The Cleanest Line

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    « March 2010 | Main | May 2010 »

    The Dream Realized – Man-Made Multi-Purpose Reef Produces Great Surf, Reduces Coastal Erosion in Southern India

    We just launched our new Spring 2010 Surf Online Catalog with the theme "Protect Your Break." Inside you'll find articles highlighting threatened surf breaks around the world and links to the good work our friends at Save The Waves Coalition are doing to protect those spots, including their exciting new initiative, World Surfing Reserves. The online catalog also features a new video on page 34 with Yvon Chouinard telling stories about surfing at Stanley's, a now-extinct wave not far from Patagonia HQ that was lost forever to coastal development in 1970.

    But what if we could create new surf breaks to replace lost ones? And what if those new surf breaks had the added benefits of limiting coastal erosion and creating habitat for marine life? Our friend and former Patagonia surf director, Sam George, is working with a company that believes man-made multi-purpose reefs are a viable solution, and they've just unveiled a project in Kovalam, India that proves it.

    [Video: India's First Multi-Purpose Reef Goes Off from ASR Limited on Vimeo.]

    Continue reading "The Dream Realized – Man-Made Multi-Purpose Reef Produces Great Surf, Reduces Coastal Erosion in Southern India" »

    Patagonia's Rio Baker - What Will Be Lost

    BELTRA_0001 On the heels of our latest (and final) update from the Rios Libres team, we have this information from our friends at the International League of Conservation Photographers who are working hard to fight dams on the Rio Baker in Chile. Understanding the importance of images in environmental debates, the League of Conservation Photographers use their time and expertise to, as their mission states, "bring conservation into focus."

    Noel Vidal, a quiet man from the small coastal village of Caleta Tortel,near the mouth of the Rio Baker in Chile, sums it up best  "Las presas son el principio del fin para Patagonia." - "The dams are the beginning of the end for Patagonia."

    Enel, a multinational company, plans to build 5 massive dams on two of Chile's most pristine rivers - the Rio Baker and the Rio Pascua. The dams will flood 11,000 acres of wild land, displace families, and bring 1200 miles of 200 foot high transmission lines to the wild south.  These dams will provoke a development rush in Patagonia, stripping the region of its wild character.

    The International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) iLCP in partnership with The Patagonian Foundation (TPF) and support from Patagonia,Inc. dispatched a team of renowned photographers and photo activists (Daniel Beltra, Jack Dykinga, Jeff Foott, Bridget Besaw, and Ruth Cohen) to document the landscapes, wildlife, and cultures of the Aysen Region as part of a RAVE or Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition to aid the ongoing campaign against the proposed dams.

    Visit their website and the Sin Represas website at http://www.patagoniasinrepresas.cl/final/indexeng.php to learn more about the issue.

    Hit the jump for more photos from the group's recent RAVE to Patagonia.

    [Aysen, Chile. February 17th 2010. The confluence of rivers Baker and Nef where one of the big dams for Hidroaysen is projected..©Daniel Beltra]

    Continue reading "Patagonia's Rio Baker - What Will Be Lost" »

    Rios Libres: Video Blogs 2 & 3 plus Next Steps

    [Video: "Rios Libres Video Blog 2 with Timmy O'Neill - Rio Baker Portage" by Rio Libres]

    When last we heard from team Rios Libres, Craig Childs summed up their journey to Patagonia in a beautiful post called "The Places In Between." Now that the team is home, work has begun on a film highlighting their trip and opposition to plans that would dam the Rio Baker and Rio Pascua. The two videos in this post will give you a taste of the Rio Baker's magnificence and what to expect from the film when it debuts in October.

    Continue reading "Rios Libres: Video Blogs 2 & 3 plus Next Steps" »

    Balancing Alternative Energy Development and Freedom to Roam in Our Backyard

    Badlands_sm Our Freedom to Roam campaign casts a wide net. It has to. The quest to preserve large tracts of habitat for migratory species creates the opportunity for some unexpected conversations and unlikely collaborations. Nevada Wilderness Project's (NWP) current effort to document - in collaboration with record-holding thru hiker, Adam Bradley - the proposed route of Nevada's "alternative energy backbone," is just such a project. The SWIP trip unites a new approach to energy development, protection for wildlife's migratory corridors, and on-the-ground reporting of habitat conditions to provide critical data for future conservation measures. As Adam makes his way down from Idaho to the Northern Nevada town of Wells, he's crossing land affected by these variables and more. Recent updates from the NWP blog help give a sense of the concerns that arise in just one corner of a state poised to take part in the green energy revolution.

    Last year, NWP started a Linking Landscapes for Wildlife Program to educate about the need for habitat connectivity, wildlife migration and smart planning for development of all kinds.

    One of the things we’ll be talking about on this SWIP Trip is the importance of what we call “cumulative effects.” This means that we have to start planning based on the full array of development (road building, powerlines, urban sprawl) as well as loss of habitat from natural phenomena like fire and drought. Too often we look at individual culprits for a loss of habitat . . .
    [A sampling of the terrain contained in the Badlands Wilderness Study area, just west of the proposed SWIP route. Photo courtesy Nevada Wilderness Project]

    ED NOTE: The previous post, SWIP It Good, can be found here, the next post, SWIP Trip: Speaking Art to Nothing, can be found here.

    Continue reading "Balancing Alternative Energy Development and Freedom to Roam in Our Backyard" »

    The Making of "Border Country"

    Inside the recently updated Tin Shed is a beautiful and poignant, animated video by climber and artist Jeremy Collins. It's called Border Country. Today we're stoked to share a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Border Country and the passion that was poured into it by Jeremy and his companions at ThreeHouse.

    [Video: The Making of Border Country from Jeremy Collins on Vimeo.]

    [With thanks to Stuart]

    We Still Need to . . .

      Save whales

    When I was kid in the early 80s, collecting stickers was a big deal. This was well before roof-top sport boxes, so we used sticker books. Among the favorites in my modest collection was a bright and glittering one that shared coveted centerfold real estate with all of the scratch-n-sniffs. It was huge and bright - mystic blue on mylar - with a gracefully posed cetacean and the phrase "Save the Whales" arcing across the bottom border. Because of that sticker, I would take note whenever I saw the phrase elsewhere - over my dad's shoulder, say, when he read the paper - or overheard a story about whales on the news. For me, the call to "Save the Whales" marks my first glimmering awareness of people mobilizing on behalf of endangered animals. It's my oldest memory of environmental activism at work.

    I was 11 when the moratorium on commercial whaling went into affect in 1986, which means I was too busy hunting frogs in the woods to pay attention to the news. By the time I'd tune back into environmental issues, the cry to "Save the Whales" had become something of a mnemonic device - for environmental groups, the phrase conjured memories of a long-fought but ultimately successful struggle to do right by the Earth. Our small local advocacy group would look back at the fight to save the whales to galvanize ourselves for a new crusade to save the spotted owl and the vast stands of ancient trees it called home. By the early 90s, 7 of the 9 remaining whaling countries had renounced the activity, and by the turn of the century three separate oceanic Whale Sanctuaries had been proposed and/or created. The whales, it seemed, would indeed be saved.

    A recent decision from the Obama administration stands to change all of that.

    [Photo: Larry Wan courtesy of Western Alliance for Nature]

    Continue reading "We Still Need to . . ." »

    SWIP It Good - Tracing the Path of Green Energy Through Wild Nevada

    Gb_storm3 Between southern Idaho’s I-84 and the portion of I-15 transecting Nevada’s southern tip stretches a vast, empty land - over 500 miles of mountains, sagebrush, and wild bunchgrass. The area is home to some of the lower 48’s loneliest corners; even today, it's crossed by only two major east-west routes. It has remained a region of vast sagebrush oceans, naked playas, and peaks soaring to 12- and 13,000 feet, and is home to huge herds of pronghorn, remnant elk populations tucked away in forgotten mountain ranges, and healthy holdouts of predators like bobcats and mountain lions. In its more level places, large tracts of high-desert grassland look much like they have for thousands of years, while the high folds of the ancient peaks shelter trees that began growing over 4000 years ago and continue to raise their wizened green limbs to the sky.

    There are many reasons this region remains so sparsely inhabited, and the weather is a major one. Winds, unimpeded by obstacles, gain monstrous strength over the sweeping fetches between mountain ranges and whip the frequent snowstorms into vicious white-out fury. Springtime in the Great Basin and on the Snake River Plain is more a euphemism than a season. While warm, clear, sunny days aren’t uncommon during this time of year, it’s what happens between them that lends the vast region its character. Most of its valleys sit at near 6000 feet in elevation and the horizon is more often than not an unbroken line interrupted at random intervals by outcroppings of rock or the rare lone and struggling tree. The terrain here lies equally open to the warming spring sun and the hammering storms of a steely still-winter sky.

    It’s through this region that a large-scale green energy project will be developed, the Southwest Intertie Project, which will carry renewable energy from the Midpoint Substation in north Jerome County, Idaho south to the Harry Allen Substation, just north of Las Vegas in Clark County, Nevada—and beyond. And it’s also through this region, at this meteorologically fickle time of year, that Adam Bradley will be walking alone and unsupported along the entire length of that proposed power line.

    [A typical spring storm bears down on the eastern flank of the Schell Creek Range in the eastern Great Basin. Photo: localcrew]

    Continue reading "SWIP It Good - Tracing the Path of Green Energy Through Wild Nevada" »

    Badass But Vulnerable - An Interview with Doug Chadwick, Author of "The Wolverine Way"

    Wolverine_way_coverDoug Chadwick is a writer of natural history based in Whitefish, Montana. His work has taken him all over the world to research books and articles about whales, grizzlies, ants and elephants. Six years ago, wanting to spend more time in the field – and less at the keyboard – he began working closer to home with the Glacier Wolverine Project.

    Though Doug never intended to write about the wolverine, as he learned more about its exploits and the threats this badass but vulnerable animal faces on a warming planet, he decided the best way to help it was to tell its story. His new book, The Wolverine Way, is both a tale of outdoor adventure and paean to one of “the toughest mammals in the world.” Published by Patagonia, it is now available in hardback on our website, in our stores and at other booksellers.

    Doug recently returned home from five days in the mountains, dragging a sled full of tracking and camping gear in pursuit of wolves and wolverines. We found him there and asked a few questions about the subject of his new book.

    There's a story in your new book, The Wolverine Way, about an Alaskan gold miner who traps a wolverine, bashes in its head, and then, thinking it’s dead, ties its front legs over his shoulders to pack him out, only to find out the wolverine still had fight left in him. What, if anything, does that tell us about wolverines and man’s relationship with them?

    The tale is a reminder of how wolverines have been portrayed mainly as whirlwinds of destruction – something like big backwoods goblins on crack. That’s not to say wolverines don’t have a ferocious side. They are exceptionally strong and amazingly fearless. Can you think of any other 20- to 40-pound animal willing to try driving grizzlies off carcasses? I’d rank wolverines among the toughest mammals in the world. But as we finally begin to peel away the mysteries surrounding this species’ natural history, those frontier yarns featuring perpetually pissed-off, dangerous wolverines turn out to be ... well, not complete b.s., but only one part of a much larger and more fascinating picture.

    Continue reading "Badass But Vulnerable - An Interview with Doug Chadwick, Author of "The Wolverine Way"" »

    Chile Earthquake / Tsunami Video and Thank You from Save The Waves Coalition

    [Video: "STANDING - Chile Tsunami Relief Film" by SaveTheWaves via YouTube]

    "This tsunami was the biggest wave we've ever surfed but we surfed it together."
    –Sergio “Pocha” Salas: surfer, earthquake & tsunami survivor and relief activist, Constitución, Chile.

    In a sense, all of us did surf this earthquake and tsunami together. While Pocha and others were in the impact zone, tsunami warnings echoed across the Pacific, and NASA claims that the 8.8 quake literally changed the length of our planet's day. Save The Waves would like to offer our sincere and humble thanks to all who came together in the face of this extraordinary disaster to help with relief efforts – from the international surf, environmental and humanitarian communities, to the Chileans on the ground who lifted themselves up, dusted themselves off and jumped in to help their fellow countrymen and women.

    Editor's note: Today's post comes from our friends at Save The Waves Coalition. If you didn't donate to the relief efforts the first time around it's not too late. Help Chile now with a secure donation at savethewaves.org.

    Continue reading "Chile Earthquake / Tsunami Video and Thank You from Save The Waves Coalition" »

    Ventura River Clean Up

    By Craig Holloway

    201003190066JJ On a chilly Friday afternoon I took the short walk from Patagonia’s campus to the parking lot for the Ventura River, where employees of Patagonia, Deckers and Horny Toad had gathered for our first Backyard Collective clean up. This stewardship event had been created by ConservationNEXT, part of The Conservation Alliance, in partnership with Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, and the three companies. I checked in with a friendly volunteer, who reminded me to wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants for protection against poison oak. I hurried back to my desk to retrieve a long-sleeved shirt, but had no pants. At least my arms will be protected, I thought. [Photo: Jeff Johnson]

    Arriving back at the parking lot, I caught Patagonia CEO Casey Sheahan’s welcoming remarks. A few city employees got up in front of the crowd to talk about safety, letting us know what we would see in the dense brush by the river. They spoke about the hundreds of homeless people who reside in makeshift camps, and that we were not to disturb their belongings. The Ventura Police were there to make sure everyone felt safe.

    Continue reading "Ventura River Clean Up" »

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