The Cleanest Line

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    The Penobscot River Restoration Project

    by Topher Browne

    Besaw-greatworks-09

    In September, 2011, The Cleanest Line reported the demise of two dams on the Elwha River in Washington State. Currently the largest dam removal project on the continent, the demolition of the 108-foot Elwha Dam and the 210-foot Glines Canyon Dam will allow five species of Pacific salmon – including a super strain of Chinook salmon topping 100 pounds – to access more than 70 miles of previously unavailable waterways. Salmon currently spawn in five miles of river below the Elwha Dam, which provides no fish passage.

    Dam busting is a hot commodity on both the left and right coasts of North America. On December 17, 2010, the Penobscot River Restoration Trust – a joint venture between American Rivers, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, Maine Audubon, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, the Nature Conservancy, the Penobscot Indian Nation, and Trout Unlimited – purchased the Veazie, Howland and Great Works Dams on the Penobscot River in Maine at a cost of 25 million dollars. Phase Two of the Penobscot River Restoration Project begins with the removal of the Great Works Dam in 2012 and the removal of the Veazie Dam over a two-year period beginning in 2013. Construction of a fish bypass at Howland Dam runs concurrently with dam removal. The estimated cost to implement this phase of the project is 30 million dollars.

    [Above: Great Works Dam, the first dam to be removed during the project. Photo: Bridget Besaw]

    Continue reading "The Penobscot River Restoration Project " »

    Elwha Eloquence - Yvon Chouinard & Dylan Tomine Speeches from the 2011 River Science Symposium

    Yvon Chouinard speaks at the 2011 Elwha River Science Symposium about the value of selectively harvesting salmon by species, a technique Patagonia Provisions is employing for our upcoming Wild Salmon Jerky. The Symposium was held in conjunction with the historic Elwha River dam removal ceremony.


    [Elwha River: Yvon Chouinard from Patagonia]

    Patagonia fly fishing ambassador Dylan Tomine also spoke at the event about the importance of letting the Elwha heal naturally instead of restocking the river with nonnative hatchery-raised fish.

    Hit the jump to see Dylan's speech.

    Continue reading "Elwha Eloquence - Yvon Chouinard & Dylan Tomine Speeches from the 2011 River Science Symposium" »

    One in Winter - Fly Fishing for Winter-Run Steelhead

    by Ryan Peterson

    Steelhead_Justin Crump_photo_2

    We understand mere fragments –

    of most things really, but especially of a fish called steelhead. Its nominal definition goes that it’s a rainbow trout that migrates from river to ocean and back again to spawn, like a salmon. But like most living things, after you dedicate time to deep observation, their essential superpowers transcend human understanding. Just ask a grooved-out steelhead fly fisher.

    In doing so you might hear how, for instance, steelhead have been tagged in Oregonian rivers and recaptured years later off the coast of Japan. You will then be entreated to confirm that that’s crazy, right?!

    You might also be regaled by the legend that high-seas commercial fishermen rarely intercept steelhead as bycatch in their nets, suggesting a steelhead’s epic peregrinations are committed to solo, without friends in schools. They’re lone wolves out there, mysterious and supremely noble in the icy gray – the ultimate, fitting match for someone unimpressed by the listlessness of day-to-day society.

    At that, you’ll be encouraged to exclaim something to the effect of, “What?!” or “Whoa!”

    Then ask the steelhead angler about the special ones that run into rivers in the dead of winter and watch as their frantic code-red tone trails off. They fall silent, look you in the eye, and quietly, carefully size up whether you really care, or whether you’re just humoring them. Because now you’re talking about very serious stuff.

    [Above: Close encounter with the wild winter kind: A moment worth the world to a steelhead fly fisher. Photo: Justin Crump]

    Continue reading "One in Winter - Fly Fishing for Winter-Run Steelhead" »

    Mokelumne River – Filming and Fighting for Wild and Scenic Designation

    by Mike E. Wier

    Mokelumne River 2

    For years, my brother and I had to sneak into one of our favorite sections of our home river, the mighty Mokelumne. The land surrounding both sides of this section of the river is owned by the East Bay Municipal Utility District. They had big “No Trespassing” signs up along their barbed wire fences.

    We, however, strongly considered the river to belong to everyone. So every once in a while we would float down through the rapids on inner tubes and stop in the beautiful and secluded pools to swim or try catch-and-release fly fishing. Along the way we’d check out the old miners’ trails and wild flowers, or stop at the ruins of the historic mining town of Middle Bar, or imagine we were Mewuk people catching Salmon in the river and admiring the giant blue oaks that produce so many acorns.

    Continue reading "Mokelumne River – Filming and Fighting for Wild and Scenic Designation" »

    Mike Colpo 1975-2011 - Raising our Glasses to Localcrew

    Mike_12

    Mike Colpo, associate editor of this blog and frequent contributor (as “localcrew”), died suddenly on December 7 while trail running on his lunch hour near the Patagonia Distribution Center in Reno. He was 36.

    [Above: Mike and Skeena share some love. East Humboldt Range, Nevada. Photo: Old School]

    All of us who worked with him are in shock: Mike was young, fit and apparently healthy, his loss unexpected. And Mike was so modest about his talents and accomplishments that, now that he has gone, we’re coming to realize how much he took with him. He was a graceful writer and fine editor and a Zen-like master of the 140-character Tweet. He was a committed, and knowledgeable environmentalist who had a special love for Nevada’s wild places. He was a monster on his mountain bike and his beloved Xtracycle, an excellent backcountry navigator, telemarker, fly fisherman and alpinist who took a month out every summer to guide for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Wyoming.

    Guys like Mike never just disappear though. He’ll pull away and maintain a pace you can’t quite match. You see him cresting the hill way ahead and dig deep to catch him. He’ll drop in on the pow stash and you’ll just see him, a speck on the horizon until you’re not sure he’s still there at all. But like all adventure hounds, he’s there somewhere, among the trees and tall grass, his nose to the ground, thinking and looking for something fun. –Team Bacon Strip from “R.I.P. Mike Colpo

    Continue reading "Mike Colpo 1975-2011 - Raising our Glasses to Localcrew" »

    Putting Pen to Paper in Opposition of the Pebble Mine

    By Laura Linn Meadows

    These days, taking action on an environmental issue requires little more than a click or two of the mouse button. It’s an effective way to tell your elected officials how you feel without sacrificing time from your busy life. There are some issues, however, that strike so deeply we are compelled to do more. The proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska, is one such issue for Wyoming native, Laura Linn Meadows, so she took the time to write this touching letter to her congresswoman. And in time-honored tradition, she also submitted it her local paper, Jackson Hole News and Guide, to increase exposure and inspire others. At the end of the letter we have an “easy” way for you to take action on this issue.

    GVW1
    [Wyoming's Gros Ventre Wilderness, the author's inspiration for writing the following letter. All photos: Laura Linn Meadows]

    Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis
    113 Cannon House Office Building
    Washington, DC 20515

    Dear Congresswoman Lummis,

    I want to share a story with you. I recently returned from a pack trip into the Gros Ventre Range as the cook, a packer, and a guide with my brother, an outfitter. Our parents were waiting at the trailhead with trucks and trailers and transportation back to town for our guests. As I rode in with my packstring and the dudes, my father, who was beaming with pride, met me on the trail. His pride wasn’t because his kids were following in his footsteps for the first time, as Pete and I have taken many other pack trips together. He was proud because, for the first time, we had followed in the footsteps of our great-grandfather and grandfather. We had taken our guests to the Six Lakes, the favorite stomping ground of our predecessors. Pete and I are the 4th generation of Linns to parade our guests past the Cowboy Camp, dropping down to the Gros Ventre River at Upper Falls, past Darwin Peak, down the Jagg Creek Trail to Six Lakes, and over Two Echo Park. That’s 100 years of horseshoe tracks, double diamonds, and bacon fried on a campfire. That’s four generations of eyes peeking through binoculars at elk, moose, sheep, deer, bears, and wolves. Now I’m looking forward to the day when I have kids of my own that can climb into a little saddle on a big horse and weave down the same trails, watch brookies in the clear water of Crystal Creek, and find the big dipper in the night sky as the coals of the campfire putter out.

    Continue reading "Putting Pen to Paper in Opposition of the Pebble Mine" »

    Picture Story - Live Release is Working on the Miramichi River

    Most of our photo-centric "Picture Story" posts have been about climbing. Today, the fishing guys get in on the action with an encouraging report from one of eastern Canada's iconic salmon streams, and a family fishing operation that depends on the health of the river's fish populations: - Ed

    Miramichi

    Live Release of Atlantic salmon is the best practice the Wilson family could have adopted  for their sporting camps on the Miramichi River. Years of overfishing, dams and habitat destruction all have taken a toll until some years back when ASF and NASF salmon groups came in with plans for passage, buying out commercial nets, etc. After years of hard work, good numbers of fish are once again coming into the system.

    Pictured here is Bill Taylor, president  of the Atlantic Salmon Federation releasing a huge hen salmon that Jake MacDonald hooked, and after a wild twenty minutes managed to land. It began as normal as any other fish until the first jump revealed a monster of a salmon (Jake's first ever). Ten minutes in, Jake announces that he thinks he lost it, and when he tried to reel-up we discovered the line was around a big rock on the far side of the  river.

    Jake was fighting the fish from the canoe so I told him to keep a tight line as we poled the boat over to the rock, just in case the big girl was still hooked up. Sure enough, as I drifted closer she ripped clear and the fight was on again. Another ten minutes and Bill managed to slide the big salar into a landing net. It is amazing how such a big fish can be landed after all that on such a small #8 hook. Guide Keith Wilson is all smiles as the two put this beautiful salmon back in the river to swim another day. Live release has been a major conservation tool at Wilson's since 1983 and success is evident today as the camp broke records with the number of fish caught in 2011. Ernest (EJ) Long has been guiding at Wilson's for nearly 48 years and he credits the ASF with the best fishing he has experienced on the Miramichi to date. There is no doubt that Live-Release angling is working for the Miramichi River. - Keith Wilson, of Wilson's Sporting Camps

    To the Elwha and its Salmon - Welcome Home

    While the Patagonia environmental team was busy hosting its Tools for Grassroots Activists Conference last week, one of our activist community's greatest victories in recent decades was unfolding, the removal of the Elwha Dam. If you haven't had a chance to get the full story behind the Elwha's removal, check out yesterday's post from the New York Times, or the Seattle Times' comprehensive special coverage. Today's post is for all those who couldn't be on-hand to celebrate this unique moment in our environmental history.

    To all those who worked so hard for this victory: Thank You.

    And to the Elwha and its salmon, on behalf of advocates of free-flowing rivers everywhere: Welcome Home.


     

    And from American Rivers, American Whitewater, and the Hydropower Reform Coalition, a film by Andy Maser:

    Year of the River: Episode 1 from Andy Maser on Vimeo.

    Your Help is Needed to Protect the Green and Colorado Rivers

    Recently Patagonia participated in a Save the Colorado River campaign funding meeting that provided over $150,000 (including $25,000 from Patagonia) to over a dozen outstanding nonprofits working to protect and restore the ecological health of the Colorado River and its watershed. The Save the Colorado River campaign is a partnership between business and philanthropic groups, founded by New Belgium Brewery and including Patagonia, CLIF Bar, Teva, Kenney Brothers Foundation, the Environment Foundation, Environment NOW, National Geographic and Clean Water Fund. Learn more at:   www.savethecolorado.org
     
    Through Save the Colorado River and the Our Common Waters campaign, we encourage you to read on and lend your voice to a coalition of 20 conservation groups who are fighting to stop the proposed Flaming Gorge Pipeline water project…

    Please sign the petition at StopFlamingGorgePipeline.org

    The Colorado River Watershed today faces many challenges, as our need for water in the west continues to grow.

    From hopeful beginnings at the headwaters of its longest tributary, the Green River…

    UpperGreenRiverWY
    Photo: G. Thomas, via Wikimedia Commons

    to the dry and cracked landscape of the Delta, 50 miles south of the Mexico border.  Where the mighty River once met the Sea of Cortez in a rich estuary, it is now reduced to this:

    End of colorado
    Screen-grab from Pete McBride's short film about the proposed Flaming Gorge Pipeline project.

    These conditions will only get worse as human consumption increases and climate change threatens to jeopardize the snowpack that feeds the river.

    Hit the jump to read more about the proposed Flaming Gorge Pipeline project, and watch Pete McBride's image-rich video trailer.

    Continue reading "Your Help is Needed to Protect the Green and Colorado Rivers" »

    Vermont’s First Inaugural TU Trout Camp 2011

    Peeps in water
    Today's post is from Warren Coleman, a lawyer whose work focuses on protection of the waterways throughout the northeastern U.S. Warren's also a certified New Hampshire fishing guide, in other words, the perfect person to help host Trout Unlimited's inaugural Vermont Trout Camp. Here's Warren with a recap of the kind of fishing that can be found up in the Northeast Kingdom:

    I’m still not sure who had more fun at the Vermont TU Trout Camp – the campers or the counselors. I guess when it comes to fly fishing, the line that defines a kid and an adult easily blurs if you measure it on a scale of fun: zero (0) indicating that you were skunked and the river was blown out from torrential rain storms; ten (10) being a hurting arm from all the fish you’ve landed on dry flies and raccoon eyes from having polarized shades permanently affixed to your head for days on end.

    I’d have to say that our first inaugural Vermont Trout Camp rated about an 8, which is pretty darn good considering that we had lousy weather (except when it really counted and the sun came out) and the fishing was challenging (again, except when it really counted).

    [Vermont Fisheries Biologist, Jud Kratzer, leads Trout Unlimited's Vermont Trout Camp participants a few counselors on an electroshocking exercise on a nearby stream. Photos courtesy, Kurt Budlinger.]

    Continue reading "Vermont’s First Inaugural TU Trout Camp 2011" »

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