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    Free the Snake Flotilla Action!

    On Saturday October 3, 2015, over 300 people—fishermen, Native Americans, farmers, orca lovers, business owners, students, salmon advocates, kayakers, and conservationists—took to the lower Snake River in southeastern Washington, a short distance from the Lower Granite Dam. Together, this diverse group formed the “Free the Snake Flotilla.” They were a representative slice of the movement that includes many thousands of people worldwide who are calling for the removal of four deadbeat dams on the lower Snake. Over 130,000 people have signed petitions and sent postcards and letters asking President Obama, his administration, members of Congress and key state and federal agencies to take these harmful dams out.

    As they gathered in kayaks and other water craft, this group of unlikely activists all agreed that the current situation on the Snake is unacceptable, and growing worse by the year: Thousands of endangered salmon died this summer due to over-heated river and reservoir water; endangered orcas are malnourished because their favorite food supply of Snake River Chinook salmon has been decimated by the dams; and, over $9 billion in government spending over the past 30 years, mostly on hatcheries and other failed approaches, hasn’t recovered any endangered wild fish runs.

    Above: Free The Snake Flotilla. Production Company: Moonhouse. Director: Ben Moon. Cinematography & Edit: Page Stephenson. Aerials: Whitney Hassett. Music: “Explosions in the Eye” by Peter M. Murray.

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    Jumbo Wild – We the People

    By Eliel Hindert

    If you didn’t look close you just might miss it, and we do.

    Gazing across the Columbia River Basin into the morning light on the Purcell Mountains, we pass right by the Radium Hot Springs municipal offices. It’s not difficult to do here, where human presence is a mere asterisk on the seemingly infinite word of nature.

    Editor’s note: Activism takes many shapes from protesting in the street to signing online petitions. One of the most important and effective things we can do is speak out at public hearings. Today’s post takes us into a hearing from earlier this year regarding the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort in British Columbiajust one episode in the 25-year battle over the Jumbo Valley. We share this story in conjunction with the release of Jumbo Wild, a new feature film by Sweetgrass Productions and Patagonia. As the film launches, we’re working closely with local conservation group Wildsight to help stop development and permanently protect the Jumbo Valley. Get film tour dates, watch the trailer and take action to help keep Jumbo wild at

    Doubling back we find it. Off-white, little signage, and looking more private dwelling than public office. This will be the staging ground for public input on the Official Community Plan for the recently formed Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality. A public hearing of sorts for an area without a public, where concerned individuals are given five minutes each to share input and opinion on the direction of the proposed Jumbo Mountain Resort.

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    Rainforest Relief – Why Patagonia SoHo employees scaled Coney Island to save the Amazon

    By Yasha Wallin


    In 1998 the Yankees swept their 24th World Series, Vice President Al Gore symbol­ically signed the Kyoto Protocol and two Stanford Ph.D. candidates established a little company called Google. It was also the year former Patagonia SoHo employees Aaron Petz and Teal Akeret, along with three other young activists, scaled the 250-foot Parachute Jump tower in Coney Island. Their goal? To hang a banner that read “NYC Parks Dept. Stop Killing Rainforest for Boardwalks & Benches.” It would go down as a highly effective grassroots operation to speak out for the Brazilian rainforest.

    Cover_3-70Editor’s note: Today we’re happy to share an excerpt from
    Living & Breathing: 20 Years of Patagonia in New York City, a commemorative book about our double-decade relationship with the Big Apple. Grab a printed copy at one of our four NYC stores or check out the digital version at the end of this post.

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    Our Earth Tax – Patagonia Environmental + Social Initiatives 2015


    In the conventional model of philanthropy, the big funders—corporations and foundations—mainly support big professional environmental groups. The large national organizations (those with budgets over $5 million) are doing important work but they make up just 2% of all environmental groups, yet receive more than 50% of all environmental grants and donations.

    Meanwhile, funding the environmental movement at a grassroots level—where change happens from the bottom up and lasts—has never been more important. But these groups continue to be woefully underfunded.

    The funding paradigm is out of balance. We aim to change it.

    Above: Patagonia Environmental & Social Initiatives 2015. Pick up a printed copy at your local Patagonia store or read the digital version. Cover photo: Donnie Hedden

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    All Better Now? The Refugio Oil Spill, Three Months On

    By Christian Beamish

    With ancestor chants evoking the original stewards of these shores, Chris Malloy, the Farm League crew and I put together a video short to comment on the Refugio Oil Spill. I did a voice-over at Todd Hannigan’s amazing recording studio based on some lines I wrote, but after a nip from the flask to loosen my chords, I went a little Kerouac and riffed poetic (or so it seemed at the time). And I wonder now about something I said.

    Above: Refugio – A Hell of an Oily Mess. Video: Chris Malloy  Still photo: Erin Feinblatt

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    Save Money, Save Salmon, Save Mike: Free the Snake

    By Steve Hawley


    Meet Mike. He’s 21 years old, 20 feet long, weighs about 10,000 pounds. He speaks a language that was taught to him by his elders: a series of squeaks, clicks and squeals that allow him to coordinate hunting strategies with his clan. His species is the apex predator in the eastern Pacific. He also babysits.

    Mike is often seen protectively swimming alongside his younger siblings, part of a group of 80 orcas known as the Southern Residents that spend their summers fishing in the vicinity of Puget Sound. But over the past decade the babysitting gigs have been too few and far between. Not enough young orcas are making it through pregnancy, birth and into adolescence. Toxicity is a problem, as it is for all the world’s large marine mammals. But lack of food—Chinook salmon—is a death sentence. Acknowledging as much, NOAA put Mike and the rest of the Southern Residents on the Endangered Species list in 2005.

    Above: J26 Mike surfaces in Haro Strait, a key foraging area for the Southern Residents. Photo: Monika Wieland/Orca Watcher Photography

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    Two Big Threats to Yellowstone – Take action now


    Long before the arrival of Europeans, native peoples referred to Yellowstone as the “land of yellow rock waters” for the distinctive stone forged by volcanic blasts and the boiling waters of the largest geothermal system in the world. By 1872, Congress had dedicated Yellowstone as the nation’s—and the world’s—first national park. Yellowstone thus predates the states of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana and the Department of Interior—and of course the Park Service itself. The Congress of the day may have specified Yellowstone Park as a “pleasuring-ground,” but a century and a half of protection has created something far more valuable than a spot to snap pictures. In the words of the Park Service, as a “mountain wildland, home to grizzly bears, wolves, and herds of bison and elk, the park is the core of one of the last, nearly intact, natural ecosystems in the Earth’s temperate zone.”

    This is precisely what is at stake now for Yellowstone as the National Park Service approaches its centennial. The challenge rests not with the Park Service itself, which has earmarked more than $2 million for worthy restoration projects, but in two related outside threats.

    Above: Fish and Wildlife Service is making its second attempt in a decade to delist the Yellowstone grizzly as an endangered species. Doing so would would remove a major obstacle in the path of a proposed gold mine just 30 miles north of the Yellowstone Park boundary. Photo: R. Bear Stands Last, courtesy of the GOAL Tribal Coalition  

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    A Fighting Chance for Wild Steelhead - Vote for Puget Sound wild steelhead gene banks

    Words and photos by Dave McCoy


    The cacophonous boom of that explosion will forever resonate within me. With the flip of a switch, one hundred years of destructive history began to wash away. It was a new day—a day in which the Elwha was finally free. At long last, its waters could once again run unabated to the sea and its steelhead inhabitants could return to their long forsaken home waters.

    It had been a tough century for Elwha steelhead. Once so numerous it was common lore you could walk across the river on their backs, the Elwha’s steelhead population crashed after construction of the infamous dams. With 90 percent of the watershed choked off, their habitat was essentially rendered obsolete and their numbers nearly followed suit.

    That flip of a switch gave Elwha steelhead a fighting chance, something they had not had in a century. However, the State of Washington is now poised to let another man-made roadblock further depress Elwha steelhead stocks and undermine the recovery of wild fish—steelhead hatcheries.

    Above: Releasing the greatest reward, a wild steelhead. All photos: Dave McCoy

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    Wild Fish Don’t Ride in Trucks

    By Yvon Chouinard and Matt Stoecker


    This op-ed was originally published in the Sacramento Bee on July 23, 2015.

    On May 7, the Yuba Salmon Partnership Initiative (YSPI) shared a plan that would create the first “trap and haul” program of its kind in California. Trap and haul involves capturing fish, putting them in trucks, and moving them up or down rivers around obstacles such as dams.

    The initiative is proposing a 50-year, $700 million project that involves moving spring-run chinook salmon around two dams, Englebright and New Bullards Bar Dam, into the North Fork of the Yuba River.

    We all want to see the Yuba River and its salmon thrive. But an expensive project like this one, which doesn’t achieve real recovery of wild and self-sustaining fisheries or watershed function in the Yuba River, would be a huge mistake.

    Above: Yvon Chouinard looks out over Englebright Dam back in 2011, Yuba River, California. Photo: Matt Stoecker

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    Respect for the Past . . . and Rules to Protect a Sacred Place

    By Josh Ewing


    Fifteen years ago, I was drawn to southeastern Utah by the vast tracts of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and National Forest lands where I could find the freedom to explore and climb and have an adventure—rarely seeing another human other than my climbing partners or an intrepid hiker. I loved the feeling that my every move wasn’t being scripted by a ranger or a regulation, a sense I sometimes get when visiting National Parks.

    Now, years later, these remarkable lands are no longer a place I visit on a quick weekend trip. Literally in my backyard, I work every day to protect this landscape for future generations. Our big project right now is working with a coalition of groups to protect the Bears Ears cultural landscape as a permanent National Conservation Area or Monument.

    Above: Josh enjoys an oil-field-free view from the third belay on Eagle Feather (5.10). Eagle Plume Tower, Valley of the Gods, Utah. Photo: Mikey Schaefer

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