Ecological and Environmental issues from my calgary desktop

Alberta Adopt-a-Plant great way to learn about rare plants February 21, 2010

I spent the afternoon today, at the University of Calgary herbarium with a study group of the Alberta Adopt-a-plant association.  This group has been in action for a few years, and has a mission to empower people to learn about and monitor species at risk in Alberta.  This is a volunteer driven organization, and people volunteer to learn and monitor their respective plant.  I had the pleasure of looking for Carex nebracensis last summer, although i didn ‘t find the species, I enjoyed learning and searching for it. 

Today we studied the cruciferacea (mustards) group of plants, and specifically slender mouse-eared cress (Halimolobus virgata).

Events like this are a great way to learn about plants, both native and those at risk.  Seeing real pressed samples gives one a great opportunity to compare species.  I say hooray for the U of C herbarium, Adopt a plant, and the great volunteer organizers Leslie Monteleone, and Dana Bush. This group is for amateur botanists and professionals.   If you want to learn botany, check it out.

Tracey Etwell



Ever been up close and sniffed by a Sumatran tiger? (video) January 29, 2010

Filed under: endangered species,sumatran tiger,video — tetwell @ 6:10 pm
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I couldn’t resist posting this ultra cute and inspiring video of a mother Sumatran tiger and her babies.  Gives some hope that the species is reproducing in the wild.



Announcement on new protected area in Alberta for Caribou? January 22, 2010

Filed under: caribou,endangered species,wildlife — tetwell @ 5:41 pm
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Somehow I missed this announcement in August.  Sounds like some good news for the endangered Caribou.

Also check out this new website with good info from CPAWS.  Some cute videos and information on Caribou.


cool weblink for invasive species webinars January 20, 2010

Filed under: invasive species — tetwell @ 10:39 pm
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cool site sent by a friend with free ecology and invasive plant webinars.


Who would have guessed it.. blowing up mountains can have an environmental impact January 12, 2010

Check out this story from the authors at Grist magazine.

You can find the original article in the journal Science: “Mountaintop Mining Consequences.”

A bunch of scientists have actually proved that the effects of mining a mountaintop are harmful, and that reclamation efforts aren’t helping.   A variety of effects are noted including contaminated waterways, reduced aquatic biodiversity, human health impacts and erosion impacts.  Not really surprising, but cool that these scientists came together without funding, on their own time.  Not to mention the huge value of the peer-reviewed efforts that went into this paper.

 Often when environmental impact studies are done, there just aren’t any paper which address the specific impacts of the activity, and this one could be well become the new standard reference.

Tracey Etwell


New green resolutions for 2010 January 5, 2010

Following up on my last post, I came across this cool slide show of best green resolutions of 2010.

Of the 13 things listed, I am happy to say that I am already on top of most of these..

  1.  we grow our own vegetables, as much as Calgary, Alberta will support
  2.  we compost
  3. we buy organic and sometimes local produce (as an aside, cool interview with food advocate, Micheal Pollan,
  4. we have only one car between 2 of us, and use it sparingly. my husband regularly bikes to work even through the worst of Calgary weather!
  5. I am involved with a couple of green organizations, including our women’s sustainable book club, where we read books that inspire us, and we do take some actions like letter writing campaigns
  6. eat pretty much vegetarian.. no red meat, mostly fish and chicken, eggs.. could do better her if hubby could be convinced..
  7. we have 2 rescue dogs and one shelter cat.


So that leaves the other things I could do..

  1. quantify energy consumption goals.  hmmm. not sure how one would even tackle that. the post talks about a home energy monitor,, i don’t know if that is even available in Canada. anybody know?
  2. finally get around to signing up for green power… bullfrog power can expect a call from me.
  3. haven’t planted anything in a while.. have to plan to do that this spring..

Have you made any green resolutions for this year?


The top green stories of last decade December 30, 2009

Love this review of top green stories of the last decade by grist.

As always lots of disheartening stories, mixed with a bunch of good news stories.  I love the focus on green businesses, local and organic movements, and the use of the internet to motivate and inform people.  My challenge to you, if you are into making resolutions or even just goals for the new year,  make a green goal or resolution.. Even  if it is just to try to educate yourself more on a new issue.  I would like to tackle how do I figure out how to turn off my ghost power load, when I am not at home, or not using these things. ie. VCR/computer, clock radio without running around for minutes at a time.  Any ideas?