The Keystone XL pipeline would have connected the tar sands oil fields in Canada to a massive refinery and port complex near Houston, Texas. But people across North America on both sides of the border said “No” to shipping tar sands oil.
Above: Demonstrators in front of the White House protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline in 2011. Photo: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images
For 24 years, residents of the Kootenays in British Columbia, Canada, have been largely opposed to a proposed year-round ski resort in the heart of the Central Purcell Mountains—a region that encompasses both cherished alpine backcountry and critical core grizzly bear habitat. At the time this story was going to print, the provincial government had just dealt would-be developers a significant blow by deeming the ski resort project not “substantially started”—a finding that would require developers to return to square one to reapply for an environmental assessment certificate in order to continue with their plan. As the developers contemplate their next move, local skiers, snowboarders, climbers, wildlife conservationists and First Nations peoples staunchly hold their line, hopeful that with this ruling, the quarter-century-long battle may be nearing an end. But whether the developers redouble their efforts or their opponents celebrate victory—what a long, strange trip it’s been.
Above: Jumbo Valley. Central Purcell Mountains, British Columbia, Canada. Photo: Garrett Grove
Jasmin Caton and Leah Evans both live and work in southeastern British Columbia: Caton as a ski guide and co-owner of Valhalla Mountain Touring; Evans as founder and director of the freeski program Girls Do Ski in Revelstoke. Caton has been skiing the backcountry since she was a child, while Evans comes from a hard-charging, competitive freeskiing environment. We spoke with them just after they’d completed an eight-day ski traverse through a section of the Jumbo Glacier backcountry, to see for themselves the site of the proposed and hotly contested Jumbo Glacier Resort featured in Jumbo Wild the new film by Sweetgrass Productions. Above: Leah and Jasmin strap in and buckle up for the bootpack. Selkirk Mountains, British Columbia, Canada. Photo: Garrett Grove
You’d never skied together before this trip. How’d the dynamic work?
Jasmin: A trip like this with new people can leave you with a feeling of, “Hmmm,” but this was definitely a “YES.” Hanging out with Leah has inspired me to try some more exciting stuff. Our skills are really complementary, and we can offer each other a lot.
Leah: For sure. I watched everything Jasmin did because she has such depth of experience out there. I’d see her do something with her pack or something, and I’d say, “Um, I’m going to do that with my pack, too.” I want to learn as much as I can from her.
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.
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 Columbia—just 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 Wildsightto 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 Patagonia.com.
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.
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.
Editor’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.
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
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.
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.
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