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    A Watershed Moment for Wild Salmon

    SOS banner

    Here at Patagonia, we have two or three holy grails of conservation. One is the permanent protection of the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wild Refuge and another the restoration of the legendary salmon runs in the Columbia and Snake River Basin.


    Salmon swimming We have advocated for over 10 years that the best way to achieve this second goal is by removing the four lower Snake River dams and allowing the salmon and steelhead a fighting chance to finish their upstream journey of many miles (as long as 900) home to spawn. Removing these dams would be the largest river restoration in our nation’s history and would be an inspiration for the rest of the country to take the initiative to build a healthy future not just for salmon and rivers in the Northwest, but for other endangered wildlife and waterways across the U.S.

    With the recent federal court ruling on the latest Obama administration's salmon plan, we asked Steven Hawley, journalist, author (Recovering a Lost River), salmon expert and self- proclaimed river rat for his take on the federal court decision. Here’s Steven, with a fish story that’s about a lot more than fish:

    [Salmon moving upstream, from this earlier post about the pending salmon decision. Photo: © University of Washington, Thomas Quinn]

    Continue reading "A Watershed Moment for Wild Salmon" »

    Picture Story: Conditions

    Another in our occasional series of posts for the more visually oriented. This one goes out to all those lucky enough to charge off the couch and into the unknown without looking back or thinking twice . . . or doing much thinking at all, for that matter. - Ed

    Cordes - n face Edith Cavell (LR)

    This photo is from one of my earliest technical alpine climbs, the north face of Mt. Edith Cavell some 15 years ago, when The Chief and I zipped from Missoula to the Canadian Rockies in his dented, pea-green Honda Civic hatchback, “The high-speed pod.” (coincidentally, I currently drive a Civic hatchback of about the same year – different color, though). We bumbled into the trailhead parking lot near midnight in a low-cloud drizzle, opened the doors and rolled-out with a bunch of empty beer cans (this was a long time ago, and we were a lot stupid), slept for a few hours, overslept, got lost immediately upon leaving the parking lot, realized at sunrise that we’d mistakenly approached beneath huge seracs, made a hasty traverse and eventually found the general vicinity of the route. In the dark the night before, while packing, I’d insisted we needed only one ice axe each. “Looks easy up there, dude,” I said. “It’s only 5.7.” It might have been reasonable to check the weather and conditions before leaving. Conditions - including our own.

    [The Chief just before a blizzard rolled in, midway into a minor epic on the 4,000-foot, 5.7 north face of Mt. Edith Cavell, first climbed in 1961 by Fred Beckey, Yvon Chouinard and Dan Doody. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    Read part two: Competency

    Tracking Endangered Mountain Caribou - Patagonia Employees Help Witness for Wildlife

    Caribou Last year, six groups of Patagonia employees ventured out to explore, document, and help protect various wildlife corridors in the U.S. Among those groups were Dave Campbell and Andrew Marshall, who travelled north in hopes of spotting caribou along the corridor located in the lush region of southeast British Columbia.

    These citizen-naturalists were participants in Witness for Wildlife, a Freedom to Roam initiative.  As a co-founder of Freedom to Roam, Patagonia has, for three years, supported efforts to protect the critical wildways that animals must have to move and survive in the face of pressure from human development and climate change. Witness for Wildlife needs more volunteers dedicated to chronicling and protecting wildlife corridors - visit www.witnessforwildlife.org to become a citizen naturalist, and read the following story by Patagonia employee Dave Campbell to get inspired.

    Last spring Patagonia’s environmental department announced that they’d pulled together funding to sponsor select employee groups to travel to and document critical, at-risk wildlife corridors within North America, as part of the Witness For Wildlife and Freedom To Roam campaigns. Coworker Andrew Marshall and I took interest in the endangered mountain caribou corridor of the Selkirk Mountains of B.C. and after an extensive amount of research, we found ourselves on the road headed north.

    Andrew and I identified a low elevation old-growth cedar forest deep inside the Goat Range Provincial Park and decided to access it via Wilson Creek. The weather was clear when we parked and while hiking up a two-track paralleling lower Wilson Creek it almost seemed like we were in for a smooth outing. However, within a half hour we encountered a large mass of wood debris where a bridge used to be at the first tributary, and after a messy crossing we were unsuccessful at finding a trail on the other side.

    [Photo courtesy Conservation Northwest ©2010 Patrice Halley]

    Continue reading "Tracking Endangered Mountain Caribou - Patagonia Employees Help Witness for Wildlife" »

    Dispatches From Grandmaster Gulo Pimpdaddy

    4-1-1-06 B 013 copy 2 We got this note from Doug Chadwick, writer, National Geographic contributor, and all-around friend to "hyper-nasty, victim-shredding gluttons," i.e. wolverines. Thought you might like this update on his travels and findings. If you enjoy the update, be sure to catch the Nature special on PBS - Wolverine: Chasing the Phantom and read his Patagonia-published book, The Wolverine Way:

    When you're an author on the road promoting your latest volume, you never know how many folks will turn out for a presentation. Unless you're a literary rock star, the last thing you'd expect is an overflow crowd. Especially if your subject is scarcely known beasts with a reputation as hyper-nasty, victim-shredding gluttons. Which is to say wolverines.

    Lately, though, wherever I give slide shows and readings to pimp The Wolverine Way, the room has been packed. It's more than encouraging to see this kind of interest in Gulo gulo, a species hardly anybody paid attention to before. People have been coming up to tell me about wolverines they glimpsed in places like Colorado, Utah, Oregon, and California sometime within the past few decades. Very cool..... except these high country hunter-scavengers were supposed to have been wiped out there almost a century ago by unrestricted trapping, hunting, and predator poisoning. Which is to say by a society sweeping through ecosystems like a plague of venomous apes.

    [A captive wolverine shows off an out-sized paw; one of the features that make the species unique and infamous. Photo: Dale Pedersen]

    Continue reading "Dispatches From Grandmaster Gulo Pimpdaddy" »

    What can you buy for eighteen bucks anymore?

    As the election season kicks into high gear, we're urging friends, family, colleagues, and community not to miss their chance to cast their vote. The issues we face are much bigger than political parties or individual candidates, that's why we encourage everyone to get informed and Vote the Environment. - Ed.

    DLBliss1 Eighteen bucks. What does a Jackson (less a couple Washingtons) buy nowadays? Lunch out for two at your local deli, a tank of gas (not really), a week’s worth of lattes at Starbucks . . . You get the picture. Eighteen dollars does not buy much anymore. But what would you say if your $18 would help keep California’s 278 state parks open, clean, and safe . . . and fetch you a free pass for the year to all of them?

    That’s what the State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act (affectionately called Prop 21) would do if passed this November. It will provide a stable, reliable, and adequate source of funding to protect state parks and conserve wildlife. Prop 21 will be specifically dedicated to state parks and will allow California vehicles a free day-use admission in exchange for this fee.

    [A couple enjoys the view from DL Bliss State Park's Rubicon Point Trail. Photo: Ron Hunter]

     

    Continue reading "What can you buy for eighteen bucks anymore?" »

    Witness for Wildlife Trip Produces Photo of First Live Ocelot in Arizona

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    Witness for Wildlife is a new program where folks like you can become citizen naturalists and help make the mission of Freedom to Roam a reality. Who knows? You might just score a rare photo like Michael Quigley did on his Witness for Wildlife trip. [The ocelot recently photographed in Cochise County, Arizona. Photo: ©2009 Sky Island Alliance.]

    With an Ocelot: Mystery, Integrity, and Hope Remain
    By Michael E. Quigley

    It was a beautiful autumn day in southern Arizona and I was hiking a canyon in a sky island mountain range with my friends and colleagues Bart Koehler and Kate Mackay as part of the Freedom to Roam and Witness for Wildlife efforts -- local people advocating for the importance and protection of wildlife connectivity corridors. Thanks to generous assistance from Patagonia, I had two remote cameras in my pack and we were looking for good places to set them.

    Continue reading "Witness for Wildlife Trip Produces Photo of First Live Ocelot in Arizona" »

    Meet an Unlikely Proponent of Dam Removal

    Salmon habitat Our earlier post about the need to protect wild salmon in the federal salmon plan - signed May 20th - focused on urging the Obama administration to stand up for salmon and the Endangered Species Act. In an unfortunate decision, Obama took his cue from an illegal administration plan carried over from the Bush administration. We're joining Save Our Wild Salmon in urging the Obama Administration to change course and remove the four lower Snake River dams. This has only strengthened collective resolve to protect salmon habitat. As Washington farmer Bryan Jones explains in a recent essay, protecting salmon habitat can be synonymous with protecting family farms and reducing their bottom-line.
    ______________________

    Bryan Jones is a fourth-generation wheat farmer near Colfax, Washington. He farms 640 acres. He and his fellow farmers rely on barges on the Snake River to move their wheat to market. This is primarily why the dams on the Snake were built.

    Jones remembers going down to the Snake before it was dammed.

    "I watched the currents and eddies with my grandparents and was told how treacherous that river was, yet its currents fascinated me. I picked fruit along the banks of the Snake. At times when picking with my grandparents, my brothers and I would eat as many peaches as we could, stuffing our mouths with big warm juicy peaches. (Afterwards, they never weighed us!)__"The dams were built when I was young; Little Goose in 1966, Lower Granite in 1974. After the four dams went in, we lost 140 miles of the river. Today, there are only a few places along its banks where people can recreate and enjoy our local river. As a young man, I remember coming back home from Los Angeles, and I looked at the slow water in its summer heat; there was no current, it was algae filled, and I knew it was not a place I wanted to play in or eat fish out of."

    Jones began working with Save Our Wild Salmon in 2006 after he was contacted by his local conservation district office and asked if he'd like to come to a meeting. Once there, he heard representatives of SOS and American Rivers talk about ways to take down the dams and help farmers.

    [The high cold mountains at the heart of the Columbia/Snake watershed provide a last redoubt for imperiled salmon. The path to reach these strongholds winds through land farmed by folks like Bryan Jones. Photo: © Matt Leidecker]

    Continue reading "Meet an Unlikely Proponent of Dam Removal" »

    Will Obama Dam Salmon to Extinction?

    SalmonIn the midst of rightful concern over the plight of the Gulf, consuming conversations about the latest Supreme Court nominee, and the daily soap opera that has become our economy it's easy to become overwhelmed. Information fatigue is real; each of us can only care so much, and only has so much attention to spare after the job, the family and daily chores are taken care of. It's precisely why we feel the need to bring you this news from our friends at Save Our Wild Salmon. They're in the midst of a campaign that could determine the fate of the Endangered Species Act. At a time when so much attention is immediate and aimed at putting out fires today, lending a hand to a group that's looking out - and fighting for - a precious piece of our future can provide a much-needed tonic of hope.

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    “What is at stake here goes far beyond the issue of salmon recovery. To me, it raises the question of whether we have the courage and the will to reconcile the growing contradiction between the world we say we want to leave our children and the one we are actually creating through the decisions we make today. And it calls into question our capacity to take explicit and intentional action to shape our own future rather than to simply react to circumstances, allowing by default our future to become a matter of chance. It’s time to fight for salmon. It’s time to fight for us. It’s time to fight for our future.”
    — John Kitzhaber, former governor of Oregon, currently running for a third term

    On the heels of the catastrophic oil spill that is crushing wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama administration is poised to make a decision this week that could change the fate of endangered species in this country.  On Thursday, May 20, the Administration will release a federal salmon plan that will do one of two things for endangered wildlife: protect the Endangered Species Act, or weaken it. A decision to weaken the ESA for the West’s iconic Columbia and Snake River salmon could send an ecological ripple across the country — affecting every endangered species in the nation.And the situation doesn’t look good.  Instead of charting its own path, the administration is working off an illegal Bush administration plan for endangered salmon.

    [Salmon moving upstream. Photo: © University of Washington, Thomas Quinn]

    Continue reading "Will Obama Dam Salmon to Extinction?" »

    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" »

    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"" »

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