Environment File

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BLESS Nature Centred

She’s fine with the bugs and the ram’s skull, but Christianne McDonald draws the line at the heron costume. “I wouldn’t be caught dead in that thing,” she says, laughing.

McDonald, 21, is this year’s co-ordinator at the Big Lake Environment Support Society’s (BLESS) Summer Nature Centre. She will throw open the centre’s doors this Monday, ready to introduce kids to the wide weird world of nature.

The centre has offered free ecology courses for about the last five summers, says BLESS president Miles Constable. About 300 kids visit each year to learn about bugs, birds and beasts.

This summer, unlike past years, the centre will be closed on the weekend. “We found that Saturdays were pretty slow because of the farmers’ market,” Constable says, “so we decided to go Monday to Friday.”

McDonald, a fourth-year science student at the University of Alberta, says she became interested in ecology through Girl Guides and nature shows by John ‘The Nature Nut’ Acorn. A bug collector, she plans to take visiting kids out to the Sturgeon River’s edge with nets to catch tiger swallowtails, skippers and other bugs.

She’ll be teaching a different course each week, covering topics such as greenhouse gases, birds, ecosystems and bugs. In the process, she’ll use many of the bizarre props scattered about the centre, such as the animal skulls and giant heron costume — the latter of which, Constable says, is sometimes used at the Springing to Life bird-watching event.

McDonald is also teaching a new unit on metamorphosis. “It’s going to be really cool,” she says. Visitors will get to watch caterpillars become moths, tadpoles stretch into frogs and eggs hatch into salamanders.

The centre, located on the corner of St. Albert Trail and St. Anne Street, will be open from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays until Aug. 14. Admission is free. For details, call McDonald at 780-217-3983.

Provincial recyclers will jack up the price of some paint cans this summer to deal with a flood of recycled paint.

Alberta Environment announced Wednesday that it would raise the environmental fees on some paint cans this summer. As of Aug. 1, customers will pay $0.75 extra to buy a one- to five-litre can of paint and $2 extra for a five- to 23-litre container. Customers currently pay $0.50 and $1 extra, respectively, for these products. The fees for spray cans and paint cans less than 1 litre will stay the same.

The province brought in the fee last year to fund a paint-recycling program, says Jim Sellers, spokesperson for the Alberta Recycling Management Authority, which administers the fee. Prior to the program, unused paint was treated as hazardous waste and incinerated.

The group set their fees based on the assumption that they would get about 1.5 million litres of paint a year, Sellers says. Instead, they got about 1.9 million. “Our costs are substantially higher,” he says, and they had to raise fees to cover the cost of recycling.

The program has otherwise been a runaway success, Sellers says, recycling about 80 per cent of all waste paint. “We’re creating new paint out of old.” He credits the success to the enthusiastic support of the 94 participating cities in the program.

The recycling authority has also proposed changes to the fees it collects for tire and electronic recycling, Sellers says. The province is expected to rule on these proposals this fall.

About 30 million litres of paint are sold in Alberta each year, according to Alberta Environment, up to 4.5 million of which is thrown out.

For information on the new fees, see www.albertarecycling.ca.

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