June 02, 2014

SEHAB Meeting in Parksville, BC–Photos

The Salmon Enhancement and Habitat Advisory Board met in Parksville, BC, over the last weekend. We had a Friday Night Forum at which nearly 60 local stewards heard a presentation on the new DFO Fisheries Protection Program. The SEHAB board then met for a full day of working meetings on Saturday, and a half-day on Sunday. I am board Secretary and Chair of the Communication Committee, and I love these opportunities for intensive sharing of knowledge and information about salmon-related stewardship activities from across British Columbia. It's also great to get out of the lower mainland and learn about stewardship projects in other places, and meet the volunteers and local champions who get things done.

Here's some photos of the trip:

to_parksville_sehab_20140530_1

Leaving Horseshoe Bay

to_parksville_sehab_20140530_2

The beautiful BC coast

sehab_meeting_parksville

Volunteer representatives from across BC hard at work

sehab_meeting_parksville_beach_walk

A post-dinner walk on the seashore

sehab_parksville_seashore_20140531

sehab_parksville_seashore_20140531_2

sehab_parksville_seashore_20140531_3

sehab_parksville_seashore_20140531_4

Photo: Zo Ann Morten

As the communication guy, I point out that "You are here!" Um, somewhere in
Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park.

Posted by Paul at 02:14 PM

May 28, 2014

Sockeye to ‘Overwhelm’ Fraser River? Yeah, right… NOT

Whenever I see headlines like "Projected Sockeye Run Could Overwhelm Fraser River" I shudder and shake my head. Ain't no such thing. This is the "human management mind" in action.

Damn, we may not be able to freeze, can, smoke them all.

What crap.

Why the hell should we freeze, can, smoke them all?

Were sockeye runs "overwhelming" the Fraser River 100 years ago? No. 200 years ago? No. For the last century, or more, it's been humans overwhelming the sockeye, and other salmon runs.

Let's celebrate massive returns of sockeye. Let's fish them for First Nations, let's fish them commercially, let's allow sport fishers at them, too.

But we also have to let them spawn and die. Let's allow their decaying carcasses to enrich our rivers and streams, and feed wildlife other than our selfish human selves, and enrich forests, and meadows, and marshes.. 

Posted by Paul at 09:36 PM

May 24, 2014

Katzie Slough Tour in Pitt Meadows, BC

Took part in an interesting tour of Katzie Slough in Pitt Meadows, BC, today. Some history, some watershed lore, some personal recollections, and fighting the good fight to preserve and enhance urban biodiversity. Thanks to Watershed Watch Salmon Society organizer Lina Azeez and tour leader Scott Magri.

I have an album of tour photos on Flickr available here.

Posted by Paul at 09:32 PM

May 20, 2014

Young Mallards Eat Dead ‘First-Flush’ Coho Smolts on Byrne Creek

Unfortunately we had yet another "first-flush" kill of juvenile coho smolts on the creek in SE Burnaby, BC, over the last day. Whenever we release hatchery coho smolts, we're always on edge, hoping there is no rain for a week or so following. That's because the first rain after release that washes all the crap off our roads and into the creek tends to kills a significant proportion of the newly released fish. Indigenous coho and trout appear to survive just fine, so it seems to be an acclimatization issue with a certain proportion of the hatchery fish. Today I counted 40 dead smolts following yesterday's shower. That's not bad -- in previous years we've enumerated as many as 400-500 morts. This year's batch had six days to acclimatize and start moving downstream before the first flush of accumulated pollutants such as gas, oil, antifreeze, brake-lining dust, pesticides, and whatever other toxins that make it onto our urban streets.

I should point out that I also saw lots of live fish ranging from fry to smolts, so they are likely coho and cutthroat trout that hatch and and are resident in the creek.

byrne_creek_coho_smolt_first_flush_kill_1 _20140520

On happier note, in contrast to the dead "first-flush" coho juveniles, I was pleased to see that the mom mallard and ducklings that have been hanging around the Byrne Creek habitat seem to be doing well. She still has six ducklings, and they're getting to be of a size where predation is gradually becoming less of a worry. I dunno about the little ones, but I wouldn't be surprised if Mom hasn't scarfed a good feeding of dead coho smolts. Yes, I've seen mallards eat dead smolts before.

byrne_creek_mallard_babes_20140520

byrne_creek_mallard_babes_mom_20140520

And then, as I was going through my photos, I noticed something dangling from a duckling's mouth. I did a massive crop on the photo, and yep, even the ducklings are scarfing the dead coho yearlings!

byrne_creek_mallard_baby_eats_coho_20140520

Posted by Paul at 02:32 PM

May 15, 2014

Touring Students on Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby

I led three tours of art students from Byrne Creek Secondary in SE Burnaby today over to Byrne Creek. We didn't have oodles of time per tour, but we spent time at Griffiths Pond looking at the fish ladder and talking about streamkeeper activities, and then went over to the old homestead and talked invasive plants, etc. It was a great day, almost verging toward too warm. But I got my exercise walking back and forth three times : -).

byrne_creek_secondary_art_tour_1_20140515

Talking about the Stream of Dreams installation on the Skytrain pedestrian overpass near
Edmonds Station.

byrne_creek_secondary_art_tour_2_20140515

Scrambling down to Griffiths Pond to view the fish ladder and talk streamkeeping.

byrne_creek_secondary_art_tour_3_20140515

Posing for photos near the old homestead. Kids click everything and everywhere
these days!

Posted by Paul at 03:34 PM

May 12, 2014

DFO ‘Wins’ Code of Silence Award from Canadian Journalists

Let me preface the following by saying that for many years I've volunteered with many excellent DFO staff, and it saddens me that they are so hamstrung by Harper's minders in Ottawa. Here's yet another ludicrous example:

VANCOUVER, May 11, 2014 /CNW/ - Who would have thought a routine question on the salmon fishery on Vancouver Island would require navigating the hoops and weirs of the federal government?

Yet when a journalist working in Port Alberni asked, "How many Chinook salmon do you require for your annual egg take?" the answer would take four days and the assistance (sic) of a communications staffer over 4,500 kilometres away in Ottawa. To show how ridiculous this obstructive delay was, this is information Robertson Creek Hatchery's manager and interpretive staff members routinely share with visitors from local schools and youth groups.

The lockdown on that elusive number was implemented when the answer was prefaced by the journalist identifying himself and that he worked for a media outlet. It's symptomatic of the situation journalists working across Canada face whenever they attempt to interact with government staffers working in their local communities. For this reason, the CAJ awards its annual Code of Silence to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. . .

Read the entire press release here.

This obsessive centralized control is not only silly and anti-democratic, it's also a massive waste of taxpayer dollars. Can you imagine how many staff hours were devoted to this insane exercise?

For an example of how to do it right, simply look to our neighbours to the south.

Here are media guidelines for NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) staff:

Fundamental Research Communications

  • DAO 219-1 explicitly allows researchers to publicly discuss the results of basic or applied research in science or engineering - termed "Fundamental Research Communications" -- without prior approval from NOAA's Office of Communications. This includes media interviews.
  • In these discussions or interviews, you may draw scientific conclusions from your research. If your conclusion could be misunderstood as an official NOAA position when it is not, you should say that it is your individual conclusion and not the view of the Department or NOAA.
  • You are encouraged, but not required, to use your public affairs specialist to facilitate interviews. If a member of the media requests an interview on a Fundamental Research Communication through public affairs, and you agree, the Communications Office will facilitate the interview.

Media Interviews

  • You are no longer required to submit anticipated questions and answers prior to media interviews unless requested to do so by public affairs.

The Canadian federal government's stance is akin to that of a totalitarian system.

Posted by Paul at 10:32 AM

May 07, 2014

Fisheries Protection Program Presentation in Parksville, BC, May 30

The Salmon Enhancement & Habitat Advisory Board will host a Friday Night Forum in Parksville, BC, on May 30, on the new Fisheries Protection Program.

Please plan to attend a presentation on the Fisheries Protection Program being held in Parksville on May 30th 2014 at 7:00 pm. We are very pleased that DFO's Adam Silverstein is able to come out to present at this focused meeting.  The Salmon Enhancement and Habitat Advisory Board (SEHAB) is hosting this evening event as a part of our ongoing Friday Night Forums series.

WWW.SEHAB.org

We are hoping you and members of your organization can make it out to hear Adam, in an informal setting. Adam has been firmly engaged in SEP over the years and is well versed in your efforts. He is supportive of community, salmon and salmon habitat and will be providing an overview of the changes to the act, the policy and the program.

Fisheries Protection Program Presentation

Friday May 30th, 2014
7:00 - 10:00 pm

Light refreshments will be served

Parksville Civic & Technology Centre

132 E Jensen,
Parksville, BC

If you can please RSVP to info@SEHAB.org so we can plan the refreshments, chairs etc. BUT if you find yourself able to attend last minute please come even if you hadn't sent an RSVP. This is an important topic and DFO staff is stretched as you can imagine.

Posted by Paul at 11:55 AM

May 06, 2014

Nature Inspiration Awards from the Canadian Museum of Nature

The Nature Inspiration Awards will honour Canadian-resident youth, adults, not-for-profit organizations and corporations for their exceptional initiatives in helping to build a brighter, sustainable future. This year's deadline for nominations is May 16.

  • a Grand Prize of $5000 will be awarded in each category to a project of the recipient's choice
  • national recognition through various channels
  • travel and accommodations for the award ceremony in Ottawa, in early November
  • a membership in the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Check out the website for more information and nomination forms.

Posted by Paul at 12:02 PM

April 24, 2014

Wild Salmon Appear to Come Last in DFO Mission Statement

Hmm, was reading the Department of Fisheries and Oceans "Mission, Vision and Values" webpage today and found that

The Department:

supports strong economic growth in our marine and fisheries sectors by supporting exports and advancing safe maritime trade;

supports innovation through research in expanding sectors such as aquaculture and biotechnology; and

contributes to a clean and healthy environment and sustainable aquatic ecosystems through habitat protection, oceans management, and ecosystems research

So where would wild Pacific salmon fit on that list, which I presume is prioritized? Wild fish appear to come dead, no pun intended, last. . .

Posted by Paul at 01:10 PM

April 23, 2014

Last Year with City of Burnaby Environment Committee

Had an excellent meeting late this afternoon with other citizen representatives on the City of Burnaby Environment Committee. It's hard to believe that we've been serving for nearly six years, and that our re-extended terms end this year. Great group of folks, both volunteers and staff. I'm sure we'll be seeing each other around the community, but I'm going to miss meeting you regularly!

Posted by Paul at 08:17 PM

March 27, 2014

DFO Study Shows Habitat Compensation is Lagging Badly

The link below leads to a Department of Fisheries and Oceans report (PDF) that basically says that habitat compensation is not working as it should. According to the abstract:

  • No net loss of habitat isn't working
  • Critical and important habitats are affected the most
  • DFO needs to better address "proponent non-compliance"
  • DFO needs to "incorporate science-based monitoring"
http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/library/348210.pdf

And this was published in 2012, before the watering down of the Fisheries Act and accompanying regulations. Before the shutting of habitat offices and decimation of science staff.

Thanks to a fellow SEHAB board member for this lead.

Posted by Paul at 05:01 PM | TrackBack

Welcoming Edmonds Town Centre Redevelopment in Burnaby

I don't know how often watershed stewards welcome development, but as a volunteer streamkeeper I'm looking forward to some major redevelopment in the upper Edmonds area of Burnaby that impacts Byrne Creek.

Why am I excited? Because two huge areas -- the former Safeway distribution/warehousing site, and the present Value Village site -- are presently nearly 100% impervious. They are basically asphalt or concrete from corner to corner. Impervious areas are bad for urban creeks and watersheds because any rain that falls on them shoots directly into drains and into the creek. These massive flows cause erosion, and carry pollutants into the waterways.

Urban watersheds are much healthier when rain is allowed to percolate into the ground, where it is naturally filtered and passes slowly into creeks as ground water.

So I figure that with 2010s standards and best management practices, as opposed to 100% impervious 1950s and 60s standards, things can only improve.

The Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society has been appearing at development open houses and forums, and we've made great contacts with the developers, not to mention our long-standing ongoing relationships with the City of Burnaby Planning and Engineering Departments. With everyone working together, I think we will see some fantastic, creek-friendly amenities happening along with the planned developments.

I'm excited about the opportunities that may include "daylighting" or opening up some of the upper creek where it was piped decades ago, and other potential benefits such as rain gardens, roadside swales, infiltration ponds and galleries, etc. These would not only be beneficial to the health of the creek, they would also provide beautification that would positively impact property values. Win - win, eh?

Posted by Paul at 03:59 PM

March 22, 2014

Evergreen Urban Watersheds Forum

Enjoyed the Evergreen Urban Watersheds Forum and Field Trip the last two days.

Day one was in downtown Vancouver. There were short, inspirational presentations from several stewardship groups, lots of organized activities ranging from strengths/weaknesses analyses to brainstorming on how urban watersheds could look 50 years from now and what would it take to get there. Also great networking. I had a great time chatting with folks from many stewardship groups.

Today there was a field trip to visit a couple of sites on the North Shore:

Dr. Ken Ashley from BCIT presenting estuary restoration work being done in McKay Creek in City of NorthVan http://t.co/6khKyQ81EX

Forum field trip today at Creekway Park with biologist Nick Page from Van Park Board http://t.co/YOYslrdhpJ

Note: the above two links and photos courtesy of the Evergreen BC Twitter feed.

Some info on the program and list of participants here:

http://www.eventbrite.ca/e/evergreen-urban-watersheds-forum-registration-10284341743

Posted by Paul at 04:38 PM | TrackBack

March 14, 2014

Burnaby Posts Impressive Public Engagement Schedule for Enviro Strategy

The City of Burnaby has had an Environmental Sustainability Strategy underway for some time now, to supplement the Social and Economic Sustainability Plans that it has produced over the last few years. I was named to the Steering Committee, and have greatly enjoyed the process, ably facilitated by well-organized Burnaby staff and consultants.

The other day I noticed that that an impressive list of public engagement events has been posted to the ESS website. With such a wide variety of venues over so many days, there's no excuse for citizens to say they aren't being consulted. Make your voice heard!

Check out the engagement opportunities here.

Posted by Paul at 07:43 PM

February 26, 2014

Regulations Establishing Conditions for Making Regulations

After trying to read a document on making regulations under Canada's new Fisheries Act, I have come to the following conclusion:

We need Plain English Regulations to Establish Standards to Regulate Regulations Establishing Conditions for Making Regulations.

And yes, the title of this post is the title of the document that I was attempting to read.

Posted by Paul at 10:17 PM

Exports Must Replace Consumer Spending in Canada

I recently read an article in Business in Vancouver that said exports must replace consumer spending to drive growth in Canada. Here's the first para from the story:

When it comes to the engine powering future economic growth in Canada, prepare for a fuel switch: the indebted Canadian consumer is tapped out and will have to be replaced by an increase in exports, especially to emerging markets in Asia.

I have a few questions about this. Haven't Canadian consumers been driving massive imports from Asia? So if we start consuming less and exporting more to those Asian consumers, who will consume all those former Asian exports? Won't those Asian countries be expecting their own consumers to step up domestic consumption?

I also wonder why we intelligent humans still can't seem to figure out a way to have healthy economies that are not dependent on continuous pyramid schemes of endless growth.

Posted by Paul at 11:44 AM

February 06, 2014

Run of River Studies

I recently ran across a press release by the Wilderness Committee highlighting that the State of California has excluded British Columbia run-of-river (ROR) hydro projects as qualifying under its environmental standards:

"On January 15th, 2014, the California Energy Commission adopted a final report that excludes private run-of-river hydro projects in BC from the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). Basically, the report confirms what we have known all along: that BC river diversion projects don’t meet California’s environmental standards when it comes to producing electricity, because of British Columbia’s lax environmental laws and the significant impacts the projects have on our rivers, streams and fish."

http://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/Article/view/id/31861/

There have also been a couple of other ROR reports released recently.

A review done by the Pacific Salmon Foundation (download PDF).

And a review by Watershed Watch Salmon Society (download PDF).

Trying to sort it all out, but my gut tells me ROR is death by a thousand cuts.

Posted by Paul at 02:13 PM

November 30, 2013

My Heart Goes Out to DFO Staff

As more and more bad news about Canada's politically hamstrung Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and new implementation of the recently gutted Fisheries Act and its new regs comes my way, I just want to say that I really feel for the fine, upstanding, hardworking DFO staff that I know and work with as a volunteer, on the ground, and in the community. I wish them well as they struggle to protect the fish, wildlife and habitat that I know they love, under the present uncaring political regime.

I guess that sentiment may put me on Harper's "terrorist environmentalist" list. So be it. I've probably been on it for years already anyway, just for volunteering as a streamkeeper, and caring about biodiversity in my community.

Posted by Paul at 10:38 PM

November 21, 2013

MP 'Stunned' as Canadian Govt Ignores Own Research, Yet Again

I normally don't post letters written by MPs of any party on my blog, but this one by Nathan Cullen hit too close to home. As a longtime volunteer streamkeeper, I certainly understand his frustration. I've highlighted one paragraph in particular to start off this post:

"It is particularly stunning given that the report, submitted to the panel last week, was authored by a federal government agency, and yet the federal government is now saying it refuses to take into account its own information when ruling on this project. It begs the question of why we even have a federal government agency devoted to ensuring the health and viability of our fisheries and our waters when the research and recommendations they produce are ignored by the very same federal government."

[note that Joe Oliver is the Minister of Natural Resources and Gail Shea is the acting Minister of Fisheries and Oceans]

Open letter to Joe Oliver and Gail Shea regarding humpback whale protection

21 November 2013


Dear Ministers,

This is an open letter regarding the 21 October 2013 report, entitled Recovery Strategy for the North Pacific Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Canada, from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on a recovery strategy for humpback whales in Canada. As you are likely aware, it is part of the DFO’s mandate to help this species recover from a century of whaling that nearly drove the species into extinction. The report identified four areas of “critical habitat” for humpbacks, one of which is at the mouth of the Douglas Channel, the gateway from Kitimat to the Pacific Ocean. The report also identified vessel traffic and toxic spills as two of the greatest threats to the recovery of this species.

Thus, it was with shock and dismay I recently learned of the decision by the federal joint review panel for the Northern Gateway project to ignore the report as evidence in its ruling, as though vessel traffic and the potential for toxic spills were not two of the primary environmental concerns surrounding this proposal.

It is particularly stunning given that the report, submitted to the panel last week, was authored by a federal government agency, and yet the federal government is now saying it refuses to take into account its own information when ruling on this project. It begs the question of why we even have a federal government agency devoted to ensuring the health and viability of our fisheries and our waters when the research and recommendations they produce are ignored by the very same federal government.

The purpose of the joint review panel hearings is to weigh the available scientific evidence in determining whether this project will negatively impact habitat and endangered species. The purpose of the work of the DFO is to ensure that information is considered when the government is weighing projects which will impact habitat and endangered species. The decision by the JRP to ignore the DFO report is not only wasteful indifference; it’s a double-play failure and abrogation of the duty of both of your departments to protect endangered species and our natural environment.

I wish I could feign some measure of surprise on this matter. But like many Canadians, I have come to see this kind of negligence as not only a passing tendency of the Conservative government but as a very intentional aspect of the government’s resource and environmental policy.

When the government of Canada ignores its own science on endangered species protection, it’s no wonder why Canada has lost all credibility on environmental stewardship among both its own citizens and the international community.


Nathan Cullen
MP Skeena—Bulkley Valley

Posted by Paul at 02:50 PM

City of Burnaby Presentation on Proposed Pipeline Expansion

The City of Burnaby's Environmental Sustainability Strategy Steering Committee was briefed by City planning staff a week or two ago on the ramifications of the Kinder Morgan TransMountain Pipeline proposal.

Mayor and Council have directed that the presentation be delivered to all City committees, and I saw an updated version last night before an Environment Committee meeting.

Mayor and Council basically oppose the proposed KM TMP expansion, for several reasons. I'll try to recall some of the highlights of the presentation:

1) From an original plan to approximately double TMP capacity, the latest proposal is to triple it.

2) The terminus in Burnaby would triple Aframax tanker berths from 1 to 3.

3) The original proposal called for nearly all, if not all, new capacity to be built on the original right of way (ROW). The latest proposal calls for significant sections to be built in new ROWs, and it appears that parts of all of the proposed routes within Burnaby would run through residential and park/conservation areas.

4) The tank farm in Burnaby would expand dramatically in capacity. If I recall correctly, the capacity would be the highest of any tank farm along the entire route from, and including, Edmonton.

5) The added pipeline now appears to be designated nearly all for heavy crude, whereas previously a mix of products was proposed.

6) Nearly all, if not all, of the additional capacity is designated for export, and there are not even guarantees that the present Chevron refinery in Burnaby would get product (my understanding is that it has resorted to getting some product by rail shipment to keep itself at an efficient level of operation).

7) When you add up all the various levels of spills insurance provided by various organizations, they total $1.3 billion, and just one even partial Aframax tanker spill could be well over that amount. Any cleanup/compensation that exceeds $1.3 billion means that taxpayers pick up the tab.

8) The KM proposal calls for the City of Burnaby Fire Department to be first responders to any spill, fire, etc. The FD is saying they don't have the capacity, and that they are not told ahead of time what product is moving through the pipe at any particular time.

9) Burnaby already has experience with a significant KM spill (pipeline penetrated by backhoe) that was ruled as the fault of KM and a contractor, and was basically due to human error in conjunction with poor maps.

http://www.tsb.gc.ca/eng/rapports-reports/pipeline/2007/p07h0040/p07h0040.asp

Posted by Paul at 12:14 PM

September 16, 2013

Stand up for Science Rally–Vancouver—Photos, Audio

I attended the Stand up for Science Rally in Vancouver today. Excellent speakers and loud crowd.

You can see my Flickr set of photos here.

and

I recorded an MP3 audio file of nearly the entire event that (24MB) is available here.

Note: if you click the audio link, that may play the file in a minimalistic window in your browser. If you want to download the MP3 file so you can play it with your music player of choice, right-click the link above, and choose "save link as" or "save target as".

Speaker timing:

Pamela Zevit, MC, interspersed throughout

Joe Foy, National Campaign Director, Wilderness Committee
0 ~ 3:35

Dr. David Suzuki, Author, geneticist, environmentalist and award winning broadcaster
3:45 ~ 16:35

Fin Donnelly, River's advocate, Member of Parliament, Federal Critic for Fisheries
17:00 ~ 25:10

Tzeporah Berman, Author, former co-director of Greenpeace International's Global Climate and Energy Program, Director Forest Ethics Advocacy
25:22 ~ 37:20

Dr. Sarah Otto, Department of Zoology, population genetics and evolutionary biology UBC
37:35 ~ 51:55

Alexandra Morton, Scientist, Researcher, activist
52:10 ~ 1:05:10

Dr. Thomas Kerr, co-director of the Addiction and Urban Health Research Initiative UBC
1:05:15 ~ 1:13:27

Dr. Craig Orr, Scientist, researcher, Executive Director Watershed Watch Salmon Society
1:14:00 ~ 1:22:25

Dr. Lynne Quarmby, professor of molecular biology & biochemistry, Simon Fraser University
1:22:30 ~ 1:28:00

Posted by Paul at 03:34 PM

September 10, 2013

City of Burnaby Enviro Strategy Planning Rocks!

I'm on the City of Burnaby Environmental Sustainability Strategy Steering Committee, and as the ESS moves into its next stage, I will join the Ecosystems sub-committee.

The Ecosystems sub-com includes biodiversity, ecosystem protection & restoration, ecosystem stewardship, parks and open space planning and management, urban forests, stream protection and enhancement, water quality, rainwater management, marine and estuary shorelines, etc. Lots of other interesting sub-committees will look at land use & development, transportation, buildings & energy, climate change & air quality, food systems, etc.

I love volunteering with such a great group of citizens!

Posted by Paul at 08:51 PM

September 03, 2013

Stand up for Science Rally–Vancouver

Monday, September 16, 2013

11:00am until 1:00pm

Vancouver Art Gallery - North plaza on Georgia Street

Fed up with the erosion of science in Canada? Want our government to support science in the public interest? Think that decisions should be based on evidence and facts instead of ideology? Join us on September 16th to Stand up for Science!

It's time to stand up for science in the public interest in Canada. In recent years we have seen cuts to many important scientific institutions, science funding has shifted focus towards the commercialization of research, and government scientists have lost the ability to communicate their research to the public.

Science matters to Canadians. Good science, when coupled with good decision-making, keeps our water and air clean, keeps us healthy, keeps our food safe and prepares Canada for the future. Science in the public interest is crucial for our well-being and long-term prosperity.

To make the public aware of this, and to call on the Federal government to make a strong commitment to science in the public interest, Stand up for Science Vancouver will take place along with rallies across the country on September 16th 2013.

It's your future - make it your science.
***********************
Confirmed Speakers:
Dr. David Suzuki, Author, geneticist, environmentalist and award winning broadcaster.
Tzeporah Berman, Author, former co-director of Greenpeace International's Global Climate and Energy Program, Director Forest Ethics Advocacy
Alexandra Morton, Scientist, Researcher, activist
Fin Donnelly, River's advocate, Member of Parliament, Federal Critic for Fisheries
Joe Foy, National Campaign Director, Wilderness Committee
Dr. Sarah Otto, Department of Zoology, population genetics and evolutionary biology UBC
Dr. Craig Orr, Scientist, researcher, Executive Director Watershed Watch Salmon Society
Invited:
Dr. Thomas Kerr - Co-director Addiction and Urban Health Research Initiative, UBC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
Dr. Bob Evans, internationally recognized health economist
&
Everyone who cares about the future of science in Canada!

Posted by Paul at 10:00 PM

August 20, 2013

My YouTube Rant about People Dumping Green Waste in Burnaby Parks

Posted by Paul at 09:12 PM

July 19, 2013

Working to Throw Stuff Out–Huh?

I spent five hours in the garage today sorting stuff to recycle, stuff to donate, stuff to trash. . .

That likely makes for about 20-30 hours in total spent this year by my wife and myself, in the garage, sorting stuff to. . .

And I have spent, and will be spending more hours in my home office doing the same.

And it struck me today that this was odd, even perverse in some way.

For tens of thousands of years humans survived and thrived with next to no "stuff." Now the wealthier of us are drowning in it. Instead of using time to earn money so we can buy more stuff, we are spending non-earning hours trying to get rid of stuff. Hell, some of us PAY others to help us get rid of stuff we no longer want.

Time is all we really have. We spend time to earn money to buy stuff, and then we spend time to figure out what stuff we can get rid of - so we have space for more stuff.

Posted by Paul at 09:25 PM

June 02, 2013

Commemorative Pavers for Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Founders

The Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society purchased commemorative pavers in the courtyard of Burnaby City Hall awhile back to honour our four founding "elders." Yumi and I checked them out today when we met at City Hall to go on a birding tour around Deer Lake.

paver_1_20130602

paver_2_20130602

BTW, the spelling on the third paver is LLOYD, not LLYOD.
We did submit the proper spelling on the form, so we'll ask for
a free correction.

Posted by Paul at 05:20 PM

May 28, 2013

City of Burnaby Environmental Issues & Priorities Questionnaire

Burnaby Environmental Sustainability Strategy - Let's Plan-It!

We want to hear what matters most to you, to help us create a plan for Burnaby's green future! Take our questionnaire http://www.burnaby.ca/ess-input

Posted by Paul at 01:43 PM

May 25, 2013

‘Development Study’ Far From Actual Development

Friends of ours going through their files ran across a "Development Study" dating back some 20 years or so for the townhouse complex that we live in. It was built years before we bought a unit and moved in, and it was eye-opening to see major differences between what was initially envisioned, and what was actually built. It was also educational, because as streamkeepers, we keep an eye on new developments in our watershed. Here are a few shots from the scanned document:

6700_Rumble_Promo_conservation_2

No such open waterway exists in the complex, nor did the complex ever have such a forested appearance.

6700_Rumble_Promo_conservation

There is no such "community building" overlooking a "conservation area" with an open waterway. None of those features exist. And no such trees exist, either.

Other features from other panels, such as a common open treed area in the middle of the complex never saw the light of day either.

Posted by Paul at 07:30 PM

May 22, 2013

Environment Week Events in Burnaby & Public Input Into Enviro Strategy

This in from the City of Burnaby:

Mark your calendars!  There are some exciting community events just around the corner!

 

Environment Week 2013

Sunday, June 2 to Saturday, June 8

Burnaby's annual week of fun-filled environmentally-themed community activities.  The main event, Environment Festival, is on Saturday, June 8 at Burnaby City Hall in the outer courtyard.  Come on out to learn, participate and enjoy!

www.burnaby.ca/environmentweek

www.burnaby.ca/environmentweek_poster

 

Environmental Sustainability Strategy 'Plan-It' Event

9am to 2pm, Saturday, June 8

Burnaby City Hall, in the outer courtyard

Help us create a plan for a greener future!  The City of Burnaby wants to hear about your priorities and ideas to protect and enhance the environment in Burnaby as input to the Environmental Sustainability Strategy (ESS).

  • Learn about what the City does now!
  • Place landmarks on our giant Green Map of the City!
  • Take part in other fun events for kids, youth and adults!
  • 'Plan-It' is part of the Environment Festival. 
  • Enjoy food, activities, music, exhibits, and prizes - fun for the whole family!

www.burnaby.ca/ess-input

 

Call for ESS Community Engagement Volunteers

Submission deadline: May 29

Monday, June 3 to Sunday, June 30

The City of Burnaby is looking for individual volunteers to assist with Environmental Sustainability Strategy (ESS) community engagement events taking place over the month of June 2013.

Check out this great opportunity to help make your City a greener place!

www.burnaby.ca/ess-cev

Posted by Paul at 11:21 AM

May 16, 2013

Holly Arntzen & Kevin Wright Share Their Music

Holly Arntzen & Kevin Wright have this amazing ART program.

ART = Artist Response Team. They go into schools with an environmental/music program that's incredibly uplifting. The combination of their powerful voices and playing, backed up by professional, world-class musicians (the accompanying Dream Band is made up of session musicians who've played on many a gold album), and schools of children, has sent shivers down my spine on more than one occasion.

Years ago I had the wonderful opportunity as a Stream of Dreams board member to be there when some collaboration was arranged between the two groups that resulted in several magical performances.

So I'm (volunteer) working on a couple of streamkeeper/environmental slide shows to present at free community events over the next few weeks. They're all about watersheds, salmon, streamkeeping, and so forth. And it hit me that Holly and Kevin's music would be fantastic to play at such events to engage folks as they gathered, and to rev them up as I started my show.

So I asked ART if I could use a few of their tracks in that context.

Holly's response was wonderfully giving:

For sure Paul, we'd love you to include our music. Please credit Holly Arntzen & Kevin Wright as performers/songwriters. If you have the space, could you include our website: www.ArtistResponseTeam.com.

If I wasn't away on the Skeena tour at that time, I'd come and sing in person for you.

Now, that's dedication. . . and sharing.

Thank you Holly and Kevin.

Posted by Paul at 09:54 PM

Tiny Doses of Some Insecticides Fatal for Bees, Aquatic Insects

"May 15, 2013 - Neonicotinoid insecticides have adverse effects not only on bees but also on freshwater invertebrates. Exposure to low but constant concentrations of these substances -- which are highly soluble in water -- has lethal effects on these aquatic organisms."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130515203015.htm

One of the insecticides this article addresses is imidacloprid, the active ingredient in Merit. I fought a losing battle several years ago against using Merit in our townhouse complex (less than 20m from Byrne Creek) to combat chaffer beetles (and we had not even had an outbreak!).

Even Bayer's fact sheet for Merit states it is highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates, and says it should not be applied to water, or where surface water is present. It also says it can contaminate groundwater.

I contacted Environment Canada back then with the argument that the application ban should also extend to any ground that drains into a storm drain. They didn't buy it.

Posted by Paul at 01:14 PM

May 14, 2013

‘Beautiful Byrne Creek’ Presentation at Burnaby’s Tommy Douglas Library

To help mark the City of Burnaby's Environment Week celebrations, the Tommy Douglas Library is generously hosting a presentation by the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society on June 6 at 7:00 p.m.

This year's Environment Week theme is  "Nature in the City" so it's a great partnership.

I'll be putting together a snappy PowerPoint of some of our best photos, videos, and maps, to help cover the following points, and more:

  • Overview of Burnaby's waterways
  • Byrne Creek -- an oasis in the city
  • Fish and wildlife in Byrne Creek Ravine Park
  • Streamkeepers -- what do they do?
  • How can my family and I help keep our creeks healthy?

We'll also have posters, maps, and a display of streamkeeper gear.

TDL_EnviroWeek_BCSS_Presentation_500

Hope to see you there!

Posted by Paul at 04:24 PM

May 02, 2013

Streamkeepers to Participate in Edmonds Clean Sweep, Sat., May 4

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers are taking part in the Edmonds Clean Sweep this coming Saturday morning, May 4. As in past years, we'll have a satellite registration site at the Edmonds Skytrain Station.

Meet in the Edmonds Skytrain Station parking lot at 9:45 a.m. Depending on how many volunteers we have, we'll send a few groups out in the neighbourhood and along the ravine park.

We'll have extra garbage bags and gloves, but if you want to bring a bag and work gloves, that would be great.

If you want to take part in the refreshments at the end of the event, please be at the parking lot of Gordon Presbyterian Church on Edmonds St. (next to the new community centre that's under construction) by 11:45 a.m.

Note that the main registration site is at the church parking lot, if that is more convenient for you.

Posted by Paul at 07:27 AM

May 01, 2013

Presenting on Social Media, PR, Traditional Media at Streamkeeper Workshop

I recently received a "speaker information form" from the organizers of SEP Community Workshop 2013, the 12th workshop for British Columbia's streamkeeper/stewardship community since the first one back in 1991. The biennial workshop will also celebrate the 35th Anniversary in 2012 of the Salmonid Enhancement Program run by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, so it should be a great event. It will be held the May long weekend (May 17-19, 2013) on Bowen Island.

Since I'm speaking on public relations, media relations, and social media, how can I not toot my horn on my own blog? : -)

Here's the presentation description and bio that I wrote up for the information form.

Presentation title: Media and Public Relations 101

Presentation description and outcomes:

Get your story out through social media plus traditional newspapers, radio and TV. Get an overview of how Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs and other tools work, how to tailor your message to each medium, and how to develop relationships with journalists. Paul will share examples of how he's helped gain online, print, radio and TV coverage for a local streamkeeper group. Participants will come away with ideas on how to promote their stewardship efforts, educate the public, and influence media, and political policy, through PR, social media, and traditional media.

Please provide us with a brief introduction of yourself:

Paul has degrees in journalism and communication. He has over 25 years of experience writing and editing. He has a unique perspective that combines work at major media corporations with extensive board and executive experience volunteering with business organizations, community groups and environmental NGOs. Paul has volunteered with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers in Burnaby for over ten years, is a member of the Salmon Enhancement and Habitat Advisory Board, is a citizen representative on the City of Burnaby Environment Committee, and is active on the Burnaby Board of Trade Environmental Sustainability Committee. Paul was named "News Source of the Year" in 2012 by Burnaby Now reporter Jennifer Moreau.

Posted by Paul at 03:28 PM

April 18, 2013

‘Southgate’ Development Concept for SE Burnaby

The City of Burnaby and Ledingham McAllister are working on concepts for redeveloping the former Safeway warehouse lands in SE Burnaby - an area of nearly 50 acres. You can check out the Southgate Neighbourhood Concept online and contribute your comments.

I attended the Community Open House on April 18, and was impressed with some of the progressive ideas being put forth. I have volunteered with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers for over ten years, and we've been keeping a close eye on any potential development in the upper watershed. We've attended open houses on area development plans and parks proposals for years, and have submitted lengthy written responses to the City in the past.

Streamkeepers would like to see the creek "daylighted" or brought back up from pipes in which it was buried in that area over 50 years ago. Byrne Creek originally ran from near Kingsway and 10th, and passed through what used to be a thriving wetland in what is now Ernie Winch Park.

Several streamkeepers attended the initial open house, and chatted with the developer, and staff from Burnaby's Planning, Engineering and Parks departments. I was reassured that there definitely will be water features, but there is still some question as to how "hard" or natural they will be. "Hard" means things like concrete pools and channels rather than living, natural ones. . .

There is also some question as to how Ernie Winch Park will be added to. Years ago it appeared that there were plans to expand the park itself substantially once the Safeway lands changed hands, but now other options are in play as well, such as spreading smaller pockets of green space throughout the upcoming development. I haven't made up my mind which way I'd prefer. Need to see more plans.

The proposed development interests me not only from a streamkeeper perspective. I also have a passion for sustainability, particularly when it comes to the environment and urban planning. I sit on Burnaby's Environment Committee as a citizen representative, on the Burnaby Board of Trade's Environmental Sustainability Committee, and was recently named to the Steering Committee for Burnaby's in-progress Environmental Sustainability Strategy. Along with streams and urban biodiversity, we also need communities that promote walking, cycling and taking transit, and initial ideas regarding Southgate take such concepts into full consideration.

I think that Southgate, done well to its fullest potential, could become another UniverCity - the multiple award-winning green development near Simon Fraser University on Burnaby Mountain.

Now wouldn't that be something all Burnabarians could be proud of!

Posted by Paul at 10:03 PM

April 11, 2013

Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver AGM and Spring Forum 2013

The ISCMV AGM and Spring Forum 2013 was an informative event with great networking held on April 11 at the Richmond Oval. There were lots of stimulating speakers and it was wonderful to see lots of capable folks elected to the board. It was also my first time to visit the Richmond Olympic Oval, and it's a very impressive facility.

I first became acquainted with invasive species through streamkeeping, as volunteers have their hands full with battling invasive plants that wipe out swaths of native vegetation along local creeks and streams, creating monocultures that have a huge negative impact on local ecosystems.

The ISCMV events provide up-to-date methodologies and case studies on various ways to manage invasive plants, and are also a great place to meet folks from municipalities, regional governments, senior levels of government, and volunteer groups. It's always interesting and educational to learn what approaches people are taking in different places, and hearing about their successes, and tips to avoid exacerbating problems.

Posted by Paul at 09:07 PM

April 10, 2013

Picked up Mason Bees from City of Burnaby Parks

I picked up a teeny box of mason bees from City of Burnaby Parks this afternoon. They have a cool "adopt a bee condo" program where they will install "bee condos" in City parks as long as citizens volunteer to monitor and maintain them. My wife and I are happy to play a small part in this. Bees are wonderful creatures that we cannot live without - seriously, their role as pollinators is hugely underappreciated by society. Without them we'd be sadly lacking in fruits and vegetables, not to mention all the other things that we depend on healthy plants for.

I was surprized at how tiny the box was. We're to keep it in our fridge until we have steady daytime temperatures of at least 11-12 C, and then we are to install them in the box in the park next door.

burnaby_parks_mason_bees_20130410

Posted by Paul at 03:06 PM

April 05, 2013

Interviewed by Burnaby Now on Fisheries Budget Cuts, Downloading on Volunteers

I was interviewed recently by Jennifer Moreau of the Burnaby Now in regard to more budget cuts to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and how that's having a negative impact on habitat protection while downloading work to volunteers that the government should be doing.

Huge budget cuts worry local streamkeeper

Posted by Paul at 09:09 AM

March 31, 2013

Each Species’ Extinction Diminishes Me. . .

A FB friend of mine just posted that the Black Rhinoceros has been poached into extinction.

She cited this article.

I wonder when our supposedly superior species will stop killing animals for superstitious reasons.

Perhaps it's time to update Donne, and here is my humble effort:

Each species' extinction diminishes me,
For humans depend on nature,
Though little we know it.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Posted by Paul at 09:19 PM

March 29, 2013

Mourning a Tree

The cherry tree that reached up beside our garage to grace our 2nd-story balcony, and that was the subject of many photo shoots posted to this blog, is gone.

The roots of the 25-year-old-plus beauty were causing problems with foundations and plumbing in our townhouse complex.

choco_cherry_blossoms_20070417.jpg

Choco le chat, enjoying that lovely tree several years ago. . .

Here's a post back from 2010 in its memory.

Wish they would have at least let it blossom with us one more time. . .  Just another week or two, but we must force nature into our work cycles.

I knew it was coming, and was tough when the chainsaws and mega-chipper fired up. . . But later I felt pretty misty.

Posted by Paul at 10:28 PM

March 15, 2013

Marine Way, Marine Crossing Gridlocked this aft by Vehicle Accident

I happened to arrive at Marine Crossing in SE Burnaby around noon today, just in time to get caught up in a massive gridlock apparently caused by an accident on Marine Way. What was supposed to be a quick trip for groceries turned into over an hour of wandering around most of the stores in the shopping centre, killing time while waiting for the traffic to start moving. I saw no point in joining the hundreds of vehicles idly idling away, while inching along, wasting gas and spewing carbon.

marine_jam_20130315_400

Posted by Paul at 03:32 PM

BC Streamkeeper Workshop 2013 Registration Open

The biennial SEP Community Workshop is back for 2013. It'll be on Bowen Island from May 17-19. I've attended at least three of these over the years and they're always a great combination of learning and fun. In a first for me, I'll be speaking at this year's event on the topic of social media, public relations, and media relations for non-profit groups.

You can find out lots more, and download registration forms here.

Posted by Paul at 12:00 PM

March 07, 2013

Mason Bee Condo Presentation at Cameron Rec Centre in Burnaby

I received an invite from City of Burnaby Parks to attend a presentation on adopting mason bee condos installed in parks, and I snapped up the opportunity to learn more. There were two presenters from the Pollinator's Paradise program run by the Environmental Youth Alliance.

A few of their key points were that bees are in trouble due to development, pesticides, etc., yet through their pollination services, it's estimated that they contribute to 1/3 of the food we eat. Yes, a third!

The Blue Orchard Mason Bees used in the program are very docile and since the monitors do not work with them in their active stages, as honeybee keepers do, there is next to zero risk of stings. Basically monitors just keep an eye on the condos to see if they are being utilized, and at the end of the season they collect the nests and protect them in a cool, dark place, until setting them back out in the spring.

If I remember the figure, the economic value of pollinators is considered to be around $1 billion annually in Canada.

The City of Burnaby's mason bee program installs "bee condos" in parks, as long as folks step up to monitor and care for them. I was happy to see Burnaby City Councillor Anne Kang at the presentation, and she was excited to share that Taylor Park Elementary School was taking part in the program.

My wife and I are interested in joining the program, and perhaps getting other volunteers from the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers involved as well.

Posted by Paul at 08:34 PM

March 01, 2013

Nominations for City of Burnaby Environment Awards 2013 Now Open

The 2013 City of Burnaby Environment Awards nomination process is now open ( www.burnaby.ca/environmentawards ).

Submission deadline for nominations: Monday, April 15, 2013

There are six (6) categories: Business Stewardship, Communications, Community Stewardship, Green Choices, Planning and Development, and Youth.

Posted by Paul at 12:55 PM

February 24, 2013

Streamkeepers Collect Trash near Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby

Nine volunteer streamkeepers showed up in the cold, steady rain this morning to pick up trash along Southridge Drive in SE Burnaby on a steep slope just above the salmon habitat.  We filled the hatch of a Subaru Outback full with bags of garbage.

The City of Burnaby long ago installed a lovely bin with trash, paper, and recyclable glass and plastic compartments at the bus stop there, but evidently lots of uncaring folks are still tossing their trash down the slope. A rough on-the-fly analysis shows that many of these uncaring folks are customers of McDonald's and Tim Horton's, just down the hill.

Byrne_trash_20130224

Posted by Paul at 08:07 PM

February 19, 2013

Waterborne Paint

I learned something new today. There is such a thing as "waterborne" paint. If you Google it, you get nearly 1.3 million results. It appears the usage is well established, yet I had images of paint being borne by water down a street drain and into our local creek. . .

Waterborne paint is actually much more environmentally friendly than solventborne paint (solventborne - another word new to me).

The Canadian Oxford Dictionary has this to say about waterborne: "1 (of goods etc.) conveyed by or travelling on water. 2 (of a disease) communicated or propagated by contaminated water."

Neither of those fits my image of what I thought was "water-based" paint.

Whoops! I was just interrupted by one of those canned phone calls: "Congratulations! You've been selected for a free cruise to the Bahamas!"

I hung up before I became waterborne.

Posted by Paul at 02:22 PM

February 18, 2013

Final Salmon Spawning Results for 2012 for Burnaby’s Byrne Creek

I have finally compiled all of the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers' spawner patrol reports for the 2012 season. Salmon typically spawn in Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby from mid-October to mid-December. Unfortunately, numbers have been on a downward trend for many years, and after a small uptick in 2011, last year saw another disappointing drop. Here's the report:

Final spawner numbers for Byrne Creek for 2012:

COHO
Female spawned        0
Female unspawned    0
Male spawned        5   (with four of these being jacks )
Male unspawned        2
Total of 7 coho

CHUM
Female spawned        7
Female unspawned    0
Male spawned        11
Male unspawned        1
Total of 19 chum

Grand total of 26 spawners (down from 36 "processed" in 2011)

Noted several distinct redds over the season, 2 near the bridges, 3 in spawning channel, 2 in lower ravine

Final spawner numbers for Byrne Creek for 2011:

COHO
Female spawned        9
Female unspawned    4
Male spawned        5
Male unspawned        3
Total of 21 coho

CHUM
Female spawned        2
Female unspawned    1
Male spawned        5
Male unspawned        7
Total of 15 chum

Grand total of 36 spawners

Noted 14 large redds spread between the artificial spawning channel and the lower part of the ravine.

Previous years for comparison:
2010: 5 chum/8 coho total 13
2009: 6 chum/4 coho total 10
2008: 25 chum/8 coho total 33
2007: 15 chum/7 coho total 22
2006: 27 chum/8 coho total 35
2005: 17 chum/26 coho total 43
2004: 67 chum/24 coho total 91

NOTES:
1) We patrolled the creek 26 times between mid-October to the end of December, compared to 22 times in 2011.

2) Fish arrived "on time" this year, with chum spotted from Oct. 15, while they were "late" in 2011, first observed on Oct. 24.

3) As you can see, we while we had several spawned coho males, we did not "process" any coho females. We did see at least one coho "couple" exhibiting spawning behaviour, so obviously a few morts were eaten or washed away. We realize it can be difficult to determine if male fish have spawned or not, but if sacs are empty, or loose, we call them spawned. If firm and full, not spawned. We will see if we can spot any coho fry this spring.

4) Chum were a bit bigger on average this year than last year, when they were on the small side. Interesting that 4 of the 7 coho males appeared to be jacks.

5) While of course we miss a few fish to predation and heavy flows, our methodology is consistent from year to year. We patrol the spawning stretch from Byrne Bridge up to the bottom of the stairs in the ravine at least twice a week, and "process" every carcass that we find. Processing entails determining species, measuring length, and cutting open to confirm sex and spawned/unspawned status.

6) Streamkeepers have training from the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation, and permission from Fisheries and Oceans Canada to conduct spawner patrols on the creek. Please note that it is illegal to harass or harm spawning salmon. Dogs? Please keep your owners out of the creek from mid-October through April when the eggs laid by salmon in the creek will have hatched.

Posted by Paul at 02:37 PM

February 16, 2013

Electric Vehicle Charging at MEC

I was impressed to see several electric vehicle charging stations at the North Shore outlet of Mountain Equipment Co-op today. Cool!

vehicle_charging_mec_20130216

Posted by Paul at 08:20 PM

February 13, 2013

Byrne Creek Observations in Upper Watershed Feb. 13, 2013

I took a wander around the upper part of the watershed of Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby today. It's an area I don't get to that often, as streamkeepers tend to focus on the lower, larger ravine park. There was a major slide on the bank of the creek on 18th some time ago, so I checked out the remediation work. They've done a major retaining wall, but the slope itself is still in progress. The matting is temporary and will eventually be replaced with planted native vegetation. I was surprised at the new stony "beach" though. Dunno if that's permanent to help prevent further erosion. . .

byrne_creek_slope_remediation_20130213

The retaining wall along the street, looking toward Edmonds Skytrain Station.

byrne_creek_beach_2_20130213

The matting and the "beach".

byrne_creek_beach_20130213

Another view of the matting and beach.

plastic_rain_garden_20130213

A rain garden near the corner of Edmonds and Griffiths. What's with the plastic?
I sure hope the whole thing isn't lined with it, that defeats the purpose. . .

UPDATE: City staff say the plastic is just along the edge.

Posted by Paul at 09:09 PM

February 08, 2013

Wild Salmon, Sport Fishing Trump Fish Farms, Commercial Catch in Economic/Jobs Contribution to BC

According to this item in the Victoria Times Colonist based on BC Statistics' latest numbers, wild salmon and the sport fishery are way ahead of fish farms and the commercial catch in terms of economic value and jobs benefit to British Columbia.

So where is the Government of Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada on the wild salmon file? Why are habitat protections being gutted and habitat offices being slashed? Why is it taking so long to implement the Wild Salmon Policy? Why has there been no response to the Cohen Commission, that recommended major and immediate changes, with deadlines - several already passed unfulfilled - to realize the WSP?

Our present federal and provincial governments appear to base all of their decisions on purely short-term economic benefits.

Well, here you go. The preservation of wild salmon is a huge economic benefit in the short term, and as a protected renewable resource, in the long term.

And as this article points out, preserving and enhancing wild salmon and the habitat that they rely on would also boost the languishing commercial fishery, eh?

Posted by Paul at 10:27 PM

January 23, 2013

Edmonds Biz & Community Association Revitalized Again?

Here's an important announcement for folks living in SE Burnaby.

Longer text invitation follows the graphic.

townhall_20130212_550

 

Please mark your calendar for an important Town Hall Meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at Edmonds Community School for the purpose of "Creating Community for Edmonds" . Co-hosted by the Edmonds Business and Community Association and Edmonds Community School, we invite all those who live and work in the Edmonds area to help visualize a more vibrant and flourishing community. It's a perfect time for you to know about upcoming commercial and residential developments being planned and, of course the anticipated opening of your brand new community centre and pool this spring. We invite you to embrace this opportunity to build, meet and share with members from your community.

The event itself is being driven by people who want to see the Edmonds area come together and transform or transition itself into something pretty special that will serve both the community and the businesses. It's time for Edmonds to flourish, but it must start by having a new vision and some realistic goals. It's our hope to bring some fresh faces to the forefront who have a strong desire to take a responsible role in listening to the needs of the community, discovering its potential and possibilities, and ensuring a thriving, sustainable community for all now and into the future. We want Edmonds to be the best it can be. With your input and sharing of ideas, and with the assistance of city planners, your civic leaders, health, safety and educational leaders, keen business, social and community leaders, we should be able to come up with a wonderful plan of action.

If you are a society, organization, business or institution that serves the Edmonds area and may be interested in having an informational or educational table display at this event (no selling, please), drop us a line at edmondscomm@gmail.com by January 29, 2013. Due to a limited space, tables will be designated on a 1st come, 1st served basis. In addition, please support this event by posting the flyer in a prominent location.

The event will include a presentation by the City Planner, a display of the new Edmonds Community Centre (opening soon), table displays, and an opportunity for you to meet your neighbours and create dialogue about the needs / wants / wishes from all participants. Light refreshments and childminding available (if requested by Feb.1).

Thank you and hope to see you there.

Creating Community for Edmonds Planning Committee

I laud Joyce Rostron and other organizers of this town hall forum in SE Burnaby to revitalize the Edmonds Business & Community Association. I was a member of the group for years, and president for a couple of years, before scheduling conflicts and too many volunteer hours spread over too many groups made me pull back.

At its best, this truly was a superb community organization that connected neighbourhood businesses, NGOs, schools, the RCMP, the Fire Department, and City of Burnaby staff. Why has it faltered off and on over the years? We ran surveys, we had open meetings, we did all sorts of things, but I think the bottom line was too few volunteers trying to do too much.

Please, community, step up and help share the load - - and the joys of participation!

Posted by Paul at 08:59 PM

December 30, 2012

Bountiful Birds at Boundary Bay

We zipped down to Boundary Bay to check out the snowy owls. There were still a few to be seen, but they were far off from the dike, so few shots to make. I was dismayed to see that some photographers are still heading way out into the marsh off the dike. Shame. These birds are starving, barely surviving, and thousands of people come down to see them. Ninety-nine percent respect the signs to stay on the dike. . . There is too much pressure on snowy owls, so please stay on the trail!

There were lots of smaller owls, and plenty of other raptors to photograph. One little owl on a fence pole attracted dozens of photographers, and every time it turned its head, shutters buzzed like rattlesnakes!

boundary_bay_view_20121230

Mt. Baker in Washington State in the distance

boundary_bay_view_2_20121230

boundary_bay_owl_20121230

boundary_bay_owl_2_20121230

boundary_bay_hawk_20121230

boundary_bay_hawk_2_20121230

boundary_bay_heron_20121230

boundary_bay_cherry_20121230

boundary_bay_bird_20121230

Posted by Paul at 06:54 PM

December 29, 2012

Cool Whidbey Island Conservation District Advert

Just noticed this in a brochure we picked up while camping in Washington State earlier this year. Wow, this is so great! I'm not aware of anything quite like this in BC, and why not?

whidbey_island_rain_400

image from Whidbey Island Farm Tour 2012 Brochure

WICD Mission Statement

The Whidbey Island Conservation District serves the residents of Whidbey Island by providing voluntary, incentive-based options for conserving natural resources through educational outreach as well as technical and financial assistance to provide a healthy environment for present and future generations.

WICD priorities and goals include:

  • Protection and improvement of surface and groundwater quality
  • Assisting good stewardship of Farm & Forest land
  • Watershed planning and implementation
  • Riparian restoration and enhancement
  • Fish and wildlife habitat enhancement
  • Conservation education

Posted by Paul at 08:36 PM

December 28, 2012

New Streamside Communication Business Cards

I picked up my new business cards today. Thanks Al for getting this done as the year winds down!

streamside_card_scan_front_201212_400

streamside_card_scan_back_201212_400

So another piece falls into place. Now I have to get cracking on the website, as I'd like to have it done by mid-January.

Posted by Paul at 02:24 PM

December 21, 2012

‘Deep Fish’ Revealed!

I was pleasantly surprised to be "revealed" as one of a local reporter's "favourite sources."

Every year, NOW reporters get a modest gift from the company to give to our best sources. While there were many this year, and it's difficult to choose, I've decided to give my present to Paul Cipywnyk of the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers.

Paul is always available for a phone interview, and he has posed countless times over the past year (and in previous years) for photos related to all the salmon stories we've done. He's kept us abreast of the latest developments within the stream-keeping community, and he was the one who forwarded us the email from Otto Langer regarding the leaked documents about the Conservative changes to the Fisheries Act. That was a national story, and we got it online before any other news outlet, but we wouldn't have done so if it weren't for him.

So thank you, Paul. Your efforts have made my job easier, and it's been a pleasure reporting on all the hard work the volunteer streamkeepers have done to make our waterways a healthy habitat for salmon.

Thank you, Jennifer Moreau! I've enjoyed working with you.

Posted by Paul at 12:57 PM

December 12, 2012

Burnaby City Council Appoints Environmental Sustainability Strategy Steering Committee

I am honoured to be asked to work with a great group of people on the Steering Committee for the City of Burnaby's Environmental Sustainability Strategy.

Burnaby_ESS

Image from City of Burnaby

Press Release from the City of Burnaby website

City of Burnaby ESS Website

Steering Committee members

Related Burnaby Now story

Posted by Paul at 04:19 PM

December 11, 2012

Restoring Salmon, Wildlife Habitat in Oregon Boosts Economy, Jobs

According to Ecotrust, restoring salmon and other wildlife habitat in Oregon over the last decade has had a combined effect of nearly $1 billion in economic activity and 6,400 jobs. You can download the succinct report.

I'd like to see such a clear, brief report for BC.

Posted by Paul at 01:46 PM

December 04, 2012

Santa Hubby Gets Smartphone for Wife

The wife is getting upgraded to a smartphone for Xmas so she can finally start texting and doing mobile Internet, and though Santa Hubby is the one who picked up the toy, he's getting phone envy. Santa Hubby's smartphone is an ancient three years old, and the wife's new phone has a much larger screen with better cameras and HD video... Oh, wait, this "environmental activist" Santa Hubby is supposed to shun crass consumerism. Sigh...

Hey, where's the romance, you ask? The gift anticipation?

We're both adults. We've both been adults for decades. We both have pretty much everything that we need, so we're into the "wants", or in other words the, er, crass consumerism.

We decided years ago that we would get each other one significant gift each Christmas, and that it was perfectly OK to discuss what we wanted. So one main gift each, and then we were free to add cheap, fun stuff, or things that we made ourselves, to the mix.

In all honesty, what got Yumi most excited about her Xmas present (to be rewrapped and put under the tree for the "big day") was that I got it for the magnificent sum of $0 through judicious use of upgrade incentives and rebates. That really turned her crank : -). No, I am not joking. The more I save, the happier she is.

So the "present" part of it is that I pay for her data plan that's added to our couple's wireless plan. The blades for her new razor. And no, it's not a Razor, it's a Samsung S series. Not the cutting-edge model, but way more advanced than what she had before. And the additional data was under posted rates after about half an hour of negotiation with Rogers. Folks, don't settle for the first offer, especially if you've been with a provider for years. There are always plans, and incentives, and upgrades, and downgrades, out there that are not advertised. Be polite, be friendly, and keep asking for more options. While the best deals always seem to be for new customers, I've been noticing that the wireless battleground has been shifting toward client retention.

Posted by Paul at 08:27 PM

December 03, 2012

Major Service Keeps Subaru Faithfully Chugging Along

I coughed up nearly $800 at Docksteader Subaru in Vancouver for a major service for our 1998 Subaru Outback today. But at 14 years old and nearly 242,000km, or close to 150,000 miles, the car is still as reliable as the day I first drove it off the lot. A quality vehicle with regular maintenance. I hope to get a couple more years out of it!

I initially leased the car in Saskatoon, and have had it serviced at Docksteader for the entire 14 years since. In all those years, I've never questioned the Docksteader staff, and have always felt they are worthy of my trust. I'm sure the folks on the sales side would love to sell me a new Outback, but it's the service folks that customers deal with most, and they've always been uniformly good. So I'll likely buy another Subaru from Docksteader. . . some  day :  -).

The next major service will be at 288,000km, or about 177,700 miles, and that will be a milestone decision, as it will likely run over $1,000.  But at the rate we're putting on the klicks, that should give us over two more years before we face that scenario.

Posted by Paul at 09:21 PM

November 26, 2012

Ordered New Byrne Creek Streamkeepers ‘Business Cards’

A few years ago volunteers with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society in Burnaby, BC, thought it would be useful to make up a "business card" that would be easy to carry and hand out to the public when we're out and about on our activities in the park and along the creek. The cards proved to be handy, so we're printing another batch at Rosewood Printers on Edmonds St. in SE Burnaby - supporting local businesses.

Here's the proof for our latest double-sided card:

bcss_bizcard_2012

We leave a space for volunteers to write in their own name or email address. Works well!

Posted by Paul at 09:16 PM

November 21, 2012

Environmental Pledge Launched by Burnaby Board of Trade

As a member of the Burnaby Board of Trade Environmental Sustainability Committee, I am proud to help spread the word about the launch of the Board's Environmental Pledge. I am also pleased to say that my company, Cipko Consulting Ltd.,was one of the first ten companies to take the pledge in its pilot phase.

Now it's your turn. Spread the word and get your company or organization to sign up. It's a simple process, and it's based on the honour system, so there are no onerous reporting requirements. The Pledge website also includes lots of tips on how to make your organization more environmentally sustainable. Pitch in, and through all of our individual actions, we can make a big difference.

Here's the announcement:

bbot_enviro_pledge

The Burnaby Board of Trade is very pleased to be officially launching "The Pledge for a Sustainable Burnaby." It is very important to the success of this project that each and every one of you support us by signing up your organization, as well as championing the program on behalf of the BBOT.

Taking the Pledge is easy. Simply follow the instructions below. If you are not the right person in your organization to complete this task, please forward these instructions to the appropriate individual.

Step 1: Go to bbotpledge.ca.
Step 2 (optional): Peruse the navigation bar for information about the program, and Tips & Resources for ideas on how to reduce your organization's environmental footprint.
Step 3: Click the 'Take the Pledge' icon found on almost every page of the website. Tell us what actions your organization plans to take, and/or share your pre-existing initiatives. Filling in the form takes as little as 5 minutes.

That's it! If you would like a hand filling in the form, don't hesitate to ask staff for assistance.

After submitting your Pledge, your organization will be added to the Pledge Takers Directory (unless you select otherwise). Don't forget to inform your marketing/social media department so they can share the good news with your customers, networks and staff (#BBOTpledge).

Board and ESC organizations that have taken the Pledge so far:
Valley Bakery
Pacific Blue Cross
Strandberg Consulting
Electronic Arts Canada
Cipko Consulting
Investors Group
Hemlock
HollyNorth
Smartt
KOTRA

If our organization's name is not on this list, please sign up ASAP!

The Burnaby Board of Trade wants you to take the Pledge for a Sustainable Burnaby!

The Pledge is a great way to showcase your business and its sustainability initiatives. Taking the Pledge is easy: simply visit bbotpledge.ca, peruse the tips in our 5 key resource areas, and pick a few actions your company or organization can implement.

Pledge takers will be added to our Pledge Directory and will be recognized throughout the year at Burnaby Board of Trade events and through our many communication channels!

If you already practice sustainability, we want to hear about it! Take the Pledge and tell us what you have done. Your accomplishments will serve as inspiration for others and provide even more great ideas. While you're there, you can choose to take on new initiatives - it's entirely up to you! 

So what have I, and Cipko, pledged to do?

Our Pledge:

  • Bicycle more often
  • Use digital devices more often for agendas and meeting notes
  • Combine trips when doing errands, attending external meetings
  • Put up reminders to turn off computer monitors at night
  • Put up reminders to completely shut down non-essential computers at night
  • Reconfigure office to connect cable TV to computer LCD monitor and recycle old CRT TV

Past/Ongoing Actions:

  • Installed low-flow fixtures
  • Installed dual-flush toilet
  • All light fixtures use CFL or LED bulbs
  • Printing set to double-sided, using FSC paper
  • Switched to email delivery of A/P invoices and statements wherever possible, and send clients A/R PDF invoices by email
  • Digital thermostat set at 18C in the colder months during working hours, 12C otherwise
  • All plastics, cardboard, etc., collected and recycled
  • On-site worm composting
  • Use software such as Evernote and Acrobat to save and file online documents rather than printing them
  • Switched from paper to digital delivery of newspapers, many magazines

Posted by Paul at 09:14 PM

November 14, 2012

DFO is MIA in Celebrating Success

We are having an amazing chum salmon year in Burnaby and neighbouring cities. People are reporting spawners in creeks where they haven't been seen in 50+ years. Newspapers and TV newscasts are featuring enchanted kids with sparkling eyes marvelling at seeing salmon in their neighbourhoods.

Chum have moved up the Brunette River, up the new Metro Vancouver fish ladder at Caribou Dam, through the dredged Burnaby Lake (a City of Burnaby initiative that I initially had qualms about, but am now reassessing), and up Still Creek beyond the Burnaby border and well into Vancouver. Some reports say it's been 80 years since salmon have spawned that high up Still Creek, which for decades wasn't much more than an open sewer.

As of last weekend I understand Stoney Creek in NE Burnaby, the most productive stream in the city, had counted over 750 chum back.

And not a peep from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on how much of this is due to decades of local streamkeeper volunteers and the DFO's Salmonid Enhancement Program (SEP), of hard-working DFO staff on the ground, of DFO Community Advisors and volunteers at hatcheries, of doggedly rehabilitating and stocking urban and suburban creeks and streams year after year after year, of collaborations between stewards, the City of Burnaby, Metro Vancouver and DFO in making culverts more fish friendly, of tackling pollution issues and sanitary/storm cross-connects...

Why can't DFO publicly promote such success? Hard-earned success and cooperation from volunteers and all levels of government? It's a shame that nothing can be officially said by DFO Pacific without approval from Ottawa.

SEP is likely one of the most popular and cost-effective government programs in history, leveraging contributions by tens of thousands of volunteers in BC. It should be seen as something to celebrate and emulate.

I should include the "full disclosure"  bit: I am a volunteer streamkeeper and president of the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society, a member of the Salmon Enhancement & Habitat Advisory Board to DFO, and a citizen representative on the City of Burnaby's Environment Committee.

UPDATE: (Nov. 23, 2012) Happy to see that DFO has published some positive PR on the SEP website. Let's keep it up! Chum salmon make stronger-than-usual return in 2012.

Posted by Paul at 07:33 PM

November 08, 2012

Oily Road Wash Enters Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby

I was down near the corner of Meadow Ave. and Byrne Rd. in SE Burnaby the other day, looking for spawning salmon, when I came across a clogged storm drain on the street. The pooling water was quite oily, and when I cleared the drain, the visual effect of the oily flow down the drain and into the creek was gut-wrenching. Our urban creek are subjected to this again and again.

There are solutions, or at least ways to ameliorate this. Lobby your local governments to dump curbs in favour of roadside swales and rain gardens!

Posted by Paul at 08:31 PM

November 02, 2012

Wild Salmon Policy Receives Boost From Cohen Commission

I am very pleased that the recently released Cohen Commission Report sets out strong, specific, deadline-driven recommendations for Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans in regard to the long-languishing Wild Salmon Policy. Created with extensive stewardship-community input, the WSP has had no funding and no one driving it within DFO. Yet it is clear that if you do not assess and classify salmon stocks, and do not protect their habitat, we will continue to see wild salmon in decline.

Justice Cohen came out with two basic recommendations regarding the WSP:

1) Cohen recommends the appointment of a "new associate regional director general" responsible for implementing the WSP, and,

2) that "The Government of Canada should establish dedicated Wild Salmon Policy funding sufficient to carry out the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' implementation plan and to cover ongoing operational costs."

If that's not clear enough to DFO's political masters, here's the entire WSP recommendation section from the Cohen report, and I suggest that the federal government would ignore these recommendations at its peril. Tens of thousands of volunteer stewards, First Nations, commercial and sport fishers, and tourism operators representing annual economic value in the hundreds of millions of dollars are watching very closely how the government will respond.

Cohen Recommendations in Regard to WSP

New position of associate regional director general

4  The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should immediately create a new position in the Pacific Region at the associate regional director general level with responsibility for developing and implementing the Wild Salmon Policy implementation plan recommended under Recommendation 5; and supervising the expenditure of funds provided under Recommendation 6 for implementation of the policy.

Wild Salmon Policy implementation plan

5  The new associate regional director general should, by March 31, 2013, publish a detailed plan for implementation of the Wild Salmon Policy, stipulating

what tasks are required;
how they will be performed and by whom;
when they will be completed;
and how much implementation will cost, as set out in a detailed itemization of costs.

Wild Salmon Policy funding

6  The Government of Canada should establish dedicated Wild Salmon Policy funding sufficient to carry out the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' implementation plan and to cover ongoing operational costs.

Annual report on progress in Wild Salmon

Policy implementation

7  The new associate regional director general responsible for implementation of the Wild Salmon Policy should, by March 31, 2014, and each anniversary thereafter during implementation, report in writing on progress in implementation of the policy, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should publish

that report on its website. Each annual report should invite responses from First Nations and stakeholders, and all responses should be promptly published on the DFO website

Wild Salmon Policy: strategies 2 and 3

8  By January 31, 2013, the new associate regional director general should decide whether the Habitat Management Program (Ecosystem Management Branch)* or the Science Branch should take the lead role in implementing strategies 2 and 3 and what support should be provided by the other branch. The new associate regional director general should also identify who is responsible for, and set deadlines respecting, the

following activities:

preparing habitat status reports;
monitoring and assessing habitat using the habitat indicators and benchmarks developed by Stalberg et al.;? and
finalizing habitat indicators and benchmarks where possible.

The new associate regional director general should coordinate with the Habitat Management Program to ensure consistency in implementing both this Recommendation and Recommendation 41.

Wild Salmon Policy: Strategy 4

9  In order to begin integrated strategic planning under Strategy 4 in relation to Fraser River sockeye without further delay, these key deliverables should be completed according to the following schedule:

By March 31, 2013, identification of red zone Conservation Units under Strategy 1, based on the Grant Draft Paper 2011.?

By September 30, 2013, preparation of overview reports for the Fraser River watershed and marine areas relevant to Fraser River sockeye salmon, based on the best available information at that time. Knowledge gaps of concern to the drafters should be identified in the overview reports and a plan developed to address those knowledge gaps.

By December 31, 2013, development of habitat indicators and benchmarks for assessment for the Strait of Georgia, Juan de Fuca Strait, Johnstone Strait, and Queen Charlotte Sound.

10  As part of the implementation of Strategy 4 in relation to Fraser River sockeye, these key deliverables should be completed according to the following schedule:

By March 31, 2013, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should complete a socioeconomic framework for decision making in the integrated strategic planning process; it should also integrate meaningful socioeconomic input into fisheries management decision making, beginning with planning for the 2014 fishing season.

By January 31, 2014, integrated strategic planning processes should begin for Fraser River sockeye salmon using the best currently available information and following the procedure outlined in Appendix 2 (A structured five-step planning procedure) of the Wild Salmon Policy.

By March 31, 2013, response teams should be formed for all Conservation Units in the red zone and for those that could significantly limit fishing and other activities.

By December 31, 2014, response teams should complete plans for the protection and restoration of priority Conservation Units, and in developing such plans, they should give full consideration to approaches beyond curtailing fisheries.

Posted by Paul at 08:18 PM

October 30, 2012

Girls From Byrne Creek Secondary Rock on Spawner Tour of Byrne Creek

I was impressed with the good cheer and fortitude of half a dozen girls from Byrne Creek Secondary who went on a spawner patrol on Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby in the steady rain this afternoon. Thanks to Louise from Stream of Dreams for arranging the tour.

Lu suggested meeting at the footbridge in the lower ravine at 3:00 p.m. so I got there about an hour early to scout the creek for fish for the students to see.

We watched a pair of chum spawning near Tag 517 in the lower ravine, and then watched another pair about 10m upstream of the weir in the lower ravine. A lone female chum was still beneath the log in the pool between 517/518.

The girls and their teacher were enthralled and peppered us with questions.

Then the piece de resistance: I'd found a dead coho in the spawning habitat earlier, and we walked over and processed it together.  It was a male, unspawned, 46cm, between Tags 511/512, likely a jack as it had no spawning colouration and was on the small side. We inspected its internals together to the best of my ability (I'm not a biologist!).

It was missing its adipose, so we took its head for delivery to a Sport Head Recovery Depot:
http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/rec/tag-etiquette/SHRP-PRTS-eng.htm

I was impressed by the girls' enthusiasm, even during the bloody bits.

As we were processing the coho we saw a spawner zoom up the overflow and jump into the sediment pond! Way cool! I cannot believe how cooperative the fish are being in getting ooos and aaahhs from the crowd this year!

I look forward to participating in more of the Stream of Dreams project at Byrne Creek Secondary.

NOTE: It is illegal to interfere with spawning salmon. Please observe from a distance. Streamkeepers have training, and authorization from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, to process dead spawners to collect species, size, and spawning data.

Posted by Paul at 06:36 PM

2012 BC Water Sustainability Grant Award to Stream of Dreams for Byrne Creek Project

Great news! Post from Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia:

The 2012 BC Water Sustainability Endowment Fund grant is awarded to Stream of Dreams Murals Society for "Mapping Where We Live," a project they are undertaking in collaboration with Byrne Creek Streamkeepers and Byrne Creek Secondary students in southeast Burnaby's Byrne Creek watershed.

Check out the cool video.

Posted by Paul at 08:23 AM

October 26, 2012

Invasive Plant Presentation, Nov. 17 in SE Burnaby

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers will host a presentation on invasive plant species by the Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver, Saturday, Nov. 17, starting at 10:00 a.m. at the Tommy Douglas Library near the corner of Kingsway and Edmonds in SE Burnaby. The length and depth of the presentation may vary by audience experience, and will likely run around 2 hours. If there is time and interest, we may follow up with a walk along part of Byrne Creek Ravine Park to view sites where streamkeepers have been battling invasive plants for years. This event is free, and open beyond BCSS membership, but please RSVP to the Invasive Plants Team, so we know how many people to expect, and in case we need to limit numbers.

Posted by Paul at 09:31 PM

October 19, 2012

Interviewed by Burnaby Now on Salmon Returning to Burnaby Creeks

Interviewed by Burnaby Now on salmon returning to spawn in urban creeks in Burnaby: 'Struggling against incredible odds'.

Posted by Paul at 06:37 PM

October 12, 2012

The Rain is Whispering ‘The Salmon are Coming’

As I sit here this evening listening to the rain outside my home-office window, I feel a little thrill of excitement. Because after a long dry spell, the rain means salmon will start moving upstream to spawn, including in the creek beyond our back fence -- Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby.

We have two species of salmon in our urban creek, chum and coho, and if there is rain, they return from the Pacific  Ocean and start their final journey like clockwork, arriving in our creek within a few days of mid-October each fall, and continue as late as mid-December.

It's a bittersweet time of year -- sweet because the salmon bring with them seeds for new life, and bitter for it means their own deaths.

As streamkeepers, we'll start patrolling the spawning reaches of the creek, getting out at least three times a week, to enumerate the numbers of spawners, and their species, sex, and size. After they die, we measure them, cut them open to check on spawning success, and then cut them in half (so we don't double-count any) and return their carcasses to the waters, for they bear in their flesh nutrients from the ocean that help sustain a multifaceted food web.

The salmon in Byrne Creek are also an affirmation that we, humans, can turn things around and undo some of the environmental damage we've done. Decades ago Byrne Creek was dead. Cut off from the Fraser River, it was devoid of fish. Then the City of Burnaby cut a new channel in the lower reach and installed gates that move with the tides. Volunteers and Fisheries and Oceans Canada began re-stocking the creek with chum and then coho, and cutthroat trout also repopulated the waterway.

It's an ongoing struggle with numerous pollution events poisoning the creek over the years through street drains, but given clean water, the salmon do come back, they do spawn successfully, and their progeny do hatch in the spring. This cycle of life is a sight to behold in our urban area.

Some of the fish that will be arriving soon were hatchery raised and released by schoolchildren a few years ago. Some were born in the creek, and are coming home. All will do their best to plant the eggs and seed for a new generation, and then die.

Welcome back.

Posted by Paul at 07:50 PM

September 18, 2012

Green Chamber of Commerce of BC Founders’ Workshop

Not sure if I have room for another organization in my life, but this Green Chamber of Commerce of BC Founders' Club Workshop sounds interesting, so I've signed up.

Posted by Paul at 09:00 PM

September 13, 2012

Volunteer Organization of the Year Awarded to Byrne Creek Streamkeepers

The Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society in Burnaby, BC, was pleasantly surprized to receive a Volunteer Organization of the Year award from the Washington-British Columbia Chapter of the American Fisheries Society.

Dr. John Morgan of Vancouver Island University, President-Elect of the WA-BC chapter wrote: "At our recent annual general meeting in Victoria, the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers were selected for the Volunteer Organization of the Year, awarded to volunteers in the BC-Washington region who have made exemplary contributions to fisheries conservation, education and science. Congratulations!"

According to its website, the American Fisheries Society is "the oldest, largest, and most influential association of fisheries professionals in the world", and its "mission is to improve the conservation and sustainability of fishery resources and aquatic ecosystems by advancing fisheries and aquatic science and promoting the development of fisheries professionals."

The streamkeeper group was honoured to receive such recognition after thousands of hours of volunteer work over many years, working with partners including Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the City of Burnaby, and the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation that provides training in streamkeeping modules.

As a streamkeeper, it is particularly gratifying to be recognized by a professional association for efforts as citizen scientists. The Byrne Creek group has over a decade of data collected on salmon spawner returns, aquatic invertebrate counts, resident fish trapping, invasive plant species mapping, etc.

Stephanie Avery-Gomm, a graduate student at UBC, and WA-BC chapter student representative, presented the award at a BCSS monthly meeting on Sept. 13, 2012.

afs_byrne_award_presentation_20120913_500

AFS_WA_BC_Byrne_2012_500

Posted by Paul at 10:11 PM

September 03, 2012

Person Damaging Sensitive Areas of Byrne Creek Alarms Streamkeepers

The Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society in conjunction with the City of Burnaby Parks Dept. sent out the following press release on Aug. 31:

Repeated damage near the banks of Byrne Creek in southeast Burnaby has dismayed streamkeepers who help protect and restore this urban oasis, and monitor its salmon and other wildlife.

"We're seeing trails cut, branches torn off, trees cut down, salmonberry bushes and ferns torn out--it's distressing," said Paul Cipywnyk, president of the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society. "Our members put in hundreds of volunteer hours every year and we've planted some of those trees with City permission. It's so sad to see someone thoughtlessly cutting them down."

Cipywnyk said streamkeepers have been reporting damage to City staff, and are documenting it with photos. "City staff are also appalled and are very supportive," said Cipywnyk. "We're working together to quickly come up with ways to educate folks that such behaviour is unacceptable."

Burnaby Parks sees similar damage--usually created unintentionally by park users who go off trails to create a short-cut route or to explore new areas, or by dog owners who allow their pets to roam off-leash. Departing from designated trails, park users destroy plants and wildlife habitat. The City reminds all park users to respect the environment and stay on trails and keep their pets leashed at all times.

Unfortunately, the damage this time seems much more deliberate and there is not much that can be done unless someone reports the person in the act.

Burnaby RCMP say citizens should not personally intervene if they witness such acts, and ask them to call police.

Cipywnyk notes that members of the public are coming forward with sightings and descriptions of at least one person observed doing such damage. "We thank everyone who has contacted our group, and we encourage the public to pass any tips on to Burnaby RCMP."

"We hope the person or persons involved will read this and stop their destructive behaviour," Cipywnyk said. "We don't aim to be punitive, we just want the damage to end. We're hoping this is not malicious and that perhaps someone simply doesn't understand the negative impact of such actions. We are very fortunate to have jewels like Byrne Creek Ravine Park in our midst, and we should treat such green havens with respect."

-- 30 --

We received plenty of coverage in the local papers and on Global TV. As of two weeks later, it seem that fresh damage is diminishing, so we hope the message got through.

Burnaby Now: Burnaby streamkeepers upset over creekside damage

Global TV: New trails being cut out in Byrnaby's Byrne Creek by a mysterious stranger

Burnaby Newsleader: Damage near Byrne Creek alarms streamkeepers, city

Posted by Paul at 09:21 PM

July 02, 2012

First Annual Celebration of Safety & Culture on the Fraser River

I couldn't find a link to this event online, so I have taken the liberty of scanning the PDF and reproducing it, along with some of its information converted to text. Sounds like an interesting, educational, and community  building event.

The First Annual "Celebration of Safety and Culture on the Fraser River" will take place on Saturday, August 11, 2012, from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. at Island 22 Regional Park in Chilliwack. This Celebration is a family event hosted by the Fraser Valley Regional District in cooperation with the Fraser River Peacemakers and Fraser Valley First Nations' organizations.

The "Celebration of Safety and Culture on the Fraser River" is intended to promote safe river practices and highlight the many groups who use and are connected to the Fraser River. The event will feature displays, activities and demonstrations from a variety of river user groups and relevant organizations. Groups that will be on site at this event will include:

Please mark this event on your calendar to make sure that you don't miss this great opportunity to learn more about safety and culture on the Fraser River. Admission to this event is free, and food and drinks will be available.
If you have any questions regarding this event, please email parks@fvrd.bc.ca.

(Note: the hyperlinks tagged for the above  groups were researched and added by me, so any landing errors are mine. I could not find web pages for the two FN listings.)

Celebrate_Safety_Culture_Fraser_River_2012

Posted by Paul at 06:34 PM

June 29, 2012

Duelling Oil/Gas vs Enviro Ads on Facebook

This following combination of ads has been running on my Facebook sidebar feed today:

Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline
Canadian Wildlife Federation Water Challenge
Kennedy Stewart (NDP MP opposing Kinder Morgan pipeline)
Spectra Energy Corporation


duelling_fb_ads_20120629

Looks like we're entering a social media battleground, folks!

Posted by Paul at 02:46 PM

June 28, 2012

Slashing of Canadian Fisheries Habitat Staff So Wrong, So Sad

As the word spreads that our present government in Ottawa somehow sees fit to slash Department of Fisheries habitat staff by a third, I suspect tens of thousands of volunteer stewards across British Columbia, and the rest of Canada, are reeling.

Having volunteered for over ten years and hundreds of hours as a streamkeeper, this news is devastating.

Here is a synopsis from retired DFO biologist Otto Langer of DFO habitat staff cuts announced internally today.

Today all DFO habitat protection and management staff in Canada are receiving letters that they are now red circled ie they are being affected by Bill C 38 with it's budget and habitat legislation and program cuts (ie DFO downsizing) and many will soon not have a job. Yesterday all staff in BC - Yukon were advised of this happening in a telephone call from Pacific Regional Director General Susan Farlinger. Staff were directed to not discuss this with anyone and only DFO Ottawa was allowed to comment on the issue.

132 habitat staff across Canada will be fired (laid off) in the next few months in that many will have to compete for remaining jobs. In Pacific region they now have 92 staff and that is to be reduced to 60 staff - ie 32 will be laid off ie an approx. 33% cut in staff. Also all habitat office locations in Pacific Region are to be closed down with the exception of Whitehorse, Prince Rupert, Kamloops, Vancouver and Nanaimo. That means offices such as those in Mission, Campbell River, Prince George, Nelson, Williams Lake, Smithers, Port Hardy, etc are to be shut down. If the Enbridge and the natural gas lines go across northern BC there will be no habitat staff in Prince George or Smithers, etc and the closest offices will be Prince Rupert or Kamloops. The office in Part Hardy did look after salmon farming issues.

This puts DFO back where it was in the early 1980s ie 5 offices in BC and even less staff than they had in 1983 with many giant projects such as Enbridge, gas lines, gas liquification plants, New Prosperity Gold Mine, Site C Dam on the Peace River, Panamax tankers of jet fuel up the Fraser River, Roberts Bank Port expansion, etc. now being proposed and pushed along. Never in the pasts 50 year history of habitat protection have we seen such great cuts in staff the face of upcoming massive industrial development that can and will harm habitat and our fisheries of the future.

Finally, Ottawa has given all DFO habitat staff directions to remove their name Habitat Management Program title from their organization and from their offices etc. in that they are now to be called the Fisheries Protection Program.

In summary this puts DFO back to where they were in the late s1970s in terms of habitat staff numbers in Pacific Region but with next to no legislation to protect overall habitat and a greatly reduced presence in the field where the habitat damage takes place. Their efforts will of course be distracted over the next year or more in that staff will have to compete for the surviving 60 positions and put their minds to what do can do for a living when laid off and where do they move to to get a job to support their families etc. I am told the then very low morale of the staff was destroyed by Bill C 38 and now it received its final blow and morale and willingness and direction to do their jobs can now be measured in negative quantities. . .

Cheers Otto Langer

PS. All DFO habitat protection offices from Quebec to the BC - Alberta border ie Central and Arctic Region will also be drastically cut and all offices will be shut down except in Ottawa, Burlington, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Yellowknife. It is indicated that of 63 DFO offices in Canada with habitat staff (now - fisheries protection staff) most will be closed and the number of offices having 'habitat' type program staff will be reduced to 14 for a giant geographic area - ie Canada.

This will impact volunteers, but I really feel for the Fisheries field staff on the ground and on the water -- in my experience they are wonderful, hard-working folks with huge hearts who really care about what they do. I cannot imagine the impact this is having on them and their families, much less the morale and productivity of the organization as a whole. And Pacific region was already understaffed with unfilled openings in many positions before this latest round of cuts.

Posted by Paul at 09:16 PM

June 21, 2012

Saying Goodbye to the Paper Papers

Today I (sob!) cancelled my paper delivery subscriptions to the Vancouver Sun and National Post, and signed up for the digital versions. This will be the first time that I have never subscribed to a paper newspaper.

But the cost advantages are compelling. The Sun and the Post together were costing about $46/month, while I can access both online for $9.99/month. That's a savings of $432/year.

Not to mention all the carbon emissions avoided, and resources used such as paper (recycled or not) and ink. I work from home and run my main computer pretty much 24/7 anyway (with all power-saving options turned on for when I'm not at my desk), and have a lovely dual-monitor setup on which to view large docs, so why run those printing presses, delivery trucks, and delivery person vehicles?

Supposedly I get "everything" that appears in the paper papers, even an identical layout view if I so desire, not to mention other cool stuff like search and text-to-voice, etc.

It will be an interesting experiment, and will certainly be a lifestyle change. I read the paper papers in the living room, next to a big balcony, with lots of natural light. The office is in the basement, and while I have a decent window down there, it doesn't compare to the airiness of the main floor. I think I'll be in withdrawal for awhile, but I'm pretty confident that it will work out. I have already shifted many of my magazine subscriptions to the online Zinio service, and that's worked out well.

Posted by Paul at 01:54 PM

June 19, 2012

Building Community–Social Connections Matter–Metro Vancouver Sustainability Dialogue

I enjoyed the above event this afternoon, and there are a couple more in the same series coming along over the next few weeks, so sign up and participate if you can.

There were thought-provoking and succinct presentations from the following panel:

Opening/Closing Remarks:
Wayne Wright, Director, Metro Vancouver Board of Directors and Mayor, City of New Westminster

Facilitator: Peter Holt

Panellists:

This particular series of dialogues was prompted by a Vancouver Foundation study on alienation in society in the lower mainland of BC, which has been heavily reported on in the press over the last few days. The report can be found here.

Some of the results were troubling in the sense of many respondents reporting feelings of loneliness, disconnection from their community, difficulty in establishing community relationships, etc.

I may question what Metro Vancouver can do about such issues, but I laud it for confronting the situation and inviting the public to meet and share ideas along with experts in related fields.

There were lots of questions and comments from the audience, and I didn't have a chance to speak so I'll share a few thoughts here:

  • if I look at my own micro-community, a townhouse complex with 101 units, I can understand some of the concerns. People drive out of their individual garages in the morning, and drive back in when they return, and few linger on the streets and some seem to never use their front doors or the shared walkways.
  • the free local papers are delivered right to all 101 doors, and I'd guess that on a regular basis, about 90 of those end up flying around in the wind, accumulating in eventually soggy piles against those unused front doors, etc. Partly language issues, but mostly I think people don't care about their wider community and what's going on around them.
  • I was on the strata council for over five years, with, if I recall, three as president, so I know more people than most folks here, but I still interact with only three or four of those 101 units on a regular basis.
  • How do you get folks involved? Strata AGMs rarely attracted more than 10-15% of the ownership, with perhaps a maximum of 30% (including proxies) showing when special levies were in the wind.
  • In my neighbourhood, there are over 100 home languages in the local schools.
  • I think the immigrant experience has changed dramatically. When my grandparents came to Canada, they knew it was a one-way trip with no return. And, to bear this out, of the four of them, only one ever made it back to the "old country" for a visit, and that was 40 years or more after the initial move. Now, immigrants can readily access TV, movies, music and news in their home languages, video-Skype relatives and friends for free around the world at a whim, and travel back "home" from, er, "home", on a regular and frequent basis.
  • I have always been a proponent of multiculturalism, but I sometimes wonder at the linguistic shift over the last several decades. When I was growing up, the big linguistic issue was the loss of the "old country" language over the generations, but now the issue seems to be becoming the lack of learning the new/host country language.

So, I'm not a Burnaby native or even lower mainland native. I was born and raised in Saskatoon. I spent 14 years working in Japan, married a wonderful Japanese woman, and we moved to Canada some 12 years ago. So how did we integrate and make friends? Volunteering. Our first couple of years here were pretty quiet, but then we discovered streamkeepers, and that made all the difference. From initial contacts in streamkeepers, I joined the local business & community association, the Burnaby Board of Trade, became involved on City of Burnaby committees. . . 

You have to make the commitment, you have to give before you get, you have to learn about and respect your community's history, get to know its "elders", and then you can start to receive, and be embraced by others.

Posted by Paul at 09:19 PM

June 14, 2012

Video Interview about Byrne Creek

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers from Neilson Grove Elementary on Vimeo.

A video interview of moi, conducted by kids at Neilson Grove Elementary as part of a school Stream of Dreams project. Great fun! To see lots of other interviews of local stewards from many groups try this link:http://vimeo.com/search?q=Neilson+Grove+Elementary

Posted by Paul at 09:51 AM

June 10, 2012

Burkholders Receive City of Burnaby Enviro Award for Volunteering on Byrne Creek

I was happy that the City of Burnaby gave an Environment Award for Community Service to David and Jane Burkholder, who have both been volunteering with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society for over ten years. Well deserved! Unfortunately I was unable to attend the ceremony, but my wife Yumi got this photo:

Burkholders_award_2012

Posted by Paul at 04:44 PM

April 02, 2012

Coho Fry Spotted in Byrne Creek

My wife Yumi spotted some coho fry in Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC, on March 24. She carefully netted, photographed, and released a couple of fry. Note that streamkeepers do this with permission from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans - otherwise it is illegal to net fry.

coho_fry_byrne_ck_2012

Posted by Paul at 08:36 PM

February 29, 2012

Milky Green Substance Enters Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby

When I went for my afternoon walk today, I was dismayed to see Byrne Creek in southeast Burnaby running a whitish-green color. We'd had rain and snow, but the "normal" color of wash off the road following rain is brown. There was no noticeable smell, and I didn't observe any fish dead or in distress.

I called my observations in to City of Burnaby environmental staff.

I first saw the discoloration when I reached the bottom of the stairs into the ravine around 3:30 today. I checked the forebay of the rain garden on Southpoint Dr. and the water there was clear. Then I checked Griffiths Pond near the Edmonds Skytrain Station around 4:05 and the discoloration was evident there, though diminished.

I also posted the news to the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers mailing list, and another streamkeeper, Garnet, traced the greenish flow all the way upstream to where the creek now comes to light from storm pipes in the Edmonds area.

milky_byrne_creek_20120229_small

Photo I took in the ravine

gw_milky_byrne_creek_20120229_small

Photo sent by streamkeeper Garnet where the creek daylights

Posted by Paul at 09:06 PM

January 18, 2012

Rick Mercer Tackles ‘Radicals’ & Northern Gateway Pipeline Issue

Hilarity, free speech, and democracy, ensue.

Hey, aren't at least the last two supposedly among conservative values?

http://youtu.be/iZf5fC9v2qE

Posted by Paul at 09:57 PM

January 12, 2012

Byrne Creek Spawning Salmon Data for 2011

Some good news!

Here are our final spawner numbers for Byrne Creek for 2011:

COHO

Female spawned         9
Female unspawned    4

Male spawned         5
Male unspawned    3

Total of 21 coho

CHUM

Female spawned         2
Female unspawned    1

Male spawned          5
Male unspawned    7

Total of 15 chum

Grand total of 36 spawners

Also noted 14 large, distinct redds (nests of eggs) spread between the artificial
spawning channel and the lower part of the ravine.

For comparison:

2010: 5 chum/8 coho total 13
2009: 6 chum/4 coho total 10
2008: 25 chum/8 coho total 33
2007: 15 chum/7 coho total 22
2006: 27 chum/8 coho total 35
2005: 17 chum/26 coho total 43
2004: 67 chum/24 coho total 91

NOTES:

1) We patrolled the creek 22 times between mid-October to the end of
December (average of ~2.2 times/week).

2) Fish arrived late this year, and the run extended later than usual.
Spotted our first fish (coho jack) on Oct. 24, and last fish, a spawned
coho female, on Dec. 30. Usually we start seeing fish from around
October 15-17, and rarely see anything past mid-December.

3) As you can see, we don't get an even match between spawned females
and "spawned" males. We realize it can be difficult to determine if male
fish have spawned or not, but if sacs are empty, or loose, we call them
spawned. If firm and full, not spawned.

4) I haven't got this all in Excel yet, so hard to do other comparisons,
but we had the sense that fish were smaller this year, both chum and
coho. If I flip through my notes, nearly all fish (eye to base of tail)
were in the 46-54cm range, with only a couple larger with the largest at
58cm. We certainly used to get larger fish of both species.

5) While of course we miss a few fish to predation and heavy flows, our
methodology is consistent from year to year. We patrol the spawning
stretch from Byrne Bridge up to the bottom of the stairs in the ravine
at least twice a week, and "process" every mort we find.

Looking forward to fry-spotting in a few months!

Posted by Paul at 09:51 PM

January 10, 2012

Total Environment Canada ‘Enforcement’ Over 2o Years Less Than Toronto Library Fines in 1 Year

Is this for real?

I ran across this article with some astounding figures regarding [lack of] Environment Canada enforcement of the the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

In a single year, the Toronto Public Library levied more fines for overdue books ($2,685,067 in 2009) than the total amount of fines obtained by Environment Canada in more than two decades (1988-2011) of enforcing the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, ostensibly this country's most important pollution law ($2,466,352).

It's a powerful read.

http://www.ipolitics.ca/2011/12/20/its-time-to-start-cracking-down-on-environmental-crime/

Posted by Paul at 02:48 PM

January 07, 2012

PM Harper Worries About $ From Democratic Ally, Ignores $ from Dictatorship-Controlled Corp.

This Vancouver Sun story focussed on the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) of US NGOs providing some funding for Canadian NGOs to oppose the Northern Gateway pipeline.

The story began thus:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday he is worried foreign cash is being used to stall the hearing process for the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.

and after several hundred words, ended with the following paragraph:

Enbridge has said it has 10 industry supporters for the pipeline project, each of which is putting up $10 million to back it through the regulatory process. Identified supporters include China's second-largest oil producer, Sinopec.

Isn't that what we called "burying the lead" back in journalism school?

Industry, including a company controlled by the anti-democratic Chinese dictatorship, is putting up a total of $100 million to back the proposal. And this raises no concerns for our nation's leader?

Yet he's concerned about donations by citizens of a fellow democracy that is our greatest ally.

Does Harper really fear Canadian citizens, and citizens of the US, more than a totalitarian-controlled corporation committing $10 million to influence Canadian policy?

Posted by Paul at 08:37 PM

January 06, 2012

Good News Story on Salmon Spawning in Byrne Creek in Burnaby Now

The Burnaby Now interviewed me about spawner numbers in Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC. In a nutshell, this is the first salmon spawning season in several years in which streamkeepers have counted in increase in salmon. After terrible combined chum & coho numbers of just 13 in 2010 and 10 in 2009, we found 36 this year. More details in this post.

And here's the Burnaby Now story.

Posted by Paul at 02:37 PM

December 31, 2011

Salmon Spawning Season Ends on Byrne Creek?

Happy New Year everyone!
It appears the salmon spawning season on our beloved Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby may be over. I found one dead coho female yesterday (unusually late in the year), and today Yumi and I didn't see any salmon, dead or alive.
It was a good season, though. Over the course of 22 creek patrols from Oct. 15 to Dec. 31, streamkeepers tallied 36 salmon, 15 chum and 21 coho - those are fish that have been found dead (salmon die when they return to fresh water to spawn), measured, sexed, and cut open to see if they have spawned or not. That's the first upturn in several years on our battered urban creek, and nearly triple the count of only 13 last year.
There are also at least 14 redds, or nests of eggs laid by salmon in the creek, so we can look forward to seeing baby fry in the spring, assuming the water stays free of pollutants.
Thanks to all the volunteers!

Note: streamkeepers are trained to monitor spawning salmon, and collect data on live and dead fish. It is illegal to interfere with, or harm, spawning salmon.

Posted by Paul at 02:14 PM

December 28, 2011

Let Us Not Forget Derek’s Last Post

As the year ends, I've been reviewing events of 2011 that moved me, and one was the death of Derek K. Miller, and his "Last Post."

I don't want to say much, because there are plenty of folks in EAC, and in particular EAC-BC, who knew Derek way better than I had the chance to. I heard him speak several times, and I followed his powerful blog, but we didn't have a personal relationship.

Derek's Last Post bears reading again, for it stares death, and life, in the face.

http://www.penmachine.com/2011/05/the-last-post

It's also a reality check. Are we spending the precious moments of our lives following our passions, and contributing as best we can to positive change in our world?

UPDATE: Dawn, another EAC member and editor, remembers this post as particularly moving:

For me, the post I most remember is Endgame
(http://www.penmachine.com/2010/11/endgame).
I never met Derek in person, just in emails and on his blog.
But his writing and his story really affected me.

Posted by Paul at 08:06 PM

December 27, 2011

Low Eagle Counts Near Squamish

Despite the rain, Yumi and I went up to the Squamish area to look for eagles today. Glad we went for while it was pouring in the lower mainland, it was only drizzling around Brackendale.

Unfortunately, the volunteers at the eagle run pavilion said numbers were low yet again so far this year, continuing several years of declines. The eagles depend on salmon that return to spawn, and while apparently spawner forecasts are up this year, the volunteers said that hasn't been reflected on the ground, or, er, in the water, so far.

Here's a shot taken today:

eagle_squamish_20111227

Unfortunately is was overcast and raining, so not much snap, tonally or colour-wise. Also had to juice the ISO on my Nikon to 3200 to enable handheld shots at 300mm (450mm equivalent on a 35mm film camera).

Posted by Paul at 07:13 PM

December 01, 2011

Does Ambivalence Increase with Age?

On the topic of increasing ambivalence as we grow older:
While to some degree I have followed the stereotypical trajectory of becoming more "conservative" with age, in some ways I've become more "radical." I don't think that's necessarily a contradiction.
I've come to see shades of grey and ambivalence as a good thing. Something that makes you think and question, instead of simply accepting, and relying upon, some dogma. Something that allows for creativity, for experimentation, for changing one's mind. Something that enables you to work with people that you thought you had nothing in common with, for the betterment of society.
That's why in my 50s I can be an "environmentalist" and "activist", and also contribute to my local board of trade. I don't think I would have been capable of that at age 20. Mind you, back in my twenties, boards of trade didn't have environmental sustainability committees...
Some may say shades of grey can become a moral quagmire. But over the course of history, I think black and white has done more damage to peoples and societies. It's the extreme manifestations of societies, be they left- or right-wing, that have killed the most.
I think age helps one to define the idiotic extremes that one can write off, while at the same time teaching one to be more tolerant. Hmm. Getting ambivalent again... : -)
So while in some ways as I get older I am more apt to call a spade a spade and f**k the consequences (perhaps because time is more precious as I age), in other ways I'm more willing to listen and to compromise (because time is often the only way to share and teach and reach consensus).
Ambivalent, eh?

Posted by Paul at 10:55 PM

November 30, 2011

Byrne Creek Spawner Patrol Nov. 30

It was a glorious morning to patrol for spawning salmon on Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby today. Clear and sunny, with the air crisp and clean, the water clear. When you get focused on finding fish, you almost forget you're in the middle of a city.

byrne_creek_spawner_patrol_light_20111130

byrne_creek_spawner_patrol_foliage_20111130

byrne_creek_spawner_patrol_redd_20111130

A huge redd, or nest of eggs, laid by spawning salmon. It may be hard
to imagine, but three older farts in their 50s & 60s stood in awe at this
beautiful sight for a couple of minutes. This represents success-to have
salmon return to the creek against incredible odds, and lay the seed for
a new generation.

Posted by Paul at 02:53 PM

November 06, 2011

Remembering Burnaby Streamkeeper Jennifer Atchison

There was a ceremony of remembrance, dedication of a park bench, and a potluck gathering to honour Burnaby streamkeeper extraordinaire Jennifer Atchison today. Unfortunately, I and a couple of other folks were at a SEHAB (Salmon Enhancement & Habitat Advisory Board) meeting, and arrived late, but were generously excused, for Jennifer would have understood. She was active on the SEHAB board in her time.

I posted about Jennifer's passion and passing here, just over a year ago.

Here are a couple of shots of the bench overlooking Stoney Creek, which she loved so much.

jennifer_plaque_20111106

jennifer_friends_20111106

jennifer_bench_20111106

Posted by Paul at 07:13 PM

November 03, 2011

‘Free Radicals’–Leaders of the 21st Century

Interesting post.
Less Paperwork, Less Waiting, More Action. 
Information sharing, transparency, leveraging of social media...
Collaboration, shared resources...

This is not only for business. I know some "Free Radicals" in the NGO sector. We ought to cultivate them at all levels of government, too.

Thanks to @mamatweeta who RT'd @shaunacausey.

Posted by Paul at 08:59 PM

October 26, 2011

Great Presentations on Rain Gardens & Stormwater Pollution at Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference

A few things that struck me today at the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Vancouver:

Rain Gardens & Bioswales

The City of Delta has an agreement with its school board to build two rain gardens a year on school property, with kids doing the planting. The woman speaking from Delta said, "We're done with pilot projects. We know these things work. We want to make green infrastructure standard practice." Delta figures it spends around $15,000 per school rain garden.

Kitsap County over the border offers residents up to $500 in incentives to put rain gardens on private property, along with free technical consultations, and has a dedicated "rain garden program manager." How cool is that? She said a private homeowner can put in a rain garden starting at under $1,000. From a target of 100 private-property rain gardens this year, they've already signed up 76 homeowners. She also has a database with each rain garden in it, its location, how large an area it drains, what watershed it's in, what kind of soil it's in, GIS mapping data, estimates of how much each site can infiltrate, etc., etc. Yowza!

Various counties in Washington State are training and deploying "Rain Garden Ambassadors" and "Rain Garden Mentors" to educate citizens and encourage acceptance of rain gardens in neighborhoods.

The Puget Sound area has a target of 16,000 rain gardens by 2016: http://raingarden.wsu.edu/

PDF of a Washington State University "Low Impact Development" manual here:
http://raingarden.wsu.edu/documents/LIDManual_002.pdf

Effects of Copper Pollution from Road Wash on Fish

A researcher at WSU contacted me before the conference because she found stuff on my blog and on the Byrne Creek website about coho dying unspawned in Byrne Creek. She is researching that issue, and also the impact of pollution on coho smolts, and wanted to know if we could meet while she was in Vancouver for the conference.

I went to her session today and she's discovered that even minute concentrations of copper in water from road wash (brake lining dust, etc.) can impair or even destroy salmonid sensory organs including the lateral-line sensors, and the olfactory sense. The impairment happens quickly.

Posted by Paul at 08:47 PM

October 01, 2011

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Assist in Edmonds Clean Sweep

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers participated in the biannual Edmonds Clean Sweep yet again. This event is sponsored by the Edmonds Business & Community Association in SE Burnaby the first Saturday in October, and the first Saturday in May every year. There was a bit of confusion this year as to organizational matters, but it all came together in a great event.

Thanks to Joyce Rostron, past prez of the Edmonds group, and Jim and Lindy McQueen of Gordon Presbyterian Church for pulling it together. The church did a great job of hosting the community with hot dogs, buns and condiments donated by Save-On Foods, and drinks provided by MLA Raj Chouhan.

At "our" end of the event, streamkeepers pulled in 37 volunteers! Thanks to all the Scouts Canada groups that participated.

And of course thanks to the City of Burnaby and its crews who provide this community cleanup with dumpsters and other support. Not to mention Burnaby RCMP and Community Policing volunteers who are always out in force for these events! And Translink security staff who help us out with our volunteer vehicles in the parking lot.

Clean_Sweep_20111001_small

Signs pointing to our booth at the Edmonds Skytrain station

Clean_Sweep_2_20111001_small

Filling the City of Burnaby provided dumpster to overflowing

Clean_Sweep_3_20111001_small

Thanks to all the Scouts Canada volunteers!

Clean_Sweep_4_20111001_small

Volunteers shoulder heavy loads to clean up the hood!

Clean_Sweep_5_20111001_small

Streamkeepers and RCMP at the post-event social. No, the two
groups are not shunning each other, we get along great! Just didn't
grab a better photo. . .  The police know streamkeepers are eyes on
less-travelled parts of our wonderful parks, ravines, and creeks.
Burnaby has a great community policing program.

Clean_Sweep_6_20111001_small

Edmonds Association past prez Joyce Rostron thanks sponsors and volunteers

Clean_Sweep_7_20111001_small

Gordon Presbyterian Church volunteers feed the crowd

Clean_Sweep_8_20111001_small

Moi center, with streameepers stalwarts Dave and Frieda

Posted by Paul at 10:51 PM

September 22, 2011

BC ‘Salmon-Safe’ Launch–PSF Invitation

I received the following from the Pacific Salmon Foundation today by email, and am reposting it here. The text and image are from PSF:

You're invited to the official launch of Salmon-Safe in British Columbia

Working with farmers to keep B.C.'s streams healthy for Pacific salmon to thrive

Wednesday | October 5 | 2011 | 3:00 - 4:30pm

At the Main Street Station Vancouver Farmers Market 1100 Block Station Street (along Thornton Park across from the VIA Rail Station and near the Main St Skytrain Station)

Complementary tasty creations generously prepared by Two Chefs and a Table, featuring seasonal produce from Salmon-Safe farms!

Salmon-Safe is a third-party certification program that recognizes farmers who adopt conservation practices that help restore Pacific salmon habitat in rivers and streams. The Pacific Salmon Foundation and Fraser Basin Council are the delivery partners for Salmon-Safe in B.C. The Salmon Safe initiative is funded in part by: Royal Bank of Canada Blue Water Project and the Living Rivers Trust Fund

salmon_safe_psf_201110

Posted by Paul at 01:02 PM

September 20, 2011

Public Hearing on Condo Development & Byrne Creek Daylighting

I attended the Zoning Bylaw Amendments Public Hearing tonight at Burnaby City Hall regarding several rezoning & development proposals, including the consolidation of several single-family lots into a four-story condo development in the upper Byrne Creek watershed, including a proposal to daylight another 150 meters of the creek.

"Daylighting" means bringing a creek back to the surface from pipes it was buried in during urban development.

The plan looks good. I talked to a VP at Ledingham McAllister, the proponent, and he pointed out some creek-friendly features. A key one is that rather than having the usual concrete stormwater detention tank for a building of this size, they are proposing a wetland/rain garden between the building and the daylighted creek to slow and filter runoff. Cool!

I spoke to Mayor and Council that as streamkeepers we were pleased that the proponent and the City had come up with a progressive design that included higher density with daylighting and innovative stormwater management.

All in all it was great to come to such a hearing with praise. I think often environmental NGOs and various levels of government are viewed as being in conflict. Yes, sometimes that's true, and I will not shirk from some healthy criticism now and then, but I think it's also important to acknowledge when government and business get things right.

And I'm happy to say that this development/daylighting proposal looks right! This is all in the early stages, yet a lot of work has already been done, and kudos to all who thought about what was best for Byrne Creek during the process!

Posted by Paul at 10:36 PM

Burnaby World Rivers Day 2011

Note: the following information and images are from the Rivers Day organizers.

AT GUICHON CREEK

Sunday, September 25th, 11:00 - 3:00PM

You are invited to World Rivers Day,  a global event celebrating our planet's rivers. This year is the 6th anniversary of World Rivers Day and the 31th anniversary of Rivers Day in BC. Enjoy your time at BCIT's Burnaby Campus and learn more about Guichon Creek right here in Burnaby and the importance of our world's waterways.

rivers_2011

Enjoy the following FREE activities (ongoing from 11:00 to 3:00 pm):

discover BCIT's latest stream improvements along Guichon Creek

help enhance the natural riparian habitat with Evergreen (and horse and buggy rides to the site!)

learn more about your local environment from a wide range of informative displays

browse tasty farmers market vendors

see live raptors with the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society

enjoy a City of Burnaby ecosculpture exhibit

experience a portable climbing wall

Where is it this year?

This year the event is located at BCIT's Burnaby campus; between Canada Way and Deer Lake Parkway near Willingdon Avenue and Wayburne Drive in Burnaby (see map).

How do I get there?

Take transit, carpool or ride your bike!

Take the #25, #123, #130 or #125 bus (www.translink.ca). It's a short walk to the event site. Or ride your bike: the event is located on Burnaby's North-South Bikeway and near Willingdon Urban Trail. (www.burnaby.ca/cycling). Or you can car-pool! Visit the Jack Bell Ride-Share program website at www.ride-share.com to find your ride-match. Vehicle parking is also available and located nearby.

BCIT_rivers_2011_map

H2O

Drinking water will be available on site. Plastic bottled water is being discouraged this year in support of Metro Vancouver's Tap Water Campaign. Bring your eco-friendly bottle!

For more information visit: www.burnaby.ca/worldriversday

ALSO:

As part of World Rivers Day in Burnaby this year, help remove invasive plant species along STONEY CREEK with the Stoney Creek Environment Committee in North-East Burnaby. Go to www.scec.ca for more information.

Posted by Paul at 12:06 PM

September 19, 2011

A Slew of Salmon-Related Articles

East coast fishermen protest #Salmon farms, want to protect sensitive lobster habitat from pollution.: http://bit.ly/n5lW2Y

DFO not getting enough $ to properly study Fraser River salmon returns - Vancouver Sun: http://bit.ly/qtRcnW

Too many seals, sea lions shot at BC fish farms, say critics - Vancouver Sun: http://bit.ly/oRo69o

Fish caught in BC show no Fukushima contamination - Vancouver Sun: http://bit.ly/nQiplz

Salmon supported as BC Official Emblem - Vancouver Sun:http://bit.ly/o2ev0o

Article on coho salmon spawner mortality in urban streams. Similar issues on Byrne Creek in #Burnaby: http://bit.ly/o7nar3

Sockeye Feel the Heat - how rising temps affect salmon - Tyee: http://bit.ly/p9hHVl

As Feds slash Enviro Canada budget, international scientists worry about impact on climate research - CBC: http://bit.ly/pD2iLT

How does climate-change research relate to salmon? Heat. Salmon become prone to disease and exhaustion when water temperatures exceed around 20C.

And a good news story! Fish return to once-toxic dead zone near Britannia in  Howe Sound: http://tinyurl.com/5v4x3lr

Posted by Paul at 08:29 PM

September 13, 2011

Gray Day Fishing at Confluence of Fraser, Sumas in BC

Cousin Stacy took me fishing yet again. The day started out overcast and gloomy, and I got a few moody shots in the low light:

fraser_sumas_fishing_20110913

fraser_sumas_fishing_heron_20110913

A heron competing with several boats

The day eventually cleared up somewhat and Stacy limited out on pink salmon, while I managed to land two.

A few more trips, and I'll be developing into a real salmon fisherperson : - ).

Seriously, as  I mentioned in a previous post, Stacy is a great coach, and he's a CMA to boot, so he takes continual improvement seriously!

Posted by Paul at 09:07 PM

September 08, 2011

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society Holds First AGM

After over a decade of protecting and enhancing Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers became a registered BC society last year to fulfill volunteer insurance requirements. Today we held our first Annual General Meeting.

Here is the new board of directors as elected last night. Thanks to Abby Schwarz and Maho Hayashi, who stepped down, and thanks to John Sneep and Yumi Kosaka for coming aboard! Also thanks to all those continuing.

Paul Cipywnyk, President
Frank Williams, Vice President
Dave Burkholder, Treasurer
Yumi Kosaka, Secretary
John Sneep, Director at large
Joan Carne, Director at large

Here's my president's report as given to the AGM:

After operating for over ten years on an informal basis, the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers became the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society on June 11, 2010. We are breaking new ground here tonight with our first Annual General Meeting.

I am very pleased to have completed a year as president of the "new" society with everyone's support. I have to thank all who have volunteered with our group, and in particular I want to thank my mentor, Joan Carne, for teaching me so much about the creek, about cooperative community activism, and how to achieve things by bringing together as many people as possible, including all levels of government.

The inaugural board of directors for our first year:

Paul Cipywnyk, President
Frank Williams, Vice President
Dave Burkholder, Treasurer
Abby Schwarz, Secretary
Maho Hayashi, Director
Joan Carne, Director and Honourary Past President

As one of its first motions, the new board appointed Bert Richardson, Bob Fuller, and Lloyd Longeway as honourary lifetime members of the society in recognition of their founding roles in restoring and enhancing Byrne Creek. Joan Carne was also recognized with a Leadership Certificate for having chaired the informal group for over a decade.

Aside from gaining official registered non-profit society status, the activities of our group have changed little. We still paint yellow storm-drain fish, we still count bugs, we monitor returning salmon spawners, we remove invasive plant species, we do educational outreach at public events including creek tours, etc.

We also advocate for the preservation and restoration of the creek with all levels of government, and appreciate our good relations with the City of Burnaby Engineering, Parks and Planning departments, not to mention the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and in particular our Community Advisor, Maurice Coulter-Boisvert. We also work closely with the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation, and other NGOs.

Rather than go through a long list of our activities over the last year in an Operations Report, I would simply refer people to our Byrne Creek Watershed 2010 Status Report (5.7MB PDF file) that is available for download from the website. I also have a copy here tonight should anyone like to view it.

I thank all the volunteers, and the folks who have said they will remain on the board of directors, and those who have put their names forward to join it.

Posted by Paul at 10:49 PM

September 07, 2011

Metro Vancouver Updating Regional Parks Plan

Metro Vancouver is looking for public input on updating its Regional Parks Plan. Here's some info I received from the MetroVan mailing list:

Regional Parks contribute to a healthy, sustainable region by conserving the natural assets of the region and promoting a healthy society.

The 2005 Regional Parks and Greenway Plan is being updated in 2011 because:

  • many actions in the 2005 plan are well underway or complete,
  • some actions have changed in scope or detail and need to be reconfirmed, and
  • a new format and actions are needed to ensure consistency and integration with Metro Vancouver's overall suite of sustainability plans.

Learn more about the Draft Regional Parks Plan

We are seeking feedback from regional stakeholders and the public.  Join us for the discussion:

Open House: (pre-registration not required)
Date: Wednesday, September 14th
Time: 6:00 - 8:00 (presentation starts at 6:30)
Location: Metro Vancouver Head Office, Information Centre
               4330 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC

Webinar: Thursday, September 15th, 11:30 - 12:30
Register online

Please provide comments by Monday, September 19th, 2011

Posted by Paul at 04:02 PM

Development Proposal in SE Burnaby Could Extend Byrne Creek 150 Meters

I came across some potentially exciting news for the Byrne Creek watershed in SE Burnaby, BC. A development proposal in the upper watershed in the Edmonds area could see as much as 150 meters of the creek brought back to life (in a process called "daylighting") from a section where it was buried and piped nearly 50 years ago. Thanks to ZoAnn Morten of the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation, who noticed the rezoning process mentioned in the Burnaby Newsleader, and who brought it to my attention. I got a copy of the report from City Hall today. It mentions ongoing efforts to restore and protect the creek by the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers. Here are a few highlights:

  • Requirement for a detailed Sediment Control System during construction
  • On-site stormwater management system for the new building
  • Environmental review re daylighting the creek
  • The report states that the creek was "enclosed in a storm sewer" in that area in 1962
  • The creek would be daylighted for about an additional 150 meters from where it now exits the pipe. (That's more than I expected, but they are planning to close chunks of 17th St. and 16th Ave. and turn them into greenways, so I guess that adds more length.)
  • The zoning is being changed from RM2 to RM3 to give the developer more height in exchange for the daylighting of the creek
  • There will be "necessary riparian planting adjacent the daylighted Byrne Creek"
  • Unfortunately, to allow for the daylighting, the underground parking and the larger building, all mature trees on the site will have to be removed

There will be a public hearing on Sept. 20, 2011, at 7:00 p.m. at Burnaby City Hall. If this is as good as it sounds, it would be a wonderful enhancement to our neighbourhood! I hope all goes well, and kudos to the City of Burnaby and proponent Ledingham McAllister Communities Ltd.

And if this daylighting could be extended further. . . : -). There's the huge Safeway property nearby up for development, and the ongoing enhancement of Ernie Winch Park, where the creek used to go. . . Yowza!

Posted by Paul at 02:39 PM

August 25, 2011

Honoured to Speak at Jack Layton Memorial at Burnaby City Hall

I was honoured to be asked to speak from an environmental and sustainability perspective at a memorial for the late leader of Canada's official opposition, the Honourable Jack Layton, at Burnaby City Hall today.  At first I was somewhat taken aback at the request from MP Peter Julian and MLA Raj Chouhan, as I'd never even met Jack, but they insisted they wanted someone from the environmental NGO community to comment on his green initiatives.

Initially daunted, as I sat down to write a quick speech, several images came to mind that I think are representative of Jack's sustainability leadership. Thanks to Raj, Peter and the rest of the organizers for giving me the opportunity to share a few impressions of a man many Canadians are missing deeply, no matter what their political leanings:

One of the enduring images of Jack Layton that sticks in my mind is that of a bicycle helmet.

A bicycle helmet perched atop a grinning face and trademark moustache, followed by the lean frame of a man who kept himself in great shape. That image resonates with me, for I've been asked to say a few words about Jack's dedication to preserving and restoring our natural environment, and his personal commitment to sustainability.

That bicycle helmet symbolized Jack's approach to politics and the environment. Walk the talk, or in his case, ride the talk. Jack was bicycling to work when most of us were barely contemplating the idea, and wondering if it would mess up our suits. Yet he made it work.

Another image I have of Jack is his openness and good humour. Over the last several days I have followed an outpouring of grief on Facebook and Twitter and other social media. I was amazed by how many of my "friends" on Facebook, and those who I follow on Twitter, wrote about Jack. These are mostly folks that have never talked about politics, they were simply feeling bereft at the passing of a great Canadian.

Then I noticed something interesting happening. The grief began turning toward sharing highlights of Jack's media appearances, mostly of a humorous nature. People began finding solace in Jack's good humour and willingness to expose himself to some gentle ribbing.

So another image that's in my mind from the last few days is a YouTube clip of Rick Mercer visiting Jack's energy retrofitted home. It's a hilarious episode, but while we laugh, we are also astounded at Jack's openness, his willingness to share, and again, his environmental dedication. His own home was not only energy neutral, at times it was feeding power back into the grid. Walk the talk, indeed.

That leadership is being recognized. Jack is already being honoured by his alma matter, York University, with a new prize in his memory to be awarded annually to an outstanding environmental studies masters student. Meanwhile, the Learning for a Sustainable Future organization that partners with York, is creating a Jack Layton Award for Youth Action in Sustainability for students taking innovative approaches to community challenges.

We live in environmentally difficult times. It is easy to read the headlines day after day, and despair at seemingly one crisis after another. Yet somewhere between Chicken Little panic, and turning a blind eye, there is a road forward. Jack would fix that road with his tireless gaze, and lead the charge. It is up to us to maintain his example of unwavering optimism and hope.

Posted by Paul at 08:14 PM

July 27, 2011

Metro Vancouver Ecological Health Action Plan–Open to Comment

Received the following interesting info from Metro Vancouver today (I've shortened it a bit):

Over the past decade Metro Vancouver has been working towards expanding and aligning regional efforts to improve our quality of life while supporting the integrity of our natural environment. The wide range of services Metro Vancouver provides the region and its related investment in public infrastructure and lands creates a unique opportunity for us to promote and support actions that improve our ecological health.

Join us to discuss our draft Ecological Health Action Plan.

The draft Ecological Health Action Plan is a pragmatic next step based on short-term actions clearly within Metro Vancouver's mandate. The document describes how Metro Vancouver has incorporated ecological health into our regional plans and strategies, four areas of opportunity for improving ecological health and 15 initial projects.

Link arrow Learn more about the Draft Ecological Health Action Plan

Open House: (no registration required)
Date: August 9th, 2011
Time: 6 pm - 8:00 pm (presentation at 6:30)
Location: Metro Vancouver Head Office, Information Centre
               4330 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC

We welcome your feedback. Please provide comments by August 15th, 2011

Posted by Paul at 04:53 PM

July 26, 2011

Slew of Articles on Fish, Biodiversity, Environmental Assessments

I sometimes wonder why I put so much volunteer time into streamkeeping, when so much of the news is so bad so much of the time. Sigh. It's also so demoralizing when our federal government is not fulfilling its mandate when it comes to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and Environment Canada.

But what else can we do but keep trying?

Cuts to environmental assessments could lead to ecological disasters in Canada - Vancouver Sun: http://bit.ly/rsMoaY

Canada's Environment Minster warned that urban sprawl is hurting biodiversity - Vancouver Sun: http://bit.ly/pJLxO6

Ocean food chain threatened by overharvesting of small fish - Vancouver Sun: http://bit.ly/oCuLUl

Feds silence scientist over West Coast salmon study and the Cohen connection: http://ow.ly/5O35F

Posted by Paul at 04:19 PM

July 13, 2011

Choices Supports Streamkeeepers Again

Choices in the Park will be having a by donation BBQ this Sunday, July 17, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with proceeds going to the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers. Thanks to manager Greg Goossens and all the Choices staff.

Streamkeepers will have our booth set up, with great maps of the watershed, and lots of info on how you can make a difference to water health in your neighbourhood. Come on out, have a chat, and something good to eat! It's just steps from Edmonds Station on the Skytrain, and also just steps from the creek!

byrne_creek_choices_earth_day_201104

Photo from Choices/Byrne Creek Earth Day event earlier this year.

Posted by Paul at 08:20 PM

July 04, 2011

Firefighting Foam Enters Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby Again

Late afternoon today I saw an email from a fellow Byrne Creek Streamkeeper that there was a car on fire near his apartment and that firefighters were responding with foam. I had just come home from a walk around the creek and had not noticed anything. I pulled out my stormdrain map of the Byrne Creek watershed and noted that the area he referred to was right on the edge of the escapement. So I ran back outside and checked Griffiths Pond near the Edmonds Skytrain station. Sure enough, there was lots of foam coming down the fish ladder, spreading over the pond, and flowing downstream.

Here's how it looked at 5:15 p.m.:

byne_creek_foam_20110704_515pm_small

Now we streamkeepers are a bit sensitive because runoff from a house fire in the watershed back in November 201o did kill a lot of fish in the creek. That was attributed to chemicals stored at the house, as firefighting foam is said to be non-toxic.

I did not see any dead fish at 5:15, and resolved to check again later in the evening. Here's how the pond looked at 7:15 p.m.:

byne_creek_foam_20110704_715pm_small

Much of the foam had dissipated. I checked carefully in and around the pond again, and did not find any dead fish, or any in distress. I saw one alive, swimming just fine. I worked my way slowly down the creek about 75 meters, and also did not see any dead or distressed fish, and saw several darting about alive.

I'll check again in the morning, but, knock on wood, perhaps we have escaped yet another kill in our creek.

UPDATE [July 5, 2011]: I checked the pond this morning at 7:30 a.m. and it was clear. I am pleased to report that I did not see any dead or distressed fish. I also checked the sediment pond near Meadow and Southridge in the artificial spawning habitat, and again saw no dead or distressed fish. I did see several dozen live ones, ranging in size from about 8cm to 30cm. I should also acknowledge that I did not have time to backtrack the flow of the foam, so it is an assumption on my part that it was related to the fire in the upper watershed. I am assuming it was from the fire due to the timing of the foam's appearance, and its quantity.

Posted by Paul at 09:12 PM

June 24, 2011

Water for Life Benefit Concert on Global BC TV Sat. 6/25, 7pm

Don't miss this great show that combines the passion of BC and World Rivers Day founder Mark Angelo with the uplifting music of Holly Arntzen, Kevin Wright, and the Dreamband, along with a choir of 160 kids from Burnaby schools.

My wife and I caught this show live at the Michael J Fox Theatre in SE Burnaby, and are looking forward to viewing it again on Global BC TV.

Posted by Paul at 09:05 PM

June 12, 2011

Two Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Receive City of Burnaby Awards

As president of the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society, I'm pleased to share that two of our members were recognized at the City of Burnaby Environment Awards today:

Louise Towell received an Environment Award for Communications for her work
as a founder of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society and spreading the word about
the importance of wetlands, creeks, rivers and oceans to the health of the world.
All Drains Lead to Fish Habitat.
Well done Lu and very deserving!

Lu_Dan_EnviroAwards_small_20110612

Denis Boko received an Environmental Star award for his work with Kaymar Creek,
for co-founding the Urban Forest Group, and for his work with Byrne Creek.
I'm sure we'll see more great things from Denis in the future!

In the two photos, Lu and Denis are receiving their awards from City of Burnaby
Councillor and Environment Committee chair Dan Johnston.

denis_dan_EnviroAwards_small_20110612

I'm also pleased that "fellow traveller" Alan C. James,
secretary of the Stoney Creek Environment Committee
also received an Environmental Star award.

alan_dan_enviroawards_20110612

Posted by Paul at 07:38 PM

June 03, 2011

2011 Wild Salmon Music Festival

The 2011 Wild Salmon Music Festival looks like a blast! I may take in some of it, as I'll likely be up in the the Lumby area for the summer Salmon Enhancement and Habitat Advisory Board meeting the same weekend.

2011_Wild_Samon_Fest_small

Posted by Paul at 07:38 PM

May 19, 2011

Why are Humans Rarely Included Among ‘Predators?’

Interesting article in the Burnaby Newsleader on predators being considered as impacting sockeye salmon populations at the Cohen Commission.

Salmon have coexisted with all the mentioned predators for thousands of years. I find it odd that there was no mention of the apex predator that's increased in numbers on the BC and US west coast from the tens of thousands to the tens of millions over the last century or two -- us.

Why are humans almost never considered to be predators?

Yes, of course human impacts are being presented to the commission, but I still think it's odd that we disassociate ourselves from other predators. We're fishers and farmers and managers, eh? We don't like to see ourselves as killers and eaters of other animals.

Posted by Paul at 09:18 PM

May 17, 2011

Burnaby Celebrates Environment Week

The City of Burnaby is celebrating Environment Week from June 5 - 11 with a series of events and activities on the theme "Waste Reduction - making a difference."

Schedule of Events here.

2011_BBY_EnviroWeek_poster_small

Posted by Paul at 12:30 PM

May 12, 2011

2011 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference

Picked this press release up somewhere, and found it very interesting:

Announcing the 2011 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference

Set for October 25-27 at the Sheraton Wall Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia, this not-to-be-missed event is the largest, most comprehensive research and policy conference in the region. The 2011 conference, co-hosted by Environment Canada and the Puget Sound Partnership, presents the latest scientific research on the Puget Sound Georgia Basin ecosystem.

This year's theme, "Many Voices, One Sea," provides a collaborative forum for discussing the latest environmental research and practices to protect this critical ecosystem. The conference brings together leading scientists, resource managers, government officials, business leaders, non-profit organizations, academia and other stakeholders. More than 1200 participants attended the last biennial conference in 2009. In 2011, we expect to include at least 800 participants, but hope for more.

The conference website www.salishseaconference.org, includes information on registration, sessions, the Call for Abstracts, sponsorship and exhibits. Abstracts will be considered for a range of topics, including water quality, air quality, climate change, species health, land use and restoration activities in the Salish Sea ecosystem. Abstracts are due May 27 and can be submitted online.

Sponsors will have ample opportunity to be recognized and demonstrate their commitment to a clean and healthy environment for our shared Salish Sea ecosystem.

Join us in furthering our collective understanding of Puget Sound and Georgia Basin. The program is packed with peer-to-peer interactions, field trips, cultural celebrations, knowledge transfer, and practical collaborations. Register now to secure your supersaver rate!

The SeaDoc Society will award its 2011 Salish Sea Science Prize at the conference (www.seadocsociety.org/ssp). Nominations for this award are due June 15. The $2,000 prize is given to highlight the importance of science in providing a foundation for designing a healthy Salish Sea.

We appreciate whatever you can do to help us spread the word about this important regional conference. If you have questions, feel free to contact Verney Conference Management, info@salishseaconference.org or Jennie Wang, Environment Canada, at secretariat@salishseaconference.org.

Posted by Paul at 02:35 PM

Metro Vancouver 2011 Sustainability Congress

2011 Sustainability Congress
Future of the Region: Building a Shared Roadmap

Saturday, June 25, 2011
9 AM - 2:30 PM
Fairmont Waterfront Hotel
900 Canada Place Way, Vancouver

Posted by Paul at 02:33 PM

April 18, 2011

2011 BC Endangered Rivers List Released

Kettle River tops BC's Most Endangered Rivers List for 2011 -

"Sacred headwaters" in second spot - list highlights issues such as the need for water policy reform and improved protection of northern rivers

The Kettle River has topped British Columbia's most endangered rivers list for 2011.

The Kettle River runs through BC's southern interior near the towns of Midway, Rock Creek and Grand Forks. This river, already suffering from excessive water withdrawals, seasonal low flows and high water temperatures, is threatened by significant new water extraction proposals near its source. The river is in dire need of a water management plan that recognizes there are clear ecological limits to the amount of water that can be withdrawn. Unless greater efforts are made to address this issue, the fate of this beautiful interior stream and its fish stocks may well foreshadow what many other streams in the region will confront in the face of ongoing climate change.

"Most importantly, the issues unfolding on the Kettle highlight the urgency of updating BC's century-old Water Act so as to ensure the needs of fish and river ecosystems are adequately considered before making decisions on water extraction for various industrial uses", said Mark Angelo, Rivers Chair of the Outdoor Recreation Council and an Order of Canada recipient. The province has just concluded seeking public input on Water Act reform, and new legislation is hoped for in the coming year. "Modernizing the Water Act creates a significant opportunity to improve the state of many waterways, including the Kettle", said Angelo.

In the second position is the area widely known to the Iskut First Nation as the "sacred headwaters" in that it nurtures the source not only of the Skeena, but also the Nass and Stikine, all great salmon-bearing rivers. Located on the southern edge of BC's Spatsizi wilderness, the sacred headwaters is home to an abundance of wildlife, including caribou, stone sheep, grizzly bears and wolves; to many, this area is the "Serengeti of Canada" said Angelo.

Yet, the sacred headwaters is also the site of a major proposal by Canada Shell to extract coal bed methane gas, a highly invasive process that would compromise the biological richness of the great rivers that flow from this area. If approved, a maze of wellheads, roads and pipelines would spread across the proponent's 400,000 hectare tenure. Given the intensity of such development, concerns include the likelihood of altered drainage patterns and increased siltation. Vast amounts of wastewater, high in salts and heavy metals, may also be generated in the extraction process. Current plans call for re-injecting this polluted water back into the ground but this is an untested method that could contaminate groundwater aquifers linked to surface flows.

While there is a temporary moratorium on coalbed methane development in the sacred headwaters, it is set to expire in 2012, at which point development could proceed. "There is widespread support for making this moratorium permanent, which would do much to protect the legacy of the great wild rivers that flow from this area", said Angelo. "The threats confronting this area highlight the need to be more proactive in protecting our great northern salmon rivers", added Angelo, who also chairs the Rivers Institute at BCIT.

Coming in at the number three position is the Peace River, currently in the midst of an environmental assessment relating to the proposed Site C dam.

In the fourth spot is the Fraser River, which for the 18th time in 19 years, finds its way into the top half of the endangered rivers list. "Of particular concern this year are the development pressures facing the 'Heart of the Fraser' between Hope and Mission, one of the most productive sections of river anywhere in the world", said Angelo.

Coming in at number 5 is the Kokish River on Vancouver Island, southeast of Port Hardy. The river's salmon and steelhead stocks are jeopardized by a controversial run of river power project.

"As one scans this year's list, the issues and problems outlined are extensive and diverse, ranging from the importance of pro-actively protecting productive salmon rivers and ensuring that adequate water management regulations are in place to the need for improved riverside habitat protection," explains Angelo. "The list also helps to create a greater awareness of the various threats that confront our waterways", he added. "These issues highlight the fact that you cannot separate the health of our fish stocks from the health of our rivers; they are completely inter-dependent".

Each year, the Outdoor Recreation Council solicits and reviews nominations for BC's Most Endangered Rivers from its member groups, which total close to 100,000 members, as well as from the general public and resource managers from across BC.

For more detailed information on the rivers listed, please see the endangered rivers backgrounder at www.orcbc.ca

BC's Most Endangered Rivers of 2010;

1. Kettle River (water extraction, development)
2. "Sacred Headwaters" of Skeena, Nass and Stikine (coalbed methane)
3. Peace River (hydro-electric dam proposal)
4. Fraser River, "Heart of the Fraser"(urbanization, industrial development, habitat loss)
5. Kokish River (IPP proposal)
6. Morice (pipeline proposal)
7. Taku River (mining development, road proposal, leachate concerns)
8. Similkameen River (cross border dam proposal)
9. Elk River (development, increasing selenium levels, wildlife migration issues)
10. Coquitlam River (excessive sedimentation, urbanization)
11. Bute Inlet Rivers (IPP proposal)
12. Atlin River (impacts of dam and Whitehorse, Yukon energy proposal)

Media only: backgrounder details on each river is found at www.orcbc.ca

For more information, please contact:

Mark Angelo - (604) 432-8270                        Robert Gunn - (604) 451-6860                  

Posted by Paul at 12:52 PM

April 16, 2011

Edmonds Clean Sweep May 7, 2011

Come one, come all to the Edmonds Clean Sweep on May 7, 2011, in SE Burnaby. Sponsored by the Edmonds Business & Community Association, this event brings people in the community together to clean up their neighbourhood.

Meet in the parking lot of the Gordon Presbyterian Church at 7457 Edmonds St.

Registration: 9:45
Clean up: 10:00 - noon
BBQ (free for volunteers): Noon

Alternative registration site with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers in the parking lot of the Edmonds Skytrain station - times the same.

See you there!

clean_sweep_201105

Posted by Paul at 08:29 PM

April 05, 2011

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Release 2010 Watershed Status Report

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers in SE Burnaby have released their Byrne Creek Watershed 2010 Status Report. It's a 26-page document with lots of photos, maps, graphs and charts that depict the state of the watershed through several indicators in a format easy to read and understand.

You can download a PDF (5.6MB) for free from the home page of the group's website.

The report addresses lots of topics including monitoring of salmon spawning in this urban creek, resident fish populations, invasive plant species, pollution problems, etc.

byrne_creek_2010_report_cover

Posted by Paul at 08:29 PM

April 01, 2011

Choices Supporting Enviro Groups with Earth Day BBQs

Choices Markets has been holding by-donation BBQs for several years now, with partial proceeds going to local environment groups. I see in the April Choices Newsletter that Byrne Creek Streamkeepers are again being supported by Choices in the Park. Thanks!

Earth Day
Saturday, April 23,12:00pm-4:00pm at all locations
Looking for products that are made by companies with earth-friendly practices?
Saturday, April 23, in recognition of Earth Day, Choices Markets will be showcasing
samples of environmentally safe household items and delicious local and/or organic
foods. We'll also be hosting donation barbecues and donating the net proceeds to
five organizations that are all lending a hand to help the planet:

Friends of Semiahmoo Bay Society
SOLEfood Farm
The World in a Garden
Byrne Creek Streamkeepers
Green City Acres.

Posted by Paul at 11:31 AM

March 28, 2011

Ways to Comment on Burnaby Draft Social Sustainability Strategy

Helping to spread the word!

To ensure that Burnaby will continue to be a great place to live, work, learn, play and visit, the City of Burnaby is developing a Social Sustainability Strategy.

A draft Social Sustainability Strategy has been developed by a 25-member Steering Committee, composed of Burnaby community members, and approved, in principle, by Burnaby City Council for public review.

Help Shape Burnaby's Future!

There are two primary ways to participate in the public consultation process:

1) By completing our survey

2) By attending one of our Public Open Houses

Read the draft Strategy: www.burnaby.ca/sss_draftstrategy. (If you require a hard copy of the draft Strategy, please call the Planning and Building Department at 604-294-7421. Limited copies are available.)

Take the Survey: www.burnaby.ca/sss_survey

Attend an Open House:

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
Confederation Centre
7:00pm - 9:00pm
* Open for display viewing at 6:00pm

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011
Cameron Recreation Centre
7:00pm - 9:00pm
*Open for display viewing at 6:00pm

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011
Edmonds Community School
11:00am - 1:00pm
* Open for display viewing at 10:30am

Monday, April 11th, 2011
Bonsor Recreation Centre
7:00pm - 9:00pm
*Open for display viewing at 6:00pm

All venues are wheelchair accessible.

Child-minding will be provided at the Open Houses.

If you wish to attend an Open House session and require interpretation/language translation, please arrange to have someone call us and we will try to provide that support.  Call 604-294-7421 and let us know which Open House you wish to attend and which language you speak.

Posted by Paul at 10:35 AM

March 26, 2011

Trillium Crime Scene in Byrne Creek Ravine

I'm sorry to report that someone cut off one of the rare trilliums known to flower in the lower ravine. Cut it off clean and took it away, leaving just the stem.

I don't understand such selfish, inconsiderate behaviour. Even if someone didn't know that trilliums are protected in BC and are not to be removed from public or private land, wouldn't they notice that there was only ONE flower as far as the eye could see, not a whole field of them? Sheesh.

So much for the enjoyment of many who would have seen the flower go through its lovely colour stages...

trillium_byrne_ravine_201103

The trillium starting to bloom on Tuesday, March 22

It was still there on Wednesday, March 23, when I led a tour of the creek
looking for salmon fry popping out of the gravel.

cut_trillium_byrne_ravine_20110326

All that was left on Saturday, March 26

Posted by Paul at 01:36 PM

March 22, 2011

Burnaby Empty Bowls–Nosh For a Cause

Burnaby Empty Bowls - A Food First Initiative
Nosh for a Cause, Help Fight Hunger Across Burnaby

Wednesday, April 20 5:30 - 9:30pm
Hilton Vancouver Metrotown

Sample World-Class Food by Burnaby's Top Chefs, Silent Auction
Receive a hand-thrown ceramic bowl

$60 includes your bowl

604-664-8708 or 604-664-8225

burnabyemptybowls.blogspot.com

Event Poster:

empty_bowls_2011

Posted by Paul at 04:27 PM

March 20, 2011

Yay! We Have Coho Fry in Byrne Creek!

Well, Mother Nature has snookered us again. Against all odds - a very low spawner return last autumn, no coho females found spawned, and fish kills from toxins flowing down street drains and into the creek - we have coho fry in Byrne Creek.

Yumi and I spotted and netted fry in several locations, and all were identified as coho. Please note that it is illegal to net salmon fry, and streamkeepers do so with the permission of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for ID purposes only. All fry are returned unharmed to the creek.

I feel elated. I really wasn't expecting much this spring what with the lowest spawner return since streamkeepers began keeping records some 12 years ago after the creek was reconnected to the Fraser River. Plus we had a toxic spill in November 2010 that killed hundreds of fish, but obviously some redds (nests of eggs laid by salmon) survived.

coho_fry_byrne_creek_20110320

Posted by Paul at 02:50 PM

March 02, 2011

Environment Canada Joke is Becoming a Tragedy

I really, truly would like to to be able to support Environment Canada. But in my experience, this Canadian federal department that's been a joke for some time, is rapidly becoming a tragedy. It appears to have no staff, no budget, no guts, no balls, no fiercely protective mother-love for the environment that it is mandated to maintain, regulate and enforce for present and future generations.

And with the present government's planned 20% slash-and-burn cut to EC's budget, what have we got to hope for?

I don't get it. What is more basic to human health and prosperity than the environment? Our water? Our air? Our land? Food, water, air are all elemental to human survival. And the survival of the entire food chain that we depend upon.

It's well past time that Environment Canada was a key ministry, with real powers and real teeth, and a concomitant budget and dedicated, passionate staff.

Shame on my federal government. Yes, shame!

And if EC Minister Peter Kent could still show a smidgen of the integrity that he was known for as a respected and honoured journalist, he would resign on principle at having the department that he is supposed to champion shafted like this. Equal cuts across the board are one thing, but EC is being targeted for dramatically deeper cuts than other departments. Why?

Posted by Paul at 09:59 PM

February 23, 2011

Starving Eagles ‘Fall Out of Sky’ as Salmon Runs Collapse

This is so sad. I'd heard that eagles were flocking to municipal dumps and landfills the last couple of months, trying to survive on garbage, as chum salmon runs disappeared last autumn and winter on Canada's west coast. Now apparently some eagles are so starved they are literally dropping out of the sky, according to a Globe & Mail article by Mark Hume.

This is a horrific example of what happens when nature's food chain is compromised. While we can't point a finger at any specific cause for the collapse of chum salmon runs, you can bet your bottom dollar that human interference has got at least something to do with it, be it overfishing, destruction of habitat, anthropogenic climate change, or some combination of the above.

Posted by Paul at 07:39 PM

February 22, 2011

Burnaby Museum, Shadbolt Centre ‘Fishing for Stories’

Fishing for stories ...

Have you been involved in the fishing industry? We are looking for commercial fishers, shoreworkers, fisheries workers, and people who have been involved in the preservation of streams and fish stock.

Share your stories and memories at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts on Thursday, March 3 at 1 :00 pm. The Curator from the Burnaby Village Museum and a facilitator from the urban ink theatre company will be on hand to collect your stories, and to weave some of the tales into a play about fishing that will take place at the Shadbolt Centre on Saturday, March 5 at 8:00 pm.

Collecting stories about people's experiences with the fishing industry helps to preserve information about this important British Columbia industry, and the unique ways it relates to Burnaby and the people who live here. It doesn't matter if your involvement has been in Burnaby or somewhere else...we would like to hear from you.

The conversations begin at 1:00 on Wednesday, March 3 and will likely last two or three hours, depending on the number of participants. Participants will be invited to return on Friday between 1:00 and 4:00 if they have a special object or memento they would like to contribute to an art installation about the fishing industry. They are invited to attend the performance of the "Women in Fish" play on Saturday, March 5 at 8:00 pm, free of charge.

If you would like to attend the discussion on March 3, please contact Lisa Codd, Curator at the Burnaby Village Museum by March 1. She can be reached at lisa.codd@burnaby.ca or by phone at 604-297-4542.

Posted by Paul at 10:55 AM

February 21, 2011

Could Earth be ‘Unrecognizable’ in 40 Years?

Some sobering research has been making the media rounds today. Here's Salon's take on it:

Scientists warn that Earth could be "unrecognizable" by 2050

Combined effect of surging population and depleting resources could cause an ecological catastrophe within 40 years. . .

The scariest line from the article is:

According to the World Wildlife Fund's Jason Clay: [To feed everyone] we will need to produce as much food in the next 40 years as we have in the last 8,000.

Posted by Paul at 04:50 PM

February 19, 2011

Excellent Byrne Creek Field Trip with BCIT Students

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Rob, Joan, their streamkeeper mascot Toby, and I accompanied Robert Laird and a group of BCIT students from the Sustainable Resource Management (or was it Fish, Wildlife and Recreation?) program on a tour of Byrne Creek this morning. It was a lovely day to be out and about, and with our combined knowledge we had a fascinating walk. Between Joan's depth on the history of the watershed and streamkeeping efforts over the last decade, Rob's insights into geology, and Robert L's breadth of knowledge about creeks and riparian zones, biology and botany etc. it was a very educational walk. Dunno how much the students retained from the mass of information thrown at them today, but I learned a lot!

bcit_byrne_creek_tour_20110219

As streamkeepers, we are very appreciative of being included in such events to provide local knowledge and experience. And it's always fun to tag along and hear new perspectives on the watershed we volunteer in.

Posted by Paul at 08:40 PM

February 16, 2011

Environmental Innovation Forum–March 2–Burnaby Board of Trade

The Burnaby Board of Trade is holding an Environmental Innovation Forum on March 2 from 5:30p at the Electronic Arts campus in Burnaby. This looks like an excellent event, and I'm not saying that just because I sit on the BBOT's Environmental Sustainability Committee : - ). Here's the lineup:

The panel includes:
Chris Corps, BSc MRICS, Asset Strategics Ltd.
Allen Langdon, VP, Sustainability for Retail Council of Canada
T.J. Galda, Chair, Electronic Arts Green Team
Member, Globe Foundation
Plus additional Panel Members TBA

Facilitator: Coro Strandberg, Principal of Strandberg Consulting and author of the Small and Medium-Sized Business Environmental Roadmap for Industry Canada.

The last BBOT environmental forum held at EA was a huge success, so don't miss this one!

Posted by Paul at 12:27 PM

February 13, 2011

Water for Life Benefit Concert in Burnaby

water_for_life_banner

Join us on April 7 at 7:30 pm for the Water for Life Benefit Concert, a very special event at the Michael J Fox theatre in Burnaby, British Columbia.

A wonderful mix of inspirational stories, stunning images, film clips and music, the show features internationally renowned river conservationist, writer and speaker, Mark Angelo, who also chairs the Rivers Institute at BCIT. In addition, the program features the wonderful folk-pop music of Holly Arntzen, Kevin Wright and the Dream Band along with 160 youth singers from Brentwood Park Elementary School.

The evening will be a celebration of water, rivers and the natural world while also advocating the need to be good water stewards wherever we might live. The live show will be filmed for Global TV to be aired as a prime time special on June 25. Tickets for the live event are available through Ticketmaster at 1-855-985-5000 (charge by phone) or through the Ticketmaster website. Tickets are $35 plus fees.

Posted by Paul at 11:42 AM

February 04, 2011

Invasive Plant Workshops in Burnaby

Cut It Out
Invasive plant workshop series

Space is limited, so please register early. Cost: $5.00 per person, per workshop.
Register using WebReg at burnaby.ca/webreg
Burnaby Village Museum & Carousel | 6501 Deer Lake Avenue
Discovery Room | 10am-12noon
For more information, call 604-294-7690 or email invasiveplants@burnaby.ca

Invasive plants in Burnaby
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Presented by:
Greater Vancouver Invasive Plant Council
Learn to recognize local invaders in your garden and discover solutions to manage them using the latest tools and techniques. Barcode: 244473

Invasive plant removal and control
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Presented by: Evergreen
Learn techniques for removing and controlling invasive plants in your garden. Basic plant ecology, best timing for treatment and safety considerations are covered. Barcode: 244474

Garden without invasives
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Presented by: TLC, The Land Conservancy of BC
Learn to develop a sustainable urban garden that doesn't threaten surrounding natural areas.
Barcode: 244475

Burnaby_Invasive_Workshops_2011

Information courtesy City of Burnaby poster

Posted by Paul at 11:23 AM

February 02, 2011

Stupid Mode = 1

Stupid Mode = 1. (1 meaning ON, 0 meaning OFF). Apparently that's a real Linux command option for an operating-system configuration file that controls communications with overly complicated modem negotiations.  Note that I am not a Linux guru, and I haven't independently verified this, but it sure sounds like the irreverent Linux approach to technology and freedom : - ).
I like it. I see endless applications in politics & life :-). New, needlessly complicated tax rules? I shall simply set Stupid Mode = 1.

Federal and provincial environment authorities fail to enforce pollution laws? Stupid Mode = 1, triggering an automatic barrage of letters to ministers, letters to MLAs, letters to MPs, letters to the editor. . . : - ).

I could go on. And on. And on. But I think I need give no additional examples of the beauty of

Stupid Mode = 1

Posted by Paul at 09:45 PM

January 30, 2011

Day 2 of SEHAB Meeting in North Vancouver Nice & Sunny

I've been attending my first meetings this weekend as a rookie alternate member of the Salmon Enhancement & Habitat Advisory Board that works with Fisheries and Oceans Canada on the west coast. The second day of meetings was sunny, cold and clear, a sharp contrast to yesterday's damp haze. I got a few more shots from Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver on my way from the SeaBus this morning.

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By the time I was heading home I believe I had volunteered
for a couple of SEHAB committees!

Posted by Paul at 08:04 PM

January 29, 2011

Foggy Vancouver on Day 1 of SEHAB Meeting

I was recently named an alternate on the Salmon Enhancement & Habitat Advisory Board that works with Fisheries and Oceans Canada on the west coast. The first meetings that I attended were held this weekend, and I got a few shots from Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver on my way from the SeaBus on Saturday and Sunday morning.

foggy_vancouver_20110129

The view looking south at downtown Vancouver from the quay.

My first full day of meetings proved to be educational and interesting. It's a great bunch of people and I look forward to working with them.

Posted by Paul at 07:57 PM

January 27, 2011

Help Clean, Install Nest Boxes at Burnaby Lake

Come out on January 29 and February 5, 2011, and help the  Burnaby Lake Park Association prepare the nest boxes for this year's nesting season.  Meet at the Nature House at the end of Piper Ave. and work from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.

My wife and I took in one of these events last year, and it was great fun, and educational to boot!

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Poster, info, courtesy of the BLPA.

Posted by Paul at 09:35 PM

January 22, 2011

Salmon Hazard Sign at Walmart in Bellingham, WA

On a cross-border jaunt to Bellingham, WA, I was surprised, and heartened to see this sign in a Walmart:

salmon_hazard_sign_walmart_bellingham_20110122

I know some folks have issues with Walmart, and while I have my qualms about big boxes and rampant consumerism, I have to say that Walmart is progressive on many green & sustainability issues.

I don't know if this particular signage is a Walmart policy, or a State of Washington policy for any retailers of pesticides. Anyone know? You can reach me at paul@cipywnyk.com.

Oh, if you're having trouble reading it, it says:

Use in urban areas of pesticides containing the active ingredients 2, 4-D, carbaryl, diazinon, diuron, malathion, triclopyr BEE, or trifluralin may harm salmon or steelhead.

Help keep our water resources clean. Apply pesticides only to your lawn and sweep any product which lands in the driveway, sidewalk or street back onto your lawn. Rinse applicator over lawn or garden area only.

Posted by Paul at 10:11 PM

January 19, 2011

Stream of Dreams Starts Search for Executive Director

UPDATE, FEB. 3, 2011: Please note that the following search for an executive director is now closed. Thank you to all who responded.


The Stream of Dreams Murals Society is in the midst of major changes precipitated by the resignation of our Executive Director, and co-founder, Joan Carne. Her passion and commitment to the society for over 10 years have inspired many Canadians (over 120,000 participants!), young and old, to think about where their water comes from and how to protect it. While the board is sad to see her go, we understand her desire for change and how hard this decision was for her. We thank Joan and her family for their dedication to the organization, and wish them all the best in the future.

The Board of Directors is beginning to search for an entrepreneurial leader with a passion for the environment who would be excited about growing the organization, and perhaps expanding its programs. The position would focus on administration and fundraising, and we look forward to hearing from interested parties. If you, or someone you know, might be interested in working with this remarkable, award-winning organization, and guide its solid brand and sterling reputation into a new decade, please contact Paul Cipywnyk, President, Board of Directors at paul@cipywnyk.com

We are also looking to expand our Board of Directors. The board meets three to five times a year to discuss current SDMS activities, finances, program initiatives and future direction. Please contact Paul if you are interested in participating.

For updates on our recent projects you can find our December 2010 newsletter on the Stream of Dreams website at: http://www.streamofdreams.org/images/SDMSNewsletterDec2010web.pdf

Thank you to everyone who has supported Stream of Dreams over the years!

Posted by Paul at 09:49 PM

January 04, 2011

Elmer Rudolph Guest Speaker at Jan. 13 Byrne Creek Meeting

Elmer Rudolph will speak on the decline, cleanup and rehabilitation of the Brunette River at the Jan. 13 meeting of the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers at 7:30p at Clinton Elementary School.

Elmer has worked on the river for decades, and tells a fascinating tale of how a dedicated group of volunteers were instrumental in turning it from, what in effect had become an open sewer, back into a fish-bearing waterway again, working with various levels of government.

Come out and hear this positive and inspirational environmental success story!

Map: http://www.byrnecreek.org/member.htm

Posted by Paul at 02:50 PM

November 28, 2010

Fish Die in Byrne Creek

UPDATE [Nov. 29]: Just interviewed by Burnaby Now - Burnaby Firefighters say their foam is environmentally benign, and it appears other chemicals were stored at the site of the fire. Initial Burnaby Now story here. And a more detailed story now here.

 

A couple of Byrne Creek Streamkeepers called me just after 9:00 this morning about foam in the creek. They were down at the wooden footbridge in the lower ravine near Southridge Dr., and asked us to check out Griffiths Pond further upstream near our home (near Choices in the Park). Yumi and I headed over and the pond had lots of foam in it, and a steady stream of foam was coming out of the fish ladder. We counted about a dozen dead smolt-size trout and coho around the edge of the pond. An environmental services officer from the City of Burnaby arrived as we were there and collected water samples and some of the dead fish.

Three other streamkeepers were out in the lower creek patrolling for spawning salmon.  They noticed "stunned-looking" small fish in the lower ravine, and eventually joined the crew at Griffiths Pond.

Three of us backtracked upstream. Bubbles were evident all the way up to where the creek daylights (first becomes visible from the storm drain system) in SE Burnaby. Even that far upstream, if you stirred the water, it foamed readily. We continued further up the streets, and saw a fire truck, so we followed it up to Kingsway and 16th, where there had been a house fire. We asked the firefighters if they'd used foam, and they said yes, a full load from one of their trucks. The drainage flow from the site of the fire into storm drains was evident.

Obviously it is unknown if it was firefighting foam or if other chemicals at the house were also involved. And streamkeepers are certainly not going to question firefighters for doing an outstanding job in ensuring the safety of the community. It's just unfortunate if this is confirmed as the source of the kill.

We headed back to Griffiths Pond, and five of us began counting dead fish. At this point we discovered there were some still barely alive, so we scrambled to get buckets and fresh water, and tried to save some of them, but most expired even in clean water.

The count between Griffiths Pond and Tag 535, a distance of about 350 meters or so, was 80 dead, so nearly 100 were tallied today. Some were beauties: we found one dead trout 36cm long and one 29cm. When factoring in the entire length of creek, there must be at least several hundred dead.

I suspect we're looking at yet another total or near-total kill of the entire creek.

As of 1:30 p.m., the fish ladder at Griffiths Pond was still foaming heavily.

And, to make things worse, we're in the middle of spawning season, when salmon are returning from the ocean, up the Fraser River, and into Byrne Creek, to lay their eggs. Last year was our worst spawner count in over a decade, and this year was shaping up just as bad, even before this incident. . .

Byrne_Creek_kill_ladder_20101128

The fish ladder and Griffiths Pond near Edmonds Skytrain station

Byrne_Creek_kill_bucket_trout_20101128

Trying to save some fish that were still barely alive. Most expired. . .

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Streamkeeper Yumi with a gorgeous 36cm trout

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Closer look at the big fish

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The 29cm trout

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Another streamkeeper lives near the scene of the fire and was awakened
at 4:00 a.m. this morning. She got this shot of the blaze. She was 
troubled by all the stuff going down the street drains and into the creek,
but of course didn't say anything for she knew the safety of the
community was paramount. Turns out she knew at least one of the residents.
So sad.

Posted by Paul at 03:18 PM

November 26, 2010

Musqueam Creek–A Story of Hope

The Vancouver Courier recently published an excellent story on the Musqueam First Nation working to restore Musqueam Creek, a salmon-bearing urban waterway that has struggled to survive over the years. I have had the privilege of attending a few events there, as a volunteer streamkeeper, and I am happy to hear of continuing positive efforts to preserve the creek.

Posted by Paul at 11:56 AM

November 25, 2010

Victoria BC Neighbours Turn Blvd into Garden with Free Produce

This is so cool! An amazing, feel-good community story on so many levels.

Posted by Paul at 04:04 PM

November 18, 2010

Amazing Stream of Dreams Feedback!

As prez of the Stream of Dreams board, my heart glows to get this sort of response:

The Stream of Dreams presentation was a hit with our Grade Eights. The speaker clearly knew her stuff and the kids drank it in. Overall, a fun experience and a great cause.

Thanks!

I really enjoyed having Susan, Louise, and Joan from Stream of Dreams come out to our school.  They came very prepared to engage the students with their posters, stories, and models about protecting fish habitat and watersheds. This non-profit organization is doing amazing work and I hope they can share their important environmental message with children and adults everywhere.

"All drains lead to salmon habitat!"  We got it!  Thank you for your enthusiasm and for sharing your expertise with us.  My Grade 7's thoroughly enjoyed it, and we appreciate your passion.  Thanks for bringing our community on board this project.

The habitat connection was great for our grade 4's who will be studying this further during the year.  They really enjoyed the maps of the neighborhood surrounding the school.  However, their favourite part was putting their creative genius to work in painting the fish.  Thank you for showing us how we can be wise stewards of creation.

I totally love these school-wide  events.  Aren't those just the greatest and most creative fish you've ever seen!?!?! The whole school did a fabulous job painting them and a special thanks to those parents and others who helped string the fish.  It's good to know that when you say "All drains lead to"...the children all reply..."fish or salmon habitat." It was exciting to witness how enthusiastic the students were. I was renewed by how everyone used the gifts God has given them to praise and worship Him by doing their best work when they painted their fishes.
The people were really good. They really knew their stuff, and everything was so streamlined that my class was engaged the whole time. The fish look great and so does the fence now. Good work everyone involved.

Stream of Dreams staff and volunteers do amazing work. It's a privilege to work with them, even in a minor capacity.

Posted by Paul at 11:23 PM

November 08, 2010

Heron Stalks Byrne Creek

A heron has been hanging around the lower ravine in southeast Burnaby's Byrne Creek the last several days. I first surprised it while on a patrol for spawning salmon with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers. It gave a Jurassic-like squawk and mightily flapped its way up into a perch in an evergreen.

heron_byrne_creek_20101108

The next day on another spawner patrol I saw it before it saw me, and so I hunkered down to observe it slowly Tai Chi its way along the creek, looking for lunch. It wasn't long before it struck, and swallowed a small cutthroat trout or juvenile coho salmon.

The linkages in nature never cease to amaze me. It's the season for spawning salmon to come up our creeks in the lower mainland of BC, and that attracts other animals like clockwork. The trout start gathering in expectation of stray eggs as the salmon dig their nests and spawn, various species of birds like American Dippers suddenly start frequenting the creeks also looking for stray eggs, and herons and other fishing birds come to stalk the trout who in turn are stalking the female salmon. . . Not to mention the increased number of paw prints of various sorts in the soft sandy or muddy banks: coyotes, racoons, skunks. I've seen even squirrels get excited about spawning salmon, though I've never seen them actually take an egg or feed on a carcass.

Posted by Paul at 06:31 PM

November 06, 2010

Sustainability Makes Sense–Edmonds Association Biz Seminar

Business & Networking Seminar
$ustainability Makes $ense - Go Green and Save $$$
Nov. 16, 2010, 6:30 p.m. Tommy Douglas Library, Kingsway & Edmonds, Burnaby
Please pre-register at 604-522-3971
or email info@edmondsassociation.org
before noon Friday, November 12th, 2010.

Business Seminar Poster

Posted by Paul at 09:17 PM

October 18, 2010

Condon Applies 7 Rules for Sustainable Communities to BC’s Lower Mainland

The Tyee today published the last article in a series by Patrick Condon, based on his book Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities: Design Strategies for the Post Carbon World. If you're too cheap to buy the book : - ), or don't have the time to read it, you should at least peruse the Tyee series. This is stimulating, solid material that's a must read for anyone interested in a liveable Lower Mainland. Highly recommended for politicians at all government levels, transit officials, city planners, engineers, environmentalists and concerned citizens - which ought to encompass all of us.

Condon is a professor at the University of British Columbia and holds the James Taylor Chair in Landscape and Liveable Environments. I had the pleasure to be a citizen representative on a planning charrette for the Kingsway corridor through Burnaby, BC, organized by the Sustainability by Design folks at UBC a few years back. It was a thought-provoking exercise that engaged City planners, engineers, academics, students and citizens in a sharing, respectful process.

The Burnaby Kingsway corridor plan was part of a larger study that also looked at a "node" in Langley, BC, and an "edge" in east Ladner, BC., and resulted in the publication Sustainability by Design: A Vision for a Region of 4 Million. I have always found Condon to be well-spoken and lucid with quiet, persuasive, rational arguments.

Too bad too many such studies appear to end up filed away in municipality, regional, and provincial filing cabinets, never, or rarely, to be referred to again.

If you care about your community, please read and share!

Posted by Paul at 02:18 PM

October 12, 2010

Dog Signs Go Up for Byrne Creek

Spawning salmon are expected back in SE Burnaby's Byrne Creek any day now, so Byrne Creek Streamkeepers posted several posters along the most-walked portion of the creek trail today to remind dogs to keep their owners out of the creek :-).

Salmon usually start arriving in the creek in mid-October, and spawners can show up as late as mid-December. They lay their eggs in pits they dig in the gravel, and cover them, and these redds need to remain undisturbed until April-May to ensure the eggs hatch and eventually swim free as fry.

As I was putting the posters up today, two joggers with dogs stopped to chat about the fish, with one whooping a "woo-hoo, the salmon are coming back!" It's great to get that kind of positive feedback from the community.

byrne_creek_dog_poster_1_20101012

byrne_creek_dog_poster_2_20101012

byrne_creek_dog_poster_3_20101012

Credits: "Scream" and "Dog Paw" are by my wife, Yumi Kosaka, while the "Band-Aid" fish are by Maho Hayashi.

Posted by Paul at 10:02 AM

October 08, 2010

Adams River Sockeye Run – Day 1

The Adams River sockeye salmon spawning run is in a dominant year, as happens every four years. Yumi and I headed up to the Shuswap to take in a dominant run for the third time since we moved to BC. The event keeps growing and the Adams River Salmon Society's Salute to the Sockeye keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Yumi and I were glad that she had a Friday off so we could attend when the crowds were a bit thinner! :-) We drove from Burnaby up the canyon on the No. 1 to take in the autumn scenery:

thompson_river_20101007

Thompson River

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Canadian Northern last spike

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Kamploops Lake from the highway lookout

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Yumi on the hill above the lookout

We arrived at Roderick Haig-Brown Park early in the afternoon
and spent hours wandering the trails. While the sockeye were not
quite "bank-to-bank" as we've seen them in other dominant years,
it was still a moving, beautiful sight to witness.

adams_river_1_20101007

Viewing platform over the Adams River

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A bridge on the loop trail

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A male and female sockeye pair off

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A female sockeye flips sideways to dig in the cobble with her tail

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Closer view of these gorgeous fish

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It's amazing to watch the sockeye congregate

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Fins highlighted as the sun begins to set

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This sockeye's journey is done

Posted by Paul at 04:07 PM

October 06, 2010

Tap Water Map App from Metro Vancouver

This is a great example of using tech to help people become more environmentally sustainable in their behaviour:

Metro Vancouver has developed a free new iPhone app, Tap Map, that's now available for free at iTunes.  Tap Map helps people find the closest source of Metro Vancouver tap water. 

Thanks to the municipalities within the Metro Vancouver region we already have the locations of over 550 public drinking fountains between West Vancouver and Langley.  We're already talking to restaurant and business associations about having their members offer to refill anyone's water bottle with no obligation to buy anything.

If you think that people who read your Blog would be interested in Tap Map, and/or asking their favourite restaurants and other establishments to opt in, please tell them about it.

BTW, free apps for Androids and Blackberries will be available later this month.

For more information on Metro Vancouver's Tap Water Campaign, please check out our Tap Water pages.

Posted by Paul at 03:24 PM

September 26, 2010

Burnaby Board of Trade Proclaims Support for Rivers Day

The Burnaby Board of Trade is the first chamber in Canada to proclaim its support for World Rivers Day. Chair Dick Kouwenhoven read out the proclamation at the Rivers Day event in Burnaby, BC, today, shaking hands with Rivers Day founder Mark Angelo.

This is way cool! The BBOT is one of the most progressive boards in Canada, and I am proud to sit on its Environmental Sustainability Committee.

mark_dick_rivers_day_20100926

Rivers Day founder Mark Angelo, left, and Dick Kouwenhoven, BBOT chair.

BBOT_Rivers_Day_Proclamation

Posted by Paul at 04:27 PM

September 15, 2010

Paint in Burnaby’s Byrne Creek?

A Byrne Creek Streamkeeper noticed a paint-like discoloration in the creek at Susan's Pond at 18th Ave. just east of Griffith's Drive around 2:15 p.m. today, and left me a message. I got the message around 3:00 p.m., and zipped over and checked, and sure enough it did look like paint. I called the City of Burnaby, and they had already received a report and were looking for the source.

Remember: All Drains Lead to Fish Habitat!

byrne_creek_pollution_20100915

I checked another pond further downstream, and as of 3:30 there was no discoloration and no fish to be seen, alive or dead. With luck the amount of pollutant was not sufficient to kill.

UPDATE: As of 6:45 p.m. Griffith's Pond (near Choices in the Park), downstream of the original pollutant site, was full of a milky white substance:

byrne_creek_griffiths_pond_20100915

And to add to the creek's woes, I ran across another, separate inflow of some sort of oily substance coming from a drainage that leads from the townhouse complex at 6770 Rumble St.:

byrne_creek_more_crap_20100915

UPDATE 2: Checked several areas of the creek Thursday morning Sept. 16 with another streamkeeper and the substance appears to have been diluted and washed away. Fortunately we did not find any dead fish, and did see several live ones.

Posted by Paul at 03:55 PM

September 14, 2010

Dreamfish Gala to Support Stream of Dreams Murals Society

It's coming fast! Just a couple of weeks to go, so get your tickets soon! The Stream of Dreams Murals Society is hosting a Dreamfish Gala on Saturday, Sept. 25 in Burnaby, BC.

image

Artwork by Stream of Dreams Artistic Director Louise Towell

Fantastic live music by  Holly Arntzen, Kevin Wright and the Dream Band. Yowza!

Silent auction, "fish pond", appies, deserts, wine. . .

Don't miss it!

(Disclaimer: I'm prez of the society's board of directors : - )

Posted by Paul at 09:53 PM

September 09, 2010

Come Celebrate World Rivers Day in Burnaby, BC!

World Rivers Day in Burnaby on Sunday, Sept. 26, will be held in Fraser Foreshore Park near Byrne Creek. This fun-filled family event will run from noon to 4:00 p.m. Details here.

2010_poster_web

The above is a portion of the event poster created by the City of Burnaby

Posted by Paul at 05:52 PM

August 29, 2010

Sockeye Salmon Dying Unspawned on Harrison River & Lake

Yumi and I went as far up the  Fraser Valley as Kilby today looking for spawning salmon.

We were surprised to see lots of dead sockeye on the banks of the Harrison River -- many of them just barely starting to show their spawning colouration, and looking good enough to eat. We could also see lots of big silver fish belly up out on the water. Strange.

On our way home we stopped in at Kanaka Creek to poke around the hatchery, and talked to the manager. He said he'd heard stories of people out fishing on Harrison River & Lake who said they'd seen lots of silver floaters.

I also found a thread on the Fishing with Rod website with similar reports, and plenty of speculation as to what the cause could be -- high water temps? disease?

Harrison_River_Kilby_dead_sockeye

Harrison_River_Kilby_dead_sockeye_light_colour

Harrison_River_Kilby_dead_sockeye_more_green 

The above had the most advanced spawning colouration that we saw.

Harrison_River_Kilby_dead_sockeye_pale_green

Harrison_River_Kilby

The beach at Kilby.

In several shots I took of the water, you can count a dozen or more dead
floaters per picture, but I've not posted any here because at this size of photo
the fish are just white dots.

Posted by Paul at 06:21 PM

August 27, 2010

Met Ripple Relay Riders at Burnaby’s Byrne Creek

I met Ripple Relay/Wild Salmon Express cyclists Michelle Nickerson and Daniel Van der Kroon today. They have been cycling the entire length of the Fraser River watershed to highlight awareness of wild salmon and promote a shift away from open-net fish farming.

We met at Burnaby's Byrne Creek, and chatted about the challenges this urban watershed faces. It was great to meet them, and wish them on their way. Their goal is near!

ripple_relay_byrne_creek_20100827

Photo by my wife, Yumi.

Posted by Paul at 08:10 PM

August 21, 2010

Let’s Kill More Salmon Before They Spawn ‘Too Much.’ Huh?

Now that we've got a half-decent run of sockeye salmon on the Fraser River for the first time in several years, the "let's harvest more!" crowd are out in force. Gluttony and opportunism are reviving their old, baseless, self-centred, anti-social arguments.

As a society, we have the collective attention span of a two-year-old child. And a matching lack of historical awareness.

FEED ME! NOW!

The "over-escapement" letters to editors are starting to fly, accusing the Department of Fisheries and Oceans of not allowing more "harvest" (isn't that a nice, benign word?).

I've never understood the argument that us enlightened human managers of the world might make the apparently huge mistake of letting too many salmon reach their spawning grounds.

What?! Horrors!

The "over-escapers" say this will lead to "over-competition," disrupted redds, blah, blah.

The Fraser used to regularly, year after year, have salmon runs 3, 5, perhaps even 10 times the volume of what we have now in our best year out of five. And since there were none of us enlightened, scientific, white folks around to harvest them with vast nets and motorized vessels, or chew up their habitat with our housing and commercial buildings, or poison them with our sewage and chemicals, the bulk of those salmon got past the First Nations fishers who literally had a life-or-death dependence upon them for millennia.

So how is it that salmon managed to thrive and fill rivers from bank to bank without our scientific, commercial intervention, year after year for centuries?

And as for that "over-competition" argument, well, that's nature's way of ensuring healthy populations. The big, strong, healthy salmon get to partner, get to spawn, get to stir up and replace the redds of smaller, weaker fish.

Nature thrives on competition.

If I were a fisher truly looking forward to the future of this "resource," I'd say let *all* the sockeye through for several generations of fair natural selection until we get tens of millions of huge fish back again - - *on a regular basis*.

Instead of directing your anger at DFO for not allowing you to scoop the LAST FISH, you might focus your efforts on habitat preservation, a shift to tertiary sewage treatment. . .

It's only whining Canadian humans who demand self-centred changes to government regulations that happen to benefit and suit them in the short term. The fish have no voice, no party, no cabinet ministers. . .

UPDATE (Aug. 30): I was happy to see the Vancouver Sun's Stephen Hume tackle "over-escapement" on the front page of the Aug. 30 paper.

UPDATE (Aug. 30): Ernie Crey of the Sto:lo First Nation also warns against overfishing in CBC article.

Posted by Paul at 08:59 PM

August 20, 2010

Jennifer Atchison, 1938-2010, Passionate Burnaby Streamkeeper, Environmental Advocate

Jennifer was always swimming upstream, leading by example, pushing and prodding, collaborating and cajoling. She was the heart of the Stoney Creek Environment Committee, and was instrumental in that group achieving so much environmental restoration in her watershed in conjunction with many partners including the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the City of Burnaby.

As president of the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society, I extend our condolences to Jennifer's family and our fellow streamkeepers at Stoney Creek.

I am grateful I had the opportunity to work with Jennifer at least a little over the last ten years. She was always a joy to meet at streamkeeper events and activities. I was also fortunate to be present when she received two well-deserved awards: the City of Burnaby's Environment Award for Community Stewardship in 2010, and a BC Achievement Award in 2008.

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City of Burnaby Environment Award 2010
L to R: Greg Bartle, City of Burnaby Long-Range Planner - Environmental Stewardship;
Jennifer; Burnaby Councillor and Environment Committee Chair Dan Johnston

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BC Achievement Award 2008
L to R: MLA Harry Bloy, Jennifer, BC Premier Gordon Campbell

As you can see by the above photos, she was physically diminutive, but she'd latch onto my arm, tilt her head up, focus on my eyes nearly two feet above her own. . . and keep me fixed in her sights until she'd imparted a key message she wanted me to hear :-).

Many of us in the streamkeeper community, and I suspect many politicians and bureaucrats as well, will miss that arm lock, that intense gaze . . .

So let's remember and honour her unwavering message of watershed restoration and protection, and the right of every human being, fish, and animal, to live in clean water and a healthy natural environment, even in urban areas.

Posted by Paul at 10:28 PM

August 17, 2010

Rainwater and Sustainable Communities

This is an excellent website for sustainable stormwater management practices. I really like the "Who are you?" links that tune the perspective toward elected officials, municipal stormwater managers, developers, and the general public.

Thanks to Waterbucket for the link!

Posted by Paul at 12:41 PM

August 10, 2010

Southpoint Rain Garden in SE Burnaby Underway!

It's so exciting to see construction underway on the Southpoint Rain Garden in SE Burnaby, BC. The rain garden is being created on a dead-end cul-de-sac, and will bridge Taylor Park and Byrne Creek Ravine Park.

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers brought the site to the attention of the City of Burnaby's planning, engineering and parks departments, and all immediately understood the site's potential. It not only links the green space of the two parks, it will provide natural filtration of rainwater that comes down Burnaby's south slope and that roars unfiltered into Byrne Creek. Streamkeepers have noted for years the oily flow off the streets that accumulated into the rain drains (storm drains) along Southpoint Drive and was visible way down below, exiting pipes into the creek whenever it rained.

The site will also be a gorgeous outdoor nature lab for elementary school students from nearby Taylor Park School. The principal, staff and students have already been involved in discussions and developments. The school has also been so kind as to hold an event with streamkeepers, and everyone appears excited about monitoring the new rain garden and how it will affect local urban biodiversity.

And last, but not least, the site is right by Adera Development's "Green" townhouse development. As part of its ethos of sustainable development and giving back to communities, Adera provided a substantial donation to the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers several years ago. We thank Adera for its patience in waiting to receive full public acknowledgement for its efforts, as the streamkeepers decided to use the funds to support the rain garden - a project that took some time to come to fruition.

I can almost feel the earth heaving a sigh of relief as the asphalt is stripped away, allowing the soil to breath and to absorb rain again!

Way to go Burnaby! I hope this project stimulates more of its kind around our beautiful city.

You're doing good, we heartily appreciate it,  let's see more! :-)

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Posted by Paul at 08:42 PM

July 24, 2010

Burnaby Library Honours Original Stream of Dreams Mural

In a great collaboration, the new Tommy Douglas Public Library in southeast Burnaby has incorporated a visual legacy of the original Stream of Dreams mural that used to grace the corner of Kingsway and Edmonds.

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Before the new library and adjacent commercial/residential development went up, the original watershed mural had to come down. You can read & see about it here.

The original mural commemorated the deaths of thousands of fish after a toxin was poured into a street drain in 1998, killing everything in Byrne Creek. That first Dreamfish mural stimulated amazing collaboration between streamkeepers, schools, the local community and several City of Burnaby departments. It went on to spark so much public interest, that eventually Louise Towell and Joan Carne, who had instigated that first mural, formed the Stream of Dreams Murals Society to carry out watershed education and community art.

Posted by Paul at 08:31 PM

July 23, 2010

Politicians Tour Byrne Creek

Thanks to a passel of politicians who took the time to go on a tour of the Byrne Creek watershed in southeast Burnaby today!

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society board members Joan Carne and moi led MP Peter Julian, MLAs Raj Chouhan and Kathy Corrigan, and City of Burnaby Councillors Sav Dhaliwal and Paul McDonell down the ravine trail.

The goal of today's tour was to impart the importance of environmentally-friendly development to the health of urban creeks. The City of Burnaby was a trailblazer in implementing an "open creeks" policy several decades ago, but the creeks cannot survive in a constantly urbanizing environment without progressive development policies that require rain gardens, and roadside and parking-lot swales - anything and everything that helps get rainwater into the ground where it belongs, filtering out pollutants along the way.

SPONGE

That's the word of the day. Our cities must be developed as SPONGES, just like the forests, fields, and bogs that they've filled in. Get that water back into the ground, and you're way ahead in the fight against pollution, against flooding, against massive storm flows off of our streets, roofs and parking lots. . .

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Getting oriented to the watershed.

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Distracted by potential voters on the ravine trail :-)

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A group of nature-loving daycare kids exploring the lovely
creek stole our hearts.

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Checking out a simple swale that absorbs run-off from a parking lot
instead of draining it into the storm system - and then the local creek.

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Observing a site that streamkeepers approached the City of Burnaby
about, suggesting it could become a large rain garden. The dead-end
street will be decommissioned and turned into a lovely, water-infiltrating
garden that will also bridge Taylor Park and Byrne Creek Ravine Park.

Taylor Park Elementary School just up the hill is already excited about the potential to use the rain garden as a nature-study site. After the pavement is ripped up, and water starts to flow again, and native plants are planted - what species begin to use the habitat? And how does that change and progress over the years. What a great, ongoing science project!

Thanks again to our elected representatives! We know you are very busy, and we appreciate your time and attention. I think another concept that was related today was the fact that streamkeeper groups are 100% volunteer. None of us get any financial compensation for what we do - including today's tour. . .  In fact we take unpaid time off from our day jobs to do events like this. . .

So, now, ahem, let's see some action for our tax dollars ! ;-)

Posted by Paul at 03:30 PM

July 06, 2010

‘Retail Therapy’ Should be Struck From the Lexicon, Our Behavior

I hate the bandied-about term "retail therapy." I know we all do it. Gals do it with clothing, jewellery, perfume, shoes. . . Guys do it with sports gear, tools, gadgets. . .

Yet it speaks horribly of a total disconnect from ourselves and our planet.

How many of us living in "first-world" nations really need more stuff? More crap? We're already consuming wayyyy more than our share of the planet's resources. So how the hell can we really feel better by consuming even more?

It's morally ridiculous. You might get a little boost for a short while, but you're just adding to your psychological burden way down deep inside.

I've spent much of the last three days going through the garage and my home office trying to de-gunk my life. Purge! Even just a little!

And yet I'm still as gadget-lustful as the next guy. Just bought a new smartphone, would love a better canoe, perhaps a kayak for some solo excursions. And the darn car is just too small, wouldn't it be nice to get a mid-sized truck for camping and canoeing excursions?

It never ends.

But perhaps we could at least stop talking about it as something uplifting, eh?

P.S. I admire my wife, Yumi. She still gets her shopping hit regularly, but she does it at the Salvation Army, the Hospice Society Thrift Store, etc. She spends hours having fun (not my cup of tea, but I respect our differences), while spending tens of dollars instead of hundreds, comes home excited and happy, and feels great and looks great. That kind of "retail therapy" I can support :-).

Posted by Paul at 08:55 PM

July 01, 2010

Canada Day in Surrey

We decided to check out Canada Day in Surrey as part of our ongoing exploration of events on Canada's birthday. Last year we went to Canada Day in New Westminster and thoroughly enjoyed the cosy atmosphere in Queen's Park, the live music, etc. As Burnaby residents and community volunteers, we've been to many Canada Day events in Burnaby.

Our impression of the Surrey event was that it was much more corporate-sponsorship oriented than Burnaby events are. I'm not judging that as being either good or bad, but it was interesting to hear Surrey politicians lauding the corporate sponsors for enabling a "free public event." Hmm. Burnaby Canada Day events are free to the public, too, without all the banner ads, displays of cars and trucks, etc. . . Perhaps the Burnaby events are not on quite the same scale, but bigger is not necessarily better, eh?

I was impressed, however, with the strong environmental-sustainability presence at the Surrey event. Lots of displays on sustainable living, and booths on streamkeeping and preserving urban forests. Surrey actually hires university students over the summer to lead teams of hired high-school students to work on restoring urban streams, removing invasive plant species, etc. I have to admit that's way ahead of Burnaby initiatives. . .

Posted by Paul at 07:50 PM

June 30, 2010

Commercial Properties Still Using Pesticides in South Burnaby

I happened to cycle past the Ballard building on North Fraser Way down in the Glenlyon Development near Fraser Foreshore Park in south Burnaby over lunch today.

There was a guy applying something to the lawns on both sides of the street, so I asked him what it was: Weed 'n Feed. I asked him if he was aware that he was applying it right next to Sussex Creek (neither fertilizer nor pesticides are good for aquatic habitat), and he brushed me off saying it was an approved chemical.

I called the City of Burnaby, and staff confirmed that they couldn't do anything about it because it was commercial property and the City's Pesticide Bylaw does not apply to commercial properties. I also checked the Environment Canada website, and discovered that weed 'n feed (combined fertilizer/pesticide) products have been banned on a national level, effective 2012. So it seems a shame that landscapers are still applying the stuff.

It would be great if developers, property managers, and landscapers got ahead of the curve!

I've talked to people who say they've heard that landscapers are intent on using up stocks of products that face potential bans, or that have already been banned but the deadline hasn't been reached yet, and that seems morally reprehensible to me.

Perhaps chemicals manufacturers could be encouraged to take back such products with partial refunds, and governments could be encouraged to support such programs through rebates? Perhaps such programs are in place, but people don't know about them? There's a lot that could be done here!

Posted by Paul at 02:56 PM

June 18, 2010

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Incorporated as BC Society

After over 10 years of streamkeeping in which we've racked up close to 20,000 volunteer hours, the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers have incorporated as a registered British Columbia non-profit society.

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While we've functioned very effectively as an unstructured "jazz band" in which different people have taken the lead on various activities and initiatives on an ad hoc basis, new volunteer insurance requirements were the final straw that pushed us to apply for society status. It'll mean more paperwork, but it also safeguards our well-respected "brand" and sets the stage for fostering a new generation of community leaders.

Born out of the volunteer efforts of several gentlemen from the Vancouver Angling & Game Association who began cleaning up the creek in southeast Burnaby around two decades ago, the streamkeeper group was formed when more people from the broader community became involved after a horrific toxic spill in 1998 that killed some 5,000 fish and other animals in the revitalized urban creek.

I must mention the leadership of Joan Carne, who has herded the group since its inception. I hope the newly established board can fill the huge gumboots she's leaving us! She's not really leaving, but is stepping down from an executive role because she's super busy with the Stream of Dreams Murals Society, which was also spawned from that 1998 kill on Byrne Creek, and has to this point taught over 100,000 kids across Canada about their local watersheds, how they function, and what every single person can do to protect clean water.

Thanks too, to the City of Burnaby, in particular Environmental Services in the Engineering Department, and the folks in Burnaby Parks who deal with environmental issues. Not to mention the Planning staff who work with community groups! Of course we also cannot do the work we do without the oversight and guidance of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and in particular Maurice Coulter-Boisvert, our DFO Community Advisor. And many of us volunteers got our streamkeeper training and ongoing support from The Pacific Streamkeepers Federation. Yay Zo Ann!

Byrne Creek has suffered several more kills over the last decade when people in ignorance have poured toxins down street drains in the watershed. But streamkeepers never give up!

Here's to the next ten years of streamkeeping!

Posted by Paul at 08:00 PM

June 11, 2010

RBC Blue Water Day Hosts Byrne Creek, Stream of Dreams

I was happy to represent the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers and the Stream of Dreams Murals Society at the Kingsway/Walker RBC branch in southeast Burnaby for a couple of hours today for the bank's Blue Water Day. Several RBC branches invited streamkeepers and Stream of Dreams to participate, and we did our best to accommodate as many of them as we could, though it's tough to find volunteers during working hours.

Thanks to Veloy and the staff at the branch!

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My Byrne Creek/Stream of Dreams display

All Drains Lead to Fish Habitat!

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Serving clients cake!

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Veloy and I - thanks!

Info on the RBC Blue Water Project here.

And thanks to the Pacific Salmon Foundation for matching our groups up with RBC!

Sometimes I feel a bit strange displaying front-page spreads of myself from the local papers, but I've discovered it's a great way to start conversations. People trundle by, glance at me, glance at the display, stop as recognition dawns, look at me again and blurt out: "Hey, that's you!" Yup, and now I've got you hooked for at least a minute :-).

Posted by Paul at 08:29 PM

June 10, 2010

USGS: Effects of Urbanization on Stream Ecosystems

An excellent series of videos on how urbanization affects local streams. Thanks to the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation mailing list for this lead. These videos are great resources for explaining the function of urban watersheds to the public.

Posted by Paul at 02:40 PM

June 06, 2010

Burnaby Environment Awards Lunch 2010

The City of Burnaby's 2010 Environment Awards were presented at a lovely luncheon today.

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Councillor Dan Johnston, chair of the Burnaby Environment Committee

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The Wildlife Rescue Association of BC received the Environment Award
for Communication

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Jennifer Atchison of the Stoney Creek Environment Committee
received an Environment Award for Community Stewardship

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Brentwood Park Elementary School received an Environment Award
for Youth

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Coro Strandberg and Phillip Legg received an Environmental Star
for Planning and Development

And Candace LeRoy of Simon Fraser University received an
Environmental Star for Business Stewardship

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Group shot of the awardees

The reception is always a fun event. I've attended four or five times over the past years, first as an award recipient with my wife Yumi for our volunteer work on Byrne Creek, and now as a citizen representative on Burnaby's Environment Committee. It's always a great crowd with opportunities to catch up with old friends and make new ones. City of Burnaby staff do an excellent job on coordinating the event.

Posted by Paul at 07:27 PM

June 03, 2010

Vancouver Sun: Remote Alaskan sockeye salmon offer clues to long-term survival

An interesting read, though I find the overall conclusion to be a "Duh" moment:

The study shows the key to the health of the Bristol Bay fishery is a 'diversified portfolio' of hundreds of discrete populations of sockeye. Some of the populations like it when the surface climate is hot and dry, while others like it cold and wet. Some spend just one year in fresh water before heading to sea, others spend two years.

Researchers for the study, which appears in today's edition of the journal Nature, liken it to a diverse stock portfolio that spreads the risk around.

While this is a great explanation for the layperson, uh, haven't we long known the importance of genetic diversity?

Anyway, a key statement was: "The hope for the Fraser is that the fish can adapt to these warmer conditions and to the diseases that they've seen," says Hilborn. "We just basically have to give them time. And that basically means not harvesting them very much until they can solve the problem."

How about not harvesting Fraser sockeye at all? For several generations? Lower-Fraser First Nations have agreed to a complete sockeye moratorium and are doing only selective fishing, what about everyone else?

UPDATE: Another take on the same issue by Mark Hume in The Gl0be and Mail can be found here.

Posted by Paul at 09:53 PM

Inspiring Quotations on Water, Rivers, Fish & Sustainability

Here's a bunch of quotations that I've collected. They focus on water, rivers, fish, nature and sustainability. I've likely shared some of them here before:

From Mighty River by Richard Bocking
"A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise." -- Aldo Leopold

"We are a restless, dissatisfied novice species, clamoring for rulership of a planet toward which we display not even a rudimentary form of allegiance." -- Robert Harrington

"It seems clear beyond the possibility of argument that any given generation of men can have only a lease, not ownership, of the earth; and one essential term of the lease is that the earth be handed on to the next generation with unimpaired potentialities." -- Roderick Haig-Brown

"This curious world that we inhabit is more wonderful than convenient; more beautiful than it is useful; it is more to be admired and enjoyed than to be used." -- Henry David Thoreau

"It is the salmon that expresses the force of our land. Without the salmon, the land and the rivers would only survive as a corpse survives the death of the nervous system and the departure of the spirit." -- Alan Haig-Brown

"The world was not created for people only, but for purposes that transcend the human race with its limited foresight and imagination; therefore it behooves all conscious inhabitants of this superb planet to nurture it as a garden, maintaining it in health, beauty and diversity for whatever glorious future its denizens may together share." -- Stan Rowe

"The care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope." -- Wendell Berry

"Unlike our ancestors, those of us alive today comprise the generations running headlong into the limits of our use of natural systems while observing permanent loss of much of our natural heritage. The bottom line is that people have the freedom to change their behavior, whereas fish do not. If we are to save wild salmon, then some people will lose money or the ability to do things they wanted to do. But we all lose if we lose the salmon." (p. 245) -- King of Fish: The Thousand-Year Run of Salmon by David R. Montgomery

"...if we can silence our egos for a moment and set aside our preconceptions about who we think we are, we may begin to perceive some of the lessons that the rest of nature has to teach: lessons not of personality but of relationship, not of order but of complexity, not of private property but of shared responsibility, not of rationality but of mystery, not of the ultimacy of the human enterprise but of the interdependency of all life." (p. 47) -- Cathedral of the World: Sailing Notes For A Blue Planet by Myron Arms

"... is the story we've been telling ourselves about our 'progress' as a species during the last ten thousand years really upside-down? Have we actually regressed, psychologically, from a state of harmony with our natural surroundings to a state of boredom, contentiousness, and alienation?" (p. 122). -- Cathedral of the World: Sailing Notes For A Blue Planet by Myron Arms

"... we have learned to adapt, by increments, to the humanscapes around us until we can hardly remember what a natural landscape looks like any longer.... Most dangerous of all, we convince ourselves, perhaps because of the pervasiveness of the humanscape, that we are at the center of things -- that we are the controllers, the 'managers' of the planet." -- Cathedral of the World: Sailing Notes For A Blue Planet by Myron Arms

"... while engineers can reproduce fish, they cannot replace nature. Hatcheries are technological marvels and they may be a necessity in the modern world, but they are not signs of progress; they are monuments to our failure to protect rivers." -- The Run of the River: Portraits of Eleven British Columbia Rivers by Mark Hume

"A river is water in its loveliest form, rivers have life and sound and movement and infinity of variation, rivers are veins of the earth through which the life blood returns to the heart." -- Roderick Haig-Brown A River Never Sleeps

Posted by Paul at 11:15 AM

June 01, 2010

‘BC Waters Clean Up Challenge’ from Pacific Western Brewing

This is a good initiative by a key member of BC's corporate sector - Pacific Western Brewing.

"Proceeds from Pacific Pilsner and PWB will be used to support the clean-up of streams, rivers or lakes in beautiful British Columbia. We will be selecting one or more community water clean-up projects with funding and other tools this summer."

Community groups can apply here.

While I laud this initiative, I must also chide PWB for its tag line "Save Water Drink Pilsner."

While it's cute, and I do like my beer, brewing and bottling is a hugely water-intensive process in which far more water is used than in simply quenching your thirst from your tap, eh?

Posted by Paul at 08:24 PM

May 26, 2010

Bev Bowler of DFO Receives ‘Salmon Hero’ Award

Bev Bowler of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans received the Salmon Hero award at the 2010 Fraser Assembly of the Fraser Salmon & Watersheds Program. Bev received the award for her dedication to the Salmonids in the Classroom program, in which schoolkids receive salmon eggs to hatch and rear in their classrooms, and then release into local creeks.

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Bev is very deserving of this award. Though I rarely get to meet her in person, I've had the privilege of helping several schools release their chum fry into Byrne Creek every spring. It's a great program that thoroughly engages kids, teachers, and parents, and I love the enthusiasm and excitement.

Posted by Paul at 08:55 PM

Ernie Crey Gives 2010 Fraser Assembly Keynote

Ernie Crey, Senior Policy Advisor for the Sto:lo Tribal Council gave a moving keynote address to the Fraser Salmon & Watersheds Program 2010 Fraser Assembly this morning.  These are my rough notes, so while the gist may be correct, they cannot be attributed to Ernie Crey as direct quotations . . .

We are undergoing profound, ongoing changes. Changes in the aboriginal community signal profound changes in the entire community, institutions, and policies.

Change is the constant that we all face and we can't hide from it.

Trying to hold back change doesn't work. Change is overwhelming and inevitable.

The best we can do and hope for is to flow with the change and see if we can direct it around the values that we have. That's all that we can do.

Get engaged, run for and hold public office.

People in Ottawa make policy for all aspects of our lives: the environment, taxation, health, etc. All those decisions are made there by a small cadre of males from the dominant community. Woman are largely absent. Aboriginals are absent. Policy is mostly made by white males.

It's best that we be the shapers of public policy in Canada. I've never been a believer in sitting it out.

We've entered a difficult place in the history of this province, particularly when it comes to fisheries.

120 years ago there were 100 million and more sockeye salmon coming back to spawn up the Fraser. We now consider a good year to be 10 million fish. Fish have been going missing from the Fraser for decade upon decade.

The DFO is not the saviour of salmon or its champion. This needs to change.

If we don't drastically change our ways, the chinook will all be gone. Will we allow that to happen? Will we sit it out?

What is the right thing to do? What is the ethical thing to do? For our children and their children, and the children of the white man.

Can't we respond to change?

The aboriginals have adjusted and have begun to fish selectively.

The Cohen judicial inquiry into missing sockeye salmon. I predict the hearing will transfix British Columbians. A good part of the world knows about the disappearance of the sockeye. Some say they are AWOL at sea. Nobody knows why. People blame different sources. Some say it's a scientific question. That may be the case.

Here's my take. It may be a question of science, to improve science, in-season management. But you know it's really a question for British Columbians like you and me. Post your opinions on the inquiry website.

I think communities should hold their own hearings. All of you together. In Merritt, in Kamloops, in Vancouver. Get the ordinary citizens to come forward with their observations and opinions as if they counted.

It's important not to be exclusive as scientists, politicians, and council members. We need to be inclusive.

Working together is what it takes.

We have a shot at not only preserving but enhancing salmon runs.

"Gramps and grandma restored the environment and the rivers." That's the vision that we can, and should, embrace.

Posted by Paul at 08:33 PM

May 20, 2010

Check out Environment Week in Burnaby

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(Image courtesy of the City of Burnaby website - I figure they won't mind because I'm a taxpayer and I'm providing free publicity : -)

I love the bee on the graphic. Bees are essential to our food supply of vegetables and fruits because they are pollinators. Too bad so many people seem to be afraid of them.

Burnaby has a lot of great events lined up for Environment Week 2010.

Posted by Paul at 03:49 PM

Growing Gardens Together in Burnaby

GROWING GARDENS TOGETHER

IN THE CITY OF BURNABY

Richmond Park Community Garden Public Meeting

Space for a community garden is available for interested gardeners living and working in the Edmonds neighbourhood of Southeast Burnaby. See the new vision for Richmond Park. Learn what is involved in the creation of a Community Garden Association.

Hear from others how they created their community garden. Meet neighbours interested in getting together to grow a garden at Richmond Park

DATE: Thursday, June 3rd

TIME: 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

LOCATION: Edmonds Community Center

7282 Kingsway, Burnaby

(Auditorium)

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For information call Donna Savoie 604.540.5901

@ Burnaby Parks Recreation & Cultural Services

City of Burnaby

Posted by Paul at 09:00 AM

May 14, 2010

Exotic Fish Identified in Burnaby Pond

Several times over the last couple of years we've seen strange fish in a pond in Fraser Foreshore Park in Burnaby near Byrne Creek. I finally got some photos that were good enough to ID one of the species, though it's difficult shooting through the murky water even on a bright, sunny day.

Unfortunately, a biologist has identified them as pumkinseeds,  a species introduced to the lower mainland, likely by people who like fishing for them and eating the pan fish. Unfortunate, for several reasons: if they spread they can compete with native species, they may not have natural predators here, etc. City of Burnaby staff helped with the ID process and are aware of the problem. I have no idea how it can be resolved, but whoever is dumping alien fish in this pond, please stop! Native fish like coho and chum salmon, and cutthroat trout, have enough to contend with in our urban watersheds without having to compete with alien species.

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Posted by Paul at 07:32 PM

May 06, 2010

Clinton Schoolkids Release Coho in Byrne Creek

Kids from Clinton Elementary in southeast Burnaby helped streamkeepers, DFO community advisors, and City of Burnaby staff release coho smolts (yearlings) into Byrne Creek this morning. Clinton School has been involved in several Byrne Creek activities this year - - good on them!

Thank you DFO for bringing these young coho all the way from the Bell-Irving Hatchery at Kanaka Creek. All life in Byrne Creek was wiped out in March when someone unthinkingly poured a cleanser down a street drain, so we're rebuilding the creek from scratch, yet again.

Here are a few photos of today's uplifting event.

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Setting the scene: the gorgeous lower reaches of the ravine park

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Maurice of the DFO chats with the kids

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Yep, that's how big the coho will be when they
come back to spawn in a year or two :-)
Maurice is passionate about his calling,
and we streamkeepers and kids love his style!

byrne_creek_coho_smolt_maurice_kids_2010506

The kids' eyes light up as they see the fish they will release

byrne_creek_coho_smolt_kids_2_2010506

There they go - thanks Clinton kids!

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Giving a few confused laggards a gentle poke to move them on

byrne_creek_coho_smolts_2010506

Beautiful young smolts acclimatize to their new, temporary
home before they head out to the ocean soon.

Hope to see at least a few of you back spawning in our creek in
a year and half, when you're nearly as long as my arm!

Posted by Paul at 10:06 PM

May 05, 2010

Summit Logistics Hosts Streamkeeper Display

I had the pleasure of hanging out with staff at Summit Logistics in southeast Burnaby during a staff BBQ today, with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers display. Thanks to Rick LeBlanc for inviting us to the company's Health and Safety Week event. I chatted with people about how all storm drains lead to local creeks, and about the watershed. Summit has extensive spill-prevention and containment measures in place.

byrne_creek_summit_logistics_20100505

Posted by Paul at 09:57 PM

DFO Must Act Now to Save Pacific Salmon

". . .anglers who care about their sport and the stocks that sustain it are already putting their rods away. Only the greedy and the stupid squabble over who gets to kill the last fish for fun."

Good article from Stephen Hume on how several first nations are moving to stop fishing completely, while DFO still dithers on recreational and commercial fisheries.

Posted by Paul at 08:02 AM

May 02, 2010

CBC: Burtynsky's Oil images win photo book prize

"In 1997, I had what I refer to as my oil epiphany," Burtynsky said in a statement accompanying the book and exhibits.

"It occurred to me that the vast, human-altered landscapes that I pursued and photographed for over 20 years were only made possible by the discovery of oil and the mechanical advantage of the internal combustion engine. It was then that I began the oil project.

"Over the next 10 years I researched and photographed the largest oil fields I could find. I went on to make images of refineries, freeway interchanges, automobile plants and the scrap industry that results from the recycling of cars. Then I began to look at the culture of oil, the motor culture, where masses of people congregate around vehicles, with vehicle events as the main attraction."

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/arts/artdesign/story/2010/04/30/burtynsky-oil-photo-award.html#ixzz0mpghwHoJ

Posted by Paul at 08:18 PM

April 23, 2010

Edmonds Clean Sweep May 1, 2010 – Come make a difference!

The Edmonds Business & Community Association will hold its regular spring neighbourhood Clean Sweep from 9:45 to noon on Saturday, May 1.

Everyone is welcome to join in -- families, individuals and community groups! Help make our neighbourhood cleaner, safer, and more attractive.

Equipment provided, along with refreshments.

Meet at the Eastburn Community Centre, 7435 Edmonds Street, Burnaby.

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers will be participating with an alternate signup site at Edmonds Sktytrain Station, and will lead a cleanup of the southwest Edmonds area, including removal of invasive plant species from Byrne Creek Ravine Park.

Edmonds logo

byrnecreek_logo_letterhead

Posted by Paul at 11:44 AM

April 22, 2010

Clinton School Releases ‘Salmon in the Classroom’ Fry in Byrne

Clinton Elementary School kids in SE Burnaby released their "Salmonids in the Classroom" chum fry into Byrne Creek today. My wife Yumi and I accompanied them, representing the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers. It was a gorgeous Earth Day!

Thank you to teacher Elaine Jaltema who had the kids very well organized. She also had a slew of additional science and observation activities lined up, so the kids were testing water temperature, pH, etc.

clinton_byrne_salmon_in_classroom_20100422 

Getting everyone organized up near Ron McLean Park before
heading down into the ravine

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Kids release the chum fry they raised in their classroom

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A budding scientist records data

Posted by Paul at 02:43 PM

April 20, 2010

Chum Fry Released in Burnaby South Slope Creeks

Kids from Suncrest Elementary helped Kaymar Creek Streamkeepers, the City of Burnaby, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans release chum fry (babies) in to Kaymar Creek in southwest Burnaby this morning, followed by a release with kids from Nelson Elementary into Byrne Creek in southeast Burnaby.

kaymar_chum_release_2_20100420

DFO Community Advisor Maurice Coulter-Boisvert speaks to kids

kaymar_chum_release_20100420

Kids release fry into Kaymar Creek

byrne_creek_chum_release_20100420

Maurice speaks to kids at Byrne Creek. These fry will
help repopulate the creek after someone poured a
cleanser down a street drain on March 4, killing all
aquatic life

byrne_creek_chum_release_2_20100420 

Holding a bag of chum fry

byrne_creek_chum_release_3_20100420

DFO, City of Burnaby staff and streamkeepers fill bags of fish

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Bon voyage! With luck a few of these chum will survive
their trip down Byrne Creek to the Fraser River, down
the Fraser to the Pacific Ocean, and will return to spawn
in the creek in a few years.

Posted by Paul at 03:16 PM

Spinning Garbage into Gold – Burnaby Board of Trade

An Innovative New Business Model for Managing Waste

Date: POSTPONED

Description:

garbagegold

The Burnaby Board of Trade is hosting a unique event which will showcase a fundamentally different approach to waste that can actually generate a dividend, if this model is adopted. Integrated Resource Management (IRM) is based on existing and well-proven technologies that require no lifestyle changes in order to achieve local energy generation, increased jobs and significant contributions to meeting greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Chris Corps of Asset Strategies has pioneered the IRM approach and is now advocating amendments to Provincial policy, so change can occur. Chris' recommendations are based on an IRM pilot study his team is now completing on behalf of Metro Vancouver for the Lower Mainland. Chris will talk about the implications of IRM, as well as how businesses and Governments can benefit from both the adoption of the model and related changes to fiscal accountability.

Pricing & Registration:

Don't miss this exclusive opportunity to hear from a thought-leader in environmental innovation. Tickets are $35 (plus GST) for Members and $45 (plus GST) for non-Members.  Cash bar and light appetizers will be provided.

To purchase tickets call 604.412.0100. For more information email admin@bbot.ca

Posted by Paul at 02:44 PM

April 17, 2010

Starting them Young

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers had our booth set up at Choices in the Park for the store's Earth Day celebration this afternoon. There was a by-donation BBQ, with proceeds generously being donated to care for Byrne Creek. Thanks!

We offered a tour of the creek, but the only takers on the cloudy, drizzly day were half-a-dozen 4-6 year olds from a nearby daycare and their parents, so the pace was slow. But  I was amazed by the kids - over the course of 2 - 1/2 hours they trundled through the entire ravine loop with nary a complaint, asking lots of questions along the way, and it seemed that all involved really enjoyed the tour.

The daycare teacher was great -- she encouraged the kids to try climbing a low tree (one at a time with helping hands nearby), get their fingers dirty looking at rocks and plants, etc. She was determined to be raising a bunch of nature-loving future streamkeepers!

choices_earth_day_20100417

byrne_creek_tour_20100417

byrne_creek_tour_2_20100417

Posted by Paul at 07:47 PM

April 16, 2010

Celebrate Earth Day with Streamkeepers at Choices in the Park

Come celebrate Earth Day at Choices in the Park near the Edmonds Skytrain Station tomorrow, Saturday, April 17 from noon to 4pm. Enviro-friendly foods & products on display/sale. Streamkeepers will have a display and will offer tours of Byrne Creek at 12:30pm and at 2:00pm. BBQ by donation, with proceeds to support healthy creeks.

Posted by Paul at 02:27 PM

April 10, 2010

Surrey’s 4th Annual Environmental Film Festival

Green Ideas Network

presents

Surrey's 4th Annual Environmental Film Festival

SFU Surrey Theatre 2600
Thursday, April 29, 2010
1:00 - 9:00pm - Doors open at 12:30pm

As part of Surrey's Environmental Extravaganza, we welcome the general public to view a variety of timely and compelling documentaries on issues that are impacting the health of the planet.

Featuring: Door prizes, Q & A, Raffles, Educational displays, Refreshments

Admission by donation

Visit our website to download the poster and to see the movie trailers.

Green Ideas Network
"Good Ideas for Green Communities"

www.greenideasnetwork.org

clip_image002

Posted by Paul at 06:30 PM

March 15, 2010

Stream of Dreams Society Elects New Board at AGM

As president of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society, I am pleased to announce our new board of directors as elected at our AGM tonight.

Paul Cipywnyk, President
Jennifer Lynton, Vice President
Rob Carne, Treasurer
Jane Burkholder, Secretary
Andrea Rozsa, director
Lynn Duncan, director

My President's Report to the AGM:

Stream of Dreams has an exciting year ahead of us in 2010 and many proud accomplishments to celebrate for 2009. Thank you to everyone for all the hard work over the last year.

We ended 2009 solidly in the black, and with many achievements to be proud of as we enter our tenth year. Unfortunately, this has also been a time of cutbacks in government grants, and a poor economy that has severely impacted several sources of revenue. The Society is being proactive in dealing with this situation, adding one staff member to focus on fundraising applications and promotion, along with handling some of the administrative work to free up some of the founders' time to focus on development.

Is 2010 the year of go big or go home? Those of you who have been with us for awhile know this has been a recurring topic over the years, due to the continually growing demand for our watershed education and community art program. We are also developing new methods of educating the public. The ongoing success of our programs, and our stable financial state to date despite economic fluctuations and the severe recent downturn, are testaments to prudent management both at the board, and operational, levels. I congratulate staff and volunteers again for their great work last year, and their efforts to ensure that 2010 will see continuing progress.

We have reached some amazing milestones: 10 years and 100,000 Dreamfish -- that are really something to celebrate! Stream of Dreams is also exploring partnerships with other artists with experience in combining art and music with environmental education.

The Stream of Dreams watershed education and community art concept grew out of a fish kill in Byrne Creek, which runs just a few dozen meters from where we are sitting here tonight. Sadly, Byrne Creek was wiped out again just ten days ago, when someone unthinkingly or unknowingly released a toxin into a drain in the upper watershed that flowed into the creek, killing well over 1,000 fish and likely other animals, in addition to impacting the entire watershed from the creek to the Fraser River, to the ocean. Our health, and the health of every living thing in the ecosystem is at stake.

It is clear that the need for education remains, that the need for our program is as important now as it ever was. I am personally saddened and angered by the loss, as I'm sure many of you are. But let us not despair, let us take this as a renewed call to action. I look forward to working with this amazingly talented and creative group for another year, and I hope some of the faces here tonight that we don't see quite as often will consider devoting a few more hours of their precious time to helping the Society's message spread far and wide.

Thank you, Paul Cipywnyk

And a big thank you to Stream of Dreams founders Louise Towell and Joan Carne, and to departing director and continuing Vancouver Island team leader Micqualyn Waldie for their passion, drive, creativity, and hard work that have grown a local community event into a multiple award-winning, cross-Canada watershed education and community art program. You are truly inspirational and it's been, and continues to be, a privilege to work with you.

Posted by Paul at 09:53 PM

March 13, 2010

Environment Canada ‘Responds’ to Streamkeepers

Here's what an Environment Canada spokesperson had to say to the Burnaby Now after yet another chemical dump into Byrne Creek that killed everything in the open watershed from top to bottom:

Raisinghani responded to recent criticism from streamkeepers that suggested Environment Canada was lax on enforcement of anti-pollution laws and failing in its job to protect fish and their habitat.

"Environment Canada takes its enforcement responsibilities very seriously," Raisinghani wrote. "If the source of contamination is found, an investigation may be launched."

WOW, Right!?

I'm sure polluters are shaking in their chemical-covered boots upon hearing that proclamation. IF. MAY.

How about WHEN. SHALL..?

Isn't action by default something that we should expect from those mandated to protect our health and our environment?

I feel for Raisinghani. He, she, is muzzled, handcuffed, and just spouting the "line" from someone higher up who doesn't have the balls to speak to the public.

What we need is swift prosecution, not purported tough talk. Hell, that ain't even tough talk. Them's bureaucratic-PR weasel words. IF. MAY.

I would like to point out that the IFs and MAYs have been spouted repeatedly in the past - and have never been addressed. That does not reassure anyone about Environment Canada's track record, eh?

There was a toxic spill on a tributary that feeds into Byrne Creek as recently as 2007  in which the "source of contamination" WAS found, and Environment Canada went into its usual "an investigation MAY be launched" mode, but ended up doing NOTHING.

So what gives us citizens, who pay Environment Canada salaries, and who trust you to protect us and our environment, any reason to believe this time will be any different?

This issue has been brought up again, and again, and again, and we don't need any more IFs and MAYs. We need ACTION.

The real sad thing about all this is that as volunteer streamkeepers we work with all levels of government: municipal, regional, provincial, and federal. We don't want to diss anyone, but . . .   We are giving up hundreds and thousand of hours of our time to volunteer. We are taking time away from our work. . . while we're paying through our taxes, for, apparently, nothing to be done by "our" government.

That's harsh..

Posted by Paul at 10:22 PM

March 10, 2010

Short Video on Fish Kill from Newsleader

Found this video on BC Daily Buzz, and am assuming that since it's got embed links, it's OK to reproduce. This was shot by Mario Bartel of the Burnaby Newsleader a couple of days ago. It's me at the pond near Edmonds Skytrain Station where the deadly spill was first noticed on March 4, 2010.

Posted by Paul at 04:37 PM

Media Interest in Byrne Creek Kill Has Legs

The strength and duration of media interest in the recent fish kill in southeast Burnaby's Byrne Creek after someone illegally disposed of a chemical, likely down a drain on a street, is intriguing. The kill happened late Thursday afternoon, yet I was still receiving multiple calls for interviews and tours on Monday. Usually three- to four-day old local news is as appetizing to mainstream media as, er, rotting fish, but somehow this story had legs.

And we didn't send out a single press release or email, we didn't make a single phone call - we simply tried to keep up with the requests that poured in. We have no staff, streamkeepers are 100% volunteer. If anyone still doubts the power of Twitter, well, that's how this story started. . .

Perhaps it had something to do with public outrage. This story struck a chord. The creek is in an urban area, it is surrounded by public parks, and I think people are really getting the message that it's not only fish,  it's about the entire ecosystem and our health, too.

I've been monitoring the online versions of stories, and people have been responding with anger and disbelief that such a tragedy could happen - yet again - in a beloved creek. People have also been scathingly skeptical that anything will really be done by the federal agencies that supposedly are tasked with protecting our environment and our health.

The outrage is palpable, and I think that's what has kept this story alive.

Streamkeepers are making lemonade from the lemons handed to us by the thoughtless polluter - we've been getting calls from concerned citizens reporting suspicious substances on streets and in ditches, we may have a few new faces at our monthly meeting tomorrow (Thursday, March 11, at 7:30pm - coordinates here), we've been getting requests from businesses to come speak to employees about the watershed and how we all connect to it.

I hope interest remains high, but I understand that we have to get on with our busy lives and attention will quickly fade. Unfortunately, I've seen this cycle several times on battered Byrne Creek, and I hope that my sense that this time the response is noticeably stronger isn't just wishful thinking.

Thank you to all the media who covered the kill! And thank you to the public for expressing your feelings. If you really want change to happen, if you want to see enforcement, I urge you to write your local MLAs and MPs, and the federal and provincial environment ministers - without strong policy direction agency staff's hands are tied.

Posted by Paul at 07:50 AM

March 07, 2010

Media Covers Byrne Creek Fish Kill

Some of the media coverage of the toxic spill in SE Burnaby's Byrne Creek a few days ago:

Burnaby Now article

Burnaby Newsleader article

CBC website

The press is already getting results - a gentleman phoned me today with a report about seeing Powerhouse Creek, a tributary of Byrne Creek, running very dirty in the area of Beresford St. about a week ago. The more eyes we have on our local creeks, the better!

Update March 8, 2010

Globe & Mail article

Metro article

Update March 10, 2010

Burnaby Now on lack of enforcement

Burnaby Now on Mayor, City Council Push for Education

Update March 11, 2010

Burnaby Newsleader followup

Posted by Paul at 07:16 PM

March 05, 2010

Sample Density of Fish Killed in Byrne Creek

Sometimes it takes death to reveal how much life there is.

Would you believe that on average there was a dead fish less than every 2 meters along a sampled section of Byrne Creek the morning after someone poured a toxin down a street drain in the upper watershed on March 4, 2010? Most people never see fish in the creek - it takes patience, stealth, and knowing where to look to spot them when they are alive. My wife and I counted 231 dead trout, coho smolts (yearlings) and coho fry (this spring's babies) in an approximately 400-meter section of the creek. For those interested, here's the breakdown:

182 - Small cutthroat trout (say less than 15cm)
20  - Medium cutthroat trout (say 15-20cm)
1   - Large cutthroat trout (over 20cm)
Total 203 cutthroat trout

16 small-to-medium dead fish visible inside the culvert, too dark to ID
1 - large trout, very dark, no cutthroat markings on chin, near footbridge

8  - Coho smolts
3  - Coho fry
Total 11 coho salmon

Grand total dead fish in that stretch: 231

And that's likely lower than the actual number due to several factors: dead fish get wedged under rocks and drop deep in pools, the tiny fry are difficult to spot at all and we know that before the kill there were schools of dozens in the area sampled. In addition, opportunistic predation starts almost immediately after the toxin is quickly flushed down the creek: we found several fish partially eaten, and only strings of guts and bits of flesh too small to ID here and there.

The coho were found around T518 to T516 (lower end of the lower ravine). The coho fry were found in the vicinity of T517 where we photographed live ones a few days ago... See the entry below "Video of 2010 Salmon Fry in Byrne Creek."

dead_trout_coho_byrne_creek_20100305

The above photo shows dead fish ranging from coho fry at the bottom left,
a coho smolt a the bottom right, and an adult trout above. There was a
surprise to come, as you'll see in the next photo. . .

dead_fry_in_dead_trout_byrne_creek_20100305

The big trout had a fry in its mouth. It's not hard to imagine what
happened - it spotted a little fish in distress from the chemical,
thought it an easy meal, and then before it could even finish
swallowing its target, the bigger fish also died.

Posted by Paul at 09:10 PM

Counting the Dead

Imagine walking down a street, and every few steps that you take, you come across a body.

A few more steps, a cluster of bodies. Every step, another body. Another group of bodies.

You approach an area where yesterday you saw small children playing - and you find small, inert bodies.

Small bodies, ranging from babies recently born, to midsize ones -- kids going to school. Further on, large ones, adults.

All with bulging eyes, gaping mouths.

Staring. At nothing. For they do not see any more. They do not breathe any more, for they died gasping for breath.

They choked to death.

That's what it was like today, carefully walking down Byrne Creek, counting the dead.

The dead that died when someone unthinkingly, uncaringly, or, despite decades of educational efforts, perhaps unknowingly, poured a chemical down a storm drain.

The bodies were fish. Just fish.

But we'll drink what went in that water someday, too. Or perhaps swim in it. Those toxins don't just disappear.

If we eat fish or other seafood, we will eat what went in that water someday, too.

All drains lead to fish habitat.

People habitat.

Every living thing's habitat.

I fear I'll dream tonight about counting the dead.

The bulging eyes, the gaping mouths.

The horrifying, constricting feeling of being unable to breathe.

We found fish today that in desperation had thrown themselves into the air, up onto the banks of the creek - to breathe, please let me breathe!

That would be like me throwing myself under water to escape foul, poisoned air - to breathe, please let me breathe!

Yes, I'm emotionally attached, because for days recently I eagerly patrolled Byrne Creek, looking for baby coho salmon, baby chum salmon, hoping against hope that the few salmon spawners that made it back last autumn succeeded in creating a new generation.

I saw baby fry, and I rejoiced. My heart soared. I took photos. I took videos.

I blogged, I Tweeted, I Facebooked. I did all that social media, cyberspace stuff.

But real life intervened

And now they are all dead.

And all that I can do is

Count the dead.

Posted by Paul at 09:08 PM

March 04, 2010

Fish Kill in Burnaby’s Byrne Creek March 4, 2010

A chemical entered Byrne Creek in southeast Burnaby in the mid-to-late afternoon today, killing fish. Someone called Environment Canada [CORRECT: in fact the City of Burnaby received the call from the BC provincial enviro ministry after a youth called the Provincial Emergency Program], who then called the City, and streamkeepers also noticed the kill around the same time. City staff took samples and worked on tracing the source, which likely came from a storm drain, while streamkeepers took photos for documentation and sampled pH in the creek at several points. Both City staff and streamkeepers plan to follow up tomorrow. Here are some photos:

fish_kill_byrne_creek_7_20100304 

The fish ladder at the pond west of Griffiths Dr.
Water is covered with foam and slick to the touch.
There was an ammonia smell coming out of the pipe.

fish_kill_byrne_creek_5_20100304

Dead fish on bottom of pool.

fish_kill_byrne_creek_2_20100304

Dead cutthroat with hazy water visible. That's a size 12 boot
toe beside it for comparison.

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fish_kill_byrne_creek_4_20100304

fish_kill_byrne_creek_6_20100304

Just a few days ago, streamkeepers were excited to see baby salmon
fry popping out of the gravel. We are concerned that they may also have
been affected.

I find it hard to believe that after decades of education efforts, such
kills still happen.

Please, folks, remember that all drains on roads and parking lots lead to fish habitat!

Posted by Paul at 10:20 PM

March 01, 2010

Re-Inventing Rainwater Management

Ran across this study today (pdf doc): Re-Inventing Rainwater Management: A Strategy to Protect Health and Restore Nature in the Capital Region by the  Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria. While I have yet to read all of it, it appears to be an excellent take on issues that streamkeepers in Burnaby and all over BC have been concerned about for years. An excerpt from the introduction to the problem:

We don't normally think of rainfall as pollution. However, over the last 150 years we have built cities in a way that transforms rainwater into an agent of considerable environmental harm: urban stormwater runoff.

Changing pristine rainwater into pollution occurs in stages. The first step is the creation of pollutants from driving and fixing cars, using chemicals on houses and yards, and commercial and industrial processes. Heavy metals, PCBs, oils, grease, antifreeze, solvents, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, paint chips, PAHs, road salt, and detergents fall to the ground across the urban landscape.

The second step involves our construction of impervious surfaces such as roofs, paved streets, sidewalks, and parking lots. As a city develops, the vegetation and natural soils that absorb and filter rainwater are replaced by impervious surfaces. When we pave over nature's absorption and filtration system, the next heavy rain sweeps across the landscape's hard surfaces picking up pollutants.

In the final step, the storm sewer system rapidly conveys all this polluted water to the nearest water body and flushes it at high speed into a sensitive aquatic ecosystem. In addition to the pollutants from the landscape, the water often contains paint and motor oil that people have dumped into the storm sewer. To make things worse, in older municipalities, this stormwater often contains sanitary sewage.

Posted by Paul at 08:32 PM

February 28, 2010

Learn About Salmon-Friendly Gardening

From our friends at LEPS, via the PSKF message board:

Make your neighbourhood a better place and start something healthier for you and for salmon, in your backyard!

On Saturday March 13, join Langley Environmental Partners Society from 10am-3pm at the Fraser River Presentation Theatre, 4th floor, 20338- 65 Ave Langley, for the 3rd annual Salmon Friendly Gardens Seminar.

This workshop style seminar will have speakers present practical solutions for:

  • Converting Lawn into a Vegetable Patch ~ Ward Teulon, City Farm Boy
  • Rethinking Weeds as Wild Edibles ~ David Catzel, Glorious Organics
  • Gardening for Wildlife ~ Jude Grass, Birds on the Bay
  • Pesticide Alternatives That Work ~ Martin Harcourt, Mainland Landscaping and Gardening Ltd

Event includes refreshment break. Pre-registration is required, to register email kgreenwood@tol.ca

Why grow a salmon-friendly garden?

Every Langley home is located in the middle of salmon habitat. Each of Langley's twelve watersheds collects runoff from our backyards and directs it into one of our salmon-bearing streams. The Fraser River salmon run - the largest in Canada - depends on these small tributaries for spawning and the healthy development of young fish.

The upshot is that what we put on our gardens ends up in our streams, including pesticides and fertilizers. In addition, the majority of Langley's tap water comes from aquifers, meaning that our drinking water originates directly below our feet. When you consider that 95% of pesticides used on residential yards are considered probable or possible carcinogens by the US Environmental Protection Agency, there's good reason to cut back on the chemicals we use in our gardens.

This worrying evidence doesn't mean that your garden has to go to the bugs. LEPS presents this full-day seminar on how to grow a beautiful, healthy and productive garden without chemicals.

The event also launches the Township of Langley's pilot Grow Healthy ~ Grow Smart Program.

Salmon Saturdays are supported by the Fraser Salmon and Watersheds Program.

Posted by Paul at 09:44 PM

February 24, 2010

Burnaby Food Forum March 31, 2010

Join Burnaby Food First for a community forum on the future of food in Burnaby. Local community groups will showcase their successful projects, participants will discuss food issues in Burnaby, and plan for a resilient local food system. A healthy lunch will be provided.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010
8:30 - 1:30 Shadbolt Centre
6450 Deer Lake Ave., Burnaby

Everyone is welcome. Please register by March 26 via email:

burnabyfoodforum@gmail.com

Food_First_20100331_forum_small

Posted by Paul at 10:47 AM

February 04, 2010

Burnaby Board Environmental Sustainability Forum for Business

The Burnaby Board of Trade's inaugural Environmental Sustainability Forum for Business last night was a big success, with a stimulating panel of speakers who provided inspiration and examples to help companies get on the road toward reducing their environmental footprints while boosting their bottom lines.

Held at the magnificent Electronic Arts campus in Burnaby, the panel featured Peter Robinson, CEO of the David Suzuki Foundation; TJ Galda, chair of the Electronic Arts Green Team; David Moran, Director of Public Affairs and Communications for Coca-Cola Canada; and Maureen Cureton, Green Business Manager, Vancity. The speakers and ensuing Q & A were ably coordinated by facilitator Coro Strandberg, principal of Strandberg Consulting and author of the Small and Medium-Sized Business Environmental Roadmap for Industry Canada.

The event appeared to be sold out. The auditorium was packed, and the speakers were well received by a responsive and appreciative audience. The panel was a good mix in terms of age and experience, and represented senior corporate management, staff, and NGOs. The overall message was that the green-blue wave is well underway, and companies of all sizes must understand environmental sustainability, and implement it, to hire and retain excellent staff, and develop and maintain optimal relations with their supply chains and customers.

Advice? While you have to have commitment and support from upper management, imbuing an organization with the values of environmental sustainability requires that everyone gets on board. Simply setting up a sustainability team or section will not change behaviour - it will alleviate personal responsibility as staff think "I don't have to do anything, that other group will take care of things."

An interesting resource that was mentioned was the David Suzuki Ambassadors program that provides workshops for businesses "interested in greening their practices." That was another theme that was repeated by several speakers - there are plenty of NGOs out there that businesses can partner with to work together on environmental goals.

Posted by Paul at 10:19 AM

January 30, 2010

Cleaning Bird Boxes at Burnaby Lake

A call for volunteers appeared in the local papers to help clean out bird boxes at Burnaby Lake Regional Park for the spring nesting season, so Yumi and I drove over this Saturday morning to check out what the Burnaby Lake Park Association was up to.

Led by the irrepressibly passionate and knowledgeable Joe Sadowski, the 30-40 folks who showed up were divided into three or four teams and spread out to do some housecleaning. Despite the overcast, drizzly conditions, people's spirits ran high.

burnaby_lake_bird_box_cleaning_1_20100130

burnaby_lake_bird_box_cleaning_2_20100130

burnaby_lake_bird_box_cleaning_3_20100130

burnaby_lake_bird_box_cleaning_4_20100130

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And a lovely Wood Duck couple, perhaps looking to move
in to the newly cleaned housing :-)

Posted by Paul at 09:09 PM

January 21, 2010

Upcoming Burnaby Board of Trade Environmental Sustainability Forum

As a member of the Burnaby Board of Trade Environmental Sustainability Committee, I have been asked to forward this invitation to people in my business network.

-----------------

January 21, 2010

On behalf of the Burnaby Board of Trade, I would like to personally invite you to attend the BBOT's inaugural Environmental Sustainability Forum for Business on Wednesday, February 3, 2010. This event will showcase a distinguished panel of speakers who will discuss strategies for reducing your environmental footprint and the economic benefits of sustainability.

The objective of this forum is to create an open dialogue within the local business community to explore the business case of going green. The panel includes:

Facilitator: Coro Strandberg, Principal of Strandberg Consulting and author of the Small and Medium-Sized Business Environmental Roadmap for Industry Canada

Event Details
Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010
5:30 pm Registration
6:30 pm Panel Presentation
Electronic Arts Canada, Ltd.
4334 Sanderson Way, Burnaby BC
$30.00 + GST
To register, please RSVP to 604.412.0100 or email admin@bbot.ca by Friday, January 29, 2010.

Posted by Paul at 03:44 PM

January 18, 2010

Wrestling Yellow Fish at Edmonds Skytrain

Several years ago, Byrne Creek Streamkeepers marked rain drains (aka storm drains) around Edmonds Skytrain Station (among other areas) in southeast Burnaby with yellow fish to remind the public that nothing other than rain should go down these drains because they lead directly to fish habitat.

The other day I met my wife at the station and took some shots of an apparent, ahem, pissing match. Excuse my language, but it really reminds me of territorial scent marking by canines and other beasties :-).

translink_yellow_fish_on_fish_20100118

You can clearly see the cute original fish painted over by, to my eye, the rather blimp-like, mean-looking latecomer. From Translink? Why mark already marked drains?

Posted by Paul at 07:26 PM

January 05, 2010

Collapse of Soviet Union Put Danube, Dnieper Rivers on Diverging Courses

A sobering article in the Washington Post. While many countries have come together to clean up and revitalize the Danube, there has been little progress on the environmental devastation to Ukraine's Dnieper perpetrated under the communist regime.

Posted by Paul at 07:46 PM

December 29, 2009

Getting Into Hot Water

In response to a series of negative posts regarding on-demand water heaters on a mailing list:

While we have a gas-fired tank hot-water heater in our townhouse, I'm a bit surprised at the number of negative anecdotes regarding on-demand heaters.

As mentioned, they have been in widespread use for decades in Asia and Europe. I had several apartments in Japan with on-demand heaters and never experienced running short of hot water, or being subjected to spurts of cold water. And no matter what the outside temperature, it never seemed to take more than 10-20 seconds to get a steady flow of piping hot water -- certainly not any longer than it takes now for us to get hot water in the upstairs shower from the tank heater in the basement.

My wife's parents' place is in northern Japan, and it gets bloody cold up there for 4+ months each year, yet the suitcase-sized on-demand water heater in their house has never exhibited any such negative behaviour in 20 or more years of use.

If I may be so bold, I'd also venture that Japanese are among the greatest lovers of hot water in the world, and most have a tolerance, nay, an affinity, for soaking in water so hot that simply dipping a foot in it makes me want to scream :-).

Many Japanese shower/baths have faucets with a colour-gradated blue-red dial, accompanied by degree C markings. The top end of the red zone abuts a safety interlock button, which one can depress to be able to turn the faucet even further.

I wonder if some of this can be chalked up to a lack of experience in NA? I admit that when our hot-water heater died several years ago, we replaced it with another tank heater, but that was mostly due to the limited availability and greater initial expense of on-demand heaters here, combined with seemingly little knowledge or experience with them in local stores and among local plumbers.

Posted by Paul at 09:26 PM

December 02, 2009

Water Act Forum Stimulates, Educates

Thanks to Watershed Watch for putting on a forum yesterday "to discuss how NGOs can work together to move the Living Water Smart (LWS) agenda forward, and how groups can help to modernize the BC Water Act." I enjoyed the presentations, learned a lot, and was impressed with the knowledge represented by the people in the room.

The organizers are asking for input so here goes: I'm not sure if "getting groundwater in" came up much in discussion, and that's crucial, particularly in urban watersheds like the creek that I volunteer on as a streamkeeper. The focus seemed to be on sucking groundwater out, which of course is very important, but we shouldn't neglect the "letting it soak in naturally" part of the cycle.

I'm not sure if a water act can include things like impermeable vs permeable surfaces, swales, rain gardens, infiltration ponds, biofiltration, street-edge alternatives, etc., but rainwater infiltration > groundwater infiltration is crucial in urban watersheds. Otherwise too much water is dumped into creeks through rain drains (trying to reshape the debate by getting away from "storm drains") during moderate-to-heavy rains, and not enough gets into the ground to maintain base flows in long, hot, dry spells.

I know we don't want to get too detailed or prescriptive, so perhaps as part of the preamble, or guiding principles, there could be something about the permeability-groundwater issue in regard to promoting watershed-friendly development and redevelopment guidelines?

Posted by Paul at 09:40 PM

November 25, 2009

Salmon Return to Japanese River

From the The Yomiuri Shimbun

This article is about salmon returning to the Chikumagawa river as flows improved after East Japan Railway Co. was directed to stop taking illegal amounts of water from the river to power trains in Tokyo.

Wow, amazing how one's life can change. When I rode the Yamanote Line in Tokyo on a daily or weekly basis for well over ten years from 1985 - 1999 I had no idea that some of the power was coming from a dam that was impacting salmon. Mind you I knew next to nothing about salmon, and nothing about streamkeeping back then.

Posted by Paul at 09:18 PM

October 26, 2009

Metro Vancouver Solid Waste Management Plan

I attended a Metro Vancouver luncheon on solid waste management on behalf of the Burnaby Board of Trade Environmental Sustainability Committee.

Here's my distillation of the presentation materials and the ensuing discussion:

Top priority is to reduce, reuse, recycle.

Now diverting 55% of waste.

Goal is to divert 70% of waste by 2015 (Metro Toronto has set this goal for year 2010 and is nowhere near achieving it).

MetroVan population projected to grow from ~2 million to ~3 million, so increasing diversion from 55% to 70% has little effect on remaining solid waste.

Even with a 70% diversion rate there will still be over 1 million tonnes of solid waste to dispose of every year.

Three scenarios:
1) waste-to-energy (incinerate)
2) landfill mechanically/biologically treated waste
3) landfill

Key point: When it comes to overall emissions, solid waste management contributes 1% or less in the Fraser Valley, under any scenario.

MetroVan says studies show no discernible health impacts from WTE (waste-to-energy) plants. Many EU nations have WTE plants located in major cities. EU no longer allows landfills.

Key point: What about the "fourth R" in addition to reduce, reuse, recycle? REVENUE (or cost).

WTE, because of heat and electricity generation, has a 35-year NET REVENUE of $20 million in the MetroVan scenarios. The other two options COST between $1.5 billion to $1.8 billion over 35 years.

MetroVan is strongly promoting WTE as the solution.

What about 100% diversion? It becomes uneconomical at a certain point - diminishing returns.

MetroVan feels it's not winning the PR/media war on WTE. Needs to present clear, understandable message to the public. In greater Vancouver, 60% in favor of WTE, but in Fraser Valley only 37%.

I used to question WTE, but I've come around for several reasons. I don't see 100% diversion as being achievable, I think the emissions/health impact from running diesel trucks up the valley to a landfill would be far more detrimental than a new WTE facility, and finally WTE is the only alternative (at least according to MetroVan's consultants) that makes economic sense. In fact it makes $ from producing electricity and heat, whereas the other options cost billions of dollars.

My other observation is that few people even seem to be aware of the WTE facility that has been operating in my home town of Burnaby for years. I'd say 80% of the people that I talk to don't even know it's there.

Posted by Paul at 05:55 PM

October 16, 2009

Riding Translink’s SkyTrain Incubator

Being a good, green citizen, I took the SkyTrain to downtown Vancouver this morning to attend Book Camp Vancouver. When the doors of the train opened at Edmonds Station, a wave of hot, humid, fetid air washed over me on the platform, and I cringed as I stepped aboard.

Why the heck was the heat on? You do not need heat when you have people packed into an enclosed space. What a waste of energy! Has TransLink never heard of thermostats?

It must have been pushing 30C in the car as people stood packed shoulder to shoulder, the windows fogged over and rolling with condensation. It was a perfect incubator for the flu season. H1N1? I guess TransLink has never heard of it. Wouldn't it make more sense to have the heat off and external air circulation cranked to the max?

Moisture was soon rolling down my body too -- sweat. Sweat trickling down my back, and eventually even down my legs.

We all stood there suffering silently, station after station, like good sheep-like Canadians, until some brave soul finally cracked a window a couple of stops before the end of the line.

I'm a firm believer in the benefits of mass transit, but TransLink has to provide a better atmosphere for commuters. You're not going to get more people on the trains if they dread the ride.

Posted by Paul at 11:15 AM

October 13, 2009

Turning Cities into Sponges

I never thought I'd be quoting a publication called the Daily Commercial News and Construction Record, but I'm willing to learn from anyone. An article entitled Philly's bold stormwater management plan leads the way caught my eye - it's an initiative that I'd like to see in more cities, and promoted by ones like my own Burnaby.

I love the following quotation from the article:

The plan reimagines the city as an oasis of rain gardens, green roofs, permeable pavements, thousands of additional trees, and more. The idea is to turn the city into a giant sponge to absorb as much rainwater as possible and delay the rest in its journey to the nearby Delaware and Schuykill rivers.

Now that's vision! Or simply going back to what used to be . . . Most cities were once giant sponges, because that's what most land used to be before we built on it. So it makes sense to return to what worked for Mother Nature for millennia, eh?

How about this?

The new plan announced last month would "peel back" a lot of the city's concrete and asphalt and replace them with plants - rain gardens, green roofs, landscaped swales in parking lots, heavily planted boulevards, and small wetlands.

Yes! Streamkeepers and other concerned citizens have dreamed of this for years. The main issues dogging urban creeks are massive flows during rains because of all the water that goes shooting off of roads, roofs and parking lots straight into street drains, and pollution from oil, antifreeze, brake-lining dust, rubber, soap, other chemicals, etc., washing off our streets. Rain gardens, ponds, swales - they would all help with both problems, slowing peak flows and filtering out pollutants.

I believe all municipalities in British Columbia are required to produce ISMPs (integrated stormwater management plans) for all of their watersheds, and Burnaby is no exception. The City has been working on a Byrne Creek ISMP for some time now, and I have sat in on stakeholder sessions as a representative from the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers.

Unfortunately, I haven't witnessed much imagination in the process so far. I get the sense that there's more talk about more pipes, than there is about rain gardens, swales, street-edge alternatives, trees and plants. More pipes? That's so 19th and early-to-mid 20th century, eh? Let's be forward-looking!

Posted by Paul at 04:25 PM

October 06, 2009

No More Address Labels, Xmas Cards, Notepads – Please!

Groan, I just got another pack of sample Xmas Cards in the mail today from an "environmental" group. Thank you for using up all that paper, coating it, printing it, spewing diesel fumes to truck it from place to place, just so that it could go into my recycle bin to be trucked, processed. . .

Enough with the address labels, the preprinted "From the Desk of Paul Cipywnyk" notepads, the Xmas Cards. I have an overflowing drawer full of them. I have enough address labels to keep me going for several lifetimes.

How many letters do I send these days anyway? How many do you send? All my bills are on scheduled auto-withdrawal/auto-charge programs, and I email, IM, Facebook, Tweet, or Skype family and friends.

I refuse to donate to groups that use this sort of marketing, and if you got my name and address from a previous donation, you will lose me as a supporter if you follow up with any of the above products.

Posted by Paul at 04:04 PM

September 05, 2009

Blog Mentioned in Burnaby Now

Thanks to Julie Maclellan who mentioned me in her Burnaby Now column this weekend. She called me a "streamkeeper, environmental advocate and blogger about all sorts of interesting things." The pressure is on now!

Posted by Paul at 11:49 AM

August 26, 2009

Buy, Eat Local, Support Canadian Farmers

Well-done :-) video on buying, eating local. Do you know where your food comes from? Sobering statistics on how much food we import, and how far it travels.

Hellmann's - It's Time for Real from CRUSH on Vimeo.

Posted by Paul at 03:33 PM

April 21, 2009

Vancouver as 'World's Greenest City': How About Daylighting a few Creeks?

Is there any possibility of daylighting any of Vancouver's 60-odd lost and buried creeks as part of the mayor's plan to make Vancouver the world's greenest city?

How about a truly green city with salmon spawning in dozens of creeks running through neighbourhoods everywhere? That's what we used to have....

http://vancouver.ca/greenestcity/

Posted by Paul at 01:51 PM

April 17, 2009

Streamkeepers at Choices Earth Day, Saturday, April 18

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers will have our booth set up from noon to 4:00 p.m. at Choices in the Park for their Earth Day BBQ. We will also offer tours of Byrne Creek, so come and sign up! This is in southeast Burnaby, near Edmonds Skytrain Station. Last year's event was great fun, and kudos to Choices for sponsoring and collecting donations for streamkeepers' efforts to preserve and enhance this lovely, but struggling, urban creek.

Posted by Paul at 01:46 PM

April 03, 2009

Edmonds Community Clean Sweep May 2

One month to go to the Edmonds Community Clean Sweep on Saturday, May 2, 2009, sponsored by the Edmonds Business & Community Association.

Mark your calendars, Burnabarians!

Meet at the Eastburn Community Centre to register at 9:45 am, or alternate registration available with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers at the Edmonds Skytrain station parking lot.

200905_Clean_Sweep.jpg

Thanks to Rosewood Printers for the great poster!

Posted by Paul at 05:09 PM

March 24, 2009

200km of Light Rail or 1 Bridge?

UBC sustainability experts say that for the $3.1 billion cost of a new Port Mann bridge "the government could finance a 200-kilometre light rail network that would place a modern, European-style tram within a 10-minute walk for 80 per cent of all residents in Surrey, White Rock, Langley and the Scott Road district of Delta, while providing a rail connection from Surrey to the new Evergreen line and connecting Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge into the regional rail system."

Read the full article.

Seems like a no-brainer, eh?

Posted by Paul at 07:50 PM

March 23, 2009

Golf Courses Huge Water Users - Recycled Sewer Water Does Great Job

"According to a UN estimate, golf courses around the world use 2.5 billion gallons of water each day?if potable, that would handle the needs of 4.7 billion people."

That's a scary statistic. Why not use recycled sewage as this article suggests?

Posted by Paul at 08:07 AM

March 18, 2009

Depave Group Sets Excellent Example

I've been following the Depave website because these folks are doing fantastic work. It would be great if we could get some similar projects going here in the City of Burnaby, and across Metro Vancouver and the lower mainland.

Depave's mission is "to inspire and promote the removal of unnecessary concrete and asphalt from urban areas" with the vision of "Livable cities where people and wildlife coexist and thrive amidst clean air, clean water, and an abundance of plants, trees, and vegetation."

Here's an update on the type of stuff they're doing:

-------------------------------

Depaving Opportunity!
On Saturday, March 21st, we will be partnering with the Mt. Scott Learning Center to depave part of their parking lot at MSLC! They are hoping to turn it into a green space for students and community members, and need volunteers to help with the depaving. They are looking for 40-50 volunteers. I know there are Depavers out there ready to bust up some cement, so here is your chance! The information is as follows:

* Date: Saturday, March 21
* Time: 10 am - 4 pm
* Location: MSLC High School at Laurelwood Church (6148 SE Holgate Blvd. in Portland)
* Requirements: Event will go on rain or shine so come prepared for the appropriate weather. Tools, gloves, safety gear, drinks and lunch will be provided.

-------------------------------

And another project they've been working on:

Fargo Garden Update
Fargo Garden is the site on N. Williams and NE Fargo, where we did our large depaving event in June of 2008. The site is approximately 3,000 square feet. The project was funded through a grant from the (City of Portland) Bureau of Environmental Services, and includes transforming the now-depaved lot into a 'food forest' and community gathering space.

After many months of work, we submitted our 'Site Development Plan,' including stormwater management features, to the Portland Bureau of Development Services (BDS) on March 2nd. We hope to receive our permit by the end of this week (by 3/20) and then to spring into action with the rest of our work. What does that entail? Removing the remaining gravel from the site, creating paths and bioswales, adding lots of organic material, finishing the fence and gates... and planting! And celebrating!

--------------------------------

This sounds so cool!

Posted by Paul at 08:15 AM

March 06, 2009

Firing Up Worm Factory Composter

For years we've talked about composting, but we always shied away because we live in a townhouse with no garden. Today at the BC Boat & Sportsmen's Show I finally decided to go for a Worm Factory composter that supposedly can be used indoors with no-to-minimal odor if you've got it running right.

I bought a 3-tray kit with worms from Webster Solar Energy and brought them home from the show. After supper, Yumi and I read the instruction book and set up the system, getting our first "working tray" going. Here's hoping things go well and that as the worms get at it, and we keep adding trays, in a couple of months we'll be ready to start using rich, homemade compost in our indoor and balcony plants.

paul_worm_composter_20090306.jpg
Me opening up a can, er, box, of worms.

yumi_worm_composter_20090306.jpg
Yumi pointing out worms. Cool!

worms_worm_composter_20090306.jpg
Closeup of worms.

choco_yumi_worm_composter_20090306.jpg
Choco the cat is not too sure about this...

Posted by Paul at 10:44 PM

February 19, 2009

Protecting the Blue Heart of the Planet

Passionate speech by Sylvia Earle on saving the ocean -- a prize-winner at the TED conference.

"We are facing paradise lost."

"We have taken over 90% of the big fish from the sea."

"Health for oceans means health for us."

"I hope that some day that we will find evidence that there is intelligent life among humans on this planet."

"Auden: Thousands have lived without love. None have lived without water."

"With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you are connected to the sea no matter where on earth you live."

"No water, no life. No blue, no green."

Posted by Paul at 07:56 AM

February 12, 2009

CNN: Fish Migrating to Cooler Waters

"(CNN) -- Climate-driven environmental changes could drastically affect the distribution of more than 1,000 species of commercial fish and shellfish around the world, scientists say."

http://tinyurl.com/dn9ksn"

This echoes some of the discussion at the recent State of the Salmon 2009 conference that I attended. Could the day come when the Fraser, the world's greatest salmon river, could no longer support runs?

Posted by Paul at 04:01 PM

February 08, 2009

Greening the Ghetto - Inspirational New Yorker Article

Thanks to @timoreilly on Twitter for this lead: "A great New Yorker piece about Van Jones and Green for All: http://twurl.nl/id0ti6. This guy has it all: message, presence, vision."

The article is called "Greening the Ghetto" and is a must-read for those who care about all levels of society, who are worried about the economic crisis we are in, and who may be placing environmental issues on the back burner.

Green for All The goal is to get the greenest solutions to the poorest people.

I loved this quotation: ?I?m not looking for the points of difference. I?m looking for the points of commonality. I?ve trained my mind so that people can say twenty-seven things that might be objectionable, but as soon as they say one, that twenty-eighth thing, that?s in the right direction, that?s where I?m going to go in the conversation."

I want to check out the book The Green Collar Economy.

Posted by Paul at 08:05 PM

February 07, 2009

Adopt a Legislator

One of the interesting ideas that came out of the State of the Salmon 2009 conference was "Adopt a Legislator". Unfortunately, I don't recall which speaker said it, so I can't give it proper attribution.

Anyway, delegates from several countries agreed that the only way to get change going, and action happening, was to educate politicians.

So here you go, some protocol and forms of address when writing to politicians in Canada, at various levels of govt., from the CivicNet BC website (thanks to editor Shaun Oakey for pointing this out):

http://tinyurl.com/as8o68

or

http://www.civicnet.bc.ca/siteengine/activepage.asp?PageID=250

Posted by Paul at 12:42 PM

February 06, 2009

Summary of State of Salmon 2009

The State of the Salmon 2009 conference over the last three-and-a-half days has left me stunned -- long days and lots of information to process. I documented it as best I could in a running collection of Tweets on my Twitter account, and I've posted that entire flow of jottings to my blog here.

First let me say that the conference organizers did a tremendous job. I don't know if there was ever any panic behind the curtains, but there was nary a glitch to be seen by the audience. And thanks to the simultaneous interpreters who mediated the flow in English, Russian and Japanese.

This was the second State of the Salmon conference, and my first. It's mostly aimed at scientists and bureaucrats, but we had a pretty good volunteer presence from lower-mainland streamkeepers and First Nations from the west coast and north. I think such broad representation greatly added to the conference, but of course I'm biased :-).

One of the threads that flowed throughout was the need for more research on how to protect and conserve wild salmon, and there was excitement about the new approach to science under the new Obama administration. The research dollars may start flowing again!

It was interesting to see the rifts occasionally bubble to the surface between the geneticists, the hatchery promoters and hatchery critics, the "stronghold, or protect the best" advocates and those who feel all habitat deserves protection. As a streamkeeper working on the ground, I was part of perhaps a minority that felt that any available $$ need to go toward action and habitat protection. We know what the problems are, yet we continue to study the patient while he's dying. Any knowledge we gain in the end is still, as one participant put it, "looking at a construction site through a hole in a fence -- and we're standing ten feet back from the hole."

There was also an underlying sense that perhaps with climate change leading to ocean warming and acidification, there is no way to prevent the loss of southern salmon spawning areas. Which to my mind made the groaning buffet tables laden day after day with salmon, halibut, shrimp, pork, bison, chicken etc. seem an indictment of the principles of having such a conference in the first place. Of course I ate everything, so I'm as guilty as anyone, but it never ceases to amaze me at how difficult it is for us humans to make our actions even approximate our pious thoughts. When it comes to human gatherings, feasting is so ingrained in all cultures that I doubt we'll ever get away from such behaviour.

At one point I was dreaming about future historians studying the progression of conferences and seeing that at the first one participants ate crab and lobster, at the second salmon and shrimp, at the third tofu and beans... and finally they were chewing on switchgrass because that was all that was left :-). Oh, rats, I've trapped myself in an illogical story -- by that point there would be, er, no point, in holding another salmon conference. I digress...

Something that was strangely absent from any discussion was pollution. I think it came up once in passing in a comment from the audience, and perhaps was glossed over by one of the speakers. Yet pollution is one of the biggest issues when it comes to habitat preservation, and is a direct and deadly killer of urban streams. And what's it doing to ocean survivability? We humans have been flushing all sorts of chemicals down our rivers and into the ocean for centuries -- surely that must have some impact on the "mystery" of declining biodiversity. Yet it was never addressed.

It was refreshing to hear from First Nations representatives who spoke from the heart, and who gave a breath of life to the proceedings. You can throw up all the PowerPoint slides full of as many charts and plots, and dense statistical calculations, as you like, but to hear the simple words "We have no fish anymore," provides much greater clarity and grounding.

Well, I have to get back to work, and perhaps I'll find time for more analysis and synthesis later.

I'm glad I attended.

Now, how about some ACTION!

Posted by Paul at 12:02 PM

February 05, 2009

Tweets From Day 3 Salmon Conference

Here are my Tweets from today's State of the Salmon 2009 conference sessions (third of three days), in last-to-first order:

Angelo: we all hope that future generations will be able to admire salmon as we have.

Angelo: we cannot forget the hope that salmon themselves represent.

Angelo: sustainability must be a primary guide.

Angelo: We need more political leadership.

Angelo: I worry about a younger generation that is drifting away from.

Angelo: need to do more to reconnect young people to the environment.

Angelo: Protecting salmon needs to be seen as a moral issue.

Angelo: need a precautionary approach to development.

Angelo: the unrelenting loss of salmon habitat is mainly due to rising human population.

Angelo: Heart of the Fraser is one of most productive stretches of river in the world.

Angelo: pollution, water extraction, development.

Angelo: but we also have to protect rivers that are still in good shape.
Angelo: urban habitat restoration leads to education.

Angelo: Protect, reconnect, restore.

Angelo: We need to better identify and manage key salmon watersheds.

Angelo: Need to incorporate local values so that people buy in.

Angelo: Instead of reacting to bad development planning, need to be proactive.

Angelo: Need to put a more preventive slant on habitat preservation.

Angelo: need to better understand and incorporate societal values into conservation.

Angelo: strive to develop ecosystem-based approaches to conservation.

Angelo: there is a need for new and fresh approaches.

Angelo: there is a pressing need for action.

Angelo: Most important is to move from discussion to being more action oriented.

Angelo: the theme for this conference was "Bringing the Future into Focus".

Angelo: Closing remarks.

Our problem is managing people, not fish.

Protected areas give society an excuse to ignore everything else.

Comment -- urban streams are so important, they bring fish to people's backyards.

Belyaev -- every citizen of every country is an integral part of the environment, their habitat.

Belyaev -- legislators won't get on side until they are informed.

Need to have an ongoing conversation with a legislator.

"Adopt a Legislator" Every scientist, every activist needs to adopt a legislator.
We're still talking about the same things we were 15 years ago -- how do get moving, doing?

We need a scale that people can relate to.

We need to change the paradigm as how we function as humans.

We need an informed public that votes differently and changes behavior.

Glaciers "make rivers work" in many places.

How long will glacier-fed watersheds continue to exist?

Groundwater flows are critical to spawning habitat and must be protected.

QA "we'll come to that later" -- later is now.

Every salmon stream must have a protected base flow throughout the seasons.

Alaska has strong laws for preserving flows in streams for salmon, but tough process.

Bristol: salmon are fun, they're food, let people define salmon for themselves.

Bristol: need to do outreach with political decision makers, and those who live off salmon.

Bristol: reframe the issue -- protected areas to pass on to future generations.

Bristol: Tongas has been a long and heated land battle in Alaska, but we're making progress.

Bristol: Grassroots concept -- bringing more and disparate people to conservation.

Bristol: what role do salmon play in modern society?

Bristol: Trout Unlimited Alaska

Belyaev: we can't accomplish anything in isolation, need all groups aboard.

Belyaev: criticizing is a favourite pastime of people.

Belyaev: different fishermen have very different opinions.
Belyaev: where can we find a compromise among all the groups?

Belyaev: salmon preservation is first and foremost human relations, scientists, fisherman, politicians.

Belyaev: How is Russia different -- no private property along rivers, so feds can protect areas.

Healey: must be thinking about salmon within context of global change.

Healey: the future is not going to be same as the past.

Healey: should we preserve Arctic areas as refuge for migrating salmon?

Healey: we have to start looking at Arctic as becoming suitable for salmon.

Healey: are there places where salmon habitat will continue to be suitable in face of warming.

Healey: In a very few decades most salmon habitat in southern range will no longer be suitable for them.

Healey: we really need to take a long-term view of conservation.

Kopchak: we are building an "electronic elder" to collate/share information.

Kopchak: Find common languages, cross jurisdictional systems.

Kopchak: H2O -- Headwaters to Ocean.

What are you going to do about long-term sustainability of salmon. YOU.

We who love salmon are not necessarily representative of the general public.

Rahr: we cannot succeed without preserving salmon strongholds.

Rahr: Russian far east has best opportunity for salmon habitat preservation.

Rahr: WWF study says 55,000 tons of salmon are poached for roe yearly in Kamchatka.

Rahr: We tend to react at the 11th hour -- we need to take the long view, get ahead of the curve.

Rahr: We don't proactively protect, we react, so good places get pounded, it's a losing strategy.
Rahr: Pacific Salmon Conservation Assessment.

Rahr: The time to be effective is before the threat is on top of you.

Rahr: we must save the best -- habitat etc.

Rahr: Pacific Rim population will double by 2050.

Rarh -- Wild Salmon Center http://www.wildsalmoncenter.

Fukushima: masu salmon are effectively protected but taimen are not.

How the heck do get an average from some of these scatter plots?

Fukushima: Japanese huchen/taimen -- http://tinyurl.com/cfo4tw

Fukushima: fish species richness falls due to damming.

Fukushima: Hokkaido protected drainages designed for salmon conservation.

Fukushima: Hokkaido has 574 watersheds of which 32 are "protected drainages"

Fukushima: Japan has thousands of dams.

Fukushima: National Institute for Environmental Studies Tsukuba Japan http://www.nies.go.jp/

Marxan: http://www.uq.edu.au/marxan

Reeves: Marxan -- a decision support system for systematic conservation planning.

Reeves: Concept of irreplaceability -- areas essential to meet conservation goals.

Reeves: We have long thought that nature can bounce back from any indignity we impose upon it.

Reeves: Livingston Stone was calling for salmon reserves in Alaska in 1892.

Salmonid Rivers Observatory Network

Do we need more vision or more implementation?
Skeena: kids learn to honour, respect and take care of the fishery.

Skeena -- these fisheries are also nurturing grounds for our children.

Skeena -- this is all for naught if we don't protect the habitat. Yes!

In-river native fisheries don't need boats, fuel, port infrastructure.

Skeena, we can catch fish in better ways, with more local benefits, while boosting biodiversity.

Russia -- we need legislation like Canada's Wild Salmon Policy, and we need more than that.

Kaev: Pink salmon need improvement of spawning conditions.

Kaev: chum salmon need further development of hatchery rearing.

Kaev: wild vs hatchery salmon in Sakhalin.

Russains are using Google Earth for some mapping -- what a change from the Cold War!

Semenchenko: Sakhalin test rivers -- Taranay, Kura, Naycha.

Semenchenko: move away from monitoring commercial fisheries to whole river monitoring.

Semenchenko: Monitoring salmon in Sakhalin.

Tabunkov: We are talking major devastation (poachers + ruthless companies).

Tabunkov: Companies will take maximum fish regardless of regulations.

Tabunkov: Poachers taking about 20% of salmon caught.

Tabunkov: I don't want to keep this photo on screen (fish gutted for roe only) -- too depressing.

Tabunkov: Problem of poachers taking roe only.
Tabunkov: problem of "heavily corrupt companies working with "heavily corrupt bureaucrats"

Tabunkov: we do not tag hatchery fish on Sakhalin so research "leaves much to be desired"

Tabunkov: hatchery chum pushed wild pink out of spawning grounds, so law was changed.

Tabunkov: these recently built hatcheries were destructive to wild fish.

Tabunkov: fishing companies are building their own hatcheries with no scientific input.

Tabunkov: Sakhalin has 15 federal hatcheries producing 900 million fish?/year.

Tabunkov: Sakhalin divided into over 700 fishing areas -- assigned to companies -- they care for enviro.

Tabunkov: no forestry, no mining, no drilling equals recovering fish.

Tabunkov: collapsing Russian economy (see prev Tweet) resulted in recovery of salmon.

Tabunkov: collapsing Russian economy some years ago impacted fisheries - no forestry, mining, drilling.

Tabunkov: Sometimes there were too many spawning fish that clogged the river - I don't get this.

Tabunkov: Fisheries Association of Sakhalin http://tinyurl.com/cegdgd

Tabunkov: I'm here representing concerns of fishermen.

Taylor: thanks to First Nations of the Skeen Fisheries Commission http://www.skeenafisheries.ca/

Taylor: looking for "fair trade" designation for Skeena salmon sustainable harvested by FN.

Taylor: all economic benefits of Babine/Skeen fishery stays local.

Taylor: conservation, biodiversity and ecological integrity paramount in all decisions.

Taylor: develop selective in-river fisheries that emulate what FN did.

Taylor: look back to move forward -- there are other ways.
Taylor: but increased abundance of "enhanced Sockeye" has led to overharvest of wild fish.

Taylor: says installation of spawning channels was a success.

BTW, by FN, I refer to First Nations, or "native Indians".

Taylor: We are trying to replicate something FN had in place for hundreds of years.

Taylor: FN principles -- reciprocal economic exchange, strict and transparent enforcement of rules.

Taylor: FN principles -- fishing property rights, sustainability, conservation for future generations.

Taylor: Babine River, FN used to harvest 3/4 million salmon a year.

Taylor: First Nations "managed" fisheries for hundreds and thousands of years ? sustainably.

Taylor: there was a robust fishery on the Skeens thousands of years ago - a sustainable FN fishery.

Taylor: Skeena Wild Conservation Trust - http://www.skeenawild.org/

So LuLu says, yes we need a TV show or weekly newspaper column called "Fish Files"

Artist LuLu has a panel on her scroll called "Fish Files" -- I like that, sounds like a TV series.

Artist Lu is chronicling the conf with an art scroll.

Morning break is announced -- we now get to eat Skeena salmon with our coffee.

I'm feeling like the patient is dying and we're discussing better ways to monitor the decline.

DFO asked Tlingit to halve salmon take, elders said no fishing at all because there are almost no fish.

Tlingit have completely stopped fishing in the headwaters of the Yukon on advice from elders.

Peterman: we have data on Fraser sockeye "all the way back to 1938" - how is that "historical"?

Canada's Species at Risk Act - http://tinyurl.com/cdg9s6 9:31 AM

QA comment, no fish species has ever been listed as endangered under SARA, even the cod that 99% gone.
Holt: We suggest that risk tolerance be identified by fisheries management.

Holt: uncertainties are pervasive, but we can account for them in the model... Uh, OK

Mortality is depensatory when its rate increases as the size of the population decreases. (http://tinyurl.com/ccwwws)

Holt: depensatory mortality -- another term I need to learn

Canada's Wild Salmon Policy: http://tinyurl.com/bexba

Holt: speaking on Canada's Wild Salmon Policy

Zhivotovsky: there are some lake-spawning chum salmon in Russia - rare

Zhivotovsky: speaking about research on "south Kuril" islands - wonder how Japanese feel about this?

Thinking at the first conf they ate crab and lobster, now salmon and shrimp, next conf tofu and beans.

Posted by Paul at 09:52 PM

February 04, 2009

Tweets From Day 2 Salmon Conference

Here are my Tweets from today's State of the Salmon 2009 conference sessions (second of three days), in last-to-first order:

BTW. today's sessions wrapped up with a plea from octogenarian Pearl Keenan -- nice to have some heart instead of statistics. She's from the Tlingit First Nation in the Yukon. Her basic plea? Please stop taking all the fish at the mouth of the river -- she lives near the headwaters, and they're all gone up there. I had to find her later and thank her for speaking from the heart, and hoping we would listen to something other than "science" and PowerPoints.

Long: Washington State fisheries are dependent on hatcheries

Busack: Argument is now how serious is domestication (hatchery fish), not if it exists.

Busack: Concern that interbreeding between hatchery and wild fish reduces fitness.

Researchers find what they look for, and when you bring up other potential factors, they get defensive.

When issues arise, it's time to break for coffee. Sheesh.

One word I have yet to hear at this conference is "pollution."

Q&A: Beamish -- coho and chinook in St of Gerogia are critical and think will get worse.

Walters: But culling seals is no solution because they also keep down other predators.

Walters: Huge growth in harbour seal population in Georgia Strait.

Walters: Ocean mortality causes hypotheses - hatchery disease, ocean warming, predators??

Walters: We don't know what is causing coho and chinook ocean mortality.

Walters: South BC chinook continue to decline despite closing commercial fishing in 80s and sport in 90s.

Walters: coho spawning in south BC has collapsed even with hatchery supplementation.

Walters: Declining marine survival is the biggest hit to salmon.

Walters: there has been no substantial habitat loss since 1990. Huh?

What data? Historic salmon runs - data never goes back more than a century, so how is that "historic"?

Walters: severe coho and chinook declines in south BC - threats are other than fishing.

Some speakers really need to take a Plain English course! Jargon-itis puts the audience to sleep.

What the heck is a "mortality objective"?

Schindler: geomorphic variation in fresh water is reflected in ocean growth of salmon.

Schindler: spawning productivity of rivers changes over time -- me: so shouldn't we protect *all* rivers?

Schindler: Are doomsday scenarios the best way to get the message out to the public?

By the time this conference is over we'll have eaten all the fish in the sea.

Q&A - Hokkaido also has conflicts between agriculture and fisheries.

Q&A - salmon can quickly repopulate territory if habitat is cleaned up and access enabled.

Q&A - unfortunately, education on salmon preservation is weak.

Q&A - if policymakers would err on the side of safety, we'd have better monitoring.

Q&A - Japan considers 2nd-gen hatchery spawners to be "wild" as long as from same stock.

Walton: need to look at viability of salmon at local levels -- creeks.

Walton: hatchery reform will be crucial to the survival of wild salmon.

Walton: over-harvest and hatcheries impact wild fish.

Walton: if you want to keep salmon runs strong, don't ruin your rivers.

Walton: after a century of using salmon hatcheries, we still don't know if they benefit salmon.

Walton: challenge is to develop a concise story we can tell people about protecting wild salmon.

Walton: How are we going to change human behaviour in relation to wild salmon?

Walton: do we have a common vision for a wild salmon policy?

Walton: endangered salmon are a West Coast-wide issue.

Walton: we have been working on recovery plans for a long time, but need people's support.

Last US administration (Bush) gave little support to conservation.

Bowles: fish only care about action -- what are we doing to fix things?

Bowles: "plan" has become a four-letter word, but plans are essential for salmon recovery.

Bowles: hatchery fish are not a replacement for natural populations.

Bowles: key threat to salmon is apathy.

Bowles: public becoming more disconnected from fish and their watersheds.

Riddell: conservation of wild salmon and their habitat is the highest priority.

Riddell: in BC/Yukon there are 8300 combinations of streams/salmon species.

Riddell: diversity is key to preserving salmon.

White: all groups that harvest salmon have a sense of entitlement.

Kulikov: sounds like Russia also has jurisdictional and bureaucratic issues.

Kulikov: First protected area in Khabarovsk area was created in 1920s.

Nagata: Japan looking at zone management for coexistence of hatchery and wild salmon.

Nagata: Commercial and game fisheries in rivers are prohibited in Hokkaido.

Nagata: Hokkaido fishery needs to change to wild salmon management objectives.

Nagata: calls native salmon spawning "traditional management", hatcheries "modern management".

Nagata: Hatcheries in Japan were established in 1888 from US.

Rawson: Pogo - we have met the enemy and he is us.

Rawson: we can't be doing things the same way that we have been doing them.

Rawson: habitat protection is the key contributor to saving the salmon.

Rawson: there is little public confidence in process for protecting habitat.

Rawson: Spawner return in some Puget Sound rivers is less than 10% of historic figures.

Rawson: lost 75-90 % of estuary habitat in Puget Sound.

Rawson: Habitat loss is the key factor for decline of Puget Sound chinook salmon.

Rawson: Hatchery risks - genetic, ecological, disease, etc.

Rawson:hatcheries are our arrogant assumption that we can do better than Mother Nature.

Rawson: causes of chinook decline - harvest, hatcheries and habitat.

Rawson: Skagit chinook have declined dramatically over last 50 yrs.

Rawson: Puget Sound chinook listed as threatened.

Quinn: larger fish may enter spawning grounds ealier than small fish.

Quinn: in some cases, middle of run is fished hard, with early and late less exploited.

Quinn: so we might be hitting more "early" fish, and more "late" fish.

Quinn: human exploitation appears to affect timing of spawning runs to some degree.

Quinn: fishing rates (exploitation) vary widely during run timing due to management.

Quinn: fisheries are less size-selective than they used to be.

Quinn: intermediate sizes of fish are most vulnerable to being caught.

Quinn: expected that gillnet fishery is selective against large fish.

Quinn: salmon have been declining in body size -- selective effects of fishing?

Quinn: humans have an impact on evolution of animals through hunting.

Quinn: humans have a long history of affecting the evolution of animals.

First nations comment - science must work with first nations knowledge.

Audience comment - global warming is a symptom of overpopulation.

Williams: Aldo Leopold - humans must change from conquerors of land to members of it.

Williams: to save salmon - land ethic, multiple scales and political boundaries, restoration economy.

Williams: hatcheries alone cannot solve problem of declining salmon, declining biodeversity.

Williams: artificial species restocking is not biologically viable without addressing causes of decline.

Williams: impacts - rising temps, reduced snowpack, variability in flows, fires.

Williams: Stressors - human pop growth, resource consumption, invasive species, climate change.

Williams: reconnect rives to their floodplains, do not channel them.

Williams: Protect remaining habitat, Reconnect to other areas, Restore urban waterways.

Williams: we must protect remaining habitat.

Williams: 29% of Pacific northwest salmon stocks are extinct

Williams: Laws and regulations are not enough. We are destroying Earth -- ecological footprint.

How the heck do you "increase salmon resilience to climate change"? Isn't that evolution?

Posted by Paul at 08:15 PM

Sun: Canadian Fisheries Management 'A Mess'

Vancouver Sun: Canadian fisheries management a mess.

Posted by Paul at 12:10 PM

February 03, 2009

Tweets From Day 1 Salmon Conference

Here are my Tweets from today's State of the Salmon 2009 conference sessions, in last-to-first order:

Fedorenko: Pacific Rim nations release 5 billion hatchery salmon/year.

Fedorenko: Total value of Pacific Rim commercial salmon catch $1 billion/year.

Beechie: Dams are the big story in extirpation of salmon in US lower 48, along with development.

Irvine: 50% or more of all BC salmon species are red/amber status (ie not good) in conservation units.

Irvine: In Canada general catch declines for all salmon species, 2008 one of lowest years.

Disappointed that reports from different countries are measuring different things so can't compare.

Hilsinger: Alaska salmon catches for all species have been good in last thirty years.

Radchenko: Russia releasing over half a billion hatchery salmon into Pacific annually.

Radchenko: Russian sockeye and chum catches are way up in the last ten years.

Kang: Korean salmon returns in 2000s fell to a third of returns in 1990s -- also warming?

Nagata: Focus on biodiversity of wild salmon and restoration of freshwater environments.

Nagata: Japan chum returns have fallen dramatically in south, more stable in north (Hokkaido) - warming?

Nagata: Japan stocking hundreds of millions of chum and pink fry.

Vladimir Belyaev: Important to improve national and international reporting to set reserves for salmon.

Vladimir Belyaev: Protecting entire watersheds is crucial to protecting salmon.

Vladimir Belyaev: Ocean survivability is moot if we don't protect spawning habitat -- rivers, estuaries.

Vladimir Belyaev: Russia is looking at setting up protected areas for salmon.

David Anderson: Concerned that Canada will fall behind US under Obama on climate change.

David Anderson: Major uncertainties about the impact of hatchery fish on ocean survival of wild stocks.

David Anderson: Strong opposition to change. People understand existing systems and fear the unknown.

David Anderson: The dead hand of the past protects the status quo.

Nathan Mantua: Humans are the primary drivers of change in salmon ecosystems.

Looking at Ecology and Society journal website: http://www.ecologyandsociety

Resilience Alliance http://www.resalliance.org/

David Suzuki -- World Scientists' Warning to Humanity, back in 1992 - http://deoxy.org/sciwarn.htm.

Suzuki: State of Salmon -- we invented the economy, we gotta change it.

Suzuki: State of Salmon -- all that humans can do is manage themselves, not other animals.

Suzuki: The most important lesson we have is the extent of our ignorance.

Suzuki: The future of salmon is bleak as long as politics and economics are the major drivers.

Guido Rahr fate of salmon will be determined in our lifetimes.

First Nations start by pointing out that side channels and creeks in the lower mainland are being destroyed.

Posted by Paul at 06:25 PM

World Scientists' Warning To Humanity

I've heard David Suzuki refer to this document in several speeches, and he just did it again at the State of the Salmon 2009 conference, so I decided to look it up.

"Some 1,700 of the world's leading scientists, including the majority of Nobel laureates in the sciences, issued this appeal in November 1992. The Warning was written and spearheaded by UCS Chair Henry Kendall.

"Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about."

The entire document here.

Posted by Paul at 01:28 PM

January 24, 2009

Think We're Flush With Water?

In an article in The Economist's The World in 2009 annual forecast, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, chairman of Nestle, says:

"I am convinced that, under present conditions and with the way water is being managed, we will run out of water long before we run out of fuel."

The reasoning being that it takes thousands of litres of water to grow enough food for one person per day. Yes, that's for one person's daily diet in an industrialized nation of meat eaters. Or how about several thousands of litres of water to grow enough plant matter to produce one litre of biofuel?

Posted by Paul at 09:43 PM

January 22, 2009

CBC Story on Invasive Plants in BC

CBC has run a story on invasive plants in BC. It's about time the mass media began covering this issue. Streamkeepers and other groups have been putting in thousands of collective volunteer hours battling these non-native plants that overpower and kill native species, leading to monocultures that destroy habitat.

Posted by Paul at 07:08 PM

SFU ACT Team Releases Climate-Change Papers

The ACT (Adaptation to Climate Change Team) at Simon Fraser U has released a couple of papers that may be of interest to people in BC.

White Paper on Climate Change Planning for BC

and

Climate Adaptation and Biodiversity: An Ecological and Community Perspective

Posted by Paul at 01:42 PM

January 13, 2009

Appointed to City of Burnaby Environment Committee

I've been appointed to the City of Burnaby's Environment Committee as a citizen representative. Went to my first meeting last night, and was pleased to see several familiar faces among senior staff that I've worked with through my streamkeeping volunteering with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers and the Edmonds Business and Community Association. I look forward to learning the ropes and contributing toward making Burnaby a great place to live, work and play.

Posted by Paul at 10:08 PM

January 12, 2009

Human Predators Impact Size of Prey

According to this article, "WASHINGTON (Reuters) ? Hunting and gathering has a profound impact on animals and plants, driving an evolutionary process that makes them become smaller and reproduce earlier, U.S. researchers reported on Monday."

"Their study of hunting, fishing and collecting of 29 different species shows that under human pressure, creatures on average become 20 percent smaller and their reproductive age advances by 25 percent."

Complete article here.

Over-harvesting of fish (and other species) results not only in reduced numbers, but smaller survivors....

If you think about this, it appears obvious -- think of trophy hunting -- we're constantly culling the biggest animals.

What does this say about the long-term sustainability of species that we "harvest"?

Posted by Paul at 04:43 PM

December 12, 2008

Short Water Videos From CWF

The Canadian Wildlife Federation has a good series of short videos on water. Check them out!

Posted by Paul at 04:36 PM

December 09, 2008

Report Says DFO Not Monitoring Enough Salmon Streams

According to this Globe and Mail article, a new study shows that Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans is not monitoring enough salmon spawning streams to preserve salmon stocks.

Stocks may be even more depressed than previously feared, and without adequate monitoring, Pacific salmon could go down the road toward oblivion as have the Atlantic cod. It also appears that the DFO has a pattern of dropping monitoring of streams that are in trouble, potentially skewing results.

Posted by Paul at 04:23 PM

December 08, 2008

Mapping Multiple Benefits of Marine Ecosystems

Interesting article on a joint project between Stanford University's Woods Institute for the Environment, the Nature Conservancy, and the World Wildlife Fund to develop software to assist in mapping the economic benefits of marine ecosystems.

I like the following quotation:

"'People tend to look at nature in one of two ways,' added Michael Wright, managing director of the Natural Capital Project. 'We either ignore the values it provides altogether, or we focus only on one specific commercial value, such as fisheries,' he said. 'We see individual pieces, not the whole. As a result, the collective value of nature is diminished. Through this grant we want to develop tools that do not just maximize the fisheries but capture all of the interests that depend on the oceans.'"

Any effort to broaden the way we calculate the "value" of nature is to be applauded.

Posted by Paul at 04:13 PM

Informative News Video on Stormwater Management

The Newshour with Jim Lehrer on PBS had a good video on stormwater management in the northwest US.

It presents the problems with urban runoff and what can be done about it.

What I find interesting is that often Canadians feel that they are miles ahead of Americans when it comes to the environment, when in fact US legislation and *enforcement* put us to shame.

Posted by Paul at 03:36 PM

December 05, 2008

Western States Face Water Shortages

According to this article, increases in population and climate change are putting even greater pressure on the Colorado River, leading to potentially worse water shortages in the future.

What I found interesting is that there is no mention of fish or other wildlife in the article. Makes you wonder if any species other than humans have been written off already...

The history of our exploitation of water in the west is long and torturous. I recommend the meticulously researched and well-written Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner on this topic.

Posted by Paul at 10:58 AM

December 04, 2008

The Tyee on Fraser Salmon

"All of BC has a stake in better managing once massive salmon runs. Third in a series."

Part of the Exploring the Fate of the Fraser River series in The Tyee.

Posted by Paul at 04:48 PM

November 28, 2008

Collective Apathy, Amnesia

'Crisis puts climate fight back on the back burner'

'Public is tiring of climate change fight, poll finds'

The above two headlines ran together on the same page in today's Vancouver Sun.

To some extent I understand the apathy and amnesia about what is happening to the environment as the global financial and economic crisis hits home. What I don't get is why the old economy always seems to trump the environment. Without clean air and water, without productive land, we cannot survive. We are talking about our health and well-being, not only that of some nebulous "environment".

Let's take a look at a few more headlines from the last week:

'Complete fishing halt won't save cod: study' -- in today's National Post. Do you like fish and chips? How about 'Gulf cod are doomed, DFO finds' -- the same story in the Sun.

'Aquatic food webs at risk' -- on the same page as the two headlines that started this blog post.

Yesterday's Sun -- 'Abbotsford mushroom farms fined for dumping toxins: Waste caused destruction of salmon-bearing stream'

Well knock me down with a feather! It took nearly two years, but enforcement and fines actually happened. What about the guy who was caught wet-booted pouring chemicals into John Mathews Creek in the watershed that I live in? How many more years will we wait for action on that blatant poisoning?

'Boy died from spraying too much deodorant: Solvent in can most probably cause of death, coroner finds' -- Vancouver Sun, Nov. 21.

So you think all those cleansers and beauty products in your house, and pesticides in your garage, are fine because they are "approved", eh? Think again...

'Declining gas prices could derail surge in transit use' -- Vancouver Sun, Nov. 21.

'Way cleared for farmed fish to be labeled as organic' -- Vancouver Sun, Nov. 21. And what about all those chemicals used in the process?

'Scientists assail easing of rules for natural gas exploration: Planned changes cited as path to ecological crisis in boreal forests' -- Vancouver Sun, Nov. 21.

I've got more articles cut out of the paper in the last week or two, but I think the trend is clear. So why don't we get it? Are we so self-absorbed and selfish that we'll just continue to consume and spray and clear cut and mindlessly "develop" and the hell with our own health and the prospects for our children and their children?

Posted by Paul at 09:23 AM

Seattle Coho Dying Before Spawning

Coho are dying in restored streams in Seattle before they can spawn, according to this Seattle Post-Intelligencer article. The cause is speculated to be polluted runoff from roads. We have noted the same effect here in the lower mainland of British Columbia, with many coho dying unspawned in "our" stream, Byrne Creek in southeast Burnaby. While Byrne has received few coho in the last few years, it's even more tragic when the few that do come back do not spawn before they die.

According to the Seattle article, coho in rural creeks are fine, it's urban creeks and restored city waterways in which the fish are struggling -- precisely the creeks that suffer most from pollutants.

Thanks to streamkeeper Joan for pointing out the article.

Posted by Paul at 07:09 AM

November 24, 2008

Streamkeepers on CBC Radio

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers were interviewed by CBC radio reporter Terry Donnelly today. Joan Carne and I spoke about the trials and tribulations facing urban creeks, and the positive news that this year's run of chum and coho spawners in Byrne Creek had at least matched the new low set last year. Why is that good news? Well, it's the first time in several years that the numbers had not declined!

We covered some of the issues affecting urban creeks including scouring and erosion caused by massive runoff during rains due to the buildup of impervious surfaces (roads, parking lots, roofs) in urban watersheds, pollution from road wash that goes down storm drains including gas, oil, antifreeze, brake dust, rubber dust, etc. Terry was also curious about efforts to daylight creeks, or bring them back to life from the pipes that they have been buried in.

It was a great conversation, and I hope a decent portion makes it onto the air. I know that the vagaries and time pressures of journalism often result in at best a minute or two of a two-hour discussion actually being published...

The piece should air on B.C. Almanac on Friday, Nov. 28, 2008, and the latest we heard was that it was slated for 1:40 p.m.

You can monitor the show here.
(http://www.cbc.ca/bcalmanac/) Just look for the link near the top of the page under "Listen Live".

Posted by Paul at 02:49 PM

September 28, 2008

Rivers Day 2008

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers had a booth up at Rivers Day on the BCIT campus in Burnaby today. It was a gorgeous day with lots to see and do.

rivers_day_stream_of_dreams_20080928.jpg
Hanging a temporary Stream of Dreams mural for the event.

rivers_day_byrne_creek_booth_20080928.jpg
Byrne Creek display.

rivers_day_angelo_penner_20080928.jpg
Rivers Day founder Mark Angelo and BC Environment Minister Barry Penner.

rivers_day_fish_release_20080928.jpg
VIPs release cutthroat trout into Guichon Creek.

rivers_day_fluff_20080928.jpg
A curious ball of fluff watches the activities.

Posted by Paul at 06:54 PM

September 10, 2008

Touring Byrne Creek Watershed With MP, MLA

I had the pleasure of taking MP Peter Julian and BC MLA Raj Chouhan on a tour of the upper Byrne Creek watershed this afternoon. I appreciate the time these gentlemen took to listen to streamkeepers' concerns, learn about efforts to enhance the watershed, and view a couple of proposed project sites.

Peter and Raj have toured Byrne Creek ravine and the artificial spawning habitat previously, but this time we concentrated on the "creek beneath the streets" -- the upper part of Byrne Creek that has long been buried and piped into the storm drain system. I took the opportunity to talk about the possibility of daylighting (bringing the creek back up from pipes) in Ernie Winch Park, and creating a rain garden/biofiltration facility at the lower end of Southpoint Dr.

Thanks again, Peter and Raj!

Posted by Paul at 08:35 PM

September 03, 2008

Alternative Sidewalk in White Rock

I ran across a SEA (street edge alternative) street in White Rock today, but on taking a closer look, it appeared to be more of an alternative sidewalk. SEA streets do away with curbs and gutters, and replace them with vegetated swales to reduce the impact of rain into storm drain systems and filter out pollution. This street had small swales but it still had a curb... Hmm... There were openings cut into the curb here and there, with small guides to let street runoff in, but I don't think they would accomplish much.

sea_sidewalk_white_rock_20080903.jpg

sea_sidewalk_white_rock_2_20080903.jpg
As you can see, the regular storm drain is still in place, and the teeny street diversion would not move much water into the swale.

I'm not an engineer, and I'm scratching my head on this one :-). Most such projects attempt to capture the polluted water from streets... Not nearly as much pollution on the sidewalks...

Posted by Paul at 08:26 PM

August 11, 2008

Fish-Friendly Car Wash Kits

Having a car wash fundraiser? Make sure you're not polluting your local creek while you're at it -- all street drains lead directly to local waterways with no treatment. So what's the solution? A salmon-friendly car wash kit. I picked this up from the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation bulletin board and think it's a great idea.

Check out this info on the kits from our neighbours to the south in King County, Washington.

It would be great if the City of Burnaby would get a few of these kits and make them available at community centres!

Posted by Paul at 01:37 PM

August 08, 2008

Blame Mother Nature?

People on a mailing list were discussing the damage humans do to the environment, and the "damage" that Mother Nature does. Here was my two cents:

I suppose it depends on one's definition of "damage." A lot of what Mother Nature does could also be called "renewal" or "ecosystem change or development" or.... Nature is not static by nature :-).

The kind of damage that humans do is very different from the kind of damage that Mother Nature does. Our damage tends to be more permanent. Once we've changed something, we are loath to see nature reclaim or reuse it in any shape, manner or form.

As a streamkeeper, I like to use the example of rivers. In their natural, healthy state, rivers are alive. They shift, they move, they're full of snags that provide habitat, they carry and turn over gravel that fish need to spawn in. They are constantly changing. They flood, and floods are good because the silt and accompanying biota renew the land.

Then people come along and choose to build in the flood plain. Now suddenly for one species -- us -- the annual flooding isn't all that pleasant, so then comes the channeling, the diking, the building of dams. Those snags and other woody debris are dangerous for boaters, so they're pulled out. The river is dredged to provide safe passage. The spawning gravel is mined for more construction. The river is a shackled shadow of its former self.

In addition, we choose to take our bodily and manufacturing wastes and pipe them into rivers, often with little or no treatment.

And the irony is that it is we who make rivers "dangerous" through all of our construction. The forests are gone, the meadows are gone, the wetlands are gone, so when it rains the water has nowhere to go but into the storm-drain system and then directly into the river, instead of soaking into the ground. And all that diking and channeling ends up just collecting all the force that would have dissipated in a natural flood plain. So when the levee breaks and we suffer damage.... whose fault is it? Can we blame Mother Nature?

Posted by Paul at 04:36 PM

July 14, 2008

Lotto Show Home Eco-Challenge

In this age of burgeoning fuel prices, water shortages, and rampant over-consumption, how about offering environmentally state-of-the-art show homes as prizes in hospital and other charity lotteries?

I'd much prefer a technological masterpiece, a well-crafted jewel, instead of the bloated, rambling, poorly finished, overdecorated monster houses that are par for the course for charity lotteries in the lower mainland of British Columbia.

I challenge these charities to take up the sustainability challenge!

Compete on the following features:

- Enviro-certified lumber and wood products
- Low/No-emission paint and carpets
- Low-flow water fixtures
- Dual-flush, low-flow toilets
- On-demand water heaters
- Passive solar water heating assist
- Supplemental active solar electricity generation
- The best in wall insulation and thermal windows
- Rain barrels
- Moisture-sensing drip irrigation
- Landscaping with no lawns
- Landscaping with native plants
- Vegetable gardens
- And on and on, the possibilities are endless

Any takers?

Posted by Paul at 09:18 PM

July 12, 2008

Lexmark Z816 Inkjet for $19

I picked up a Lexmark Z816 colour inkjet printer today at a second-hand shop for $19 -- the box had never been opened. I didn't know much about the printer, but I figured I couldn't go wrong for $19.

When I got home and checked the Web, I discovered the Z816 had originally been priced at $79, had already been discontinued, and had received middling reviews, but I tried a few test pages of colour text and photos, and was pleased with the results.

Heck, for $19, when the ink that came with the printer runs out, I could toss the whole thing in the trash anyway. Not that my anti-consumerism conscience would allow me to do so, but it's rather frightening to think of how easy it would be to do just that. What with the price of inkjet cartridges, it makes more personal economic sense to buy another $19 printer!

There's something wrong with this picture... What a wasteful society we live in. One that does not calculate the true economic costs of producing and trashing stuff like Lexmark Z816s...

Posted by Paul at 06:05 PM

June 20, 2008

Adera Donates $10,000 to Streamkeepers

Today Adera Development Corp. handed a $7,500 cheque over to the Pacific Salmon Foundation that is designated for projects by the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers. Adera has already printed colour brochures for the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers, so the total donation is $10,000.

Thanks!

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Photo by Cindy Sommerfield

Adera has built several developments in the Byrne Creek watershed, and wanted to give back to the community by supporting the efforts of the streamkeepers. Byrne Creek Streamkeepers plan to use the funds on stormwater management facilities such as rain gardens and biofiltration ponds that would naturally filter and slow flows into the creek, in conjunction with the City of Burnaby.

Posted by Paul at 07:41 PM

June 17, 2008

New Sandals Reek of Rubber, Chemicals

I got two pairs of sandals today (Coast Mountain Sports had a buy one pair get the second at 50% off sale), a pair of Keen Newport H2 Hybrids that are designed to get wet and should be perfect for canoeing, streamkeeping, and beach walking, and a pair of North Face Sea Wrath Convertibles for more mundane everyday use over the summer. One of my old sandals blew out the other day, beyond gluing repair...

(BTW who comes up with these names? I checked the "Sea Wrath" labels several times, and yes, they really say "Sea Wrath" whatever that means... Was it supposed to be "Sea Wraith" and something got lost between here and China? As for the Newport H2 Hybrids, well Newport has the flair of a famous port, but H2? H20 as in water? Tough as a Hummer H2? Hybrid as in eco-friendly? Hybrid as in land and sea?)

Anyway, I think I'll like both sets of shoes, but man, that "new car" smell! When I brought them home I put the boxes in my office and opened them up to show them to my wife. When I went back down to my office a few hours later, whew! A rubbery, chemical odour had pervaded the room. I immediately put them in the garage to air out.

What with the news the other day of the toxins released from plastic shower curtains, the odour from the new sandals appeared to be cause for concern. I have no idea if the smell is associated with harmful chemicals, but when something turns your stomach, it's a good bet it isn't friendly to your system.

I don't intend to finger these two companies in particular, as I'm sure their competitors use similar materials. I've heard both try to do their bit for the environment. I just wonder about that initial smell!

Posted by Paul at 08:06 PM

June 16, 2008

Canadian Govt Reclassifies Pristine Lakes as Toxic Waste Ponds

According to this CBC article, lakes across Canada are being classified as mining-tailings waste sites, using an obscure mining regulation to apparently trump the Fisheries Act that prohibits the dumping of toxins into any fish-bearing waters.

This is insane.

Both the government and the businesses involved must be confronted on this issue. The government for failing to protect the environment, wildlife, and everyone's health, and businesses for proposing this idiocy. I run my own business, belong to my local board of trade, my neighbourhood business association, and this sort of cavalier destruction sickens me. These companies are getting a free ride with no real accounting of the associated environmental and health costs. Where does the death of a watershed touch the profit-loss statement or balance sheet?

Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Loyola Hearn should resign for failing his department's mandate to protect our watersheds and fish.

[Counterpoint, June 17] OK, I was riled and while I stand by my post, I should acknowledge that without the mining industry, I wouldn't even be able to have a blog :-). Think of all the metals in my computer... the coax cable that connects me to the Internet... the server farm that hosts my site... The electricity plants that make it all run. Not to mention the pervasive use of metals in all sorts of items I use daily. Would I give up my watch? My cameras? My shower?

Yet I do believe there is a huge disconnect between what we pay for products and what their true cost is. Some inputs into the raw-materials production and manufacturing processes are not accounted for, and neither are most unacknowledged outputs such as garbage and toxins.

Posted by Paul at 09:25 PM

April 20, 2008

Choices Earth Day BBQ - Byrne Creek Tours

Choices in the Park hosted a salmon BBQ for Earth Day, and once again Byrne Creek Streamkeepers had our booth set up for the event. We also did two tours of the creek for people interested in getting out in nature and learning a bit about what streamkeepers do.

Thanks again to Choices for having donations from the BBQ this weekend and last weekend going to help efforts to keep Byrne Creek clean and habitable for all the fish and wildlife that it supports.

We presented two hand-cut, hand-painted cedar salmon to Choices CEO Mark Vickars and Choices in the Park manager Dominic Uy in appreciation of their efforts.

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Me, Dominic and Mark

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Pointing out park features on creek tour.

Posted by Paul at 05:45 PM

February 29, 2008

Premier Screening of Eagle Eye

The Fraser Valley Hatchery was the site of the premier screening of Peter Donaldson's Eagle Eye, a video based on his one-man show "of ecological intrigue about the ancient dance of interdependence between Salmon and Eagle, creating a classic teaching legend."

Donaldson is a breathtaking writer and performer, known for his Salmonpeople masterpiece. Tonight's event, hosted by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C., was a "beta" run of the video, with Donaldson seeking input from the audience as to what parts really engaged people, what sections lost their interest, and how the project could be disseminated and used in secondary schools, colleges, universities and communities for environmental education dealing with biodiversity and systems thinking.

Donaldson's show was filmed during the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival, and is an emotionally powerful performance that really gets you thinking about life and our interdependence with other species and nature.

Posted by Paul at 11:30 PM

Byrne Creek High School Global Issues Event

In the afternoon I represented the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers at a climate change workshop at Byrne Creek Secondary in southeast Burnaby. The Check Your Head group (Educating Youth for Global Hope and Local Action) facilitated the event, and I provided background on streamkeeping and how kids could volunteer on creek activities. I love working with students and getting their perspective on these sorts of issues.

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Our 3D relief map of the Byrne Creek watershed was a big hit.

Posted by Paul at 04:38 PM

UBC Learning Exchange Breakfast

This morning I represented the Stream of Dreams Murals Society at a recognition breakfast thanking people and organizations involved in Learning Exchange Programs run by the University of British Columbia. The event was held at the beautiful First Nations Longhouse on campus, and Dr. Richard Verdan provided a moving, inspirational, and humorous welcoming greeting, while explaining and sharing the cultural significance of the venue. Professor Stephen J. Toope, the UBC President and Vice Chancellor, hosted the event and gave an excellent speech thanking all those involved in the program.

SDMS hosted a group of UBC student volunteers as part of the program this year. I wasn't involved in the day-to-day activities, but as president of the SDMS board of directors, I dropped by a couple of times and listened, learned and shared with the students. I was impressed with the diversity of backgrounds, and by the interest the students showed in the SDMS environmental education and community art program.

Posted by Paul at 01:00 PM

February 28, 2008

Environmentalists Roast Run of River Power Inc.

"We want our park, we want our wild salmon, and we want you to go away," said Burke Mountain Naturalists activist Elaine Golds, to rousing cheers from the crowd at a forum on multiple run-of-river power projects planned for several streams on the upper Pitt River.

The overflow crowd jammed into the much-too-small venue was spirited and angry, with cat calls often interrupting presentations by the BC Environmental Assessment Office, BC Parks, and the proponent, Run of River Power Inc.

Although I strongly oppose the projects and the accompanying proposal to cut a power transmission right of way through Pinecone Burke Provincial Park, I was dismayed at the uncivil attitude dominating the crowd.

Yet people had reason to be frustrated. Pinecone Burke is a pristine Class A park that people fought for many years to be declared off limits to logging, mining and hydro projects. To ask that the boundary be adjusted now is crazy.

To invade all the salmon-bearing streams in the upper Pitt is crazy.

To pay private producers 5 or more times the rate for power than the province produces is crazy.

Eventually the fire marshal showed up, and said the number of people in the room had to be reduced. At that point, several hotter heads began shouting "We won't leave!" OK, act like children having a tantrum in the face of logic and safety -- I thought it best to slip away.

As I was wriggling myself out of the room, people were demanding that the meeting be rescheduled in a larger venue. I'm all for that. And while I admire the passion, I think some of the behavior tonight was counterproductive. The mandarins in the room have to follow this provincial government's restrictive policies -- it's the politicians noted for their absence who should bear the brunt.

As the cry went up: "Where are you Environment Minister Penner?"

Posted by Paul at 10:22 PM

February 27, 2008

Nooksack Dace Recovery Strategy

The Nooksack Dace is a little fish found only in a few rivers and streams in the Lower Mainland of BC. It has been listed as endangered under the Species at Risk Act, and tonight I attended a Department of Fisheries and Oceans forum on steps being taken to identify and protect crucial habitat. It was an interesting presentation on the dace and its preferred habitat. Unfortunately, the ratio of audience to DFO staff was about 10:6 -- it could have been better publicized.

Something that I found interesting was that all remaining Nooksack Dace habitat is in developed/developing areas. That's going to make it really tough to preserve this species. I asked if in the future there would be attempts to transplant dace to other streams in their previous range. They're not at that point yet, but one of the biologists said that transplanting would certainly contribute to keeping the species from going extinct.

Here is the recovery strategy for the fish, and watch the SARA public registry for a 60-day comment period after the strategy is officially posted soon.

Posted by Paul at 09:38 PM

February 15, 2008

Greenwashing BC's Power Policy?

There's a lot of talk about "green power" in British Columbia, but are initiatives like privately developed "run of river" power projects really green? Few citizens seem to be aware that companies have applied for such projects on streams throughout the province -- and that they are using our water for free while selling their power to BC Hydro at higher rates than the public utility charges.

Run-of-river is being spun as green, but it looks more like death by a thousand cuts.

Problems with these projects include the amount of water diverted (up to 80%!), the roads built to get access to streams to build the plants, the swaths cut through forests for power lines.... It goes on and on. Companies are already trying to get land removed from parks for their construction.

I urge people to check out the video series "Power Play: The Theft of BC's Rivers" at the Save Our Rivers Society website.

Thanks to the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation for making me aware of these videos.

Posted by Paul at 07:19 PM

February 14, 2008

'Porridge' Fouls Byrne Creek Again

The mystery "porridge" has fouled Byrne Creek yet again. We know it comes down the Hedley St. storm drain and into the creek, but the City of Burnaby's engineering department has not managed to confirm the source yet. This has been going on for months now in a haphazard manner. Hope they track it this time!

porridge_guck_byrne_creek_20080214.jpg
The stuff was pooled all along the creek. While it does not appear to be toxic, it has no business coming down storm drains into the creek.

UPDATE on Feb. 15: City staff have found the source and are dealing with it. While for legal reasons they can't tell us the details, streamkeepers are relieved that this ongoing irritant will be under control. Thank you!

Posted by Paul at 02:36 PM

February 11, 2008

Burnaby Anti-Idling Initiative Needs a Boost

I don't like ratting people out, and I won't specifically finger anyone today, even though the Year of the Rat is now officially underway :-).

All I will say is that on my walk today I ran across a City of Burnaby truck with two gentlemen sleeping inside with the motor running. While the City does not seem to have an anti-idling bylaw, it does have a DriveSmart educational program that includes city staff. One of the main initiatives of the program is to reduce idling. I guess the guys in the truck missed the message... They could have been on a legitimate break, but the optics certainly didn't look good. And I've seen this sort of thing several times all over the city.

I think it's important for the City to set a good example, and workers like the ones I saw today ain't it. Not only were they polluting, they were burning my tax dollars for no useful purpose.

Posted by Paul at 02:28 PM

February 01, 2008

Dual-Flush Toilet Replaces Old Clunker

We replaced the crappy (no pun intended) Cranada toilet in our downstairs bathroom with an American Standard Flo-Wise dual-flush unit today. The Cranada had never, uh, done its business very well, often requiring two flushes of its outdated and wasteful 13.25-liter tank.

In contrast, the FloWise offers a choice of a 3-liter flush or a 6-liter flush.

Of course nothing went as smoothly as it should have. To begin with, we went to Home Depot to buy an American Standard regular flush 6-liter model that we'd looked at previously, only to discover they had the dual-flush units in stock. The question was, how much did they cost? The bowls were $93.60, but we couldn't see a price for the tank. A staff member came along, and told us the tanks were $137, pointing to a tank that obviously was not a dual-flush unit. We had a little debate about model numbers, etc., but he kept insisting he was right. OK, we took a bowl and a dual-flush tank to the checkout expecting an exorbitant price for the tank, and it was only $96.38! (BTW, the bowl included a seat and lid, something that not all models do). The dual-flush was actually about $80 cheaper than the 6-liter single flush.

Happy with our savings, we headed off home, removed the old toilet and began installing the new one. When we opened the tank box, we discovered the tank cover was badly chipped. OK, back to Home Depot, where they readily refunded the first tank and sold us a second one. As soon as we were out the door, out came my trusty Swiss Army knife, and we checked the second unit. It was OK.

We are pleased with the appearance, and especially the performance and water savings of the new unit.

Dual-flush toilets have been commonplace in Japan for at least 20 years, and I'm glad they're finally appearing in Canada. Another common feature in Japan that I have yet to see in Canada is the hand-washing tank recharge -- the water that refills the tank come out of a little spout on top of the tank, and the tank lid has a depression like a mini sink so that you can wash your hands with the water that is refilling it.

Posted by Paul at 07:06 PM

January 27, 2008

Natural Step Canada

Just after I wrote a review of the Natural Step, I saw a link to Natural Step Canada on the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation mailing list.

The link was to the Sustainability at Home toolkit, which looks like an excellent resource. Check it out to see how you can contribute toward a more sustainable world with small steps at home.

Posted by Paul at 07:01 PM

January 26, 2008

US Planning Body's Sustainability Guide

The American Planning Association has an interesting Policy Guide on Planning for Sustainability that it has ratified. While I haven't read it entirely yet, it appears to follow "Natural Step" (see previous blog post) ideas for achieving sustainable communities. I wonder if Canadian planners have adopted a similar guide, and whether or not communities here are following it? As a volunteer at City of Burnaby stakeholder meetings, I wonder if the city aims to follow such guides in its community plans and ISMPs?

Here's a taste:

OBJECTIVES OF APA?S STRATEGY FOR PLANNING FOR SUSTAINABILITY

Planning for sustainability requires a systematic, integrated approach that brings together environmental, economic and social goals and actions directed toward the following four objectives:

1. Reduce dependence upon fossil fuels, extracted underground metals and minerals.

Reason: Unchecked, increases of such substances in natural systems will eventually cause concentrations to reach limits ? as yet unknown ? at which irreversible changes for human health and the environment will occur and life as we know it may not be possible.

2. Reduce dependence on chemicals and other manufactured substances that can accumulate in Nature.

Reason: Same as before.

3. Reduce dependence on activities that harm life-sustaining ecosystems.

Reason: The health and prosperity of humans, communities, and the Earth depend upon the capacity of Nature and its ecosystems to reconcentrate and restructure wastes into new resources.

4. Meet the hierarchy of present and future human needs fairly and efficiently.

Reason: Fair and efficient use of resources in meeting human needs is necessary to achieve social stability and achieve cooperation for achieving the goals of the first three guiding policies.


Posted by Paul at 07:39 PM

January 25, 2008

Review - Inspirational 'Natural Step' Guide

I finished The Natural Step for Communities: How Cities and Towns can Change to Sustainable Practices by Sarah James and Torbjorn Lahti today. Amid all the doom and gloom about global warming and unsustainable ecological footprints, it's a hugely inspirational guide to changing how we plan and build our towns and cities.

Many of the case studies are taken from Sweden, where all levels of government -- municipal, regional and national -- appear to be light years ahead of what we are doing here in Canada.

The Natural Step proposes four simple guiding objectives (p. 9):

1. Eliminate our community's contribution to fossil fuel dependency and to wasteful use of scarce metals and minerals.

2. Eliminate our community's contribution to dependence upon persistent chemicals and wasteful use of synthetic substances.

3. Eliminate our community's contribution to encroachment upon nature (e.g., land, water, wildlife, forests, soil, ecosystems).

4. Meet human needs fairly and efficiently.

The Natural Step should be required reading for politicians and bureaucrats everywhere, and should also be incorporated into school curricula.

The book also contains many examples of businesses that have used sustainability principles to become more profitable. "Billions of people around the world have problems with unsustainable development. What a market for those who have solutions!" (p. 221).

Posted by Paul at 07:47 PM

January 07, 2008

Using Solar/Wind Power to Dry Clothes

Solar and wind power are all the rage, yet I am banned from using them to dry my clothes. And no need to spend thousands on solar panels or windmills -- just a few bucks to run a clothesline. A what? A clothesline! Apparently it's cutting-edge technology -- yet it's been around for hundreds and thousands of years.

So what happened to clotheslines? For years, people managed to dry their clothes, bedding and towels using solar and wind power -- in other words, outdoors. I lived in Tokyo for 14 years and never had a clothes dryer. I lived in apartments and had a washer, but as with most Japanese in cramped quarters, I managed without a dryer. Japanese apartment balconies come equipped with staggered hooks on which you can hang poles to dry your laundry.

Tokyo and other Asian cities are festooned with drying clothes and bedding, yet my strata here in Burnaby, British Columbia, actually forbids drying clothes on balconies.

I wonder how much energy could be saved simply by drying clothes outside? Oh, you say it's too wet here? Well, Japan has a long, humid rainy season in the late spring/early summer, a typhoon season in the fall, and darn cold weather in the winter. Yet 110 million people there somehow manage to get by with very few of them having clothes dryers.

British Columbia should amend the Strata Act to ban stratas from banning balcony clothes drying.

Posted by Paul at 08:00 PM

January 06, 2008

Road Oil Enters Byrne Creek Through Storm Drain

Oil that had accumulated on Southpoint Dr. in southeast Burnaby was flowing down the rain drain at the bottom end of the cul-de-sac and into Byrne Creek this afternoon as a steady drizzle washed pollution off the street.

oil_storm_drain_southpoint_20080106.jpg

Can you imagine the cumulative flow of this crap into drains all over the city -- all of which lead to local creeks, rivers and the ocean? Yuck!

It is precisely for this reason that streamkeepers are pushing the city to build bio-filtration swales and ponds. There are well-known, well-established ways to ameliorate the impact of such pollution on fish and wildlife habitat.

Posted by Paul at 04:18 PM

December 20, 2007

How You Can Help the Environment

Down-to-Earth Choices

Tips for making where you live one of Canada's Healthy Neighbourhoods.

A simple-to-use guide from Environment Canada offering hundreds of tips and suggestions on environmentally sensitive habits for individual Canadians to practise every day, everywhere. Our choices and our actions will determine the future of the environment. Let's choose to act wisely now and make the world a safer and healthier place to live in.

Thanks to the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation for posting this link.

Posted by Paul at 09:30 PM

December 13, 2007

Roderick Haig-Brown on Sustainability

Long before Brundtland, decades before the term "sustainability" was overused, abused and corrupted beyond recognition -- a great fisherman, naturalist, and writer said it all:

"It seems clear beyond the possibility of argument that any given generation of men can have only a lease, not ownership, of the earth; and one essential term of the lease is that the earth be handed on to the next generation with unimpaired potentialities."

Roderick Haig-Brown

Posted by Paul at 09:15 PM

November 28, 2007

BC Enviro Minister Visits Stream of Dreams Program

BC Environment Minister Barry Penner saw a Stream of Dreams program in action at the Oaklands elementary school in Victoria today.

The Stream of Dreams Murals Society has reached over 60,000 school children to date, teaching them about their local watersheds and creating Dreamfish to install on school fences to remind communities about the importance of clean water and healthy ecosystems.

Posted by Paul at 09:08 PM

November 26, 2007

Gift-Less, More Sustainable Christmas

Yumi and have decided that we will not exchange Christmas gifts this year with each other, and other members of our families. Why not?

It has become increasingly difficult to find anything useful or meaningful to give. We have everything we need, and a garage full of stuff we're getting rid of by sorting and donating it to thrift stores run by the Burnaby Hospice Society and the Salvation Army.

I'm a well-indoctrinated consumer so certainly there is a ton of stuff that I want, but nothing I really need, and Yumi feels the same way.

We'll still do some fun, cheap stuff for the stockings, but no gifts.

Posted by Paul at 07:16 PM

November 19, 2007

Off to Building Sustainable Communities Conference

I drove up to Kelowna this afternoon to attend the Building Sustainable Communities conference sponsored by the Fresh Outlook Foundation. I attended the conference last year and it was jam-packed with excellent speakers. This year's program looks very good as well, and I am looking forward to the kickoff tomorrow morning.

While driving up was probably not the carbon-friendliest means of transportation, I enjoyed the trip. The mountains were dusted with snow, but the roads were good for the most part except for the highest passes.

Posted by Paul at 05:31 PM

September 14, 2007

SalmonTrain Kickoff

SalmonTrain.jpg

This morning the SalmonTrain was officially launched at Gilmore Station on the Skytrain Millennium Line. What's a SalmonTrain? It's a commuter train car covered with Stream of Dreams Murals Society (SDMS) Dreamfish, with an urban creek running down its floor with tips on maintaining healthy watersheds. Conceived by Louise Towell, a co-founder of SDMS, and implemented with the hard work of the Rivershed Society of BC and corporate partners Translink, 3M, and Lamar Advertising, the Stream of Dreams® SalmonTrain Mural in Motion is a vibrant means of educating the public about the importance of clean water in our creeks and streams.

As president of the charitable SDMS, I was proud and amazed at the results of nearly a year of hard work by all the partners. Here are some photos I took of the event, and the SalmonTrain.

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The SalmonTrain poster at Gilmore Station.

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Fin Donnelly, founder and executive director of RSBC, chairs the event.

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Louise Towell, co-founder of SMDS, speaks.

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Dan Johnson, Burnaby City councillor.

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Partners pose in front of the Gilmore Station poster.

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The SalmonTrain arriving at the station.

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Louise and Joan Carne, SDMS co-founders.

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The partners in front of the train.

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A closer look at the exterior.

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The urban stream inside the train.

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An incredibly lifelike storm drain on the floor.

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A closeup of Dreamfish in the floor stream.

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The message? All street drains lead to fish habitat.

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A ceiling poster, also called a "Michaelangelo."

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Another ceiling poster.

So the message is, all rain drains (storm drains) connect directly to local creeks and streams. Why does this message need to get out? Ironically, as my wife Yumi and I walked home from Edmonds Skytrain Station after the event, we came across what was likely paint coming down Powerhouse Creek that leads to Byrne Creek. Somebody was washing out painting equipment into a storm drain, so we called the city in on it. There are still a lot of people to teach!

paint_powerhouse_creek_20070914.jpg

Update: Lots of stuff on You Tube

Salmon Train Launch -- Fin Donnelly, Louise Towell and Dan Johnson

Interviews:

Translink's Drew Snider

SDMS co-founder Joan Carne

Posted by Paul at 07:56 PM

September 05, 2007

Great Info on wikiHow

I just ran across a site called wikiHow "The How-to Manual That You Can Edit."

It has several entries related to streamkeeping and stormwater management.

Here is an entry on creating a rain garden.

And another one on how to
reduce stormwater runoff at your home
.

Looks like there are plenty of other goodies, too.

Posted by Paul at 07:39 PM

August 16, 2007

Como Creek Wiped Out

I was saddened to hear a report from Pamela Zevit of the Como Watershed Group that the creek was hit by toxins for the second time in a month, likely wiping out any remaining fish.

I am taking the liberty of posting her initial report here, which I found on the Salmonopolis website:

Second Toxic Event In A Month Wipes Out Remaining Como Creek Fish

By Pam Zevit

It is with a heavy heart that I have to inform the community that a second toxic event has now impacted the remaining fish in Como Creek. Senior environmental emergency response, fire, the City and enforcement are all on scene at the time of this e-mail to deal with the problem and initiate the investigation. I have been on scene and have been provided some preliminary information. While there is some idea as to the cause of the event, the actual source of the toxic material which entered the creek system upstream of Millside school is still being determined via investigation. While I cannot provide any comment until such time as the information is made public, I can tell you that the last pocket of salmon and trout which were upstream of where the fire runoff entered the creek in July (just one month ago) are now dead. This basically means that while some remnant numbers of fish may have survived, for the most part the fish bearing part of the creek system from Brunette Avenue to at least the Superstore area (and possibly farther downstream) are now pretty much sterilized. Most of the dead fish will be collected as there are concerns that they may be toxic to wildlife.

If you wish further information please contact the City of Coquitlam in the coming days. I will pass on any further information when I know more.

I have toured the Como Watershed with Pamela and want to express my sympathies (and outrage) at these avoidable events. It is difficult to find the words to express the heartbreak and anger that accompany a tragedy like this, after one has invested so much time and effort into preserving a slice of nature in the concrete jungle. I wish Como Creek the best, and may nature work her wonders in bringing life back to its waters.

Posted by Paul at 07:08 PM

August 07, 2007

Pink Salmon Too Cheap?

Whole fresh pink salmon (head off and gutted) were on sale today at Save On Foods at Highgate Mall in Burnaby for $2.99 each. Yes, I said "each." I was struck by what seemed to be the shockingly low price -- fishermen had to burn fuel and amortize boats and equipment to catch the fish, they had to be cleaned, and then shipped a fair distance.

The one I chose weighed in at 1.1 kg (I weighed it on a kitchen scale at home because the weights were not indicated on the packaging), or about 27 cents per 100 grams, less than the occasional sale price of 29 cents per 100 grams, and much less than the common price of 39 cents or more per 100 grams.

I wonder if our society is properly valuing this resource.

Addendum: I just discovered that Save On Foods is donating 50 cents from the sale of each salmon to the CKNW Orphans? Fund. While I laud the gesture, it doesn't ameliorate my concern -- in fact it makes me really wonder how low the wholesale price of these fish is...

Posted by Paul at 02:24 PM

March 21, 2007

Community Liveability Survey

A professor in the School of Environment and Sustainability at Royal Roads University (where I'm studying) is conducting research on community liveability. If you have a few minutes, you can access the survey here.

Details:

I and my research team have embarked upon an ambitious research project to solicit feedback from two million Canadians exploring what kinds of relationships we have within our communities.

You can participate in this unique research in two ways:

1. Complete the online Community Liveability Survey. If you would like to enter the early bird draw (exclusive to members of the RRU community) as well as the general draw for one of five iPod Shuffles, simple enter your @community.royalroads.ca address into the space provided. Your response is CONFIDENTIAL. Your e-mail address will be used only for the random draws - you will not be contacted unless you win.

2. Encourage your family, friends and colleagues to complete the survey and share the survey link http://www.survey.crcresearch.org/index.php?sid=2 with the members of their many communities. To see how broad the reach is of our RRU community network, we ask all to type ?peacock? in the last question of the survey, forwarding the same request on to their networks.

Ultimately we hope the findings will shed light on the relationships between agency (individual capacity), social capital and sustainable community development.

For further details on the project, including your opportunity to win an iPod Shuffle, please see the brief survey outline following my signature block. Thank you - your responses could well help shape the world we leave to our children and grandchildren.

~~~~~~~~~~
Ann Dale, Trudeau Fellow
Professor, School of Environment and Sustainability Faculty of Social
and Applied Sciences Canada Research Chair on Sustainable Community
Development Royal Roads University
2005 Sooke Road, Victoria, BC, V9B 5Y2
http://trudeaufoundation.ca http://www.e-researchagenda.ca
http://www.oursafetynet.org

*THE SURVEY*

Regardless of geographic location, our communities are formed by the individual day-to-day choices we all make. Many of our decisions to live more sustainably are shaped by the community resources available to us such as public transit, access to shops and restaurants, water and sewer, friends and family, health care, schools, services for seniors, and recreational opportunities. But do we define communities or do they define us?

In order to fully understand what makes a community sustainable and how it functions, Dr. Dale's research team is looking not only at the geographic communities in which we live, but also the relational communities of which we are members such as those related to our career, profession, sports and social interests, disabilities and illnesses, religion, age, gender, hobbies, sex, cultural background, and of course the virtual communities in which we find ourselves. They are also exploring what access to sustainable infrastructure a community has and how that determines how people come together.

Five randomly chosen respondents will be selected at the end of the survey period to win an iPod Shuffle. Your response is CONFIDENTIAL. You will only be asked to identify yourself if you wish to register to win the iPod Shuffle and you will not be contacted by anyone unless you win.

All results from the survey will be published online at www.crcresearch.org as of Sept 2008, with continual updates as numbers dictate.

"The survey is a dynamic research tool and thus, we will continue to collect data as long as there is community interest" says Dr. Dale. "We are hoping that this data allows us to learn more about gaps in community perspectives and critical linkages between agency, social capital and sustainable community development that will lead to concrete policy recommendations by governments."

Posted by Paul at 03:31 PM

March 14, 2007

A River Runs Through Us

Fin Donnelly, founder of the Rivershed Society of BC, gave a presentation on his work at the Fraser River Discovery Centre this evening. He recapped his amazing swims (twice!) down the entire length of the Fraser River, a distance of nearly 1,400 km, to highlight issues of sustainability. He also spoke about programs the Rivershed Society is working on including Project Rivershed which is focusing on the Brunette watershed in the Lower Mainland. Another exciting program from the Rivershed Society is the Sustainable Living Leadership Program, which takes young people on rafting trips down the entire length of the Fraser, while training them in leadership and sustainability along the way. Fin is also a councillor for the City of Coquitlam.

A River Runs Through Us is a Rivershed Society slogan highlighting the importance of healthy watersheds, and that we can all make a difference with our own behaviours.

Posted by Paul at 10:07 PM

March 07, 2007

Forum: Building Environmentally Friendly Communities

Burnaby - New Westminster MP Peter Julian hosted a community forum on Building Environmentally Friendly Communities at Douglas College this evening. About 40-50 people showed up to hear Julian and four other speakers, followed by a question/answer/suggestion period. (Disclosure: Though Julian has appeared in several of my blog posts, I am not a member of any political party, and intend to maintain my independence in the future).

This is the first of three forums Julian is hosting on climate change. He said we need fundamental changes at all levels to tackle the issue, from individuals all the way up to the federal government.

The first speaker on the panel was Nicholas Lamm who works on the Green Workplace Program associated with the Environmental Youth Alliance. He spoke about creating green communities within businesses to make change last.

Scott Sinclair, VP of the BC Sustainable Energy Association, said BC is blessed with tremendous renewable energy resources. We could double the energy we now produce simply by tapping renewable resources such a wind, solar, geothermal, etc. He said his organization is working on a plan for a fossil-fuel free GVRD. The plan would cut CO2 emissions by 80% by 2025. The main way to achieve this would be by eliminating the use of natural gas for heating (replacing it with heat pumps, solar, wind, etc.) and the use of gasoline for transportation (replacing it with electricity). He said communities need to be redesigned for walking, cycling and transit.

Next came Tom Lancaster, Manager of Advisory Services, SmartGrowth BC. He pointed out that urban design is still centered on cars. He said at least 13 homes per acre are needed for a functional transit system, and on average we are nowhere near that density. We are still not building the right kinds of cities -- we need to create nodal town centers.

Last came Jonathan Cote, a New Westminster city councillor. He talked about a Green Action Plan that he and other young municipal councillors from all over BC are working on. He said a lot of mistakes have been made in designing the GVRD and that we continue to separate where we live from where we work, shop and play. We cannot be afraid of density. He said industrial land is important, and that New Westminster should ensure it remains industrial. He said it is critically important to engage the public. Last, he pointed out that municipalities are called upon to do more and more, but their revenue sources are limited to property tax for the most part.

Julian wrapped up the presentations by insisting that the Gateway Program that centers on twinning the Port Mann bridge is a bad decision. It basically rewards communities for adding to suburban sprawl and continues to focus transportation on cars.

The ensuing question/suggestion period came up with many suggestions for achieving greener communities. When an audience member complained about how many businesses and amenities New Westminster had lost or was losing -- a Canadian Tire, a Zellers, its only movie theater, a community theater, etc. -- meaning people would have to drive more, Cote pointed to neighbouring Burnaby's Big Bend big box developments (he also decried the Big Box-ification of his city's Queensborough area). As a Burnaby resident, I silently cheered, for Burnaby really screwed up on these developments that are completely car oriented and are sucking commerce out of the Kingsway corridor and the nearby Edmonds Town Centre -- undermining the city's own community plans.

Posted by Paul at 10:00 PM

February 27, 2007

Suzuki Speaks at Douglas College

David Suzuki spoke to an overflowing house today at Douglas College in New Westminster. After introductions from New Westminster Mayor Wayne Right and Councillor Jonathan Cote, Suzuki gave an impassioned speech that had the audience laughing, cheering and clapping.

His basic message? This is a moment when we as humans have to make some crucial decisions. We need to transform the way we live, and we have a very narrow window to do it in. We are the first and only species to actually change our planet, and we need to learn to control our impulses. There is good news out there, and it's up to each and every one of us to make our wishes for change known to our politicians. Though each of us alone may feel insignificant, when millions of us act together we can be a powerful force.

Suzuki urged audience members to sign up for his Nature Challenge and start contributing small, personal efforts toward sustainability.

Yumi and I did our bit today by taking the Skytrain down to the event, and then walking home, which took just over an hour :-).

Posted by Paul at 07:48 PM

February 12, 2007

Sustainable Planning

Sustainability: Planning's Redemption or Curse?
Author: Michael Gunder, PhD

An excellent comment on how too often planners leave out the environmental and social equity components of sustainability in favor of the economy.

"Sustainability is often defined as a balance of the three E's: the environment, the economy, and social equity. But as planners embrace the concept, the sustainability 'balance' heavily favors one E: the economy. Michael Gunder warns that planners risk sacrificing the environment and social equity in the name of sustainable economic development."

Posted by Paul at 09:55 PM

January 31, 2007

How Do Canada's National Newspapers Frame Sustainability?

This is the topic of my research project for my MA in Professional Communication from Royal Roads University.

At no time have people been more concerned about sustainability than they are now. We read and hear about environmental sustainability, corporate sustainability, sustainable development, and building sustainable communities. The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change published on October 30, 2006, forecast that human impact on climate change could result in damage to economic growth on the scale of the great wars and the economic depression in the last century. It was followed by stories based on an article in the journal Science projecting that global fish and other seafood stocks could completely collapse by 2048 if they continue to be lost at their present rate.

A recent Angus Reid poll called Canadians Question Government on Environment shows that 71% of Canadians do not think the federal government is doing enough on pollution and climate control, and in another Angus Reid poll, Environment Becomes Key Concern in Canada, 26% of Canadians say the environment is their top issue when it comes to the next national election, beating all other categories.

How are mass media framing sustainability? How does media coverage relate to the original concept of ?sustainable development? proposed by a United Nations commission nearly 20 years ago? The World Commission on Environment and Development issued the Brundtland Report in 1987, saying ?sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.? Is there evident bias in how mass media report on sustainable development??in how the issue is framed? If there are biases in how mass media frame issues of sustainability, what are they?

In particular, how do the National Post and The Globe and Mail, which respectively are viewed as being Canada?s conservative and liberal national newspapers, frame sustainability and sustainable development? Do they cover the same stories? What are their biases, if any? How do they differ? How are they similar? What sources do they use? The underlying hypothesis of this research is that coverage and sources differ between the two newspapers, with the National Post slanted toward conservative stories highlighting business and economic impacts, and citing government and business sources, while the The Globe and Mail takes a more liberal stance, and cites more non-governmental organizations and environmentalists.

This research will shed light on the framing of sustainability in Canada?s national newspapers so that readers are aware of what is covered and how it is covered. The media play a huge role in setting agendas and framing the news, and citizens will benefit by becoming more discerning consumers of what they read.

Posted by Paul at 09:30 PM

January 20, 2007

Seeds for Change: Local Solutions to Global Issues

I attended the Seeds for Change: Local Solutions to Global Issues conference at the University of British Columbia yesterday and today. It was organized by the UBC Student Environment Centre with support from the Sierra Youth Coalition.

While initially I felt somewhat out of place amidst a sea of young people, it was a fun and informative conference. Speakers ranged from Marx and Lenin-spouting whippersnappers to erudite professors with well thought-out presentations.

It's good to see that kids do care, and are thinking about the environment and sustainability.

I particularly enjoyed presentations by three well-spoken profs:

1) Yves Tiberghien on "The Global Battle over the Governance of Genetically Modified Food." He maintains an interesting site on the Politics of Genetically Modified Organisms.

2) Michael Byers, Professor, Canadian Research Chair in International Law and Politics, who spoke on "Climate Change -- Why Nothing is Happening at a Global Level." He gave an entertaining talk on why politicians and corporate leaders calculate that there is no reason to deal seriously with climate change.

3) Kai Chan, Assistant Professor at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, who spoke on "Conservation Planning of Ecosystem Services." The topic dealt with how ecosystem services (the benefits of nature that sustain and fulfill human life) are neglected and abused because they are not traded in markets and not accounted for in standard accounting practices.

Posted by Paul at 07:41 PM

January 16, 2007

Species at Risk Conservation Series 2007

The South Coast Conservation Program put on a one-day species-at-risk "Toward Solutions That Work" seminar in Burnaby today. There were a number of interesting speakers in the morning, followed by a planning exercise in the afternoon. I found it to be a very useful session, with a broad range of participants from municipal governments, the provincial and federal levels, and NGOs.

The planning exercise was eye-opening. Each table was given an air photo of an area that had three creeks running through it and extensive forested areas, with some development encroachment. Our task was to design in development for several thousand residents and some commercial facilities, while providing for several species at risk that depended on the existing ecosystem.

Needless to say we all came up with wonderful plans, only to see what really happened. The air photo had been taken in 1948 of an area in Coquitlam that was eventually 98% paved over and developed. Very sad.

The heartening aspect was that at least we discuss preserving urban biodiversity these days. Sustainability was not even on the table 30 or 40 years ago.

Posted by Paul at 07:23 PM

November 18, 2006

Worldchanging.com

Ran across the worldchanging.com website tonight. It appears to be an excellent sustainability resource, and I think I'll buy the book, too. Everything from sustainable food to green building to smart growth to ecological economics to....

Posted by Paul at 02:18 AM

November 17, 2006

2006 Fraser Basin Conference Day 2

The second day of the 2006 State of the Fraser Basin Conference put on by the Fraser Basin Council was as interesting and even more inspiring than yesterday.

The exercise on interactive voting on actions from yesterday's breakout sessions was very informative and there was good audience interaction. There were also several more excellent speakers including Shawn Atleo, BC Regional Chief, Assembly of First Nations, and Canadian Olympic medalist Silken Laumann.

It's hard not to feel inspired when listening to speakers like Atleo and Laumann -- they really get across the principle that individual efforts can make a huge difference.

I'm looking forward to the next conference in January 2007.

Posted by Paul at 09:15 PM

November 16, 2006

2006 State of the Fraser Basin Conference

I am attending the 2006 State of the Fraser Basin Conference put on by the Fraser Basin Council at the convention center in Vancouver today and tomorrow. The sessions today were a mix of depressing and inspiring. The focus of the conference is sustainability, and how governments, businesses, First Nations, and NGOs in the basin can work toward a sustainable future.

The council released its 2006 state of the basin snapshot (which can be downloaded from the above website), and overall, the grade was C-. Ouch. There is much we need to do.

I will share just a few highlights from each day that caught my interest.

First, the basin is projected to see 37% population growth over the next 25 years.

FBC Chair Dr. Charles Jago:

This conference is about inspiring action. We need collaboration for positive change. Realize synergies. We need to focus on what is most crucial. We have the ability to significantly remake our world. It is individuals who must act to change institutions. In turn institutions can change how individuals act.

James Hoggan, James Hoggan and Associates Inc.

Communicating Sustainability: People seem to be talking to themselves. People become less able to connect with broader perspectives. Gap between sustainability community and the general public. Need to bridge this gap to move forward to change how we function as a society. Research into how Canadians are thinking about sustainability.

Bad news ? the word sustainability gets in the way. Very high level of mistrust of government, mistrust of business, mistrust of other Canadians, yet Canadians underestimate each others? concerns about sustainability.

Canadians are very quick to understand sustainability and their values are in line with it, but they are looking for trustworthy leadership and are not seeing it.

Once the concept is explained to them, 82% of Canadians see sustainability as a top goal. Research shows 84% agree we need stricter laws and regulations to protect the environment and 65% agree businesses would be more profitable in the long run if they adhered to sustainability principles. Only 5% said they were not concerned about sustainability, yet thought 50% of other Canadians were not concerned!

How Canadians view sustainability:
Atheists (completely reject the concept) 2%
Heathen (oblivious to the concept) 16%
The Choir (sold on sustainability) 15%
The Congregation (receptive to sustainability) 67%

The Congregation is crucial because these people are enthusiastic but unfamiliar with the issues and too much negativity demoralizes them.

We must reach out on sustainability: Focus on the congregation. Second, given the degree of mistrust, we must communicate through action. Third, we need to define the term sustainability and use a human voice, use their language. The story needs to be hopeful, the benefits must be brought to the fore, and people must know they are not alone.

Canadians do not believe there is anyone at the wheel and are calling for leadership, particularly in sustainability.

The conclusion was that there is hope!

Chris Kelly Vancouver School Board:

There is more than a message here, there is an imperative that needs to be addressed. Humans are always intervening with cycles. The world is elegant and fragile at the same time. There are three themes in the snapshot report. A call for education/a call for learning. A call for leadership. A call for hope.

Young Canadians are starving for meaningful engagement. I?m not talking about learning instead of doing, but learning as active participation. There is no uniform way people learn. Learning is an individual and social process. Extend this to every organization. Importance of engaged learning with systems. Action is common learning. This is a time when a current generation must not pass on its way of doing things to a new generation. Leadership is the act of taking responsibility for the quality of other people?s experience.

Hope is the essential notion. Hope is the oxygen of the human spirit.

Kelly was an excellent speaker!

Paul Kariya, Pacific Salmon Foundation

If we?re going to have creativity we have to have fun. Think Salmon.

We, humankind are the problem, but we are also the solution.

------------------

Sorry for the jumble, and apologies to speakers that I left out!

Posted by Paul at 10:17 PM