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    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

    2012.04.07_Confluence_timelapse_6-0001

    “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

    1.-Standford_jasper_Ridge1

    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

    Foc_2

    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

    Forward_On_Climate_poster

    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" »

    Kalmiopsis Wilderness

    By Zachary Collier

    Rough and Ready Creek 1

    "Why wilderness? Because we like the taste of freedom. Because we like the smell of danger." ―Edward Abbey

    Wilderness means different things to different people. For some, heading out of cell phone range is enough to make them feel like Grizzly Adams, but the Wilderness Act, signed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, defines wilderness as more. In almost poetic prose the authors of the Act wrote:

    "A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain... an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence... which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions..."

    [Above: Rough and Ready Creek, just outside the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, is ripe for protection. All photos courtesy of Zachary Collier/Northwest Rafting Co.]

    Continue reading "Kalmiopsis Wilderness" »

    Is It Worth It?

    John woods_green peace_2

    On Sunday July 25, 2010, a pipeline carrying tar sands crude from Alberta, Canada, burst open and spilled more than 1.1 million gallons of oil into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River, near Marshall, Michigan. The oil coated wildlife and birds, soaked into wetlands and waterways, and directly impacted farmland, businesses, homes and communities as far as 40 miles away. After a delay of 17 hours, workers arrived on the scene and found that the sludgy, toxic, tar sands crude sinks in water, rather than floats – making it much more difficult to clean up. Recovery efforts have already cost over $800 million, and the price paid in ecological and human health is hard to measure.

    As we move into the final phase of the Our Common Waters campaign, we’re taking a close look at expanding tar sands development across North America. From the strip mining of tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to the spider web of pipelines expanding across the U.S. and Canada, to ports and coastal areas that would act as hubs for export: at every point in the chain of production and transportation, water is at risk. The water we drink, the water we fish, the water we swim and boat in, the only water we have.

    We’re asking ourselves and our community: Is it worth it?

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

    Continue reading "Is It Worth It?" »

    Death of Another Wave – Paul Do Mar, Madeira

    By Patch Wilson

    Patch bomb drop

    Roughly 10 years ago the Madeiran government gave the go-ahead to seawall project that was built to protect the village of Jardim do Mar. This seawall put an end to the best big-wave right point in Europe. The wave that breaks there now is a shadow of its former self. The huge concrete boulders they installed as part of the seawall means the wave is just full of backwash, and according to local surfers is pretty dangerous to surf. Many of the people who supported the seawall originally are now complaining about its size and lack of asethetic. Jardim do Mar, once considered one of the most beautiful villages on the island of Madeira, has been vandalised by a government wanting to line its own pockets with EU money, and a wave that was once considered one of the best in Europe is now lost.

    [Above: Patch Wilson dropping into a glassy morning wall. Photo: Mickey Smith]

    Continue reading "Death of Another Wave – Paul Do Mar, Madeira" »

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