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    Conservation Photographers Focus on Canada's Sacred Headwaters

    _MG_3587Nacimiento-de-dos-rios We first learned about the work of the International League of Conservation Photographers through their compelling work on behalf of threatened regions in Patagonia. This summer, they've been lending their honed expertise and incomparable imagery to the fight for some of Western Canada's most treasured landscapes. We're pleased to share this story, from National Geographic Explorer and award-winning author, photographer and researcher, Wade Davis, on behalf of Canada's Sacred Headwaters region.

    * * *

    In a rugged knot of mountains, in the remote reaches of northern British Columbia, lies a stunningly beautiful valley known to the first nations as the Sacred Headwaters. There, on the southern edge of the Spatsizi Wilderness – the Serengeti of Canada – are born in remarkably close proximity three of Canada’s most important salmon rivers: the Stikine, Skeena and Nass.

    [A calm lake in the Sacred Headwaters. Photo: Claudio Contreras, courtesy of iLCP]

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    What can you buy for eighteen bucks anymore?

    As the election season kicks into high gear, we're urging friends, family, colleagues, and community not to miss their chance to cast their vote. The issues we face are much bigger than political parties or individual candidates, that's why we encourage everyone to get informed and Vote the Environment. - Ed.

    DLBliss1 Eighteen bucks. What does a Jackson (less a couple Washingtons) buy nowadays? Lunch out for two at your local deli, a tank of gas (not really), a week’s worth of lattes at Starbucks . . . You get the picture. Eighteen dollars does not buy much anymore. But what would you say if your $18 would help keep California’s 278 state parks open, clean, and safe . . . and fetch you a free pass for the year to all of them?

    That’s what the State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act (affectionately called Prop 21) would do if passed this November. It will provide a stable, reliable, and adequate source of funding to protect state parks and conserve wildlife. Prop 21 will be specifically dedicated to state parks and will allow California vehicles a free day-use admission in exchange for this fee.

    [A couple enjoys the view from DL Bliss State Park's Rubicon Point Trail. Photo: Ron Hunter]


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    Patagonia Environmental Initiatives 2010 E-Book - Flip Through Our Year-in-Review


    Working to protect and restore the natural world can be a dynamic endeavor. To capture the energy that goes into this work, we bring you an enhanced electronic version of our Patagonia Environmental Initiatives 2010 booklet.

    View a fireside chat with Patagonia founder and environmentalist-in-chief Yvon Chouinard, accompany world-renowned photographer Florian Schulz as he sheds light on the beauty and struggles of the Arctic, and connect with other activists’ stories through powerful videos and images. Our new e-booklet does all this without sacrificing a forest full of trees.

    Come get inspired and learn how you can join the fight.

    Launch Patagonia Environmental Initiatives 2010 E-Book

    (Please be patient, the initial load time can be slow)

    [A wolf carries one of the dozen salmon she caught in less than an hour during the July salmon run. Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park, Alaska. Photo: Paul Stinsa]

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    Witness for Wildlife Trip Produces Photo of First Live Ocelot in Arizona


    Witness for Wildlife is a new program where folks like you can become citizen naturalists and help make the mission of Freedom to Roam a reality. Who knows? You might just score a rare photo like Michael Quigley did on his Witness for Wildlife trip. [The ocelot recently photographed in Cochise County, Arizona. Photo: ©2009 Sky Island Alliance.]

    With an Ocelot: Mystery, Integrity, and Hope Remain
    By Michael E. Quigley

    It was a beautiful autumn day in southern Arizona and I was hiking a canyon in a sky island mountain range with my friends and colleagues Bart Koehler and Kate Mackay as part of the Freedom to Roam and Witness for Wildlife efforts -- local people advocating for the importance and protection of wildlife connectivity corridors. Thanks to generous assistance from Patagonia, I had two remote cameras in my pack and we were looking for good places to set them.

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    Meet an Unlikely Proponent of Dam Removal

    Salmon habitat Our earlier post about the need to protect wild salmon in the federal salmon plan - signed May 20th - focused on urging the Obama administration to stand up for salmon and the Endangered Species Act. In an unfortunate decision, Obama took his cue from an illegal administration plan carried over from the Bush administration. We're joining Save Our Wild Salmon in urging the Obama Administration to change course and remove the four lower Snake River dams. This has only strengthened collective resolve to protect salmon habitat. As Washington farmer Bryan Jones explains in a recent essay, protecting salmon habitat can be synonymous with protecting family farms and reducing their bottom-line.

    Bryan Jones is a fourth-generation wheat farmer near Colfax, Washington. He farms 640 acres. He and his fellow farmers rely on barges on the Snake River to move their wheat to market. This is primarily why the dams on the Snake were built.

    Jones remembers going down to the Snake before it was dammed.

    "I watched the currents and eddies with my grandparents and was told how treacherous that river was, yet its currents fascinated me. I picked fruit along the banks of the Snake. At times when picking with my grandparents, my brothers and I would eat as many peaches as we could, stuffing our mouths with big warm juicy peaches. (Afterwards, they never weighed us!)__"The dams were built when I was young; Little Goose in 1966, Lower Granite in 1974. After the four dams went in, we lost 140 miles of the river. Today, there are only a few places along its banks where people can recreate and enjoy our local river. As a young man, I remember coming back home from Los Angeles, and I looked at the slow water in its summer heat; there was no current, it was algae filled, and I knew it was not a place I wanted to play in or eat fish out of."

    Jones began working with Save Our Wild Salmon in 2006 after he was contacted by his local conservation district office and asked if he'd like to come to a meeting. Once there, he heard representatives of SOS and American Rivers talk about ways to take down the dams and help farmers.

    [The high cold mountains at the heart of the Columbia/Snake watershed provide a last redoubt for imperiled salmon. The path to reach these strongholds winds through land farmed by folks like Bryan Jones. Photo: © Matt Leidecker]

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    SWIP Trip: Speaking Art to Nothing

    Colossus of roads It wouldn't have been so bad if the dog didn't try to chew the photographer's face off. But that was just the start of it, and besides, how could he have known? All he knew is that there he was, huddled alone in the middle of a Nowhere most folks can't even imagine; a nowhere without many reminders of somewhere. A nowhere chock-full of things like space, shadows, light, and silence, and - at this particular moment - one hell of a springtime snowstorm.

    What this piece of nowhere had was a connection to somewhere and someone in the form of a seldom-used road. It was on this road that the Someone he knew was due to arrive with something he needed badly: food and water. With the full weight of the crushing storm bearing down on him, the snow and ice being driven like a fistful of pulverized glass by the storm's hurricane-force winds, he probably wasn't thinking about someone's dog, or the photographer's face - he was cold as hell and too hungry to think. An hour of expectation in a position of desperation is tough to handle - with one Warmth card left in his deck, Adam stood up, threw on his pack, and played it. He set out at a stiff stride toward the nearest piece of pavement - a solid day's walk away - determined to win back some warmth and get - god willing - close enough to civilization to pick up a signal. One bar was all he needed on his phone to ask, "Where are you?"

    If he'd have been able to make the call, he would have heard about the dog, about the mad scramble to hold the photographer's face together, the rush to the hospital, and maybe the location of his support vehicle. But this day on the SWIP route already felt different. The suspicion was confirmed when, against the odds, a vehicle materialized out of the storm. It had already had the makings of a day Adam would be telling stories about in years to come.

    And this was before he found himself strapped to a wheelchair, hurtling down a dirt road in a van full of drunken Indians.

    [An original Colossus of Roads, somewhere along a forgotten line. Goshute Valley, NV. Photo, Adam Bradley.]

    Continue reading "SWIP Trip: Speaking Art to Nothing" »

    Balancing Alternative Energy Development and Freedom to Roam in Our Backyard

    Badlands_sm Our Freedom to Roam campaign casts a wide net. It has to. The quest to preserve large tracts of habitat for migratory species creates the opportunity for some unexpected conversations and unlikely collaborations. Nevada Wilderness Project's (NWP) current effort to document - in collaboration with record-holding thru hiker, Adam Bradley - the proposed route of Nevada's "alternative energy backbone," is just such a project. The SWIP trip unites a new approach to energy development, protection for wildlife's migratory corridors, and on-the-ground reporting of habitat conditions to provide critical data for future conservation measures. As Adam makes his way down from Idaho to the Northern Nevada town of Wells, he's crossing land affected by these variables and more. Recent updates from the NWP blog help give a sense of the concerns that arise in just one corner of a state poised to take part in the green energy revolution.

    Last year, NWP started a Linking Landscapes for Wildlife Program to educate about the need for habitat connectivity, wildlife migration and smart planning for development of all kinds.

    One of the things we’ll be talking about on this SWIP Trip is the importance of what we call “cumulative effects.” This means that we have to start planning based on the full array of development (road building, powerlines, urban sprawl) as well as loss of habitat from natural phenomena like fire and drought. Too often we look at individual culprits for a loss of habitat . . .
    [A sampling of the terrain contained in the Badlands Wilderness Study area, just west of the proposed SWIP route. Photo courtesy Nevada Wilderness Project]

    ED NOTE: The previous post, SWIP It Good, can be found here, the next post, SWIP Trip: Speaking Art to Nothing, can be found here.

    Continue reading "Balancing Alternative Energy Development and Freedom to Roam in Our Backyard" »

    Badass But Vulnerable - An Interview with Doug Chadwick, Author of "The Wolverine Way"

    Wolverine_way_coverDoug Chadwick is a writer of natural history based in Whitefish, Montana. His work has taken him all over the world to research books and articles about whales, grizzlies, ants and elephants. Six years ago, wanting to spend more time in the field – and less at the keyboard – he began working closer to home with the Glacier Wolverine Project.

    Though Doug never intended to write about the wolverine, as he learned more about its exploits and the threats this badass but vulnerable animal faces on a warming planet, he decided the best way to help it was to tell its story. His new book, The Wolverine Way, is both a tale of outdoor adventure and paean to one of “the toughest mammals in the world.” Published by Patagonia, it is now available in hardback on our website, in our stores and at other booksellers.

    Doug recently returned home from five days in the mountains, dragging a sled full of tracking and camping gear in pursuit of wolves and wolverines. We found him there and asked a few questions about the subject of his new book.

    There's a story in your new book, The Wolverine Way, about an Alaskan gold miner who traps a wolverine, bashes in its head, and then, thinking it’s dead, ties its front legs over his shoulders to pack him out, only to find out the wolverine still had fight left in him. What, if anything, does that tell us about wolverines and man’s relationship with them?

    The tale is a reminder of how wolverines have been portrayed mainly as whirlwinds of destruction – something like big backwoods goblins on crack. That’s not to say wolverines don’t have a ferocious side. They are exceptionally strong and amazingly fearless. Can you think of any other 20- to 40-pound animal willing to try driving grizzlies off carcasses? I’d rank wolverines among the toughest mammals in the world. But as we finally begin to peel away the mysteries surrounding this species’ natural history, those frontier yarns featuring perpetually pissed-off, dangerous wolverines turn out to be ... well, not complete b.s., but only one part of a much larger and more fascinating picture.

    Continue reading "Badass But Vulnerable - An Interview with Doug Chadwick, Author of "The Wolverine Way"" »

    Witness for Wildlife - Citizen Naturalists Working to Defend Critical Habitat

    Corridor1 John Muir said it was wise to “….break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

    He was a witness of wild things and wild lands, so precise and relentless in his testimony that when he spoke to Teddy Roosevelt about an area he loved high in the Sierra Nevada, the president listened and Yosemite National Park was born.

    Now it’s your turn. Witness for Wildlife (W4W) is a new initiative from the Freedom to Roam Coalition. The Coalition is dedicated to connecting and preserving corridors for animals (and people) so they can safely move between protected areas. W4W inspires trips into the wildlife corridors of the continent, for people to hike, climb, paddle and camp, to witness the wonders of the wildlands and the importance of connected habitat.

    You can join a growing community of Witness for Wildlife citizen naturalists, to share stories, images, and video from your trips, and learn how to take action to protect critical corridors.
    Patagonia has created a site for you to explore Witness for Wildlife trips. Last summer, we partnered with some great conservation groups who traveled into several wildlife corridors. Read about the threat of bark beetle kill in the mountains of Colorado and about bighorn sheep in the Nevada desert. Let these trips inspire you! And if you are already out there, witnessing, enjoying and protecting the wild world, we invite you to join the efforts of Witness for Wildlife by becoming a "Citizen Naturalists" and sharing your stories.

    [Top - A citizen naturalist tries to get the lay of the land during an inaugural Witness for Wildlife trip to study the impact of proposed development on this area of bighorn sheep migration. Photo: Ron Hunter. Left - Desert bighorn sheep Photo: Lynn B. Starnes/ US Fish and Wildlife Service]

    The Tin Shed Gets Tuned Up for Spring

    Tin Shed S10 We’re sliding open the doors to the Shed and sweeping it clean this spring. Tune into the season with a fresh batch of stories from our friends and ambassadors out in the wild – in videos, audio and written word. And don’t worry, just like our favorite winter sweaters, we’ve found a place to stash all the cool-weather stories – you’ll find all of them in the Tin Shed archives by clicking "View All Stories" in the top right corner of the Shed.

    Here's a taste of what you'll find this spring:

    Border Country
    Jeremy Collins and Mikey Schaefer had been planning a new route on Yosemite Valley’s Middle Cathedral when they learned of the deaths of their good friends and fellow climbers, Jonny Copp and Micah Dash. Collins said, “They showed us to never give up, to go light, to go bold, and always live with passion.” He and Schaefer sent the route in their honor.

    Mongo Metal Pirates

    In Mongo Fly ’08, Mikey Wier takes us to remote Mongolian rivers in search of the massive taimen. Check out the trailer for Metalheadz, a new video from AEG Media on steelhead fishing in the Pacific Northwest. And see an excerpt from the ESPN series Pirates of the Flats featuring Yvon Chouinard and Bill Klyn pursuing bonefish in the Bahamas.

    Freedom to Roam and Awakening the Skeena

    Freedom to Roam portrays a long-term initiative dedicated to establishing migration wildways in the Americas and elsewhere for animals now threatened by global warming. In Awakening the Skeena, a young woman swims the length of a cold northern river to inspire communities in its watershed to come to its defense.

    Jeff Denholm: Ocean Calling

    A twist of fate changed Jeff Denholm’s life in the mid-90s, but his competitive drive hasn’t diminished. Watch as he trains for, and competes in, his first Moloka’I Challenge – the 32-mile race that’s considered paddleboarding’s unofficial world championship.

    The Simplest Solution

    After seeing a wiry Nepali porter carry a 100 lb load with the aid of a tumpline, Yvon Chouinard followed suit and strapped one over his head to relieve the strain of his heavy pack on his injured neck. Following that discovery, Yvon said, “I learned to try to find a simple solution first, rather than a techno-fix.”

    Patagonia Surfers in Indonesia

    Gerry Lopez, Wayne Lynch, Liz Clark, and Dan, Keith and Chris Malloy set out with Fletcher Chouinard on the Makimba to test his new boards in Indonesia’s Mentawai Islands off the coast of Sumatra.

    Northern Alps Traverse

    In August 2009, Maxime Turgeon set off on his bike and pedaled up the high mountain passes of the northern Alps in search of classic climbs to solo. After three weeks, six peaks, 770 miles of cycling, and over 42,000 feet of elevation gain, he dove into the Mediterranean Sea at the end of this human-powered journey.

    24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell

    Team of two take on the steep, gritty sandstone near Jasper, Arkansas, during a 24-hour climbing competition. Patagonia ambassadors Brittany Griffith and Kate Rutherford team up to show the boys some sass. The self-proclaimed alpinistos gordos, Colin Haley and Mikey Schaefer, used the marathon competition to jump-start their training.

    Drop by the Shed to feed your roots with classic tales, check out fresh footage from the cutting edge, and maybe find yourself a sweet deal on your next Patagonia purchase. Thanks for tuning in!

    One Percent for the Planet
    © 2014 Patagonia, Inc.