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    Rios Libres: Environmental Dispatches – Episode 2, The History

    By Craig Childs, video by Rios Libres



    It was a good rain that morning in Aysén up a glacial tributary of the Rio Baker. Drips came down through the roof of a one-room house where a young man named Filipe Henriquez stood next to the crackling cocina telling me about how the privatization of water in Chile, the selling of rivers, has interrupted the flow of life. Henriquez said, “My father can’t take water out of the Baker for his livestock. It was sold to HidroAysén. It belongs to Endesa and Colbún. Sure, you can irrigate with it, but it is illegal.”

    Endesa, a multinational power company owned by the Italian energy giant Enel joined the Chilean energy company Colbún in planning to dam the Baker and other rivers in this un-dammed region.

    The table in the house was made with a chainsaw, and on it stood a half-melted candle and an empty wine bottle from the night before. We had just finished breakfast.

    Continue reading "Rios Libres: Environmental Dispatches – Episode 2, The History" »

    Rios Libres: Environmental Dispatches – Episode 1, The People

    By Juan Pablo Orrego, video by Rios Libres



    People say that the “Patagonia Without Dams” campaign is epic. No wonder.

    This campaign is not only about saving two of Patagonia’s most magnificent rivers, the Baker and Pascua. It is not only about protecting the legendary, magical beauty of this planetary bio gem, its biodiversity and complex ecological mosaic. It is not only about saving the unique natural and cultural heritage.

    It is, of course, about all of these things, but our campaign is also about helping our country to avoid the terrible, unforgivable mistake of building an unnecessary and destructive hydroelectric complex in Patagonia when many sustainable alternatives are at hand. Our hope is that this movement can make a serious, collective contribution to radically changing the paradigm guiding energy development in our country.

    Editor's note: Today we're kicking off a weekly video series in partnership with our friends at Rios Libres, based on their recent film, Streams of Consequence. The goal is to highlight four different aspects of the fight against five proposed dams in Chile's Patagonia region. Articles written by experts in the field will accompany each video.

    Continue reading "Rios Libres: Environmental Dispatches – Episode 1, The People" »

    Conservacion Patagonica Donates 37,500-acre El Rincon to Expand Perito Moreno National Park in Argentina

    By Rick Ridgeway

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    This week our friends and colleagues Doug and Kris Tompkins announced a donation by Conservacion Patagonica to the Argentina national park system of Estancia Rincon, a 37,500-acre parcel of wildlands in our namesake, Patagonia-the-place. This former sheep ranch is at the foot of Cerro San Lorenzo – the most Himalayan-like peak in all of Patagonia – and it creates a majestic extension to the existing Perito Moreno National Park.

    The story of this new conservation victory begins in the early ‘60s when Doug, a long-time climbing partner of Yvon Chouinard’s, founded The North Face. Doug sold TNF in the late ‘60s to start Esprit, the women’s clothing brand that he in turn sold in the late ‘80s so he could use the funds to create privately endowed parks and protected areas in Chile and Argentina. Those of you who are fans of the 180° South film will recognize this part of the story.

    [Above: Cerro San Lorenzo. Photo: Doug Tompkins]

    Continue reading "Conservacion Patagonica Donates 37,500-acre El Rincon to Expand Perito Moreno National Park in Argentina" »

    Introducing “$20 Million & Change” and Patagonia Works – A Holding Company for the Environment

    By Yvon Chouinard

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    I don’t like to think of myself as a businessman. I’ve made no secret that I hold a fairly skeptical view of the business world. That said, Patagonia, the company my wife and I founded four decades ago, has grown up to be — by global standards — a medium-size business. And that bestows on our family a serious responsibility. The last line of Patagonia’s mission statement is “… use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” We’ve always taken that seriously.

    Three examples: Every year for 30 years, Patagonia has donated one percent of its sales to grassroots environmental organizations. We helped initiate the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, an organization of companies that produces more than a third of the clothing and footwear on the planet. In a very short time, the Coalition has launched an index of social and environmental performance that designers (and eventually consumers) can use to make better decisions when developing products or choosing materials. And last year we became one of California’s first B Corps (benefit corporations), which means that the values that helped make our company successful are now etched into our legal charter.

    Continue reading "Introducing “$20 Million & Change” and Patagonia Works – A Holding Company for the Environment" »

    Help Protect Bristol Bay – Watch Sea-Swallow’d and Take Action Today

    By Ryan Peterson



    As with any creative endeavor, the process of building is fraught with self-doubt. But when I showed a draft of my film, sea-swallow’d to my friend Teplin Cahall 5 months ago, I got a boost. You see, Tep can't talk. He was born that way. Because of this and some associated developmental issues, he sees the world a little differently than do the rest of us.

    One gauges Tep’s thoughts and feelings on a matter by the glints of ecstasy or tears of rage that accumulate in his eyes, and the alternately soothing or garish noises that his vocal chords are able to emit. His emotions are pure, raw, unfiltered by the complications of the wide world. He’s like an animal - innocent, instinctual, knowing only truth. In this way, if you can decipher his notes and read his analyses, Tep is the best critic a friend could ever have. To date, according to his dad, Fitz, Tep has watched sea-swallow’d several hundred times. I take this as approval.

    Continue reading "Help Protect Bristol Bay – Watch Sea-Swallow’d and Take Action Today" »

    DamNation – The Grand Dame of Dam Busting

    By Katie Klingsporn

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    Folk-singer, desert goddess, rabble-rouser and all-out spitfire Katie Lee has been raging against Glen Canyon Dam and its reservoir, Lake Powell, for more than 50 years.

    And she’s not slowing down.

    Lee, who is featured in DamNation, a documentary film produced by Patagonia and Stoecker Ecological in conjunction with Felt Soul Media, has penned protest songs and authored books about Glen Canyon, the dam and the Southwest over the years. Just now wrapping up her latest project, “Dandy Crossing,” she tells the story of the handful of people who once lived at Hite, a river crossing that was drowned by Lake Powell, and what happened to them after they were forced from their homes.

    Lee, who is in her 90s, also serves on the advisory board of the Glen Canyon Institute, an environmental group that advocates the draining of Lake Powell and the restoration of the Colorado River. She still performs and speaks for educational and non-profit organizations, as well.

    [Above: The one and only Katie Lee, outside her home in Jerome, Arizona after her interview for DamNation this fall. Photo: Ben Knight]

    Continue reading "DamNation – The Grand Dame of Dam Busting" »

    In Salmondarity

    By Ray Friedlander

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    Put on the same level as Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, genetically engineered salmon, or “Frankenfish,” are creations designed by the biotechnology industry. The fish are devised to grow year round, which makes their appetites voracious and their dependency on feed fish unsustainably high. They are also designed to be ready for market in one and a half years, instead of the normal three years. If approved by the FDA, Frankenfish will be the first ever genetically engineered animal on the market, paving the way for other future genetically engineered animals in the United States.

    Why the opposition? For us who live in the nation’s largest National Forest, the Tongass rainforest, our economies and our identities are sustained through wild-as-can-be salmon. Wild Alaskan salmon generate over $986 million dollars and 11% of regional jobs in Southeast Alaska, making the accidental introduction of GMO salmon into our oceans a huge threat to these economies. This threat is not only limited to fishing economies, it continues to our health since the risks of eating genetically engineered salmon by humans, and marine animals dependent on salmon, are unknown.

    [Above: Over 150 residents of the small coastal Alaskan town of Sitka display their disagreement with the FDA’s ruling that genetically modified salmon “pose no risk to human health or the environment” at a community rally. Photo: Sitka Conservation Society]

    Continue reading "In Salmondarity " »

    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]

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    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" »

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