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    Backyard Corridors: What animals do you no longer see in your area?

    Mtnlion A while back, one of the local news outlets ran a story: “Dad Jumps Between Mountain Lion, Son.” The story was picked up by CNN and went national in just under 24 hours.

    In that story we were introduced to a man who had recently moved his family to northwestern Nevada and purchased a home on the raw edge of a rapidly expanding town near some sizable - but diminishing - pieces of mountain lion habitat. We learned from the story that these folks, like many who move here, were eager to live in a land where unmediated encounters with nature are possible. The reality of such an encounter was not quite what they had imagined.

    Listening to the man in the news report describe that lion was like listening to myself from 15 years ago. I moved here with a similar enthusiasm for the big, wild land around this area. Back then, I was drunk on visions of Wild America and under the spell of an early visit to Reno - when I watched a herd of 60+ mule deer grazing on mountain slopes within the city limits. I would have believed the edge of town marked the naked frontier. To a kid from the East Coast, this was big, majestic nature, and I wanted to be closer to it. Little did I know that in moving here I would be playing a part in the growth that would eventually swallow the prime over-wintering grounds that the majestic herd of mule deer depended upon for survival.

    [Mountain lion photo courtesy of Chino Hills State Park website]

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    Backyard Corridors: Which animals in your area might need to move through corridors to survive?

    Moose_jer_collins Like a majestic pack of finger-clicking primates roaming the wilds of the Internet, our migration through the Backyard Corridors series is almost complete. Thank you one and all for sharing your thoughts with us and helping to paint a better picture of local-scale corridor issues. This week's question:

    Which animals in your area might need to move through corridors to survive?

    Sue Halpern kicks things off with a story about her area of Vermont and how the Forest Service has put up new “corridor” signs and speed reductions on local highways. [Illustration: Jeremy Collins]

    It was about three in the afternoon when the dog, sleeping soundly on a shaft of sunlight projected onto the living room floor, stood up abruptly, tail aloft, and started barking. Normally she is a quiet animal, not given to verbal outbursts unless she hears the word “ski.” But this was late summer. I followed the dog to the window that frames our meadow. The meadow is long-standing. It appears on maps dating back more than a century, an island of tall grass and wildflowers surrounded on all sides by an expansive ocean of trees. The dog pointed, I looked out, and there, not more than fifty feet from the house, were two moose, one big, the other slightly less big – a mother and child – ambling across the field. If they were rattled by the sound of a barking dog, they didn’t show it. In fact, they stopped, opposite the window, and looked our way, and waited. These were photo-op moose. They weren’t going anywhere. They looked at us, we looked at them until finally the dog got bored and lay back down on her sunny blanket. The moose nosed around in the grass, then started walking slowly to the back of the field where they disappeared into the woods, in the direction of our nearest neighbors. I called them up. “Two moose are coming your way,” I said. But the moose must have taken a detour. They didn’t show up at the neighbors’ for a month.

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    Freedom To Roam and Oceans As Wilderness: Eye On Aquaculture

    Salmon_farming-BC Today's post is by Patagonia Fly Fishing Ambassador, Topher Browne, who has dedicated his energies to the protection of salmon for two decades. Says Topher, "A species that requires not one but two entirely separate ecosystems would seem a dubious proposition. The transition from fresh water to salt water and back again . . . requires some fairly elaborate plumbing within the salmon or steelhead. This adaptation is unnecessary in species of fish that do not migrate to the sea. Activism on behalf of anadromous species is a real bang for the environmental buck. As salmon and steelhead lead a bipolar life, you can focus your efforts in both fresh and salt waters. If something is wrong at any stage of their life cycle, the fish will let you know." Today, Topher's letting us know a few things about Atlantic Salmon, and why it makes sense to choose wild:

    They lie glistening on beds of frozen crystals in the great food halls of North America and Europe. Bland and lifeless eyes regard busy shoppers as they push their carts in front of polished displays. Their silver-scaled bodies—plump yet strangely devoid of muscle—advertise the healthful benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and the singular bounty of the sea. Atlantic salmon, the king of fish and the food of kings, is on sale for three dollars a pound.

    Although reared in the ocean, these salmon live a life behind bars. They are raised in cages along the coasts of the United States, Canada, Chile, Scotland and Norway. They are genetically modified to accelerate their growth and liberally dosed with antibiotics and pesticides to mitigate the spread of rampant disease and parasites. They are fed a diet of ground-up fish containing chemical dyes to give their flesh a rosy hue. Some of their tribe escape through holes in their cages and enter rivers where they compete with wild salmon. It’s an old story—greed, disinformation, a willful disregard for the health of our most sensitive and bounteous ecosystems—and one that is unlikely to be told as the butcher hands you a carefully wrapped filet.

    [A British Columbia Salmon Farm, photo courtesy of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. ]

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    Backyard Corridors: Does Your Area Have Any Wildlife Corridors?

    Buffalo_2 Freedom to Roam wants to preserve and protect big wildways for large animals. The "preserve" part of that statement reminds us that wildlife corridors exist already and that leads into our question this week:

    Does your area have any wildlife corridors?

    We'd love to hear from you on our blog, The Cleanest Line, or on Patagonia’s Facebook page.

    Building and maintaining corridors often requires a lot of creative thinking as bestselling author Ted Kerasote reminds us. [All photos: Ted Kerasote]

    Rethinking The Fence

    I’ve always likened the ninety-person village in which I live to a rock in a river. Kelly faces the Tetons, between Grand Teton National Park, the National Elk Refuge, and the Gros Ventre Wilderness. We split the currents of elk and moose, deer and bison, antelope and wolves, lions and coyotes and bears.

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    Rick Ridgeway Makes the Case for Freedom to Roam at Copenhagen Climate Change Conference

    _MG_6651 By Ethan Stewart

    Before all the memories from Copenhagen fade from our collective consciousness,
    Santa Barbara Independent reporter Ethan Stewart and freelance photographer Kodiak Greenwood remind us of one very positive presentation they witnessed at the conference.

    Last month, the whole world was watching Copenhagen as the United Nation’s held their much hyped Framework Convention on Climate Change. Anticipated by many to be the biggest environmental moment of our lives, the two-week bureaucratic rodeo of world leaders and eco-minded experts concluded just a few days before Christmas without accomplishing much towards its goal of establishing sharp toothed, earth saving carbon emissions policy. However, despite this crucial failure, the COP15 was by no means a lost cause. In fact, even the most cynical observers hanging out in Denmark’s capital city for the groovy green get together had to see hope everywhere they looked. From the passion of 100,000 people strong protests in the streets to the countless mindboggling presentations going down each and every day in the Bella Center about the various ways we can, and are already, trying to heal Mother Earth, the path to a better tomorrow was on full display for all who cared to look and listen.

    [Patagonia's Vice President of Environmental Initiatives, Rick Ridgeway. Photo: Kodiak Greenwood]

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    Backyard Corridors: What has been done in your area to enable wild animals to move around?

    Bucky-fence Employees at our Dillon outlet store gained some “Freedom to Roam” last summer when Patagonia funded an environmental internship for store staff. Outlet employees chose to work with American Wildlands (AWL), a Bozeman-based non-profit that works in Montana to identify and prioritize wildlife corridors. Donning leather boots and gloves, they headed to the Centennial Valley, where, literally, the deer and the antelope play.

    The Centennial stretches over 380,000 acres north and east of the Continental Divide and is a crucial migration corridor for grizzly bear, pronghorn and other migratory land animals, along with hundreds of bird species. Armed with fencing pliers, outlet staff removed miles of barbed wire from the bottoms of livestock fencing. They installed smooth wire as a replacement, or modified the distance between strands to accommodate more frequent and widespread wildlife crossings at identified corridors.

    “Unlike typical field work in my life, this has an immediate positive impact,” said store merchandiser, Bucky Ballou. “What we did in one day impacted migratory animals the next day . . . [It's] instant gratification.”

    [Patagonia Dillon's Bucky Ballou rolling removed barbed wire. Photo: Pam Neumeyer

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    Tear Gas For Breakfast

    By Ethan Stewart


    You met them first on the Obama Express. Now, Santa Barbara Independent reporter Ethan Stewart and freelance photographer Kodiak Greenwood are in Copenhagen to cover the United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change. This morning the boys -- who've dubbed themselves "Operation Copenhagen" -- awoke to violence in the street and tear gas in the air.

    Before we even had a chance to find our morning cups of coffee, Kodiak and I were breathing tear gas for breakfast at the COP15. An organized march called the "Push for Climate Change" took a radical turn this morning outside the Bella Center as protesters and police clashed. More than 250 people have already been arrested in the several hours long stand-off while other, smaller, confrontations have broken out in the city's center. For a complete report on the unfortunate and violent developments at the United Nation's Climate Change Conference check back soon at

    [Above: Images like this were par for the course before lunch today in Copenhagen. Photo: Kodiak Greenwood]

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    Backyard Corridors: What obstructs animal movement in your neighborhood?

    DSCN8281 When we talk about Freedom to Roam it's impossible to make an argument for wildlife corridors without mentioning the obstacles that block an animal's ability to go where it has to go in order to survive. The obstructions we often cite include housing sprawl, energy and resource extraction, population growth, expanding urban areas, and highways and freeways – pretty large scale stuff. On the Backyard Corridor level however there are a myriad of smaller obstacles that must be taken into account as well. Hence, this week's question:

    What obstructs animal movement in your neighborhood?

    Please share your observations in the comments on our blog, The Cleanest Line, or on Patagonia’s Facebook page. Unfortunately, the stories about these obstacles typically aren't pretty, as Martha Sherrill illustrates below. [Wildlife corridor sign in Central Park, New York. Photo: Tom Skeele] 

    Turtle Blues
    by Martha Sherrill

    I’m not sure when the turtle discovered our vernal pond. One day I noticed his head sticking out of the water – slim, pointy, a completely different shape from all the frogs’ broad heads.

    He panicked easily, was shyer than the frogs. For a month or two, he spent his days basking in the sun on a mud island in the middle of the pond. He was yards away, protected by water, but if I moved toward the pond’s edge, he plunged in with a loud splash. Ker-plunk. I began watching him through binoculars from the kitchen window instead.

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    Backyard Corridors: What migratory animals come through your area?

    2 yard I like to start the day in my backyard hot tub, sipping on a cup of strong coffee and soothing sore muscles. It's a great way to ease in. There's also an added benefit. Spending a half hour outside each morning, sitting quietly in one place, provides an opportunity to observe the ever-changing rhythms of nature - among them animal migration.

    [Backyard view from the tub. All photos by Jim]

    My home is in Ojai, a small town in a small inland valley in Southern California, where most of the migratory animals are birds. Orioles are among the splashier visitors, and therefore hardest to miss. Every spring, when a pair of hooded orioles arrive from their wintering grounds in Mexico for the summer breeding season, I reconnect with the wonders of migration.

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    Backyard Corridors: What is the largest, wild land animal living in your area?

    Bobcat IMG_0843_2 Thanks to everyone who's shared their Backyard Corridors stories with us so far. We're going big with this week's question.

    What is the largest, wild land animal living in your area?

    Please share your answer, and any stories you may have about that animal, in the comments on our blog, The Cleanest Line, or on Patagonia’s Facebook page. We'd love to hear from you. Here's Pat Cole from New Mexico to get things started.

    Bobcats in the Backyard
    Story and photo by Pat Cole

    We moved from urban Kansas City to the high desert of New Mexico in 2001. Because our house is very near a 44,000 acre ranch surrounded by mountains, we have a lot of wildlife to watch, photograph and enjoy: deer, antelope, fox, coyote and, though we haven’t seen them, even a mountain lion and bear have passed through the neighborhood.

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