Local briefs

Kitchen fire costs U of M 30K

According to CBC News, a fire that broke out the morning of Jan. 22 at the University of Manitoba has caused $30, 000 in damages.

The fire broke out in St. John’s College, starting in the kitchen.No one was hurt in the blaze. The cause is currently under investigation.

Over 300 attend anti-proroguing protest

In just one of many similar protests across the country, over 300 individuals gathered in Winnipeg to protest Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to prorogue Parliment, as reported by CTV News.

The Winnipeg-based protest was held as part of a national day of action. A similar rally on Parliment Hill attracted 3,500 protestors.

One protestor at the rally said, “When [Harper] walked out on Dec. 30 and said Canadians wouldn’t care, I hope he realizes that he’s wrong. Canadians actually do care.”

An anti-proroguing Facebook.com group has seen more than 200, 000 people join.

U of M study shows prairie grass nearing extinction

As reported by the Canadian Press, less than one per cent of Canada’s former 6,000 square km of tall-grass prairies remain. The majority of this small fraction is in Manitoba.

U of M ecologist Nicola Koper recently published her findings in the Biological Conservation journal. Her study shows that what little prairie grass remains is disappearing at an alarming rate.

“Even though we knew that it was extraordinarily endangered in the 1980s and took steps to try to conserve it, in fact, in general the ecosystem has declined even further from this previously seriously endangered state,” said Koper.

“Most of it has been heavily impacted by humans and is getting worse.”

Koper said that alien species such as dandelions and sowthistles are moving in, crowding out the tall-grass prairie.

The loss of prairie grass means trouble for a number of butterfly species, rare plants and songbirds.

Koper said, more needs to be done to protect the remaining prairie grass.
“Do we as a society want to retain this component of our heritage and have tall-grass prairies where we can bring our children and allow them to pick flowers that are taller than themselves?” she said. “We have to decide as a society what’s important for us.”