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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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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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    Beauty in a Blurry Photo – Merging climbing, science, and conservation in Mozambique

    By Majka Burhardt

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    Exactly one month ago I tightened the last bolt in the last hold on the first-ever climbing boulder in Mozambique—and then climbed on it with over 1,000 Mozambican school children.

    Tonight, over dinner in Central Mozambique, I made a promise to climb a 12-pitch run-out granite slab with a Mozambican farmer named Elias who’s never roped up in his life.

    Tomorrow, I meet 25 African students in Gorongosa National Park to spend 10 days exploring the vortex of conservation, science, leadership, stewardship and adventure.

    And all of this started because of a blurry photo of a mangy rock face.

    Above: The first round of Mozambican students arrive to “climb” on Mount Namuli with Patagonia ambassador Majka Burhardt. The first-ever climbing wall was built to showcase The Lost Mountain, a combination science, conservation and adventure initiative on Mozambique’s Mount Namuli. Photo: Gustav Rensburg 

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    Over One Million Acres Protected!

    By Ron Hunter, Patagonia Environmental Activism Manager

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    Today, July 10, 2015, President Obama announced the designation of two new national monuments: Basin and Range and Berryessa Snow Mountain. We want to thank the President for his decisive action to protect some of America’s last remaining pristine valleys, mountain ranges, wild rivers, and wildlife habitat.

    Above: Cache Creek Natural Area in the newly designated Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. Photo: Bob Wick

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    Free the Snake: Restoring America’s Greatest Salmon River

    We released a new short film this week called Free the Snake. The film, from the producers of DamNation, looks at the effects of four deadbeat dams on Washington’s lower Snake River. For years, Snake River salmon have been trucked, shipped and sent up ladders—all costly and failed bids to stop their decline. We believe it’s time to remove the dams and reconnect wild fish to their watershed.

    As part of the film’s launch, we’re continuing to encourage those who support healthy rivers to get involved in this campaign by signing our petition urging President Obama to remove the four lower Snake River dams. You may remember that earlier this year, the DamNation filmmakers and a team from Patagonia delivered the first 70,000 signatures to the White House, while placing ads in Washington State media pushing for dam removal.

    Take_action_largeGET INVOLVED

    Join us in asking President Obama to remove four deadbeat dams on the lower Snake River. Then, help us spread the word by sharing this link with your networks.

    Take Action: Sign the petition

     

    Statement in Support of SB-788 – A bill to prevent future offshore drilling in Santa Barbara County

    By Hans Cole, Director of Environmental Campaigns and Advocacy

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    The following remarks (shortened slightly due to time constraints) were delivered on Monday, June 29, 2015, in the California State Legislature.
     

    To the members of the California State Legislature present today, thank you for your attention to the health and safety of our coastline and ocean. I’m here in support of Senate Bill-788 the California Coastal Protection Act of 2015—and I’d particularly like to thank Senators McGuire and Jackson for introducing this important legislation.

    I work as the Director of Environmental Campaigns and Advocacy for Patagonia. We are a California company—founded in Ventura and based there since 1973. While our brand has global reach, the heart of our business and close to 500 headquarters employees remain just a short walk from the beach in Ventura. We have six Patagonia-owned stores in California, from San Diego to San Francisco. None of our facilities are more than a few miles from the coast and most just a few blocks away.

    Above: Frame grab of Hans speaking to the California State Legislature. You can watch his entire speech at the end of this post. Video: The California Channel

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