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(Eco)Justice for the Sage Grouse
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(Eco)Justice for the Sage Grouse

[caption id="attachment_37532" align="alignleft" width="150"] Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and Legal Counsel.[/caption] The Federal Court of Canada has decided to grant Nature Canada and other nature groups, represented by Ecojustice, the status of intervener in a law case that will test the constitutionality of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) for the first time. The City of Medicine Hat in Alberta and LGX Oil & Gas initiated an application for judicial review asking that an emergency order protecting the endangered Greater Sage Grouse, and sections of SARA be declared unconstitutional. Having intervener status will allow the nature groups and Ecojustice file a written argument, and make a brief oral argument at the court hearing. The emergency order being contested was issued in 2013 to impose restrictions to protect the habitat of the Greater Sage Grouse on provincial and federal Crown lands in Alberta and Saskatchewan. At the time, Environment Canada reported that there were fewer than 150 birds remaining in the two Canadian provinces where they are found (Alberta and Saskatchewan) and that the bird’s population had fallen 98 per cent since 1988. The Greater Sage Grouse is listed as endangered under the federal Species at Risk Act, and must remain as such to stabilize its population and continue its recovery.

A future for the Sage Grouse

As it stands, Ecojustice is looking to ensure that the judges hear why emergency orders and SARA are valid law, and that they are critical to the future of the Greater Sage Grouse and many other wildlife species across Canada.
For more information on this case, please consult the following media reports CBC News on June 2, 2016: LGX Oil + Gas blames sage grouse protection order for insolvency CBC News on September 17, 2013: Endangered sage grouse to be protected by emergency order
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The Killdeer Bird, and its Real Estate in the Capital
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The Killdeer Bird, and its Real Estate in the Capital

Recent news about the now-notorious nesting killdeer[1] at the site of Bluesfest, one of Ottawa’s largest outdoor events, has led to many asking the question: what regulations are in place in Canada to protect nesting bird species from destruction or interference?


This article was written by Brodie Badcock-Parks, a Nature Conservation Intern at Nature Canada. The Migratory Birds Convention Act (MBCA)[2] is a law enacted by the Parliament of Canada in 1917 (updated in 1994) aimed at “protecting and conserving migratory birds – as populations and individual birds – and their nests”. It is one of the oldest conservation laws in Canada and was established in response to the bilateral Migratory Birds Convention, 1916, between the United States and the United Kingdom (on behalf of Canada). The act offers legal protection for over 350 species[3] and their nests, with its regulations explicitly stating that, “no person shall hunt a migratory bird” (s. 5) or “disturb, destroy or take a nest, egg, nest shelter […] of a migratory bird” (s. 6a). Under the MBCA, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is mandated to protect individual and populations of these birds and their nests, and regulates potentially harmful human activities that could affect or endanger them.  Permits issued by ECCC are required for activities including hunting (e.g. waterfowl), scientific research, or nest disturbance/transport, among others. [caption id="attachment_37722" align="alignright" width="300"] A Killdeer Bird, photo by Robert Sivinski.[/caption] A prominent element of the MBCA was the creation and designation of Migratory Bird Sanctuaries[4], protected areas established for the conservation of migratory birds in Canada. Currently there are 92 Migratory Bird Sanctuaries[5] in Canada, which span over 11.5 million hectares in nine provinces and two territories. In Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, no hunting of any kind is permitted and stricter permit regulations are in place for researchers who wish to disturb nests and habitat. Individuals who unlawfully hunt or disturb migratory birds protected under the MCBA will face heavy fines and could potentially face time in prison. Recently, ECCC has cracked down on violations of the Act, with recent charges being laid against three Ontario hunters in May 2018[6] (combined reparations totaling $19,000), as well as two migratory bird traffickers in Newfoundland[7] in December 2017 (both charged with heavy fines & loss of hunting permits). Corporations who violate the MCBA will often face larger fines and are added to the Environmental Offenders Registry. Notable corporate violators of the Act have included Syncrude Canada Ltd., who were fined upwards of $3 million[8] for the deaths of approximately 1600 ducks on its tailing ponds near Fort McMurray in 2010; as well as Canaport LNG, fined $750,000 after over 7500 migratory songbirds were killed[9]after being drawn to a gas flare in Saint John in 2013. In short, the Migratory Birds Convention Act is an important piece of legislation because it protects an integral part of ecosystems all across Canada. Migratory birds are a key indicator of the overall health of our environment[10] and attempts to disturb or harm these birds should not be taken lightly. Continued enforcement of this Act to protect listed species like the killdeer, a species facing large declines in population across North America[11], will produce positive benefits not only for the birds, but for the environment as well. [caption id="attachment_37721" align="aligncenter" width="960"] Signage at Grand Manan Migratory Bird Sanctuary in New Brunswick (Photo: Environment and Climate Change Canada)[/caption]
For media coverage on this topic, please consult the following CTV National News clip from June 25, 2018 discussing the famous killdeer nesting at the Lebreton Flats, (site of Ottawa’s upcoming annual Bluesfest concert), featuring Nature Canada’s very own Naturalist-Director, Ted Cheskey! A small bird, nest and four eggs hold up major Ottawa music festival, from CTV News on Monday, June 25. Ottawa Bluesfest hatching plans after Killdeer nests at site of main stage, from the Ottawa Citizen on Monday, June 25. Bluesfest awaiting OK to move 'bluesnest', from CBC News on Monday, June 25.
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Sources Sanzenbacher PM, Haig SM. 2001. Killdeer Population Trends in North America (Tendencias Poblacionales de Charadrius vociferus en Norte América). J. Field Ornithol. 72(1):160-169.
 

Olivia DesRoches: A Young Woman For Nature
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Olivia DesRoches: A Young Woman For Nature

[caption id="attachment_37466" align="alignleft" width="150"] Julie Lopez, Digital Campaign Organizer at Nature Canada.[/caption] This blog post was written by Julie Lopez, the Digital Campaign Organizer at Nature Canada. Olivia DesRoches is a Young Woman for Nature, and a Grade 12 student at Hampton High School who first became involved with Nature Canada after receiving the Young Nature Leadership Grant, and then as a Women for Nature mentee. The Young Nature Leadership Grant was awarded to Olivia for a project that her grade 11 Math class was hoping to get off the ground. Last Spring, after watching the documentary Before the Flood, Olivia and her classmates were motivated to do something that would help them and their community reduce their environmental impact. Together, they decided to build a greenhouse at their school.


Evidently, such a project required a significant amount of funding, and as such, Olivia set out to find ways to fund the project. The first grant for which she applied, and later received, was the Young Nature Leadership Grant with Nature Canada. Being the first scholarship the group received, it served as the starting point that legitimized their project, and helped them begin to move forward. After receiving the Nature Canada grant on Earth Day, in April of 2017, the students spent the remainder of the school year and summer working together to raise funds through the community and local businesses. Come September, the project was fully funded. Planning for the greenhouse began in September of 2017, and the construction began soon after a groundbreaking ceremony for the greenhouse held in New Brunswick, to which the Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick, and Nature Canada's Board of Directors, including a few Women For Nature members, attended. Since then, groups of students aged between nine and eighteen years  old have been working on the greenhouse. Two to three times a week after school, sometimes pulling classes to help with various parts of the construction, the students worked to get the greenhouse standing and airtight (protected from the elements) before the first snowfall, then began again after the weather started to ‘let up’ near the end of February. Olivia’s love for nature and dedication to the planet is evident from her hard work and initiative. She said that spending time at summer camp as a camper and then counselor for the past five summers solidified her love for spending time in nature, and appreciation for the environment. Going further than an average nature lover, and as a Young Woman for Nature and Young Nature Leadership Grant recipient, Olivia was flown out to Ottawa in November 2017 for the Nature Canada: Women for Nature Parliamentary reception. There she was able to speak with other Young Women for Nature and Women for Nature, and present her project to Parks Canada. She also met with Senator Griffin, who is the Honorary Chair of Women for Nature and Olivia's local MP as well. She said that being able to attend the reception was one of the most defining experiences of this entire project. To “be in a room with people my own age and women, and to have similar mindsets and similar goals was really empowering.” Olivia is set to graduate from high school in the coming weeks, and to attend St Thomas University in Fredericton to pursue a Bachelor of Arts double major in Political Science and Psychology in the fall of 2018. Despite not pursuing a degree specific to environmental sciences, her experience as a Young Woman for Nature was encouraging because it enabled her to meet other women, and “hear their stories and [see that] so many of them didn’t have an environmental science degree […] and found ways to incorporate their love for nature into what they’re doing professionally.” The Hampton High School greenhouse is anticipated to open its doors this summer. We are excited to see the how the Greenhouse will grow throughout its first year, and the continuous growth that will be part of its many years to come.

Nature Canada would like to thank the Women for Nature members for generously supporting this mentorship pilot.


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House of Commons Passes Reformed Environmental Laws
Parliament of Canada, House of Commons.
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House of Commons Passes Reformed Environmental Laws

[caption id="attachment_37532" align="alignleft" width="150"] Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and Legal Counsel.[/caption] On June 20, 2018, the House of Commons passed two important environmental laws -- Bills C-68 and C-69.  Bill C-68 reforms the Fisheries Act, largely fulfilling the Trudeau government’s election promise to restore legal protection of fish habitat. Bill C-69 includes two new laws: Impact Assessment Act and Canadian Energy Regulator Act, and amendments to the Navigable Waters Act. Nature Canada’s view is that, overall, a reasonable balance has been struck in Bill C-69 and that it will assist in regaining public trust in reviews of natural resource development projects. This new legislation is a darn sight better than what we have right now. Bill C-69 includes important reforms such as emphasizing sustainability and a single-agency approach to assessing resource projects, eliminating rules restricting public participation in hearings, and establishing a legislative framework for conducting regional and strategic impact assessments.  The House of Commons Environment Committee successfully added several helpful amendments to Bill C-69 including the following:

  • the government’s mandate in administering the Act is expanded to include respect for commitments to the rights of the Indigenous peoples of Canada and exercise powers to adheres to principles of scientific integrity, honesty, objectivity, thoroughness and accuracy;
  • decisions on projects will be “based on” the impact assessment report and in consideration of section 63 factors;
  • references to public participation were generally revised to add the adjective “meaningful”; and
  • Regulators such as the Canadian Energy Regulator and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission may not constitute a majority on review panels, nor may they control the chair.

The Senate now has the opportunity to consider Bills C-68 and C-69. However, the current Parliamentary session will end 12 months from now, after which the campaign leading up to the October 2019 federal election will begin in earnest.  We expect that this schedule provides plenty of time for the Senate to complete its deliberations and pass these bills. Assuming Bills C-68 and 69 are passed by the Senate, their effectiveness depends hugely on regulations now being developed. The current federal environmental assessment law requires only that a handful of projects—mainly mining projects—be assessed in any given year by virtue of their being listed in a regulation. Nature Canada will be arguing strenuously that regulations should require that the following categories of projects should be required to be assessed by law:
  • projects that produce large quantities of greenhouse gas or other air pollutants (such as the proposed cement plant to be located near Hawksbury Ontario 70 km upwind from Montreal);
  • projects that are to be located in National Parks or National Wildlife Areas (such as the proposed alpine facilities in Banff National Park for the Calgary 2026 Winter Olympics bid); and
  • projects that require permits or approvals under the Fisheries Act or Species at Risk Act.
To Nature Canada, it is just common sense that projects that affect Canada’s ability to meet its responsibilities under the Paris Climate Accord or the Convention on Biological Diversity should automatically be assessed under federal law.
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Melissa Cusack Striepe: A Young Woman for Nature
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Melissa Cusack Striepe: A Young Woman for Nature

[caption id="attachment_37466" align="alignleft" width="150"] Julie Lopez, Digital Campaign Organizer at Nature Canada.[/caption] This blog was written by Julie Lopez, the Digital Campaign Organizer at Nature Canada. Melissa Cusack Striepe is a Young Woman for Nature that first became involved with Ontario Nature, then with Nature Canada through the Young Women for Nature mentorship initiative. She is currently a third-year student at McMaster University, pursuing a Bachelor’s of Engineering in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Sustainability. This summer she is completing an internship with the Water & Natural Environmental Department of Hatch, an engineering consulting firm in Burlington, Ontario. From a very early age, Melissa was immersed in nature. Both Melissa’s parents are very connected to the environment, which resulted in her spending a lot of time being active and outdoors throughout her childhood and teenage years. From her experience in outdoor Kindergarten in Germany, to time spent at her family’s hobby farm, to canoe trips in Temagami and on the French River – Melissa shared that

“ [Nature] was my classroom, and it was where I learned from the very beginning.”

The Ontario Nature Youth Council came into the picture of Melissa’s life when she was in 7th grade – and wanted to attend the Ontario Nature Youth Summit. Despite not yet being in high school, Melissa was already keen to become involved and to meet others that were similarly invested in the environment. For the next seven years, Melissa was a part of the Ontario Nature Youth Council. She partook in various projects and events in the Greater Toronto Area, and said of the experience that it was a “great opportunity to connect with people who cared about the same topics, and feeling like my concerns for the environment were real.” It was from her active involvement in the Youth Council that Melissa was informed of Nature Canada’s Young Women for Nature mentorship initiative.  As someone that is always looking for opportunities to engage a larger network, Melissa applied for the opportunity to be a mentee, and much to her delight, was accepted. Having moved away from her hometown to pursue a Bachelor’s of Engineering degree in Chemical Engineering at McMaster, Melissa is now occupying an advisory role for the Ontario Nature Youth Council. At the same time as she is providing guidance to the council, she has been receiving guidance from her Woman for Nature mentor for her own environmental endeavors in the engineering field. Of the mentorship initiative, Melissa has said that some of the most valuable moments come from “ […] choosing to take those opportunities to build your network, and to build those connections that you can.” She highlights the importance of active involvement and shares how doing so has enabled her to acquire more knowledge, learn new skills, and grow her network. Her passion for the environment and desire to learn are encouraging. Here at Nature Canada we are very excited to hear more about Melissa’s environmental endeavors in the engineering field, and to continue to see her growth within the Young Women for Nature mentorship initiative.

Nature Canada would like to thank the Women for Nature members for generously supporting this mentorship pilot.


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Why We Should Protect The Fraser River Estuary
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Why We Should Protect The Fraser River Estuary

Written by Nature Canada’s writing intern, Gabriel Planas The Fraser River Estuary is a large area of interconnected marine, estuarine, freshwater and agricultural habitats, near Vancouver. With almost 17,000 hectares of wetland, the estuary supports a variety of  habitats such as  salt and  estuarine marshes, mudflats, and deep tidal waters. These habitats are crucial to the 560 species found in the Fraser River Estuary. Killer Whales, Townsend Moles, and even Sockeye Salmon depend on this area for migration and residential purposes. Some species, such as the Western Sandpiper, depend on the region so heavily that roughly 500,000 Western Sandpipers visit the mud flats of Roberts Bank every day. Sockeye Salmon is  the most important commercial species among the hundreds found in the Fraser River Estuary. An estimated 10 million salmon make their way back to the Fraser Estuary every year. While this may seem impressive, due to warming waters, pollution, overfishing and the spread of farmed fish parasites, these numbers are dropping. Image of sockeye salmonUnfortunately, the loss, degradation, and fragmentation of  Fraser River Estuary habitats impact more than just the populations of salmon. Being home to Canada’s third largest urban center that functions on the largest port in the region poses a clear danger to the Estuary, as human populations are estimated to grow to 1.4 million by 2040. This growth in population has influenced current and proposed urban and industrial developments to use land formerly inhabited by local wildlife. Additionally, the conversion of open agricultural fields to berry crops, greenhouses and other intensive uses has reduced farmland habitats used by waterfowl, shorebirds and owls. The push to build the Kinder-Morgan pipeline and increase the volume of crude oil and the amount of Diluted Bitumen being transported through the region  also creates risk for the health of the Estuary. The amount of tanker traffic in the Salish Sea near the Estuary  is expected to rise dramatically, driving up the risk of oil spills drastically. Additionally, Diluted Bitumen extracted from tar sands and transported through the pipeline is considered more toxic and far more destructive to the environment than crude oil, which makes the  prospect of a pipeline or tanker spill even more worrisome. Difficulties for the Fraser River Estuary are not limited to systemic issues, the introduction of foreign species to habitats and recreational disturbances contribute to the loss of habitats within the Fraser River Estuary. It is important for us, as humans, to understand the kinds of consequences our actions can cause. Nature Canada is dedicated to spreading the word about  these at-risk areas and advocating for their protection. Check out our proposed protected areas page to learn more about these unique habitats and what we are doing to ensure a future for them.

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Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas
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Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas

This blog was written by writing intern Gabriel Planas Over the history of nature conservation in Canada, parks and protected areas have been little more than backdrops to human recreation rather than concerted efforts to preserve natural environments. As a result, these projects often forced indigenous populations to relocate or imposed heavy jurisdictions that eliminated Indigenous practices and economies that benefited Canada’s biodiversity. Fortunately, in 2015 the Indigenous Circle of Elders (ICE) was formed to advise the Federal Government of Canada on ways in which Indigenous communities can contribute to Canada’s commitment to reaching the Aichi targets by 2020. These targets were created in 2010 during the Conference of Parties in Nagoya, Aichi prefecture of Japan when countries from around the world, adopted a plan regarding biodiversity. In order to meet these targets, the federal government has been working in tandem with ICE in order to establish Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) around the country. IPCAs focus on protecting and conserving ecosystems through indigenous laws, governance and knowledge systems. Indigenous communities in these areas take on the responsibility of protecting and conserving ecosystems. While the individual conservation objectives of each IPCA will differ, all of them endeavor to elevate Indigenous rights and responsibilities, by affirming the validity of Indigenous legal traditions, customary and cultural practices as well as their abilities to help conserve biodiversity in Canada. [caption id="attachment_34526" align="alignleft" width="366"]Image of a Semipalmated Sandpiper Semipalmated Sandpiper[/caption] IPCAs present a unique opportunity to heal both the land and the people who inhabit it by moving towards true reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and settler societies. Things once withheld or unavailable to these communities may be developed through these areas, such as a stable foundation for local Indigenous economies, opportunities for Indigenous peoples to reconnect with the land and the revitalization of indigenous languages. The promoting of respect for the knowledge systems, protocols and ceremonies of Indigenous peoples provide an opportunity for Canadians to formulate a greater understanding of Indigenous cultures. While these areas mainly centre on promoting Indigenous communities and their cultural independence, IPCAs have profound benefits for Canadians. These areas have the ability to alleviate the stress of unsustainable human and industrial development. Indigenous groups who will operate these areas integrate holistic approaches to conservation of biodiversity that results in healthier ecosystems. These ecosystems in turn provide cleaner air and water which contribute to healthier populations and a reduction of Canada’s contribution to climate change. It is vital to both our environment and Canada’s obligation to reconciliation that areas like these are supported. They allow Indigenous communities to flourish in ways that were previously unavailable to them and promotes their culture practices in a positive manner that may just help Canada reach its Aichi target by 2020.

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HOUSE OF COMMONS PASSES ENVIRONMENT BILL TO IMPROVE RESOURCE PROJECT REVIEWS AND HELP REGAIN PUBLIC TRUST
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HOUSE OF COMMONS PASSES ENVIRONMENT BILL TO IMPROVE RESOURCE PROJECT REVIEWS AND HELP REGAIN PUBLIC TRUST

Ottawa, ON (June 21, 2018) —Today, the House of Commons passed Bill C-69—including a new law  the Impact Assessment Act—which should greatly improve environmental reviews of development projects as well as regain public trust. “Bill C-69 represents important reforms by emphasizing sustainability and a single-agency approach to assessing resource projects, and by eliminating rules restricting public participation in hearings” says Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel. “We are satisfied that an appropriate balance has been struck in this legislation and that it will assist in regaining public trust in reviews of natural resource development projects.” “The Senate now has the opportunity to consider Bill C-69, including amendments, as passed by the House of Commons.” said Hazell.  “Nature Canada notes that the current Parliamentary session will end 12 months from now, after which the campaign leading up to the October 2019 federal election will begin in earnest.  We expect that this schedule provides plenty of time for the Senate to complete its deliberations and pass the bill.”


For media commentary please contact:  Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel 613 724-1908 (cell) 613 562-3447 ext. 240 shazell@naturecanada.ca

No Drilling in the Arctic Refuge, President Trump!
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No Drilling in the Arctic Refuge, President Trump!

For nearly 80 years, Nature Canada has been an active voice standing up for nature. Over this time, we protected over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and countless species that depend on this habitat. Today is no different. Nature Canada is collaborating with Indigenous groups and nature and environmental allies in the U.S and Canada to oppose all oil and gas activities on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Arctic Refuge) in Alaska. June 19, 2018 is the last day of the Trump administration’s 60-day comment period on an environmental review of selling drilling leases in the Arctic  Refuge. The U.S Bureau of Land Management recently released a Notice of Intent to prepare an Environment Impact Statement for the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program. This decision will affect both Americans and Canadians. [caption id="attachment_37512" align="alignright" width="300"] Porcupine Caribou at Blow River Crossing.[/caption] The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the calving ground to the vast Porcupine caribou herd, which migrates back and forth from Yukon and the Northwest Territories in Canada to Alaska every year—the world’s longest migration of land mammals. It is also home to the people of Gwich’in First Nation who call the land “lizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit” meaning “The Scared Place Where Life Begins.” The Porcupine caribou are a symbol of hope for many and an integral part of this northern ecosystem. When they when arrive on the coastal plain, adult female caribou (called cows) are in their weakest state. They go through “synchronous calving” meaning they give birth at the same time as a survival strategy. After birth, the cows depend on the coastal plain's protein-rich food to produce milk. The caribou are incredibly sensitive to disturbance and construction on the land could upset their feeding, breeding and migratory habits and could lead them to abandon their calving grounds. Indigenous communities in the Yukon, NWT and Alaska, along with many other Canadians, oppose oil and gas drilling that will disturb the calving grounds. Drilling poses a threat to the subsistence and culture of these Indigenous people and the wildlife, animals and plants they rely on. Dana Tizya-Tramm, Councilor, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation commented: “From a people that understands resources extremely well by living in the unforgiven environments and climates of the Arctic North, we see the unilateral development of the wellspring of Arctic ecosystems as a significant threat to Indigenous peoples, the lands, animals, and our collective futures. It must be known to produce oil and gas from this area can only be done so by manipulating environmental law and trampling human, and Indigenous rights.”

“Nature Canada believes it is critical we work alongside CPAWS Yukon and the Vuntut Gwitchin to ensure Canadian voices are included in this environmental review. Today’s submission of over 14,670 Canadian signatures and comments is an incredible opportunity for Canadians to speak directly to the U.S government about the serious and irreversible impact oil and gas development would have on one of the last, healthy barren-ground caribou herds on earth.”
  We would like to remind decision-makers that this is also a deeply Canadian issue and we will continue to stand up against oil and gas development on lands that serve as the beating heart of an ancient ecosystem.  We would like to thank our nearly 15,000 members and supporters for signing, commenting and engaging with us to voice your concerns against oil and gas extraction in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Nature Canada stands with the Gwich'in First Nation and supports the efforts of indigenous people in Canada and the United States to protect their human rights, food security, irreplaceable wild lands, wildlife and our climate. We also call for the Environmental Impact Statement to address international treaty obligations of the United States to Canada under the International Porcupine Caribou Treaty and the Migratory Birds Treaty. Nature Canada and its supporters stand alongside 24 allies to strengthen the chorus of concerns to protect ANWAR garnering over 654,787 individual comments in total from all groups. 

Please read Nature Canada's Letter of Submission to the US Bureau of Land Management.

Visit CPAWS Yukon website for further information on the Porcupine Caribou and their migratory journey, and read the Group Thank You Letter to the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act Leaders,the Cosponsor Arctic Cultural Coastal Plain Protection Act from 25 environmental organizations, as well as the Scoping Comments to the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program EIS.
For media coverage on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, see below CTV: Canadians sign letter opposing U.S. Arctic drilling in wildlife sanctuary National Post: Canadians sign letter opposing U.S. Arctic drilling in wildlife sanctuary Winnipeg Free Press: Canadians sign letter opposing U.S. Arctic drilling in wildlife sanctuary Vancouver Courier: Canadians sign letter opposing U.S Arctic drilling in wildlife sanctuary
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Common Pondhawk Dragonfly
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Common Pondhawk Dragonfly

This blog post was written by contributing guest blogger Kim Willoughby. Nature Canada’s featured species for June is the Erythemis simplicollis, the Common Pondhawk Dragonfly. It’s also known as the Eastern Pondhawk. What they look like The adult Common Pondhawk is about 4 cm in length, has a green face, and four clear wings with small marks at each tip. Females and juvenile males are vividly green with black abdomens and green dorsolateral spots. Males, as they mature, become powdery blue. [caption id="attachment_37519" align="alignright" width="300"] A common Pondhawk in early morning light, by Peter Ferguson.[/caption] Where you can find them in Canada Widespread throughout eastern North America, these dragonflies are often found at lakes, ponds, lazy streams and sometimes in meadows and wet grassy ditches in Ontario and Quebec. Remember to look behind you when you’re walking this summer. They occasionally follow people or animals whose movements flush swarms of insects out of the grass. What they eat The Common Pondhawk has a voracious appetite and will hunt anything its size or smaller – damselflies, butterflies, moths, midges, mayflies, mosquitoes – even other dragonflies. Interesting behavior to watch for Squadrons of males will perform impressive aeronautical feats over waterways. You can find them flying low over the water surface, often flying in a line formation, with the lead eventually dropping away and the next one in line surging to take the front position. What makes dragonflies so cool They’re one of nature’s most remarkably nimble, efficient and powerful flying machines. They dash, they hover, they dive. They even cross oceans. At an estimated top speed of 60 km/hour, they accomplish aerial stunts that rival humanity’s best fighter and helicopter pilots. Except that they see so much better than human pilots. With more than 30,000 lenses in their eyes, dragonflies can see everywhere: They have no blind spots. Imagine that!


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