The Cleanest Line

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    Colorado River is Nation’s #1 Most Endangered River

    By Amy Souers Kober



    We are all connected by fresh water. Rivers run like arteries, crossing state and international borders, and sustaining our communities. In the west, one river links seven western states and Mexico. It’s a river that goes by different names – Red, Grand River Red, Rio Colorado, the Mighty Colorado.

    The Colorado River is truly a lifeline in the desert. Its waters provide habitat for a host of wildlife including four federally-listed endangered fish species. The river and tributaries support a $26 billion recreation economy, and a quarter million sustainable jobs. Millions flock to the river for fishing, boating, and hiking, or just to stand in awe atop the Grand Canyon to witness the breathtaking formations carved by water and time.

    [Above: Colorado River - America's Most Endangered River 2013. Video: Pete McBride for American Rivers]

    Continue reading "Colorado River is Nation’s #1 Most Endangered River" »

    A Million Comments Against Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

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    Tar sands oil in the Keystone XL pipeline will cross more than 1,000 bodies of water through three states threatening freshwater with a devastating oil spill. We want to get a million comments against Keystone XL to the State Department by April 22. The clock is ticking.

    Protect freshwater: add your name to the growing numbers of people who oppose this pipeline.

    Take action at 350.org

    Patagonia's current environmental campaign, Our Common Waters, spotlights the need to balance human water consumption with that of plants and animals. Learn more.

    [Vast open-pit bitumen mines require massive clear-cutting of the pristine boreal forest in the Alberta tar sands. Photo: John Woods / Greenpeace]

    A Watershed Moment for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

    By Nate Ptacek



    Brushing past lily pads, my canoe cuts through the serene calm of a September evening. I glide silently under massive pines in the fading light, careful to avoid the weathered snags of black spruce jutting out from shore. The water is still warm, but there is a slight chill in the air – a reminder that the brief northern summer is waning. 

    Suddenly, the silence is broken by a loud buzz. With a few draw strokes, I reach the source – a large dragonfly is trapped on the water’s surface, blown into the lake during a passing storm just an hour before. Ripples echo out in a delicate pattern as she struggles to take flight. Instinctively, I reach into the water, taking care not to crush her wings as she trembles wildly in my grasp.

    [Video: Watershed from Nate Ptacek]

    Continue reading "A Watershed Moment for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness" »

    The Final Countdown – Kiwis Organizing Against Seabed Mining in New Zealand

    By Dominico Zapata, introduction by Chris Malloy

    Raglan-Overview

    It’s my first six hours in Raglan and I’m already on my third round trip at Manu Bay – jump off the rocky point, stroke into an impossibly long left, surf until your quads are on fire, prone out, then scramble up the cobblestone point for another. At the edge of the rocks I see a familiar face and slow down. It’s one of my biggest heroes, Peggy Oki!

    Peggy stands around 5'4'' but exudes the strength and energy of a giant. She’s an all-time classic: original Dogtown Zephyr team rider, great surfer, amazing artist, bad-ass climber, and environmental activist. I stopped, gave her a big hug and asked, “Hey Peggy, what are you up to?” With a glint in her eye she casually replied, "Ah, just savin’ dolphins."

    We shot the breeze for a minute or two but I could tell she had something bigger to share with me, and like any good grassroots activist does, she quickly dove deep into the topic of proposed seabed mining in the region and how it could affect New Zealand. I was blown away to hear about the hubris of corporations thinking they could dredge hundreds of millions of tons of sand from the ocean floor and not have a major effect on the ocean. I wanted to know more. We exchanged numbers and I went for another few rounds at Manu Bay before the sun set.

    [Above: Raglan has been a Mecca for the world's surf community, since Bruce Brown's epic film The Endless Summer. Tourists come from all over the world in pursuit of perfect, long peeling lefts but these waves are dependent to some extent on the movement of sand. Photo courtesy of Kiwis Against Seabed Mining]

    Continue reading "The Final Countdown – Kiwis Organizing Against Seabed Mining in New Zealand" »

    Cooking Up a Conservation Victory in Canada’s Sacred Headwaters

    By Shannon McPhail

    We Did It!

    It's not often that a small, rural region of communities declares victory against one of the largest corporations on the planet, so when it happens - WE NEED TO CELEBRATE!

    Editor's note: I remember hearing Shannon speak back in 2010 when she, Ali Howard and a group of kayaking filmmakers visited Patagonia HQ to screen Awakening the Skeena. Shannon was passionate, funny and full of fight. We've published a number of posts on this issue – from protests to photos to film – so it's with great joy that we share this wonderful news today.

    The problem? Royal Dutch Shell wanted to drill 1,500-10,000 coal bed methane gas wells in the Sacred Headwaters, where three of Canada's greatest wild salmon and steelhead rivers, the Skeena, Stikine and Nass are born.

    These rivers are among the last surviving intact, kick-ass, grizzly bear chasing 30-pound salmon over waterfalls kind of rivers. Native and white families harvesting enough food for the winter kind of rivers. Dip your head in and drink the water without tablets or filters because it’s so clean kind of rivers. Not a single dam anywhere kind of rivers.

    Continue reading "Cooking Up a Conservation Victory in Canada’s Sacred Headwaters" »

    Streams of Consequence: Public Outcry Successfully Halting Dams in Patagonia

    Words by Chris Kassar, photos by James Q Martin

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    “Patagonia is not for sale! Protect her rivers!”   

    “Defend Aysén! Keep Patagonia free from dams!” 

    These chants echoed through the streets of Santiago, Chile in April 2012 as tens of thousands once again voiced their opposition to HidroAysén’s proposal to dam two of Patagonia’s pristine rivers, the Baker and the Pascua. A few days earlier, the Chilean Supreme Court voted 3-2 in favor of the HidroAysén dam project in Patagonia and against appeals filed by opponents. 

    This decision was a major setback, but it has not turned out to be a green light for dam construction. Almost one year after the Supreme Court’s decision, the rivers still run free and a critical element of the project – the longest proposed power line in the world (1,180 miles from Patagonia to Santiago) continues to be a huge headache for HidroAysén, a big business partnership between an Italian energy company and a Chilean energy company called Colbún.

    Continue reading "Streams of Consequence: Public Outcry Successfully Halting Dams in Patagonia" »

    DamNation – Stanford’s Dam Dilemma

    By Katie Klingsporn

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    Matt Stoecker spent his childhood tromping around in the creeks of the San Franciquito watershed where he grew up, hunting for frogs, fishing and exploring.

    One day in the mid-90s, he found himself below the 65-foot-tall Searsville Dam on the Corte Madera Creek when he experienced a seminal moment: He saw a 30-inch steelhead jump out of the water and smash itself against the dam.

    He had never seen a fish that size in the creek, and he was struck at the power and futility he witnessed.

    Stoecker soon began volunteering with the San Francisquito Watershed Council, then started a steelhead task force and has been working to remove small dams and other fish barriers in the watershed ever since.

    But all along, he said, “Searsville Dam was the biggest limiting factor.”

    [Hidden behind the fences of Stanford’s Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, Searsville Dam creates a stagnant reservoir where algae and non-native species thrive while steelhead and other threatened species are trapped downstream. Photo: Matt Stoecker]

    Continue reading "DamNation – Stanford’s Dam Dilemma" »

    From the Front Lines: 50,000 Join the Biggest Climate Rally in U.S. History

    By Alison Kelman

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    His message was simple. When you are in a hole, stop digging.

    On Sunday morning I joined prominent environmentalist and 350.org President Bill McKibben, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, and over 50,000 protestors on the National Mall to participate in the largest climate change rally in U.S. history. The Forward on Climate Rally was supported by 168 organizations and environmental groups from across the country. Buses, trains, and bicycles delivered protestors from every corner of the nation. The temperature hovered just above freezing as we waved signs, chanted slogans, and huddled against strangers for warmth. Between flurries, rays of sun peaked out from behind the looming Washington Monument.

    “All I wanted to see was a movement of people against climate change, and now I have seen it,” proclaimed McKibben to the crowd.

    [Above: Author Alison Kelman and 350.org President Bill McKibben, backstage before Bill's speech. All photos courtesy of Alison Kelman]

    Continue reading "From the Front Lines: 50,000 Join the Biggest Climate Rally in U.S. History" »

    Reject Keystone XL – Attend the Forward on Climate Rally this Sunday or Participate Online

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    Twice before – in August of 2011, then again in 2012 – we joined with thousands of others across the country to ask President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Tar sands oil is some of the dirtiest on the planet and our top climate scientist, NASA’s Dr. James Hansen, has said that fully exploiting the tar sands would mean “game over” for the climate. Read our recent post for more thoughts on the risks and reality of tar sands oil.

    On  February 17, 2013, this coming Sunday, our friends at Sierra Club and 350.org along with more than 120 partner organizations are planning what could be the largest climate rally in U.S. history. Together, we are asking President Obama once again to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and to provide leadership to advance real solutions to the climate crisis.

    We need your help – and your voice – to make this event happen, and to spread this message across the country.

    Continue reading "Reject Keystone XL – Attend the Forward on Climate Rally this Sunday or Participate Online " »

    Love

    By Annie Leonard

    Annie_leonardLong before we were labeled treehuggers, before environmentalist, ecologist and conservationist, people with a passion for the Earth were commonly called nature lovers. What better time than February to re-embrace the term? If there's one thing the Common Threads community has in common, it's a devotion to hiking, skiing, climbing, surfing, fishing and other outdoor sports that bring us into loving contact with our beautiful yet fragile planet.

    But with all due respect to the Beatles, love is not all you need. And to turn around Edward Abbey's well-known advice to activists, it is not enough to love the land, it is even more important to fight for it.

    Continue reading "Love" »

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