The Cleanest Line

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    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.]

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    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]

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    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]

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    DamNation – A River Reestablishes Itself

    By Katie Klingsporn

    Creek

    In September of 2011, machines began chipping away at the Elwha Dam in Washington’s lush Olympic Peninsula, kicking off the largest dam-removal project in United States history.

    The dam has since been completely removed from the section of the Elwha River it had occupied since 1913. Another dam upstream, the Glines Canyon Dam, located in Olympic National Park, is partially dismantled and expected to be a thing of the past by early next summer, freeing the river for the first time in 100 years.

    [Above: The 210 foot Glines Canyon Dam in Olympic National Park has illegally blocked spawning habitat for an extraordinary chinook salmon run since 1927. Photo by Ben Knight/DamNation]

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    Wooly in Patagonia

    by Jim Little, Patagonia Creative Services

    IMG_6747

    We have some great benefits at Patagonia. But none is better than the opportunity to volunteer with environmental groups through our internship program. During my 15 years working as an editor here at our headquarters in Ventura, I’ve gotten to follow wild buffalo in West Yellowstone, see the effects of industrial forestry in Chile, learn about the sagebrush environment in northern Nevada, and most recently, spend two weeks in Patagonia, Argentina, working with The Nature Conservancy on its grasslands project.

    Sheep ranching is the most prevalent land use in the Patagonia region, which is three times the size of California and mostly privately owned. Overgrazing is turning its grasslands into desert. To reverse the degradation, preserve biodiverstiy and freshwater resources, Patagonia has partnered with The Nature Conservancy and Ovis XXI, an Argentine company that manages and develops a network of wool producers.

    [Above: A gaucho and his border collie head to their flock.]

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    Broken Rivers: By the Numbers

    Matilija_dam_cut_here_2

    As Patagonia moves out of its Broken Rivers phase of the Our Common Waters environmental campaign, we wanted to take a look back at what was achieved in the last couple of years as it relates to broken rivers/dam removal. We often don’t take the time to consider these events during or after the course of our campaigns. So, with that in mind, please look at the following list of accomplishments that happened with the hard work of thousands of citizens across our land.

    • Dams taken down in 2012: 53 and counting
    • Major dams removed in Washington: 3 – The Condit Dam on the White Salmon River, Elwha Dam and Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha River
    • Size of the Glines Canyon Dam – in terms of all dams removed in human history: Largest, at 210 feet
    • Number of miles of river habitat that Atlantic salmon will be able to access thanks to ongoing Penobscot River dam removals in Maine: 1,000
    • Number of river herring traveling upriver on the Kennebec in Maine before removal of the Edwards Dam: 200,000
    • Number of herring returning to the river after removal of the dam: 3 million
    • Number of emails sent to members of Congress regarding Congressman Hasting’s "worst dam bill ever" to prevent federal funding for dam removal: over 8,000 (opposed)
    • Number of actions taken, encouraging NOAA to continue funding the Community-based Restoration Program and the Open Rivers Initiative: 10,394 (since 2005 these government programs have removed dams and culverts, restored rivers and freed up passages for wild fish)
    • Number of emails sent to protest two boondoggle dam and reservoir 
proposals on the Chattahoochee River, listed as one of the 10 Most 
Endangered Rivers of 2012 by American Rivers: 3,352
    • Number of dams in the U.S. labeled “high” or “significant hazard” by the Army Corps of Engineers: over 26,000

     
    For more, see all blog posts from the Our Common Waters campaign.

    [Photo: Instructions for removal of the Matilija Dam, Ventura County, California. From "We're Just Getting Started: Elwha and Condit Establish Dam Removal Momentum"]

    Bridges for Wildlife – Migrating Pronghorn Encounter a New Overpass and the Freedom to Roam

    by Emilene Ostlind, photos by Joe Riis

    Overpass1

    The pronghorn antelope that migrate 170 miles from Grand Teton National Park south to their winter range face plenty of obstacles: rivers, fences, a high mountain pass, subdivisions, energy development. The most dangerous place in the migration corridor is the geographic bottleneck known as Trappers’ Point six miles west of Pinedale, Wyoming. Here, two rivers swoop toward one another and then apart, outlining a mile-wide strip of land the shape of an hourglass. A subdivision blocks half the bottleneck, and Highway 191, the main roadway connecting I-80 to Jackson Hole, runs across its middle flanked on both sides by barbed wire fences.

    Editor's note: Today we're pleased to share a follow-up story to our Freedom to Roam campaign. Patagonia's Rick Ridgeway first teamed up with Joe Riis four years ago to document migrating proghorn and the man-made obstacles they faced.

    One October day in 2008 Joe Riis, a National Geographic Young Explorers Grantee, photographed some 700 pronghorn crossing the highway at Trappers’ Point. He was part way into a two-year-long project to document the entire migration in photographs. The animals packed a trail in the snow as they ducked under one barbed-wire fence. They sprinted between cars and trucks on the highway. A dog from the subdivision chased them as they tried to find an opening under the second fence. In a panic, they continued south.

    [Above: Wyoming pronghorn and mule deer migrate over the new highway overpass at Trapper's Point, Wyoming. All photos: Joe Riis]

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    Black Tide

    by Dr. Tony Butt

    Prestige_oil_spill_Grueso

    We are constantly reminded that our oil-based consumer society, with our excessive use of plastics, obsession with air travel and inefficient ways of heating and lighting our homes, will eventually lead to environmental suicide in the form of global warming and resource depletion. But for many people, including surfers, global warming and resource depletion are a little hard to grasp; because they are difficult to actually see happening. However, our addiction to oil is one of the ultimate causes of another, much more tangible effect: when oil that is being transported spills into the sea and arrives on the coastline.
     
    Almost exactly ten years ago, the Prestige oil spill occurred off the coast of Galicia, in Spain, very close to where I live at the moment. It was the worst environmental catastrophe in the history of Spain and Europe, and I don’t think it should be forgotten. So I apologize in advance if you find this article a little gloomy.

    [Photo: Stéphane M. Grueso]

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    Thinking Like a Mountain Climber

    by Charissa Rujanavech

    Yvon&vincent

    Yvon Chouinard first came onto my radar in 1999.

    I was a young lass from the Midwest, transplanted for the summer in southern Utah and awestruck by the dramatic landscapes of the West. Having never traveled beyond the forests of Missouri, I was eager to explore these wild mountains, deserts, and rivers. I soon discovered what would become my greatest passion: rock climbing.

    My early climbing mentors taught me lessons in balance and delicate footwork during the day, and recounted stories of the Yosemite Golden Age rock legends over the campfire at night. The names of Salathé, Frost, Robbins, Pratt, and Chouinard were brought to life, through tales of near-mythical ascents up immense granite walls I couldn’t even begin to imagine tackling.

    [Yvon Chouinard holds forth at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Photo: Anthony Clark.]

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    DamNation – Free-Flowing Again

    by Katie Klingsporn

    Damnation_condit_2

    A little over a year ago, a 125-foot-tall dam stood in Washington’s White Salmon River, a concrete plug with a serene reservoir at its back and a trickle of river spilling out downstream.

    But it’s hard to tell that today.

    The Condit Hydroelectric Dam, which was built in the early 1900s to harness the energy of the White Salmon for local industry, was blasted into the history books in October 2011 with 700 pounds of carefully placed dynamite.

    The explosion, part of a phased project orchestrated by dam operator Pacificorp as an alternative to building costly fish passages, released the White Salmon River in a torrent of muddy water, debris and sediment, draining Northwestern Lake in less than two hours and freeing the river for the first time in almost a century.

    Since that time, demolition crews have completed the removal of some 35,000 cubic yards of concrete, as well as logjams and other debris in the river.

    And when public-access restrictions were lifted in early November, a group of boaters, river activists, biologists, rafting guides and kayakers converged for a historic float.

    [Above: Washington’s White Salmon river was officially opened to boaters this month after the removal of the Condit Dam, and spawning salmon have already been spotted upstream for the first time in a century. Photos by Ben Knight/DamNation]

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