasslands and pastures, the birdlife and species at risk, and their own passion for conservation. There will be great images from the tour, music, and a chance to meet the international guests. The tickets are $100 or $950 for a table of 10. Available through the Globe Theatre Box Office or: Phone: 306.525.6400 Out of town: 1.866.954.5623 Fax: 306.352.4194 Email: boxoffice@globetheatrelive.com I was fortunate to spend two days on the Prairie Passages Tour in southern Saskatchewan, and photographed the activities. On Tuesday evening  I gave a short audio-visual presentation to the group, with images from the Grasslands National Park. If you are able to attend the gala dinner on Thursday, you will see a show of grassland images that I prepared as part of the program. Here are two images from the tour.  ...

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Grasslands National Park after the 2013 wildfire

Posted by on 24. June 2013 in Blog / Journal, Conservation | Comments Off on Grasslands National Park after the 2013 wildfire

Grasslands National Park after the 2013 wildfire

The Grasslands National Park photo tour went well. The weather was relatively cooperative and we managed to capture a few great images. I will post a few samples later this week. Prairie in the Park is recovering very fast after the massive wildfire that swept through the Park in April of this year. Early May was drier than normal, but heavy rains arrived at the end of the month. Temperatures were below average and rainfall was well above average over the first two weeks of June; many areas of Saskatchewan have received more than 150% of normal amount of rain. This might explain why the wildflowers were a bit delayed this year. We might see more flowers later on in June and early July. Vegetation in burned area has recovered rapidly and the Frenchman River valley looks incredibly lush and green. Along the Ecotour road, deer and bison can frequently be seen feeding on new, nutritious grass. In the image below it is possible to see that grass on the left-hand side of the road (south-west) was burned and had no residual dry plant material. The new growth is lush and green. Prairie on the right-hand side was not affected by the wildfire and has much more dead grass (brown spots in the image). Regrown areas have the best quality forage and attract many grazers. Actually, bison were seen looking for food in charred areas immediately after the fire. First Nations frequently set the prairie on fire to attract bison to certain areas where it was easier to catch them for food. The practice is used today to restore the bison populations. Prairie wildfire did change the affected habitat. Some of the tree species were heavily damaged and will not recover – we will have to wait for new saplings to emerge. Grass species benefited from the fire and are recovering with amazing vigour. Forbs (like sage and wildflowers) are a bit slower to return. Controlled fires can help in suppressing invasive species and are used in prairie management. Fires help by removing thatch (dead plant material), stimulating plant growth, and by attracting grazers. Control measures of invasive plant species include a combination of prescribed fires and grazing; Parks Canada is bringing in cattle to graze in areas that were heavily infested with the crested wheatgrass. I observed cows selectively eating seed heads of this invasive species, thus helping control the abundance of weeds. The large area of unburned prairie on land surrounding the burnt patch served as a refuge for the fire-sensitive species. They will quickly re-colonize the land affected by the wildfire over the next few years. Mosaic of habitat changes brought in by the large wildfire of 2013 will help enhance biodiversity of the area. The Grasslands National Park will be even more beautiful and attractive to hikers and photographers venturing into this remote part of...

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A large wildfire burns through the Grasslands National Park

Posted by on 12. May 2013 in Blog / Journal, News & Events | 1 comment

A large wildfire burns through the Grasslands National Park

A large wildfire swept through the Grasslands National Park at the end of April this year. The fire started in agricultural fields outside of the park and was carried into the park by a strong wind gusting up to 80 kilometres per hour. A large area of the park was affected – the fire travelled approximately 20 kilometres along the Frenchman River Valley and burned an area between one to four kilometres wide. About 200 people fought to contain the flames and by the next afternoon the fire was extinguished and under control. See an article about the wildfire published on CBC News. I happened to be in the area that weekend, photographing Sage Grouse in northern Montana. On the way back to Saskatoon, we stopped in the Park to check out the aftermath and assess the effect of this massive wildfire. Due to the approaching storm and a long drive still ahead of us, we did not have an opportunity to stay in the Park for too long. From what we saw and information gathered from the news, there wasn’t too much damage to the Park infrastructure. We saw a few burned signs and a damaged fence. The bison fence also received some damage but the Park staff worked diligently to repair it and prevent the park bison herd from leaving the Park perimeter. There was damage to old ranch buildings at the Larson’s homestead and haystacks at a neighbouring ranch. The new campground facilities at Belza were not affected. North edge of the blaze stretched along the gravel road leading to the Two Trees Trail and down into the Frenchman River valley. Photographs you see here were taken a day after the blaze swept through the area.   Although this wildfire was massive in its extent and local residents can not remember seeing such a big fire in the last 20 or 50 years, a prairie wildfire is a natural and integral part of the prairie ecosystem. Just a week or two before this wildfire, the Park staff conducted a controlled, prescribed burn near Two Trees Trail to reduce the buildup of dead organic material and to control the spread of invasive crested wheat grass. Actually, the area covered by the prescribed burn served as a fire guard in this fire. Read about the prescribed fire regime in Grasslands NP.   Prairie around the Two Trees Trail was heavily infested with the invasive crested wheat grass and the valley below, along the Frenchman River was just covered with invasive, non-native smooth brome grass. The wildfire removed almost all of the above-ground grass cover and might help in controlling the invasive grass species. The success in re-establishing native plants in this area will depend on the success of removing the emerging crested wheat and smooth brome by grazing, and in preventing the formation of seed heads in problem species.   The prairie ecosystem is built to withstand and recover from fires, even severe fires like the one that swept through the Grasslands Park this year. Several news reports stated that the wildfire “damaged the land”. The land can not be damaged by a fire – the land, or to be more accurate the prairie ecosystem, is shaped and modified by fires as it has been for thousands of years. This wildfire is nothing that the prairie has not seen before. Over the next few years we will see fewer shrubs and trees and more grasses, sedges and wildflowers. Trees along the  Frenchman River have been badly burned and will probably not recover; it will be some time until...

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