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    Rick Ridgeway Presents Freedom to Roam at Western Governors' Association Meeting

    Rick2_3 On June 29, Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia's Vice President of Environmental Programs and Communication, presented the Freedom to Roam initiative at the annual meeting of the Western Governors' Association in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. As host of this year’s meeting, Governor Freudenthal (D-WY) chose wildlife corridors as the main topic, and he invited Rick to make the presentation.

    [Rick Ridgeway presents Freedom to Roam to the Western Governors' Association. Photo: Joe Riis]

    The day started with an evocative speech from Tom Brokaw about why we should save what’s left of the wild American West, and the wildlife that inhabits it. There were over 500 people in the audience, including 14 governors and four premiers from Canada’s border provinces, as well as dozens of high-level executives from companies attending the conference, and many were in tears.

    Rick made his presentation that afternoon. Rick and the Freedom to Roam (FTR) coalition hired the same team that made Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth to set up his presentation, but even then there was a hiccup at the beginning. Just before Gov. Freudenhal introduced Rick, the screen went blank. The FTR team had brought a back-up computer, so they plugged that in: nothing. The A/V crew then unplugged and re-plugged all the connections: nothing. Rick was getting nervous, and Gov. Freudenthal told him, “Listen, I just closed the bar and these folks are starting to dry out. This could get nasty if we don’t get going.” Then someone in the balcony held up a cable that had been separated when another person tripped over it, “This have anything to do with it?” The cable was reconnected, the program went up on the screen, the crowd cheered, Freudenthal gave Rick a bear hug, and Rick made his presentation.

    It was a major hit; the next day Rick had over a hundred compliments. Rick is now working with the Inconvenient Truth team to make an expanded version of the presentation that he will present at Patagonia sometime in August (if we can share it with you, we will). Meanwhile, several of the corporations who saw the Jackson Hole presentation have reached out to Freedom to Roam, interested in joining the coalition.

    On the June 29 episode of Meet the Press, Mr. Brokaw interviewed three of the western governors -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA), Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D-WY) and Gov. Bill Ritter (D-CO) –- about the issues that are dominating the Western landscape. 17:24 into the program they briefly discuss Freedom to Roam.

    As Patagonia is the founder of Freedom to Roam, we can all be proud of its continued expansion and success. Stay tuned for much more on Freedom to Roam once the November elections come and go.

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    Tom Brokaw, Rick Ridgeway and Patagonia's Lisa Pike-Sheehy at the Western Governors' Association Annual Meeting. Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Photo: Joe Riis

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    Photo: Joe Riis

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