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

    By Majka Burhardt


    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


    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


    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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    Lago to Lago – Connecting the two great lakes in Patagonia Park

    By Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia VP of Public Engagement


    The official grand opening of the new Patagonia National Park in southern Chile is scheduled for late November but the park, even now, is attracting thousands of visitors including three of our trail running ambassadors who, in January, ran parts of the 100-plus miles of trails already constructed. Patagonia-the-company funded part of that construction but the new park, projected to be nearly 650,000 acres, has entire watersheds currently outside of the existing trail system.  

    Editor’s note: As we continue to expand on The New Localism, it’s important to revisit previous campaigns and breathe new life into them. Today, Rick Ridgeway reconnects with Mile for Mile which is more than halfway to its funding goal. Remember, Patagonia, Inc. will match your Mile for Mile donations through 2015.

    In March, I joined two friends, Jib Ellison and Weston Boyles, to scout a potential route that could provide a more-or-less direct link between the two great lakes that bookend the park: Lago General Carrerra on the north and Lago Cochrane on the south. These two lakes are so stupendous that when people first see them they appear mythical, like scenes from a Maxwell Parrish painting.

    Above: Finding a route above the Aviles Norte on day two. The team had Google Earth maps and an iPhone app that recorded positions that Patagonia National Park will use if they create a permanent trail along the route. Photo: Weston Boyles

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    Mundaka: Surf but don’t touch

    By Tony Butt


    When the first surfers turned up at Mundaka around the late 1960s and set their eyes upon those perfect lefthanders, they had no reason to think the waves wouldn’t be there forever. Almost half a century later, we now know that Mundaka is a very special wave, perhaps unique in the world; not just because of its perfection, power or length, but because of the miraculous circumstances that made it the way it is. Sure, there are waves just as long and hollow as Mundaka, but the vast majority break on immovable rock or coral platforms. Mundaka, on the other hand, relies on a rivermouth sandbar.

    In the early days, the overriding concern was how the surfers themselves could make the best of the wave. How could they improve board design and riding techniques to get in and out of those freight-train barrels as easily as possible? They had no idea that the principal concern would eventually turn from dominating the wave to protecting it.

    This article isn’t just about Mundaka, although Mundaka is the central theme running through it. It is also about estuarine systems, chaos, Nature and us.

    Above: The Mundaka sandbar behaving itself, winter 2014-15. Spain. Photo: Javi Muñoz

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    DamNation – Help stop Ishiki Dam in Japan

    By Takayuki Tsujii, Patagonia Japan


    All technology has merits and harmful effects. The same applies to dams that came into existence over 50 years ago. But the detrimental impact brought upon by dams has become increasingly conspicuous in recent years. Because of this, discussions have started to take place in the U.S. regarding the necessity of dams—from economical, environmental and cultural perspectives—with some of these discussions resulting in the actual removal of unnecessary dams. Such stories and movements can be seen in the movie DamNation.

    There are currently 2,800 dams in Japan. Structures over 15 meters tall are considered dams in Japan. If we include smaller structures, it is said there are close to 100,000 dams. It is a fact that dams played many significant roles in the economic growth and national prosperity of this country after World War II. However, once we entered the 21st century, the downside of dams became much more obvious – they choke our river ecosystems, destroy fish and wildlife habitats and degrade water quality, while often providing limited benefit as these concrete structures get older and, quite simply, outlast their value. Unfortunately, the administration in Japan has never conducted an objective, scientific evaluation on the necessity of existing dams.

    Despite this lack of research, there are over 80 dams being planned right now. Among those, the Ishiki Dam being planned for construction in Nagasaki prefecture’s Kawatana-cho poses serious environmental, economic and human rights concerns. These are issues that we Japanese must take a hard look at.

    Above: “Koubaru”, the area slated to be submerged by the construction of Ishiki Dam. The Ishiki River running alongside the road is too small and narrow to be visible. Photo: Yoshiaki Murayama

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