A telling tailings tale and the disappearing Greater Sage Grouse

The Greater Sage-Grouse, an endangered bird, sits peacefully on the ground.

Sorry to be pushing you to extinction, Mr. Grouse, although you sure do look fabulous. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Wild Rose province bears two dubious distinction that we’ll explore this week. Alberta is home to some of Canada’s most endangered animals, and it is also the location of Canada’s worst ever coal tailings spill. Our reporters give you an update on the aftermath of October’s Obed Mine spill. But first, we explore the human stakes in the fight to save Canada’s Greater Sage-Grouse.

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Greater Sage-Grouse Severely Threatened

When a species of bird or a prairie landscape goes into decline, there’s often a whole slew of reasons behind it, which makes it challenging to motivate all the different interest groups who could play a part in the recovery.
Industry, government, farmers, researchers, and activists all face the same question: what’s in it for me? The difficulties in answering that question have pushed Alberta’s greater sage-grouse to the very edge of of survival. Terra Informa’s Chris Chang-Yen Phillips and Danielle Dolgoy speak with Mark Boyce, David Heydlauff, and Cliff Wallis to learn more about our quirky-looking bird’s predicament.

Links:  Alberta Wilderness Association, Endangered Sage Grouse to Be Protected by Emergency Order (CBC), Sage-Grouse Order Could Stop Operations at Manyberries’ Oil Field

Facts About October’s Obed Mine Spill Remain Elusive

On October 31st of last year, well over 600 million liters of waste water poured out of a tailings pond at the Obed Mountain Coal Mine into the Athabasca River, making it the largest spill of its kind in Canadian history. Now, more than four months later, inquiring Albertans are still in the dark as truth surrounding the spill has proven to be about as clear as the muck itself. Luckily, Trevor Chow-Fraser and Morgana Folkmann attended the second public forum on the spill so they could enlighten us.

Links: Province Never Inspected Berm That Burst at Obed Mine Tailings pond, Sherritt International’s updates on the Obed Spill, Sherritt Sells Coal Operations and Assets For $1 billion, Alberta Government Obed Mountain Mine Release Updates, University of Alberta Water Initiative

What’s Happening

Introduction to Permaculture

On March 15 and 16 there will be an introductory course to permaculture at the Heritage Harvest Farm in Jasper Ontario. Learn how to design sustainable environments that you can apply to gardens, landscapes, business models, and even your personal life. This event takes place at the from 10:00am-5:00pm. Cost is about $130 and space is limited so if you’re interested, sign up ASAP at heritageharvestfarms.ca.

Follow Your Bliss

Also on the 15th-16th, although in London, ON, learn to follow your bliss and heal the world through spiritual ecology. This weekend is all finding out how you can live your passions from an eco-centric perspective that uses the earth as a guide facilitated by Lorenna Bousquet-Kacera, the founder for Shamanu. If this event speaks to your soul, visit thelivingcenter.com for more information about pricing and registration.

Seedy Sunday in Edmonton

On Sunday March 16 there will be a Seedy Sunday at the Alberta Ave Community Hall in Edmonton, AB. You can swap fruit, vegetables, and flower seeds; enjoy presentations from experienced growers on gardening; and learn about like-minded local organizations. There’s room for kids, homemade snacks, and admission is free so don’t hesitate to stop on by! Find out more on Facebook

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