Saturday, December 11, 2010


My little guys went to a birthday party today and the invitation said to dress him warm, and bring skating gear. I wasn't quite sure about this plan since it has been pretty cold the last while; around -20. Today though, it warmed up a bit (to -18) and the wind died down, so we bundled him up and headed out. It turns out that these people live a bit out of town and have a pond in their backyard which is frozen all the way through. So I took Allan off to the backyard where they have a large tent set up with plywood on the ground and a woodstove inside to keep it nice and warm; there I put on his skates and helmet. He and the other boys were skating around on the pond, passing pucks, and losing them in the bullrushes; the dogs were running around, onto the ice; the chimney from the tent was sending up smoke... it was such a Norman Rockwell image of winter... it was really awesome.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Research Paper - by S. Keeler

I have finally finished my research paper on the environmental impact of multiple dams on a river; in particular the reasons why the Site C dam should not be built. I have had a few mentions that people would like to read it... if you want to - here it is!



This article examines the environmental impact that dams have upon a river and its surrounding areas. In 2006, B.C. Hydro resurrected their plans to add another large dam, the Site C Dam, to the Peace River in Northeastern B.C. The plans have been met with much controversy both for and against the project. One of the many arguments for the construction of another dam on this particular river is that this river has already been compromised. The Peace River has two more large dams: the W.A.C. Bennet Dam, and the Peace Canyon Dam, just upstream from where the Site C Dam is proposed to go. According to these proponents for a new dam, the damage has already been done to this river; therefore, how would adding another dam be harmful?

Many studies and much research have been done on the environmental damage caused by large dams in terms of the negative impact on fish, water quality, habitat loss, recruitment of tree species, sediment flow to the deltas, loss of nutrient delivery to the oceans, as well as many more varieties of problems. The World Commission on Dams conducted a thorough study on dams around the world and found the environmental impact of large dams to be more negative than positive, and that they have lead to irreversible loss of species and ecosystems.
This paper examines how the environmental impacts on a river are compounded when there are multiple dams on a river. In this paper, I first explain the widespread environmental damage caused by adding a single dam. Next, I cover the problems that arise when more than one dam is placed on a river. Finally, I explain what the environmental outcome will likely be for the Peace River, when the Site C Dam is built. Thus, the research presented in this paper demonstrates that multiple dams on a river can be devastating to the environment and destroy the overall ecosystem of the river and because of these reasons, the Site C Dam should not be built.

“The 'Dammed' Site C”:
The Environmental Impact of Multiple Dams on a Single River

In 2006, B.C. Hydro resurrected their plans to add another large dam, the Site C Dam, to the Peace River in Northeastern B.C. The plans have been met with much controversy both for and against the project. One of the many arguments for the construction of another dam on this particular river is that this river has already been compromised. The Peace River has two more large dams: the W.A.C. Bennet Dam, and the Peace Canyon Dam, just upstream from where the Site C Dam is proposed to go. According to these proponents for a new dam, the damage has already been done to this river; therefore, how would adding another dam be harmful?

A large dam is defined by Thayer Scudder in The Future of Large Dams; Dealing with Social, Environmental, Institutional and Political Costs, as a dam that rises 15 metres or more from the foundation and has a reservoir capacity of over 3,000,000 cubic metres (2005). Many studies and much research have been done on the environmental damage caused by these dams in terms of the negative impact on fish, water quality, habitat loss, recruitment of tree species, sediment flow to the deltas, loss of nutrient delivery to the oceans, as well as many more varieties of problems. Jacques Leslie, the author of Deepwater; The Epic Struggle over Dams, Displaced People, and the Environment (2005), tells us that the World Commission on Dams conducted a thorough study on dams around the world and found the environmental impact of large dams to be more negative than positive, and that they have lead to irreversible loss of species and ecosystems.

Knowing that a single dam on a river can wreak such havoc on the ecosystem and the environment, and by looking at evidence from a variety of other large rivers around the world that are already extensively dammed, this paper examines how the environmental impacts on a river are compounded when there are multiple dams on a river. In this paper, I will first explain the widespread environmental damage caused by adding a single dam. Next, I will cover the problems that arise when more than one dam is placed on a river. This will be shown using evidence from the Columbia, Colorado, and the Nile Rivers; as these are some of the most extensively dammed and studied rivers in the world. Finally, I will explain what the environmental outcome will likely be for the Peace River, when the Site C Dam is built. Thus, the research presented in this paper will demonstrate that multiple dams on a river can be devastating to the environment and destroy the overall ecosystem of the river and because of these reasons, the Site C Dam should not be built.

A river is an essential part of our world's ecosystem. Rivers serve many different functions and uses around the world, but their essential function is to flow fresh water from mountains, springs, and snow run-off to the oceans. Sandra Postel, author of Where Have all the Rivers Gone, explains that as the river flows, the fresh water picks up nutrients from various organic and sedimentary sources. This nutrient rich water feeds the land and eventually the sea with this complex food web. This water sustains economically and culturally important fisheries; protects and feeds wetlands with their ability to filter out pollutants; provides habitat for a rich diversity of aquatic life; maintains water quality, including salt and sediment balances and a myriad of other important factors in the ecosystem balance (1995). Malcolm Only and Terry Prowse explain in their paper Multiple-hydrological stressors of a northern delta ecosystem that the river also creates habitat for land dwelling creatures; many amphibians and mammals seek shelter and food in the fertile areas that border the rivers (2000). Another important part in the function of a river is the delivery of seeds from trees and other plants. Michael Burke, Klaus Jorde and John Buffington explain that the seasonal fluctuations in the river's flow is directly related to when trees drop their seeds, the river aids in the distribution of those seeds to areas downstream (2008). Fast flowing rivers are also the best source for fresh drinking water; the constant flushing of the water keeps minerals from depositing too much and keeps the sediments from building up, which helps to maintain healthy, disease-free water (Postel 1995).

As the population of earth has grown and spread out, people have devised ways of manipulating water to serve their changing needs; large scale dams were once considered to be the answer to many problems. The Egyptian's have practiced irrigation and have drawn water from the Nile River for at least 5,000 years. While this once served as a viable practice, Sandra Postel tells us in her article, Where Have All the Rivers Gone, that the population of Egypt grows by approximately 1 million more people every nine months and that demands on the river are extreme. Postel also reports that globally, water demand has more than tripled since the 1950's and the rising demand has been met by building ever more and substantially larger water supply projects (1995). Jacques Leslie, the author of Deepwater: The Epic Struggle over Dams, Displaced People, and the Environment, writes that in 1950, there were 5,700 large dams worldwide; today there are more than 50,000. Leslie further states that large dams fragment 60% of the major river basins of the world and geophysicists believe that the dams have shifted so much weight that they have slightly altered the speed of the earth's rotation, the tilt of its axis, and the shape of its gravitational field (2005). This great diversion of water has served a very useful purpose; Leslie explains that hydro-electric turbines generate one-fifth of the world's electricity supply, and the water they store make possible as much as one-sixth of the earth's food production. People can now live in arid surroundings and not only have fresh water to drink, but also water for their crops and power for their homes and businesses (Leslie 2005).

Developed and developing nations have utilized dams to spur on economies and improve their citizen’s standard of living. Thayer Scudder explains in his book, The Future of Large Dams, that large dam projects were pushed forwards by powerful coalitions of politicians and civil servants on the basis of economic, social and political grounds. Following World War II large dams were seen as a boon to the economy in the creation of jobs during construction (2006). Scudder also adds that the dams then created hydro-power to use and sell, which was also a good for the economy. These dams diverted water to farmers fields and to areas that were normally arid, and they store water for use by urban populations (2006). Joel Osbourne Jr. talks about the many water projects in Southern California, that were designed to keep people coming to that area to keep the economy strong, in his article California's Pipe Dream (2010). Thayer Scudder asserts that developing nations often find that large dams remain a necessary option to deal with the needs of a human population that is expanding beyond the natural capacity of the area. Scudder goes on to explain that late-industrialized countries require these dams to address the poverty and rising expectations of large populations. The dams will be needed to store and transfer water to rapidly expanding urban areas and to provide electricity to those populations and the industries that must employ them if poverty is to be alleviated. Scudder claims that areas like India, where drought and flooding are the norm, need to control their water in order to become more economically viable (2006).

The environmental problems that have resulted from these large, singular dams have been numerous. Poor water quality is a serious result of these dams; when water stops flowing, as it does in the reservoirs behind the dams, the water temperature increases and there is an increased likeliness of disease and toxins (Harada & Yasuda 2004; Jud 2006; Scudder 2006). The nutrient rich silt that normally flows with the water in the river is also held back behind the dams. Since the nutrient rich flows aren't travelling down-stream, the wetlands and deltas are not receiving the nutrients to feed the aquatic and plant life which are, therefore, not thriving (Postel 1995). Joji Harada and Nario Yasuda advise in their article, Conservation and Improvement of the Environment in Dam Reservoirs, that the transformation of a river into a reservoir causes the habitat and breeding environment of plants and animals to shrink and disappear as the reservoir submerges rare plants and the nesting areas of birds and animals. There are many other environmental problems associated with large dams, but the main casualty of these dams have been the fresh-water fish.

Fresh-water fish have been the most obviously, adversely affected by these dams. Sandra Postel reports that aquatic organisms can not live long without water; large reductions in stream-flow, even for a short period of time, can be damaging or deadly to them. Postel states that the total diversity of animal life per unit area of a river is 65 times greater than that of oceans. Postel continues to say that the American Fisheries Society lists 364 species and sub-species of fish in North America as threatened, endangered or of concern and the vast majority of those are at risk due to habitat destruction (1995). Alexanra Ravinet expands on those numbers in her article Rivers Get Over the Dam, by saying that dams have contributed to the extinction of 106 native salmon and trout stock in four Western states, despite hatching programs and fish passages (1999). Charles Boggs et al, explain the obstacles that fish face in the article Iteoparity in Columbia River summer-run steelhead: implications for conservation. The physical aspect of the dam has direct mortality hazards in the form of the turbine blades, the rapid changes in pressure as well as trauma from passage over the spill-way; but then there are also the indirect effects including “energetically costly migration delays, accumulated physiological stress and possible adverse timing between migration and readiness for ocean entry” (2008). Then, as Shem Baker Jud illustrates in his paper Salmon as Lazarus in the Oregon Desert, there is also the issue of the non-migrating fish that are trapped behind the dam and the small genetic pool they remain in; or the other fish who attempt to migrate but get stuck in the disorienting currents of the reservoir which wind up trapping the fish deep in the lake. Jud advises that our reliance on fish-farms to re-stock fish is not enough because the fish-farms tend to breed fish with commercial viability; however, there are many other species of endangered fish, which have no commercial value, that are of vital importance to the bio-diversity of the river (2006).

With each additional dam that is added to a river, the environmental problems associated with the first dam re-occur, and are often compounded. In looking specifically at the Kootenai River in western North America; a study by Michael Burke, Klause Jorde and John Buffington was done to analyze the relative effects of multiple dams by studying the hydrology, channel hydraulics, bed flow mobility and the consequences for recruitment of riparian trees. On this particular stretch of river that they studied there were two dams; the Corra Linn Dam built in 1938, and further downstream was the Libby Dam built in 1974. Burke, Jorde and Buffington's study found that the Libby dam was responsible for the majority of the environmental impacts: namely broad changes in hydrology, water quality and sediment supply, changes in channel hydraulics and bed mobility. Whereas they found that the older dam, the Corra Linn, was more responsible for adversely affecting the recruitment of riparian trees, which rely on seasonal fluctuations in flow patterns for seedlings to establish themselves down-stream. Overall in their study, Burke, Jorde and Buffington found that the Corra Linn was responsible for some of the impact but that the impact from the Libby Dam dominates, accounting for 91% of the total changes, within their parameters (2008).

Additional environmental problems arise when even more dams are added to a river. It is the decline of the worlds largest rivers that most graphically convey the magnitude of the problem. Where Have all the Rivers Gone, by Sandra Postel, tells us that the Colorado River ranks among the most heavily plumbed water course in the world. Controlled by more than 20 dams it now irrigates approximately 800,000 hectares of farmland, serves the household needs of more that 21 million people and generates 12 billion kilowatt hours of energy annually. Postel goes on to explain that in 1922 seven U.S. States signed the Colorado River Compact which divided up the water between them. Unfortunately when doing so, they over-estimated the river's annual flow of water, they didn't include Mexico's portion of the water, nor did they designate any water for the river environment itself (1995). Now, except in years of unusually high floods, the entire flow of water is captured and used – and has been for some time. Postel points out that flow readings at El Meritimo, the southern-most measuring station on the Colorado, were discontinued in 1968 because there was nothing to measure. The Colorado used to carry tons of salt to the Gulf of California, now this salt is being spread across the irrigated landscape, poisoning the soil. The nutrient-full silt that normally flows down the river and feeds the wetlands, estuaries, deltas and eventually the sea; is all trapped behind the numerous dams (1995). Postel further reveals that the delta and upper Gulf of California comprise the largest and most critical desert wetland in the American Southwest, as well as one of the world's most diverse and productive sea ecosystems. Besides drying up wetlands and causing a severe deterioration in water quality, the reduction in freshwater flow has also cut the flow of nutrients to the sea and reduced critical habitat for the Gulf's nursery grounds. Postel reveals that the catches from the upper Gulf of California shrimp and other fisheries have dropped off steeply as the river lessened and more than one third of the species of fish that rely on this river are now extremely endangered (1995).

The historian Donald Worster was quoted as saying the Columbia River in Western North America, is “a river that died and was reborn as money”. According to Kai Lee's article The Columbia River Basin; Experimenting with Sustainability, the Columbia river basin's 19 major dams, together with more than five dozen smaller hydro projects, constitute the world's largest hydro-electric power system. Lee goes on to explain that the river basin has also become a plantation of more than 3 million acres watered by some of the world's largest irrigation works, including the Columbia Basin Project anchored at Grand Coulee, which is the largest dam in the United States (1989). Ellie Willinghoff reveals in her article Columbia River Power Play, that the Pacific Northwest salmon stocks were some of the world's richest, but after these dams were built the supply of Royal Chinooks and other native salmon on the Columbia river is down to about 1.5% of where it had been 100 years ago (1994).

Another example of a river that is in serious trouble is the famous Nile. Like the Colorado, the Nile is a lifeline for a desert area that gets virtually no rain. According to Sandra Postel's Where Have All the River's Gone, it sustains 60 million people and irrigates 3 million hectares of cropland. Postel explains that Egypt has practice irrigation for at least 5,000 years using a basic pattern of water use called “basin irrigation” in which a series of canals formed large basins that stair-stepped downstream. Postel further illustrates that the Nile water was diverted into the higher basins, flooding them and depositing nutrient rich silt. The water then drained successively into each lower basin, until at the end of the sequence it re-entered the Nile to flow into the Mediterranean (1995). According to Postel, this was considered by experts to be an ecologically sustainable adaptation to the natural environment; however, this system also limited crop production to just a third of the year. During the 19th century, Postel notes, Egypt converted to perennial irrigation with an extensive system of small dams and canals. This persisted until the 1960's when the High Dam at Aswan was built and provided complete control over the Nile's water. Postel writes that before the Aswan dam was built, approximately 32 billion cubic meters of water flowed down the Nile to the sea each year. In 1995 the amount of freshwater reaching the Mediterranean was only 1.8 billion cubic meters; all of which was released during the winter, when crops need less irrigation (1995). Postel continues to explain that a substantial amount of the water that does reach the sea has first irrigated the delta's rice, cotton and other crops, so what reaches the Mediterranean is salty, polluted, farm drainage. Postel claims that of the 47 commercial fish species that were thriving in the Nile before the dams, only 17 were still being harvested a decade after the dams completion. However, Postel speculates that perhaps the most threatening long term consequence of the Nile's diminished flow is that of the delta: a vital part of the country's economy, which is slowly falling into the sea. Most river deltas naturally subside from the weight of their own sediment, but under natural conditions the deposits of silt from the river usually counter this subsidence. Postel points out that the Nile delta stopped growing 100 years ago when the first small dams were built, but since the completion of the High Dam, which traps virtually all of the silt in Lake Nassar, the delta has been in retreat. Borg-el-Borellos, a former delta village, is now two kilometers out to sea (1995).

The Peace river is an important natural ecosystem; it is part of the Peace-Athabasca delta which is one of the world's largest freshwater deltas. Terry Prowse and Malcolm Conly's study of Multiple-hydrologic stressors of a northern delta ecosystem, outlines the important factors of this river and its basin: this river has a large wetland habitat; the basin has one of the largest undisturbed grasslands in North America, with a large variety of animal life including bison; the river and its basin are of national and international significance for waterfowl and other migratory bird species; the river is a major spawning site for a variety of fish populations (2000). The Peace river has already been altered from it's natural state by the two large dams that are already upon it; the W.A.C. Bennet dam and the Peace Canyon dam. Prowse and Conly make note of the fact that during the time when the reservoir behind the W.A.C. Bennet dam was being filled (1968-1971), the water levels in the river were reduced by approximately 36%, exposing 500 square kilometres of mudflats, which had dramatic consequences including a serious reduction in the muskrat population (2000). Michael Church writes, in his paper titled Change and Adaptability, that another outcome has been a proliferation of beavers; due to the relative stabilization of water levels, which in turn is a result of a change in flow pattern from the dams. The seasonal flow pattern in the first 100 kilometres has been inverted from a traditional late spring freshet (high flow levels due to snow melt) and a low winter flow to a winter high and a summer low pattern (2009). Church declares that even below the first major tributary at the Pine River, the flow regime has been altered and that this effect is measurable all the way to the Peace-Athabasca delta, 1200 km downstream. Church also reports that the winter ice occurrence has been changed: in most years there is no ice at all in the first 100 km after the dam. He states that the former flood plain of the river is now a dry terrace, and that as far downstream as the town of Peace River, Alberta, the gravel bed is not moving as it formerly did (2009). This change in the flow of the river will have undoubtedly affected fish populations; and as we learned from Charles Boggs et al, in the article Iteoparity in Columbia River summer-run steelhead: implications for conservation, fish don't cope well with changes in the temperature of the water, nor with altered flow patterns, and that the changes in the gravel bed have a negative effect on spawning (2008). Michael Church carries on to say that the trees which grow along the river have been changing as well; with an influx of poplar, alder and willow as well as a reduction in spruce, jackpine, and white birch (2009).

B.C. Hydro's proposal for a third dam on the Peace River is for another large scale dam, the Site C dam. According to B.C. Hydro's website, the Site C dam is going to be approximately 1,100 meters in length and rise 60 meters above the river bed. The reservoir will be 83 km long and they estimate that when it is flooded, the river will be two to three times its current width and it will flood 5,340 hectares (2010). With this additional dam we can expect more environmental damage. Conly and Prowse suggest that as the reservoir is being filled, the flow of the river will decrease; to the detriment of plant and animal life bordering the river (2000). Church advises us that the gravel beds will be even further altered, affecting even more spawning grounds of fish and thereby declining their populations. Church also declares that the riparian forests will continue to change as the river is blocked and the lake behind the dam grows (2009). Postel's article Where Have all the Rivers Gone, warns us that the Peace-Athabasca delta and estuary may be in jeopardy as less sediment and silt will travel down the river to deliver nutrients (1995). There are likely to be a lot more environmental outcomes that we won't know about until after the dam is built.

Jacques Leslie explains, in his book Deepwater; The Epic Struggle over Dams, Displaced People, and the Environment, that the World Bank; the world's largest dam financier, was under pressure from critics to establish policies to protect indigenous people and tighten regulations to limit environmental harm, in terms of the dams that they were funding. In the mid-1990's the World Bank agreed to create an independent commission that could arrive at an honest assessment of all large dams. Leslie tells us the result was the formation of the World Commission on Dams; an independent body of twelve commissioners, charged with assessing dams impacts, positive and negative, and providing guidelines for future construction (2005). Leslie informs us that in pursuit of fair representation, the commissioners were drawn equally from three categories; pro-dam, mixed, and anti-dam and two and a half years after its formation the commission revealed a final report. Leslie writes that the report titled Dams and Development: A New Framework for Decision-Making, was a huge report based on the findings from the most thorough study of dams impacts ever conducted; and it seems to confirm many dam opponents claims (2005). Leslie reveals that the report said that large dams construction typically ran behind schedule and over-ran budgets; that irrigation dams typically did not recover their costs, did not produce the volume of water expected and were less profitable than forecast; that the environmental impacts were more negative than positive and that they have led to irreversible loss of species and ecosystems. Leslie then continues to explain that the document went on to provide a framework for building dams in the future and most controversially it lists 26 guidelines meant to replace the existing arbitrary and politically weighted process of dam decision making. The World Bank, says Leslie, which was gambling on a more favourable report, rejected the Commission's report saying it was too cumbersome (2005).

It is not a question of whether or not large dams adversely affect the environment; it is a fact and all the people involved in the building and creation of large dams know this. At the very minimum the fish and water quality are affected: at the extreme, the entire river dries up and dies. This in turn creates a cascade of problems from the salt deposits left on the land, poisoning the soil; the drying up of the delta and estuaries leading to loss of habitat for aquatic and land based creatures; the loss of nutrients to the estuary to feed the sea life; the subsidence of the delta into the sea; overall a complete deterioration of an ecosystem. However, on the other hand, we need water to water our crops, to drink, and to wash. We need electricity and hydro-power does not release fossil fuel pollution into our environment; is there a solution to this problem? There isn't a solution as yet, but perhaps some steps in the right direction. The initial step forward involves better water management of the dams that are already in place: to recognize that there are limits to the amount of water that can be diverted from a river and also to release flows that mimic natural highs and lows. Both of these should be mandatory requirements that would immediately benefit the river environment. As for future dams, including the Site C Dam, they should have to meet all the criteria of the World Commission on Dams and if they do not, then the dam should not be built. In the process of trying to meet the criteria of the World Commission on Dams; all planning of should be flexible and transparent in order to minimize public conflict. Only if all parties involved are informed and in agreement, and all the criteria of the World Commission on Dams are met, should a large dam be built. Once that dam is built there should be a governing body that ensures that the operation of that dam stays within the boundaries of the river management protocols that the World Commission on Dams has devised. Knowing that the proposed Site C Dam has been rejected in the past as unfeasible, I do not believe that it will meet the criteria set out by the World Commission on Dams, and they certainly don't have agreement with all the parties involved; and thus for these reasons, the Site C Dam should not be built.

Cited References
B.C. Hydro. 2010 Jun. Fact sheets; Site C backgrounder. (Internet). B.C. Hydro Website. (cited 2010 Nov 12); Available from PDF file.

Bankes Nigel. 2004. Environment: Garrison Dam, Columbia River, the IJC, NGOS. Canada. US Law J. (Internet). (cited 2010 Oct 12); 30: 117-127. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO registration required for access.

Boggs Charles T, Evans Allen F, Keefer Matthew L, Peery Christopher A, Wertheimer Robert H. 2008 Dec. Iteroparity in Columbia River summer-run steelhead (oncorhynchus mykiss): implications for conservation. Cdn J Fisheries & Aquatic Sc. (Internet). (cited 2010 Oct 7); 65(12): 2592-2605. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO registration required for access.

Bourne Joel K Jr. 2010 Apr. California's pipe dream; a heroic system of dams, pumps, and canals can't stave off a water crisis. Ntnl Geographic. 217(4): 132-145.

Buffington John M,Burke Michael, Jorde Klaus. 2009 Jul. Application of a hierarchical framework for assessing environmental impacts of dam operation: Changes in streamflow, bed mobility and recruitment of riparian trees in a western North American river. J Env Mgmt. (Internet). (cited 2010 Oct 7); 90: S224-S236. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO registration required for access.

Cash Kevin J, Culp Joseph M, Wrona Frederick J. 2000. Integrated assessment of ecosystem integrity of large Northern rivers: the Northern river basins study example. J Aquatic Ecosystem Stress & Recovery. (Internet). (cited 2010 Oct 12); 8(1): 1-5. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO registration required for access.

Church Michael. 2009 Spr. Change and adaptability. BC Studies. (Internet). (cited 2010 Oct 7); 161: 96-97. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO registration required for access.

Conly Malcolm F, Prowse Terry D. 2000. Multiple-hydrologic stressors of a Northern delta ecosystem. J Aquatic Ecosystem Stress & Recovery. (Internet). (cited 2010 Oct 12); 8(1): 17-26. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO registration required for access.

Gummer William D, et al. 2000. The Northern river basins study: context and design. J Aquatic Ecosystem Stress & Recovery. (Internet). (cited 2010 Oct 12); 8(1): 7-16. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO registration required for access.

Harada Joji, Yasuda Nario. 2004. Conservation and improvement of the environment in dam reservoirs. Int J Water Res Dvlp.(Internet). (cited 2010 Oct 12) 20.1: 77-96. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO registration required for access.

Jud Shems Baker. 2006 Fal. Salmon as Lazarus in the Oregon desert: The historic settlement and relicensing of the Pelton-Round Butte project. Natu Res J. (Internet). (cited 2010 Oct 7); 46(4): 1043-1079. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO registration required for access.

Lee Kai N. 1989. The Columbia River basin: experimenting with sustainability. Environ. (Internet). (cited 2010 Oct 12); 31(6): 1-10. Academic Search Premier. .EBSCO registration required for access.

Leslie Jacques. 2005. Deepwater; the epic struggle over dams, displaced people and the environment. New York: Picador. 347p.

Postel Sandra. 1995. Where have all the rivers gone? World Watch. (Internet). (cited 2010 Oct 13); 8(3): 9-19. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO registration required for access.

Ravinet Alexanra. 1999 Jul 8. Rivers get over the dam. Christian Sci Monitor. (Internet). (cited 2010 Oct 12); 91(155): 14p. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO registration required for access.

Scudder Thayer. 2006. The future of large dams; dealing with social, environmental, institutional and political costs. Sterling (VA): Earthscan. 338p.

Winninghoff Ellie. 1994 Nov 21. Where have all the salmon gone? Forbes. (Internet). (cited 2010 Oct 7); 154(12): 104-116. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO registration required for access.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Super Frost...

I think it may actually be called Hoar Frost, but that might be something completely different. We had really thick fog last night and this morning we went outside to beautiful weather, cold (about -15 so not too cold) and clear and the antenna on my van was over an inch around with frost. The weeping birch trees around town look amazingly cool with this thick white coating all over them, but it is too chilly for my camera to go for a walk, so the pictures are just from my yard but even the chain link looks pretty...

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Pet Peeve...

I despise pushing the shopping buggies through the parking lots in winter. Between the rocks that jam into the little tires and make them stop and the snow which make the wheels stick... I really, really don't like it. (grumble, grumble, grumble...)

That was my whine for the day, which is otherwise a good day. So pretty minor in the whole scheme of things! Except that someone should really come over and put away my groceries, as I seem to be playing on the computer instead.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sugar Snow

I was having a conversation with Hubby's Mom the other day and she asked if we had a lot of snow, since she had heard we had been having a fair bit recently. After telling her we only have an inch or two, I realized that is slightly misleading... Our snow is not like the snow on the Coast and Island. Our snow is so fine, it is a powder. It is easier to sweep it away, than to shovel it. You can blow on it, and you get a big cloud of it in the air. Each little snowflake is about the size of a sugar crystal, so when we have an inch or two - that is actually quite an accumulation. All those little crystals of snow have filled in every nook and cranny to build up those two inches.

This is in comparison to on the Coast where the snow is more like cornflakes (or bigger). Two inches of cornflakes build up much faster than two inches of sugar... and the Island now has about a foot of snow, (I heard). Where we have an inch or two... HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Third Time's the Charm...

Twice so far this year, we have had snow. And twice so far this year, I thought "that's it, winter is here." And twice so far, I have been wrong! As a result we have had a fabulously long fall, very mild temperatures and overall beautiful weather... until now. This week, it got cold! Minus 18 kind of cold, but with a windchill to make it much colder! Then yesterday it started to snow, the powder fine, sparkly snow that sounds like corn starch. This kind of snow doesn't build up very much because it is so fine; my grass is white, but I can still see bits of grass poking through. I had to shovel the driveway, but it wasn't hard to do. (Although my legs were stinging from the cold when I got in!) Today is another beautiful day, the sun is making the snow twinkle and shine... but it is cold. I think when I say that "winter is here to stay", I will be right this time. And considering that the Santa Claus Parade is tomorrow, winter was right on time!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Photo Shoot!

So the family and I decided that it was time we had a family photo done, considering it has been a few years since we last did one. The problem is... I am kind of cheap and self-conscious so the idea of paying someone to come and take pictures of us, really weirds me out. I was planning to do it at home, we have a pretty good camera and a lovely house... what more do we need? Well, the thing is that we have been having the most amazing fall ever. We are now mid-November and I still have grass.
So hubby suggested that we take the photos outside somewhere, I assumed the park by our house but he had other ideas.

He had seen three moose, that morning, out at an area of town known as Frozen John and thought it would make a cool backdrop to have some moose behind us... I wasn't too sure about this idea after hearing how mean moose are, but why not! So we took our tired and cranky kids

(and selves) to Frozen John for a photo shoot. It was fun! The moose were still there, but they left when they realized we were coming to town

but a deer came boinging through the background as I was getting ready to take another shot.

I am now regretting that we didn't do this last month when the fall colours were out, but I still think that for our first official photo shoot, with a tri-pod even, turned out pretty good.

Monday, November 1, 2010

All Saints Day

I am pretty sure that All Saints Day is the day after Halloween? This was our third halloween up here; the first year we had rain, last year we had snow, and this year it was... DRY! No snow, no rain, not even very cold! Maria wore her little mime slippers and just a sweater, Allan only had on his turtleneck shirt and cape... not a parka in sight!

It goes to show you (me) that just as soon as you think you have figured out the weather, it will surprise you since this was how it looked last week! Hello Chinook, I think I love you!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ob La Di...

Life goes on and I don't post on here because I am busy... but I have had a nag, nagging at me to post on here so here I am!!

We have had a fabulous, beautiful fall... but now it is over and winter is here. Did you see that, I skipped right past fall, apparently it is easy to do up here because sometimes it goes straight from summer to winter, but this year we were lucky enough to have about 6 weeks of lovely fall. The weather was gorgeous, although cooler than on the coast. The trees were brilliantly yellow, and we had very little rain. On Friday, though, it started to snow... and it snowed a bit and then stopped and looked like it would melt, but no. Then Saturday and Sunday it snowed and we wound up with about 6 inches or more of heavy, wet snow... which has actually been a bit of a treat for the kids because we rarely get wet snow up here so they could actually build snowmen! Normally they can't because the snow is normally like flour up here, it is dry and light and fluffy and you can not make it stick together.

So the snow tires are now on and the yard has been cleared for winter... it is supposed to be a nasty one! They are calling it La Nina but I read an article saying that the North Atlantic Current (part of the Gulf Stream) dissolved following the oil spill this summer, which meant that we were going to have some extremely cold temperatures this year... either way, brr!

My school is going well, it has turned out to be a lot more work than I expected and not as easy as I was anticipating. Apparently I have an ego and it is fairly large. This course has knocked it down to size... a little bit. I am doing well, my small assignments have all received good marks so far (with one exception, I got one c+, which was my ego corrector). I have only had one of my larger assignments graded so far, I got an A- which I was happy with but Maria thought that was rather disappointing! The part I am really enjoying is the research. Our largest project which is due at the end of the term is a research essay and I am doing mine on the environmental impacts of dams... A topic I am very interested in as I have never been too happy with the idea of the Site C Dam that they are planning to build up here. My research has been fascinating and the library resources that the college has up here are awesome, but I am more opposed to the dam than I was before. I had no idea of the impact of the dams and the state of our fresh water systems worldwide... it is truly frightening.

Anyway, enough babbling from me. I am all over the place here, but as I said... someone was nagging me to write on here, now he can stop for a few days!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

More From the Summer

Our summer was so busy and full and there are so many things to share on here... but the one thing that happened this summer, that I have never experience before, was a flash flood.

Living in Squamish and on the Island, I have certainly experienced floods. In those places sometimes it rains and rains and rains. It rains so much for so long that eventually rivers/lakes/ditches just overflow. This usually takes a while of heavy steady rain though, days or maybe weeks.

The flood here in Fort St John happened after we had had about two months almost without any rain at all. The day of the flood was actually, quite a nice day! But in the afternoon, as is often the case up here, a wind started up. This wind was soon blowing like crazy and the kids came running in from outside (you know it is pretty good when the kids come in, they have been known to chase little mini-tornadoes down the street). Then around 5 o'clock it started to rain... by 5:30 it was raining so hard I took a video of it. (** This video didn't work on here... it is a sketchy, video of RAIN so it isn't very exciting, but it was REALLY heavy rain you could see in a video!)

The only time I had ever seen rain that heavy was when hubby and I were in Florida. We went out for a walk around the South Beach area before we were to catch a plane to the Bahamas (I just had to rub that in a bit). Anyway as we were out for this walk in Florida, it started to rain. We watched everyone run for cover as it started to rain, and we just laughed to ourselves thinking what wimps these people were... We came from the land of rain, here we were in a warm tropical place, a little rain was going to feel nice! Nothing to run from! Well, then it started to rain harder and harder, within a few moments we were practically alone on the streets (everyone else had run for cover!) and we were starting to try to find cover under a palm tree... that was no good so we went for a doorway. It was like someone had dumped buckets of water on us, and was still dumping them from the sky. The edges of the road were full to the sidewalks and little creeks were running down the sidewalks too. Anyway, we wound up having to walk in the rain anyway because we had to get back to the hotel to catch a taxi to get on an airplane, by the time we got to the hotel they just laughed at us and gave us towels to dry off with in the lobby.

Back to FSJ! It was raining so hard and still blowing like crazy and then the lightning and thunder started. We get some pretty awesome thunderstorms up here, some last for hours, some are so close they shake your whole house. This one did both! I quickly cooked up dinner before the power went out and stood at the window watching. The power flickered off and on a few times before it finally stayed off... and then that was it. By 6:45 the storm was over, the sun came out and it was beautiful outside. Hubby gets home from work around 7 o'clock and he barely saw any of the storm (he works about 20 minutes south-east from home). They didn't have any of it at his work.

So once the sun came out and hubby came home, we decided to go outside and see if there were any problems... mostly around our window-well that doesn't drain very well (at all!). So we went and bailed some water out of it (it wasn't too bad though) and picked up the things that had blown around/away. My daughter then noticed that the back alley was a lake... so while we were out there looking at that, we looked over at the park a few doors down from us and saw a real lake.

There is not supposed to be a lake over at this park, although that would be excellent, so my hubby being male, instantly thought about toys and wheeled his inflatable boat over and took the kids for a boat ride at their park. They rowed around for about an hour, there is a large drainage ditch that is supposed to contain the water, but there was just so much it overflowed the banks... by a lot. Overall only a large field and the ditches overflowed, so it was great and they had a ball.

No damage to property, at least at our end of town. The other end of town didn't fair so well, some basements filled up and the movie theatre was filled up the the third row of seats. Also, one house was struck by lightning, although apparently they only had a small fire at their fuse box.

The city requested everyone get an assessment of the damages to make a claim for disaster relief and last I heard they didn't have enough damages to qualify. So overall it was more exciting than damaging. The truly strange part to me was the fact that the next morning, when I got up and looked over at the park, the lake was GONE. Our lake was only there for the one evening and then gone... Another strange thing that came out after the fact was that we got so much rain in those two hours (I forget how much now, but a lot) and yet to the east and west of us by ten minutes, they barely got any rain at all, only a light shower of rain. This included our airport which is where our official weather is documented. This means that according to the records, we had almost no rain for the month of July, well below normal levels...

It was awesome to see and witness such a powerful storm, it makes me realize that I can't even imagine what it might be like in a real hurricane. But there you go, we had a tropical storm... in the prairies!

Another sketchy video, this one showing the lightning flashes, hearing the thunder and watching the lights go out, come on and go out... as well as the kids and the dog!

Saturday, September 4, 2010


In my past life (i.e. before I finished high school!) I wanted to be an archaeologist. I had visions of myself going all over the world on fabulously boring, meticulous digs... I had no disillusion about the excitement level, I wasn't expecting Indiana Jones. I think I was pretty rational in my thought process. When I mentioned my plans to others, however, they brought up a few fairly valid points, one of which was particularly valid; my dislike (some would say phobia) of bugs, of which there are a lot of when digging. So I went in an entirely different direction after high school, but have always kept an interest in all things ancient.

Before we moved up north here we visited some friends who live in this area and he showed us the stone slabs he has at the base of his porch steps... full of fossils. I was captivated, where, when, how did he get these?! He said these particular ones came from a mountain nearby, but there were fossils all over the place up here.
Then we moved up here and I learned more and more about the fossils and finds that have been preserved in the clay that is everywhere up here. So many First Nations artifacts found that there is, in fact, a lot of work for archaeologists in this area. The oil companies (and developments of any kind) must first have the area sampled by archaeologists before they can dig and often items are found.

I have been on the hunt for a fossil of my own since arriving, we have scoured the riverbanks and found many 'possible' fossils, but nothing definite. Auntie Carol came and found a well deserved fossil at the slippery Beatton River, but I never did... until my sister was here recently.
We were again at the Beatton River and on our way down to the beach Allan came across a small pile of rocks with fossils in them, obviously gathered by someone and left behind. That was exciting enough on its own! After a while of swimming in the river though, and looking at the rocks along the banks, my sister, or one of her kids went into the grassy area up the bank a ways, and there were hundreds of rocks absolutely full of fossils. The grass was also absolutely full of ants (biting ones!) so we grabbed a couple of quick bucketfuls and left... perhaps next time we go the ants won't be out and we can look a bit more carefully! So we divided up the rocks between us and now... we have some fossils!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How Did My Garden Grow...

It has been a challenge, to garden up here. I thought I was a pretty good gardener on the Island... not so good at weeding, but very good at growing things. It turns out that may have had more to do with the climate on the Island, than my abilities as a gardener!Slowly my garden is taking shape, slowly the trees and shrubs are growing. Apparently "slow" is the key word for anything perennial up here. My backyard garden which I was bemoaning the state of earlier this summer, looks quite good now. The trees recovered, somewhat, and the shrubs are looking great and my Mom and I added a bunch of new things (lillies, hostas, astilbe, and other plants) which have done really well over the summer. Still it seems slow, and we will have to wait to see the state of it next year.Annuals, on the other hand, grow like crazy! I have never been particularly fond of annuals, except for a little bit here or there... I still am of much the same mind, but they do have there places, and up North is one of them! I have a very plain, rectangular front garden which I planted with veggies and annuals this year.

Early in the summer



This front garden has grown amazingly well! I planted quite a lot in it, considering its size, but I figured I might as well fill it up. I was slightly concerned that it would look sparse, being a veggie garden... boy was I wrong! I planted tomatoes, carrots, radishes, kale, lettuce, spinach, peas, zucchini, beans, marigolds that Papa MacLeod started from seed before he passed away this year and sunflowers. The snapdragons came back, all by themselves!
Everything grew and grew and grew! We ate all the carrots and radishes, peas and beans. We are almost finished the lettuce (miniature Iceberg lettuce, it was fantastic!).
I am working us through the zucchini, we ate some spinach (I planted way too much).

The tomato plant is absolutely loaded with tomatoes, however they are mostly green still (they better hurry, we had frost already!). The kale, however, was supposed to be purple and pretty, but it isn't either. It also isn't very tasty. So we left the kale for the caterpillars, who LOVE it! The kids love the caterpillars and the little white butterflies which come before/after the caterpillars! There seems to be another advantage of leaving the kale for the bugs in that the bugs have left everything else alone... including my lettuce which was right beside the kale! Fair trade I think! It has been fun having a veggie garden and the kids love picking and eating everything, which is great. It has also been nice just planting and seeing what happens, knowing it will only be for the year anyway... a bit more "c'est la vie" than I normally am when it comes to my garden!

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Next Step...

I love being a mom. I never particularly wanted to be a mom, before I became a mom. I never ogled over babies, or even wanted to hold them. In fact, babies terrified me... but biological clocks, being what they are - I changed my mind and we had kids. To my surprise, I found my calling - so to speak. I felt very at ease and comfortable with my role as Mom and my kids have responded beautifully to the point where I happen to think that I am a pretty good Mom... my kids think so anyway (but ask them again when they are in their 20's!). I haven't felt any desire to go back to work or do something outside the home, and I am fortunate to be in a position where I don't have to work.

However, this year my baby starts grade one. Grade one is big. Grade one means that they will both be gone, all day. My life is about to shift into the next chapter and I have been very uncertain where this chapter should go. On the one hand, I am pretty confident that I could go out and get a good paying job... a job that I would possibly enjoy doing. But doing that job means that now my kids would possibly need after school care and what about during Christmas, Easter and Summer breaks from school. Where do they go then. I also am very guilty of wanting to be included in many things... hubby does get a lot of time off, (but his schedule is all over the place) and if he and the kids are going to do something fun, I would much rather join them and make it a family affair, than be stuck at work. Hence my dilemma... what to do...

I am pretty certain that the first month of the kids being at school all day and me having time to myself, would be pretty much heavenly. I love them, but a break is always good! After the first month of school though, I think it would be very easy to get in a bad place, personally. To not have some"thing" to describe yourself doing. I could fill my time with this and that but when someone was to ask me what I do... how would I answer.

So after much soul searching about what I thought I should do, it occurred to me that I would love to go back to college. I thoroughly enjoyed college, the open-mindedness, the discussions, the learning, the discovery and the writing. It was a much more enjoyable thing than BCIT. BCIT was a means to an end, but it wasn't enjoyable. College was. I never got a degree from college, a thing which I would love to have, but not necessarily my goal at this point in time... at this point in time I need something to engage me, give me a purpose and a schedule, and something to keep me moving forward, so I do not stagnate. I will start slow and see where it goes from there... until my time is a bit more free for myself. So I started with an online English course which will give me the freedom to still be there if the kids are sick or have a pro-d day... maybe next semester I will take more but for now, this is all I can envision.

So it is back to school for the kids and me!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Home Again... and summer is nearly done.

We have had a busy, busy summer. We were blessed with having several rounds of visitors in the beginning of summer; Hubby's parents came up here at the end of May, my parents came up at the end of June and my sister and her kids came up at the end of July. I have had more friends up here make comment on how much company we get, and we are thankful for it. It is a LONG way to travel, and not a destination people would otherwise choose, but we have a wonderful family and friends who make the drive anyway... we are lucky!

Aside from company, the beginning of summer was also busy with outings. We went to the rivers, the Peace River was really low this year due to very little rain so the kids got to slide down the mudbanks again, and again I didn't have the camera! We found fossils at Beaton River, we explored Dawson Creek (which we hadn't done previously as we normally beeline to
the cousins house!) visited their museums and Rotary Lake. Rotary Lake was good enough that we went back again another time, it is a man made lake that isn't very deep, but it is perfect for the kids to swim in. We visited our museum and Charlie Lake for swimming (amid a fish fly hatch I think!), and another time to Charlie Lake for boating and fishing (still no fish for us!). We went to the fair, to the circus, to the movies and we had a flash flood!

Then in the beginning of August, we went on vacation. We decided this year to just go to Squamish, not include the Island as well. This was for several reasons, to be able to have a good visit with our parents, not rushed. For us to feel like we actually have a vacation, not rushing around. Also, to really explore Squamish, the town Hubby and I grew up in, with our kids and also do some of the neat things there are to do so close to Squamish.
The Chief...

Although it did feel a bit wrong being so close to the Island and not going over, but both of my sisters came to Squamish to see us, and it was lovely.

While in Squamish we went to Alice Lake, twice! We explored Nexxen Beach, which I had never been to before, as it was an industrial site when I grew up... I like it better as a beach!
View from Nexxen Beach, it was very windy this day and there was a sail boat race as well as kite-boarders out on the Sound.

We had a great time visiting with all of our family and letting the kids play, but we also headed into the city and took the kids to Maplewoods Farm, which was lovely and the kids really enjoyed. They particularly liked riding the toy tractors and feeding the ducks.

After going to the farm, we headed over to Stanley Park and explored all over the park, but the kids had the biggest memorable moment with the raccoons at Lookout Point. The raccoons there have learned that if they run at people, the people will drop their food and run away... So the whole time we were there the kids were slightly freaked out,as we saw this happen just as we arrived, but also intrigued. There were more incidents while we were looking around so it was quite exciting!

On another day, we took the kids to Science World, which was pretty awesome.
It was expensive to get in, but once you are in, all the exhibits are open for you to explore.There was a Pirate Treasure exhibit at Science World while we were there...

We spent hours inside there and we all had fun, there are so many things to see and do, I am sure we missed a lot, but we ran out of time before we ran out of interest.

On another trip into Vancouver (and past way out to Langley) we went to the Greater Vancouver Zoo. The zoo was also a lot of fun and we spent the whole day there as well...
One of our day trip we went the other way. We went to Whistler instead of Vancouver, with Hubby's Mom and rode the gondola's and chairlifts exploring the mountains. It was a wonderful day, we enjoyed it so much as something completely different. It made us realize how fortunate we were growing up to have been able to explore so much of the awesome mountains and glaciers of that area, and much of it was through the school... Hubby and I really need to stay in shape to give our kids the same experience.
On top of the Creekside Gondola, Whistler

Up on the very top of Whistler Mountain... see Black Tusk Mountain in the background (the pointy one), we climbed up to that in Grade 9. Hubby climbed all the way to the top!

The Peak to Peak Gondola took us from Whistler Mtn to Blackcomb Mtn... the little red things in the distance of that picture... are other gondolas, it gives you an idea of how huge this was!

So apart from all those things, we also met up with Hubby's family at Porteau Cove twice, for dinner. One of those times was with cousins, so the kids had a lot of fun swimming and floating on logs. The other time was after Hubby went with his Dad and the kids out boating on Howe Sound, all around Anvil Island and they saw lots of seals with pups and had a great time. I had been in West Vancouver that day visiting with one of my best friends and having a great time catching up.

I am sure that I am forgetting stuff on here, but it really has been a wonderfully busy summer. So full that it has flown by and it is nearly over!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Another Summer Solstice...

Today marks the longest day of the year, our third summer solstice up north. It has been feeling like summer already for the past few weeks and the kids and I are already brown (Hubby is pink)! We have been having weather in the mid twenties, which feels much warmer up here, again probably because of the dry... it is very dry. The little bits of rain that we have had haven't added up to anything, they haven't even wet the pavement, just made speckles. But I am not complaining!! It has felt heavenly, we are thoroughly enjoying this summer weather and are ready for a few summer storms that are likely to come our way over the next few weeks.

We are very excited to have the kids home for the summer, we can have them to ourselves again for a while. They have already finished their music recitals, their soccer tournaments (in which Maria received a special medal for being always eager, smiling and fun), and all that is left to finish up is school... I can't wait!

But today is the solstice and it is celebrated around the world by so many different cultures and religions, it feels as though there should be a bit more "celebration" here... but there isn't so we can just quietly say... Happy Summer!

Monday, June 14, 2010

I Don't Feel Tired...

Yet I am not going to bed lately... well not until it is quite late! The days are so very long right now, and we have been having such beautiful weather... it feels wrong to go to bed when the sun is still shining! Last night it was still bright out when I made myself go to bed at 11:30... Next week is the solstice... I think my body is gearing up to watch it!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Gardening in the North.

Gardening up here is a MUCH different thing than gardening on the south coast. When we moved from Squamish to the Island, gardening changed a little bit. In that there were MORE things I could grow. The weather and climate on the Island are extremely temperate and mild and there are very few things you can't grow. In fact the main problem I had on the Island was over-growth... whether it was in the form of invasive weeds (blackberries, horse-tail and morning glory were the worst) or in the form of the plants over growing their areas.

The rock-wall garden hubby made and I planted in Squamish, with a cute baby Maria and some container gardens too!

When we bought our house in Saltair there was an absolutely fabulous garden. The plants around the deck were all colourful and scented so that when you sat out in the evenings it was heavenly. There were beautiful, lush, varied species throughout the whole yard.

The beautiful garden in Saltair... just after we moved in. Notice the size of the pine tree on the left hand side of the picture.

We bought the house from a couple who had no children and one of their main hobbies was gardening. Then we moved in... Hubby was working Monday - Friday and I had a two year old and a baby. Let's just say the garden wasn't quite what it was when we left! I tried to keep up with it, but the weeds and the plants themselves were vigorous!

This picture was at Allan's 3rd birthday... so two years from the previous picture... look at the pine tree on the left. You don't have to be good at growing things on the Island, you have to be good at weeding and pruning!

Up here, I am having the opposite problem. We are now beginning our THIRD year (holy cow, how did that happen!) up here. The first year I let the garden just happen so I would know what was in it when it grew... turns out there was nothing in it so I threw in some annuals and had containers plants! Last year out front I planted annuals again, but planned this time so they looked good and lush. Well they eventually did after they recovered from the May long weekend snow and frost we had that nearly killed them! We also dug up a portion of the back yard to plant trees and shrubs to try and make it less sterile back there.

The sticks and dirt are the garden we built... this picture was taken last year, just after we planted it. It looks pretty much the same this year, except now the two trees on the back fence don't have any leaves on the top branches!

We planted six trees, one of them didn't make it at all. It was dead before we started as it had been in a bucket and moved with us from the Island. The other five were healthy, we had a weeping crab-apple, a hawthorn, a cherry, a pear and a Pea Shrub. So far this year the Pea Shrub and the Cherry look good, the Crab-apple has leaves and flowers but it looks sickly (except it seems fine where it is growing out of the shoots on the bottom of the tree). The Hawthorn and the Pear both look dead, except the shoots at the bottom are healthy looking... I don't know what happened to those poor trees... the winter was a fairly mild winter, but we did have people moving dirt a lot behind us, which created a bit of a swamp behind our back fence. We also have horrible clay soil, but I worked a lot of peat-moss and coconut husks into the soil, as well as adding a bunch of soil, around the trees.

In the front yard this year, the little lilac bushes are also failing. One is dead and two have only a few branches with leaves... and this year I decided instead of annuals in the front garden bed, I would grow veggies. Why not?! They are pretty, annual and tasty! So we have carrots, radishes, lettuce, spinach, kale peas, beans and zucchini! We also have a few marigolds that hubby's grandfather planted before he passed away...

So I think each year will be a challenge and things will have to be really planned out. I think I am going to stick with native trees from now on and beautify with shrubs... they aren't as heart-breaking when they die!