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    Freedom to Roam: A Rancher and an Environmentalist Search for Common Ground on Wolves (Part 1)

    Image[1]_2 The presidential election last fall gave many environmentalists new hope, but the Obama administration has since outraged many gray wolf advocates by upholding a Bush-era decision to take them off the endangered species list in over half a dozen states.

    After being nearly wiped out in most of the country, recovery efforts in the last two decades have helped the wolf population in the Northern Rockies rebound to what is now an estimated 1,645 wolves or more. Federal officials – and many ranchers and politicians who have long complained about the impact of wolves on livestock and big game herds – say that's enough. But some environmentalists strongly disagree, including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). They recently joined other groups in filing a lawsuit in Montana that could temporarily block the resumption of regulated wolf hunts there.

    [Female Mexican gray wolf yearling born in 2007 at the California Wolf Center. Photo: Roy Toft, California Wolf Center]

    Amidst what has often been cast as a bitter fight between two sides, the NRDC’s Senior Wildlife Advocate Louisa Willcox and local Montana rancher Becky Weed have been working with several ranching groups to come up with new solutions. As a special feature of our current environmental campaign, Freedom to Roam, Patagonia decided to interview these individuals to highlight their willingness to engage in constructive dialogue and search for new alternatives to old environmental problems. We also wanted to understand more about a complicated issue many of us care deeply about. Their answers, provided by email, are below:

    Q: Was the Obama administration’s decision on the Northern Rockies gray wolves a surprise, given the expected change in approach of the administration on environmental issues?

    Becky Weed (rancher): The administration’s decision was not shocking, although I was a little surprised that it came as quickly as it did. I do not see this decision as a sign that the Obama administration is in lockstep with the previous administration by any stretch of the imagination. The more revealing steps will come as we see how the delisting details are handled now that a delisting process is underway.

    Louisa Willcox (NRDC): The Department of Interior’s decision to delist Northern Rockies gray wolves was a big disappointment. The decision was announced in March, before the administration had put key high-level officials in the Department of Interior and a new director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in place.  We do not believe they adequately reviewed the Bush rule, which has significant problems - problems so severe that we are challenging the decision in court

    Continue reading "Freedom to Roam: A Rancher and an Environmentalist Search for Common Ground on Wolves (Part 1)" »

    Patagonia Athletes Score Big Over the Weekend

    Two big contests took place over the weekend and Patagonia athletes shone brightly on both the trail and the ocean.

    DSC09707_2 On Saturday, the Western States Endurance Run offered ultrarunners the challenge of 100 brutal miles stretching from Squaw Valley, California to Auburn, California. Patagonia ultrarunning team member Hal Koerner was the overall winner with a time of 16:24:55 and Patagonia ambassador Krissy Moehl took second place in the women's category (13th overall) with a time of 19:26:02. Other Patagonia ultrarunning team members in the race: Jasper Halekas (4th place overall – 16:56:26) and Andy Jones-Wilkins (11th place overall – 18:46:52). Congratulations to all the Patagonia ultrarunners on their stellar performances. Hit the jump to see a video interview with Hal Koerner after the race.

    [Patagonia trail running ambassador Krissy Moehl makes a river crossing during the Western States 100. Photo: Jenny Uehisa]

    Lakey_2 Also taking place this weekend, the National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) hosted their annual National Championships which is considered the highest profile youth surfing event in America. Taking first place in the Open Women's division was Patagonia ambassador Lakey Peterson (14). You can read more about Lakey's underdog victory and see "the first girl ever to pull an air at Nationals" on This amazing win comes right on the heels of her first-place finish (girls 16 & under) at the WSA Prime Championships in Oceanside. Congratulations Lakey!

    [Patagonia women's surf ambassador Lakey Peterson surfs well beyond her 14 years. WSA Prime Championships, Oceanside, CA. Photo courtesy of Fletcher Chouinard Designs]

    Continue reading "Patagonia Athletes Score Big Over the Weekend" »

    The Present – Final US Tour Show and DVD Release Party at Patagonia Cardiff

    On Saturday, June 13, Thomas Campbell's latest (and last?) surf film, The Present, came to Patagonia Cardiff, completing its journey of screenings around the U.S. and culminating with the release of the film on DVD. About 550 folks filled in to watch the free screening. The filmmaker and some surfers and shapers from the film were there – Thomas, Dan Malloy, Danny Hess, Devon Howard, Jon Wegener – along with one of the bands from the soundtrack, Ray Barbee & the Mattson 2. Jon Wegener gave away an alaia surfboard to surf trivia winner Whitney Gould. And Richard Kenvin presented a new trailer for his Hydrodynamica project, lining up all of the boards featured in the film which represents 60 years of San Diego based surfboard design all stemming from Bob Simmons. 

    If you weren't able to make any of the screenings, The Present DVD is now available for mail order through Patagonia Cardiff (call 760-634-9886 or email: and Woodshed Films. You can also purchase the DVD at select Patagonia Retail Stores: Austin, Boston, Boulder, Cardiff, Chicago, Freeport, Portland, Reno, Santa Cruz, Seattle, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Soho, Upper West Side and Ventura (picked mine up yesterday). Please call first for availability. The Present soundtrack is available on iTunes.

    From hints of the alaia footage in the movie, to the first hi-res trailer, to recaps from the Encinitas and Ventura screenings, to the new trailer, we've tried to take you along for as much of this journey as possible.  Thanks for coming, it's been a fun ride. For alerts on future events at Patagonia Cardiff, tune in to their Twitter feed. See you in the water.

    [With thanks to Thomas Campbell, Woodshed Films, Surfing Magazine, Devon Howard, Dan Malloy and everyone involved with the film and the tour. Video by Tough Pug Pictures.] 

    Clean Energy Bill May Be Voted on This Week – Freedom to Roam Provisions Included

    The American Clean Energy and Security Act, HR 2454, (known as Waxman-Markey) might go to a vote in the House later this week.

    At Patagonia, we have a particular interest in the provisions of the bill that support wildlife corridors and protection of migratory routes for wildlife. Specifically:

    • The Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Fund, which will provide additional money for numerous state and federal conservation programs to assist fish and wildlife adapt to the effects of climate change.
    • The National Wildlife Habitat and Corridors Information Program, which establishes a new program in the Department of the Interior to support states and tribes efforts to understand and map fish and wildlife habitat migration corridors, and to expand the use of computer database tools for wildlife management.
    • Land and Water Conservation Fund, which protects properties around the country that are important to fish and wildlife.

    The United States is home to many species of wildlife that depend on wide open spaces for migration. The ability to move unimpeded across the landscape is essential to the conservation of pronghorn, salmon, elk, migratory birds, ocelot, sage grouse, and many other animals. The Western Governors' Association, state and federal agencies, conservation groups, sportsmen, ranchers, and many others recognize the importance of protecting these vital wildlife corridors, especially because of the impending problems from climate change.

    Continue reading "Clean Energy Bill May Be Voted on This Week – Freedom to Roam Provisions Included" »

    Backyard Adventures: Toiyabe Trails - Part 3

    Today, we've got the final installment in Old School's Toiyabe Trails series (previous posts: Part 1, Part 2).

    Audio_graphic_20pxWe personally believe any trail story is best served up with a cuppa steamy brew (or a frosty barley pop, your discretion) and the right music. Find your trail traveling theme music right here, courtesy of the Risky Biscuit Hayseed Hoot's weekly podcast.

    1_Camp4 The morning after our unplanned layover day dawned clear and sunny, and while there was still a stiff breeze, it was nothing like the howling winds of the day before so we packed up and headed north. The TCT is split neatly in half by the Ophir Creek Road and the three of us have been backpacking long enough to never pass up the chance to lighten our load – we took advantage of the road to drop a food cache at the top of the pass before starting our hike. By lunch we were at the cache and by dinner we were enjoying cold beer and hamburgers.

    [Flat spots are a rare treat along the northern stretch of the trail. Photo: OldSchool]

    Continue reading "Backyard Adventures: Toiyabe Trails - Part 3" »

    Empty Nesters

    Kim Kim Stroud, who manages our sample room here at Patagonia HQ in Ventura, came walking in the other morning with one of those cardboard boxes used to carry live things. In her "spare" time, Kim is executive director of the nonprofit Ojai Raptor Center, so she's always nurturing some kind of critter, not just raptors. I've seen her with possums, sea gulls, pelicans. But she says she's also cared for bobcats, fawns, even a couple of coyotes. She also deals with dead critters. Fish & Game and the Sheriff's department often call her when they find freshly car-killed deer. She dresses the carcasses and feeds the meat to her eagles.

    This time Kim had baby swallows in the box. Seems the fellows at a Ventura business (which shall go unnamed) decided the bird's mud nests were a little messy. So they had their workers turn the hose on them (hey isn't there a drought in Southern Cal?), washing down about 55 birds that were just five days from being able to fly. One of the biologists who works for the business stopped the hosing when she saw all the baby swallows lying on the ground, many of them in puddles of water.

    [Kim Stroud, Patagonia sample room manager and executive director of the Ojai Raptor Center, hand-feeds a baby swallow, one of 55 hosed out of their nests. All photos: Jim Little]

    Continue reading "Empty Nesters" »

    Dirtbag Diaries: The Dreamers

    Epi29_logo It's Friday, and the Dirtbag Diaries are here to help you celebrate solstice with some sonic storytelling. Show host Fitz Cahall has the beta on today's episode:

    “I had convinced myself at that point that my goal was so important it was worth dying for,” says alpine master Steve House about his 15-year-old dream of climbing the Rupal Face. Big Dreams require big commitment. We may not all dream on the same scale and commitment levels, but we all share dreams. They pull us through our lives on solid ground. Today writer and climber Sarah Garlick presents: The Dreamers – reflections from four generations of the world’s best climbers: Steve House, Henry Barber, Steve Schneider, and Colin Haley. In the process Sarah found out a little bit about herself. Do you have a life long dream? What if you completed it? What if you never realized it?

    Audio_graphic_20px Listen to "The Dreamers"
    (mp3 - 31:15 - right-click to download)

    You can subscribe to the Dirtbag Diaries via iTunes and RSS, or connect with Fitz via Facebook and Twitter. For more from today's guest host, Sarah Garlick, check out her book Flakes, Jugs, and Splitters: A Rock Climber's Guide to Geology or her Patagonia field report "Open Bivy."

    Visit the myspace page of The Secret Life of Sofia to purchase their album Seven Summits -- the featured music on today's episode. Says Fitz, "I really dig this album. It's very difficult to write songs that speak to the power of high places without falling into ridiculous cliché. I've listened to this album dozens of times and at each listen I find some new historical reference or emotion I recognize from my own connection to the mountains. It is in some ways as much a novel as it is a record and [lead singer Kyle] Wilson avoids the cliché by sticking to inventive images that we all know and recognize but would never think to include in a song. Seriously, check it out."

    Big Weekend: International Surfing Day, Surfboard Swap in Cardiff, Summer Solstice & Father's Day

    Intl_surf_day_2009_2 There are a couple surf-related events taking place this weekend we'd like to share with you. First up is the 5th Annual International Surfing Day (ISD) on Saturday, June 20. ISD has events scheduled across the country, many of which include beach clean-ups, paddle-outs and fund-raising efforts for local Surfrider Foundation chapters. Here in Ventura, ISD will begin with a 10am beach clean-up at Surfers’ Point in Ventura, followed by a paddle out at 12:00pm. Clean-up supplies will be provided. Then, at 7pm, doors will open at The Lodge for an evening of music and raffles, and the premiere of Watershed Revolution (HD trailer here), an independent film by Rich Reid that answers the question "What is a watershed?" by highlighting efforts to protect the Ventura River ecosystem. All proceeds benefit Surfrider Ventura.

    Also on tap this weekend is a community Surfboard Swap at Patagonia Cardiff. It runs Saturday (6/20) and Sunday (6/21) from 9am to 4pm. They'll have everything from barely ridden beauties to garage-sale beaters priced accordingly. Admission is free.

    This Sunday also happens to be Summer Solstice and Father's Day. Santa Barbara has a fantastic solstice parade and festival every year if you happen to be in the area. And it's not too late to drop by your local Patagonia Retail Store and pick up a gift for dad.

    Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. Have a great time whatever you end up doing this weekend.

    Backyard Adventures: Toiyabe Trails - Part 2

    6a00d8341d07fd53ef011570c281bc970b-800wi Welcome! We're pleased to bring you part two in this series. If you missed Part 1, no worries, you can find it right here.

    Nevada is smack-dab in the middle of the Basin and Range topography of the Great Basin so every mountain range is an island poking up out of a sagebrush sea. These ranges are generally quite narrow, so driving from west to east is like driving across a giant washboard. Coming from Reno, our first view of the Toiyabes left us awestruck, not so much from the beauty of the range but the amount of snow that still covered it. I knew it had just snowed a foot and a half the week before but we still weren’t quite expecting the amount of snow still left up high, and we weren’t too psyched (or prepared) to hike in snow for any length of time. Luckily we had planned our route from south to north, giving the higher and snowier northern section 3 additional days to melt out.

    [A view of the Toiyabe Range's high point, Arc Dome. Photo: OldSchool]

    Continue reading "Backyard Adventures: Toiyabe Trails - Part 2" »

    Makalu 2009: Final Post with Photos

    Cc I’ve been home from Makalu almost two weeks now and it’s been almost three weeks since I last posted -- time flies. I was able to leave base camp very quickly because Cory Richards injured his knee in the deep snow just a few hours from base camp, the day after my last call. He necessitated a helicopter evacuation from base camp and I was able to hitch a ride out. Two and a half hours of flying at 120 knots sure beats walking eight days when you’re just ready to go home!

    Editor's note: Steve House puts the finishing touches on his Makalu 2009 series today with a bunch of photos from the trip. You'll find links to the rest of the series -- most of which include sat-phone calls from Makalu -- at the bottom of this post.

    [Me on the phone with you at from 7400 meters (24,270 ft). Lhotse is behind me. What a perfect day! (I needed four of these in a row to climb the west face.) All photos © Steve House.]

    Once in Kathmandu I was able to change my ticket for the very next day. Unfortunately, almost as soon as I landed, I was hit with news of the loss of Patagonia Ambassador Jonny Copp, Mountain Hardware athlete Micah Dash, and young filmmaker Wade Johnson on China’s Mount Edgar. While tragic, it certainly made it difficult for me to feel any self-pity for my own problems. Deadlines, work, trying to get some climbing in; I am happy to be alive and healthy and home.

    What follows is a slide show with a few of the highlights (and low-lights) from my recent adventure: trying to solo the world’s fifth highest mountain, Makalu. At many of these junctures, including at the Makalu La at 24,000 feet, I took you, the Cleanest Line listener, right along with me. I said then that I wished I could send pictures. Well, here they are:

    Continue reading "Makalu 2009: Final Post with Photos " »

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