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Interview with Jennifer Harrington, author of children’s story ‘Spirit Bear’

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Spirit Bear, Jennifer Harrington

Mary Woodbury of Eco-fiction.com and BCRainforest.com interviewed Jennifer Harrington, author of  Spirit Bear, a wonderful children’s book published by Eco Books 4 Kids. Eco Books 4 Kids writes and illustrates books that introduce children to interesting stories based upon our natural environment. The publisher also offers teacher’s instructional resources. Their newest book, Spirit Bear, celebrates a rare and iconic black bear that is born with a recessive gene that makes its coat creamy or white. Also called the Kermode bear, the spirit bear lives in the delicate, rich, and threatened ecosystem of the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, Canada. The book is written by Jennifer Harrington and illustrated by Michael Arnott, and tells the story of a young spirit bear named Annuk, who falls into a river and is swept away from his mother. His journey home is a harrowing experience, complete with predators and trials, but also new friends and new understanding about the world he inhabits – the Great Bear Rainforest. We interviewed Jennifer on her experiences with educating children about our crucial environmental habitats and on creating such a fascinating and important story.

Banner year for sockeye return to the Fraser?

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Wild salmon; licensed for use by Canstock Photo

CBC lists some great places to view salmon this year as they head back to the Fraser to spawn:

  • Steveston docks and Garry Pt. Park, Richmond
  • Ladner Harbour Park, Ladner
  • Westminster Quay, New Westminster
  • Island 22 Park and Peg Leg Bar, Chilliwack,
  • Adams River at Shuswap Lake

Sources say that sockeye runs have been high on the Campbell River and Adams River as well. Could this be a banner year? Only time will tell, but reports so far point to yes, though numbers could be higher.

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BC Supreme Court rules “free” water license for fracking

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Water tanker truck at a water supply station on the Farrell Creek Road, between Fort St John and Hudson’s Hope, BC. Credit: Joe Foy From the Wilderness Committee’s media images.

According to the Wilderness Committee, the Supreme Court of BC has ruled that the oil and gas industry, as well as other industries, do not require a water license for long-term access to the province’s freshwater resources. The article cites Ecojustice staff lawyer, Morgan Blakely, as saying, “Our clients are disappointed with this outcome, but they are even more disappointed by the fact that B.C.’s new Water Sustainability Act, introduced just days before this case was heard, expressly legalizes the practice they were challenging in court. The curious timing certainly seemed to signal an intent to undermine the case, which only legitimizes the concerns they raise.”

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The Pristine Coast examines BC fish farming history

Having worked with a non-profit for the Fraser before, which called for the end of fish farming in open-net waters where wild salmon live, I know the dangers. Please share this upcoming film:

From the Straight.com:

Biologist and indefatigable fish-farm gadfly Alexandra Morton features prominently in this reasonable and cogent examination of the four-decade history of B.C. fish farms and their relationship to the almost simultaneous decline of several species of salmon and other vital fish stocks in coastal waters. The mutable federal-provincial jurisdictional mess comes in for special scrutiny, and some surprisingly frank interviews with academics, politicians, and scientists enliven the proceedings. The unspoken question left hanging at the end of it all, though—when one considers all the harm that can come from fish farms, not to mention the fact that most of the profits go overseas and the industry brings minimal employment—is this: how big were the bribes and who got them?

Times: SFU, October 3 (4 p.m.); Cinematheque, October 7 (10 a.m.) 

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People’s Climate March, September 21

From NYC People’s Climate March: In September, world leaders are going to New York City for a UN summit on the climate crisis. UN Secretary­ General Ban Ki-­moon is urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution. With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we’ll take a stand to bend the course of history. We’ll take to the streets to demand the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.

This event happens Sunday, September 21 in New York City.

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Vancouver will also have our own local event. Check the Facebook page. This happens Sunday, September 21 at 1:00 p.m.

We are at the crossroads of the future. Vancouver stands as either the terminus or the gateway of a potential flood of oil, coal and LNG headed out to contribute substantial, irreparable damage to the world’s earth, air and water. We are uniquely situated to act in defense of our planet by helping to stem that flood. Now is the historic time! We have waited all our lives for this moment, to discover that we are the ones we have been waiting for.

We are staging an event in Vancouver to mark our solidarity with the largest environmental protest in history, at the UN Climate Conference in New York on September 21st. This event page is to keep everybody informed as we get closer to the date. If you have ideas and want to help plan, there is also a Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PeoplesClimateMarch604/. We also need volunteers! If you’d like to help, we need drivers, sign and banner makers, posterers, tent assemblers, crowd marshals … contact aalarigakis@shaw.ca.

Trip to Tweedsmuir Provincial Park

I recently spent a few days up in beautiful, isolated northern-central BC, near Bella Coola, the “gateway to the Great Bear Rainforest”. My husband and I, and our moms, spent time enjoying the sights along the Atnarko River and the forests, including a trek back to see the Nuxalkmc petroglpyhs. This journey will be further explored in a book and short video titled The Enchanted Rainforest (coming out next year), but the following photos are a little teaser. These photos are copyright by Morgan and Mary Woodbury.

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Bella Coola Lodge, Hagensborg

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Atnarko River

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Tweedsmuir Provincial Park

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Mama and cubs

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Gardens at Kinikinik Lodge

Road Trip Summer 2009 1062

1.3 billions of gallons of mining waste flows into waterways

Road Trip Summer 2009 1062

According to Think Progress, a tailings pond leak near Mount Polley copper and gold mine was breached, spilling 1.3 billion gallons of slurry into nearby waterways. Tailings ponds hold a mix of water, minerals, and chemicals, forming “mining waste”. Included in the chemicals are arsenic, mercury, and sulfur. The immediate gush was into Hazeltine Creek in the Cariboo. The leak is the equivalent of 2,000 Olympic sized swimming pools.

Water bans are in effect for Likely, BC and others living near the spill, including Polley Lake, Quesnal Lake, Cariboo Creek, and the Quesnel and Cariboo River systems. Officials are still determining how far this effluent might travel and are hoping it doesn’t make its way to the Fraser River, which links to the Quesnel.

The area of the spill is not very populated, which makes response efforts tough, and the effects on the local watershed could be huge. Chief Anne Louie, from the Williams Lake Indian Band, said that the spill was a massive environmental disaster, and Robin Hood, president of the Likely Chamber of Commerce, told the Province that the spill was a “big disaster” for his town and that it poses a major risk to the region’s salmon-spawning grounds.

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Callout for contributors to Great Bear Rainforest project

105Moon Willow Press, which runs BC Rainforest, is working on a special project, named The Enchanted Rainforest, to culminate in 2015-2016. This rainforest project will celebrate the Pacific Northwest Temperate Rainforest with a video/school project, printed book, and e-book and will include information from our Great Bear Rainforest Series as well as contributor quotes and stories.

You are invited to become a contributor to The Enchanted Rainforest! Together we will inspire people to care more about preserving the “lungs of the earth,” the largest, intact temperate rainforest on our planet. Moon Willow Press describes this ancient realm:

Marked by lots of rainfall, misty horizons, glacier-fed rivers and inland lakes, moss-laden forest floors, mature trees, fjords, and great biodiversity, the forest could be described as sacred. The area boasts some of the oldest and most mature trees on the planet, including Sitka spruce, Douglas fir, red cedar, and western hemlock. The fir and spruce can reach up to 300 feet tall. The western red cedar can grow 19 feet in diameter. Myriad species interact in this region–which combines freshwater, terrestrial, estuarine, and marine geography–including salmon, marine-diet wolves, black and grizzly bears, eagles, orcas, sitka deer, marbled murrelets, foxes…

The project will also educate people about how the Northern Gateway, other pipeline projects, logging, and mining could threaten (if they haven’t already) this most beautiful but also critical habitat area for rare and/or endangered species.

What we are looking for:

  • Photos
  • Quotes (from people who have visited the area)
  • Story contributions: do you live in the area, or have you visited it; perhaps you would like to write a brief testimonial about your experiences
  • Corporate support for traveling to the rainforest in late 2014 or early 2015

All organizations and individuals helping to bring this project to completion will be credited in the book and video.

A portion of book sales will be donated to a non-profit working toward rainforest conservation. Interested non-profits may send letters of interest to Moon Willow Press.

Rowan berries

Thor’s helper

Oh how I love some mythology that comes along with my favorite trees. Out front we have a Rowan tree, Sorbus aucuparia. It’s called a Mountain Ash around here, but I prefer Rowan as it’s an Old Norse name for tree, or raun. Celtics also called it the Traveler’s Tree. The tree has a lot of other names too: variations of Quicken, Ran/Roan/Roden, Sorb apple, Whispering tree, Whitty, Wiggen, Wiggy…wait, what?

But my favorite of its nicknames is Thor’s helper. According to legends written at Anna Franklin’s website, in Scandinavian mythology:

Thor was trying to get to the land of the Frost Giants when an evil sorcerer caused the River Vimur to overflow just as he was trying to ford it.  A rowan tree bent down so that he could grasp it and scramble to safety; consequently the rowan became known as ‘Thor’s helper’ or ‘Thor’s tree’. The tree may have been conceived of as Thor’s wife Sif who is usually associated with the golden grain of the harvest, though rowan fruit matures at the same time. Sometimes, the rowan is said to have sprung from a lightening strike, and to embody the lightening. Norse ships had one plank of rowan wood inserted into the hull to protect them from the wrath of Ran, the sea goddess, in the belief that Thor would look after his own.

Also, because the wood of the tree is very thick, it’s good for making walking sticks, magician staves, and druid staffs. I need one of those!

Rowan berries

Rowan trees typically grow their fruit, little orange pomes, in late summer. We’ve not really had much of warm summer, but I noticed today that the berries are here now.

The species is native in Europe, western Asia, and north Africa in the mountains of Morocco. I’ve seen it quite a bit in British Columbia too. There’s a good deal of information here about its habitat and relationships with forest plants and animals.