June 30, 2005

Burnaby-Kushiro 40th Anniversary

Burnaby's beautiful crane ecosculpture and mural were unveiled today at a ceremony on Burnaby Mountain.

The celebration marked the 40th anniversary of sister-city relations, and the preservation of wetlands in Kushiro and streams in Burnaby.


Posted by Paul at 07:20 PM

June 25, 2005

Bullfrogs Invading South Burnaby?

Yumi and I dropped by Foreshore Park tonight to take another look at the salmon eco-sculptures and Stream of Dreams fish mural at the confluence of Byrne Creek and the Fraser River.

We also checked out the pond near the eco-sculptures and we saw many huge tadpoles. They were 3+ inches long with heads the size of elongated toonies. We also saw just the eyes of one frog staring at us from the muck, and the distance between the eyes looked bigger than any native BC frog. I think we may be developing a bullfrog problem down there... And it's just a hop, skip and jump from the pond to the creek...

Bullfrogs are not native to B.C. and are voracious predators of native animal species. Here are a couple of good sites for info:

Survey of Bullfrogs in B.C.

Frog Watch

Posted by Paul at 10:18 PM

June 24, 2005

Burnaby-Kushiro Crane Display Takes Shape

The cities of Burnaby, Canada, and Kushiro, Japan, are celebrating their 40th anniversary as sister cities this year, and Burnaby has put together an amazing crane project that honours Kushiro's efforts to save the red-crowned Japanese crane from near extinction.


Burnaby had 2,000 aluminum cranes made for children to paint under the direction of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society, which is known for its watershed education and community art programs. The society taught children in 11 Burnaby schools about the Japanese crane and the efforts of Kushiro citizens to preserve its habitat, and then children painted cranes that are being installed on Burnaby Mountain.


Burnaby also commissioned a huge crane eco-sculpture that was recently installed on the mountain, and it is quite the sight.


The eco-sculpture and the crane mural will be officially unveiled at 11:00 a.m. on June 30, with the participation of a delegation from Kushiro.

Posted by Paul at 09:58 PM

June 22, 2005

Insecticide Awareness Heads Off More Spraying

I was pleased to see a letter in today's Burnaby Now from A.J. Bramhill. I don't know him, but I was thrilled that he took action to stop the spraying of an insecticde that is toxic to water bugs and bees after seeing an article in which I pointed out the possible dangers of the chemical.

In only 48 hours, Mr. Bramhill managed to get five townhouse complexes in south Burnaby to stop their plans to use Merit to battle the invasive chafer beetle. He lives nears Powerhouse Creek, which runs into Byrne Creek, and was happy to notch a "small environmental victory."

I admire his success and hope to meet him some day to extend my gratitude.

Posted by Paul at 10:48 PM

June 16, 2005

Copy Editor in Deep Doo-Doo?

Of several errors in Jacob Richler's "The Scooter Diaries" article in today's National Post, the following one takes the cake:

"... I like Vespa's style -- because the first image the brand name conjures for me is a young Jean-Paul Belmondo, helmetless, tearing down some street in Rome with an unfiltered cigarette dangling from his lower lip and a babe hanging onto his waste..."


Posted by Paul at 09:58 AM

June 15, 2005

News Editor Makes News Again

Here's another example of an editor being on the other side of the desk.

I was interviewed about an insecticide that could affect local streams after sending a press release out for our volunteer streamkeeper group. It never ceases to amaze me how it feels to be on the interviewee side, and the dismay that crawls up the back of your neck when you feel your comments have been misinterpreted.

It's a good story, and I'm happy that it will raise public awareness about insecticides and creeks, it's just that I didn't say quite what it says I did!

I sent in a request for a correction today:

(NOTE: I'm happy to report that the paper will air my concerns. I'm also pleased that we've patched things up amicably, and look forward to working with the paper in the future -- I certainly appreciate its coverage of local environmental issues!)
Thank you for the extensive article on the chafer/insecticide issue, however I have several concerns about how some of the information was presented.

1) I never said that there was a "potentially deadly impact of the chemical on spawning salmon...." Salmon enter creeks, they spawn, they die. The key is the chemical has a potentially deadly impact on the bugs in the water that are part of the food chain for hatching fry, resident fish, and other animals.

2) "Cipywnyk said coho salmon fry are especially susceptible to chemicals because they have to live in the local creeks for up to a year...." I never said fry were susceptible to Merit, which is the implication in this statement. Again, the issue is that the chemical is toxic to the bugs in the water, and the fry eat the bugs.

3) I never said "... if the chemical was to enter the storm sewer system, it could flow into streams and kill salmon runs throughout the city." Again, it's the bugs.

4) I never said "... Burnaby's storm drains should be considered aquatic habitat." I said storm drains lead directly to streams and creeks.

I am concerned that these misrepresentations could hurt my credibility as a streamkeeper, and even potentially leave me open to accusations of misinformation from the manufacturer of the insecticide.

I would appreciate it if the paper could publish a short correction or letter to the editor along the following lines:

"Paul Cipywnyk thanks the Burnaby Now for its environmental coverage, however he would like to clarify that he did not say that the insecticide Merit would directly affect spawning salmon or coho salmon fry. The key is that the chemical is known to kill the water bugs that fry and resident fish eat. He also did not say that storm drains should be considered aquatic habitat, but that they lead directly to local streams and creeks, conveying chemical runoff and other pollutants into sensitive aquatic systems."

Posted by Paul at 08:40 PM

June 11, 2005

Insecticide Threatens Local Streams

Here's a press release I sent out for a group I volunteer with.

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers


For Immediate Release, June 10, 2005

Insecticide Threatens Local Streams

Burnaby streamkeepers fear that the introduction of Merit insecticide to combat the European chafer in the lower mainland could have serious effects on local streams. The active ingredient in Merit ? imidacloprid ? is highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates, or in other words, the water bugs that fish and other animals in the food chain need to survive.

Burnaby streams had their best salmon spawner returns in decades last autumn, and scientific bug counts by streamkeepers show that water quality in some streams has been improving recently. It would be a shame for the efforts of many volunteers and government agencies at the local, provincial and national levels to go to waste.

The label on Merit says:

"Do not apply within 30 meters of environmentally sensitive areas such as lakes, streams, rivers or other aquatic systems. Do not apply to terrains where there is a potential for surface run-off to enter aquatic systems." We note that storm drains lead directly to creeks and streams.

It further says:

"This product is highly toxic to bees?. This product is highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates?. The use of this chemical in areas where soils are permeable, particularly where the water table is shallow, may result in groundwater contamination."

We have learned that landscaping companies working in Burnaby have been recommending Merit to clients, and have heard that some strata councils have approved its use. Inquiries with the BC Ministry of Water, Land & Air Protection, and the Federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency confirm that licensed landscapers must follow the restrictions on the label.

The City of Burnaby strongly recommends that chemicals be used as a last resort, advising proper lawn care as the first step, and the use of native nematodes as another option. We urge landscapers, strata councils, and homeowners to reconsider using Merit.


Posted by Paul at 08:45 PM

June 10, 2005

2005 Byrne Creek Watershed Status Report

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers have released their 2005 Byrne Creek Watershed Status Report (4.4MB PDF file).

The report includes several indicators of the health of the creek and its surrounding watershed, and represents hundreds of hours of volunteer data collection.

Check it out, we're proud of it!

Posted by Paul at 05:03 PM

June 04, 2005

Burnaby Lake Birding

Yumi and I dragged ourselves out of bed at 4:30 a.m. this morning to take part in a birding tour at Burnaby Lake that started at 6:00 a.m.

When we got there, the experts were saying we'd already missed the peak song period! This is a hobby for the early risers....

The two-hour tour was fascinating, and the leaders were amazing in their ability to identify birds with a song or a glance. We felt humbled and yet invigorated in our efforts to learn more about birds.

It would be interesting to get an expert to lead a tour of Byrne Creek ravine where we volunteer as streamkeepers.

Posted by Paul at 05:31 PM