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    Backyard Corridors: Which wild animals did you see in your area this week?

    Squirrel2 8338 The Backyard Corridors series continues with a new question about the animals roaming in your neck of the woods. Last week you told us about all the animals that live in your area. Now we're curious about the ones that are currently out and about.

    Which wild animals did you see in your area this week?

    Please share your stories in the comments on our blog, The Cleanest Line, or on Patagonia’s Facebook page. We'd love to hear from you. [Photo: Ron Hunter]

    Kim Stroud, an employee we've featured before, has a wonderful story to get you inspired to share.

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    Backyard Corridors: What wild animals live in your area?

    DSCN8281 Freedom to Roam is Patagonia’s current environmental campaign. Its goal is to create, restore and protect corridors between habitats so animals can survive. Freedom to Roam wants to preserve and protect big wildways (or corridors) for large animals. But we also want to help all of us better understand what a corridor is, and what it means to animals that live near you.

    [Wildlife corridor sign in Central Park, New York. Photo: Tom Skeele]

    So, we’re kicking off Backyard Corridors: We want to hear from you about what wildlife is roaming through your backyard, neighborhood or town – and what are some of the issues they face. Each week, we’ll ask a different question about animals and corridors to help get things started – our Patagonia stores will have the questions posted too. Here's the first question:

    What wild animals live in your area?

    You can share your stories in the comments on our blog, The Cleanest Line, or on Patagonia’s Facebook page. Here’s one from Ron Hunter to get things started. Ron works for Patagonia’s environmental department in our Reno Distribution Center.

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    Patagonia Dillon Gives Local Pronghorn a Little More Freedom to Roam

    Pic_1Today's post is from the staff of our Outlet Store in Dillon, Montana, who were among the first to take part in a developing program called Witness for Wildlife, a new initiative from Patagonia and the Freedom to Roam Coalition designed to bring together the experiences of everyday Americans who are documenting wildlife activity and threats in their own backyards and speaking out on behalf of the migration corridors those animals depend on for survival. Read on for a first-hand account from our Dillon friends, as authored by Patagonia employee and Dillon-area environmental activist, Kenda Herman.


    Living in Dillon, Montana we take for granted seeing American Pronghorn speckle the landscape and have the luxury of witnessing these animals zoom across open ranges. We are charmed with the high desert backdrops of our home that allow a view of not just big sky, but large-scale mountain ranges and valleys. With an understanding of the local wildlifes’ perspective on usable countryside in mind, we brake on I-15 for whatever animal from the foothills that might cross the highway to visit the river.

    Dillon’s Patagonia Outlet staff gained some “Freedom to Roam” this summer when we were funded for an environmental internship. We kicked off crisp work clothes in exchange for . . .

    [A view of lower Centennial Valley. Pam Neumeyer]

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    Small World


    Today's post is from Lisa Myers, of Patagonia's Environmental Team. As one of the folks responsible for finding ways to support non-profit environmental groups, work with like-minded businesses, and educate others on our environmental initiatives, she works hard to stay informed. In an effort to better understand the work being done on climate-change issues, Lisa enrolled in a focused, on-the-ground course in Alaska's remote Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) through California State University Channel Islands. Here, she reflects on this recent experience.

    I am a morning person, but setting my alarm clock for 2:00 a.m. crossed the line. When the noise jolted me from sleep, I switched from unconscious to conscious fairly quickly as I registered that soon I ‘d be boarding a plane headed to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (as part of a class offered at California State University Channel Islands where I am a student). My classmates and I were about to spend six days exploring the impacts of climate change.

    From the plane, a few short hours after waking, I watched the world transform beneath me. Familiar mountains covered in chaparral disappeared and the view shifted to much larger features like Mt. Shasta, Mt. Olympus, Denali and long stretches of valleys filled with verdant rivers, lakes and streams without any homes, roads or even one bright neon backpacking tent dotting the landscape.

    [Flying over the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge on the way to Barter Island. Photo: Lisa Myers.]

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    Happy Birthday Wilderness Act

    Boundary sign Labor Day is upon us. For many, this weekend is the time to launch a last-ditch attempt to get out into a nice, quiet piece of the great-big open. Whether camping, hiking, climbing, paddling, fishing, or simply savouring summer's final reprieve from the daily urbanized bustle, Labor Day has become, more than any other holiday weekend, the time when Americans take fullest advantage of their wilderness heritage. Fitting timing, considering today marks the day Americans received one of the grandest gifts they've ever given themselves - the Wilderness Act. Here's Lindsay Woods, of the Campaign for America's Wilderness, with some gorp for thought on this special day - a day, it turns out, that will now forever commemorate the official presidential declaration of September as National Wilderness Month:

    One of the nation’s most important and enduring conservation laws turned 45 today – the Wilderness Act – the tool by which citizens can work with Congress to permanently protect some of the nation’s remaining wild places as a gift to future generations.

    Born of a solid political collaboration between a liberal Senator, Hubert Humphrey (D-MN) and a conservative Congressman, John Saylor (R-PA), this landmark legislation immediately gave the “gold standard” of wilderness protection to the first nine million acres of America’s natural treasures, including Montana and Idaho’s Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota, the John Muir Wilderness in California, and New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness.
    [Something special happens once you step behind one of these signs. Photo: localcrew]

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    National Parks, Corridors and Climate Change: A New Report

    Wolf The National Parks Conservation Association has released a 54-page report titled "Climate Change and National Park Wildlife: A survival guide for a warming world."

    The report stresses the importance of creating wildlife corridors within and between parks, as "climate change will cause some wildlife to move outside the parks' protected boundaries, while other species may move in. Because national parks, like all protected areas, are interconnected with surrounding landscapes, cooperation and coordination among all landowners - public and private - is essential to preserve functioning ecosystems and the wildlife they support."

    "National parks can play a key role in conserving wildlife across the landscape," the report states. "In some cases they provide natural corridors; in other cases new corridors will be needed to connect parks and other protected lands so that wildlife can move in response to climate change."

    [Photo: Joel Sartore -]

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    Wildlife, Climate Change and the American Clean Energy Act

    Pika-WilliamCGladish In June, we offered up some information about the Waxman-Markey Climate Change Bill - aka. the American Clean Energy and Security Act, HR 2454. As we stated in that original post, our hope was to make our readers aware of the valuable protections the bill included for wildlife corridors. Our on-going environmental campaign, Freedom to Roam, is focused on exactly that: preserving critical migration corridors so wildlife can have freedom to roam. The ability to migrate freely is key to the survival for much of our country's wildlife.

    The original post touched off quite a debate, and gave rise to questions about our support of Waxman-Markey. Our Environmental Editor is here with some responses to those questions and an update about where we are in our fight for Freedom to Roam.

    Because Patagonia is a business, and must remain one, we of course care about jobs, the cost of energy and the future, most important, the future as it relates to climate change. We think that 1) the weight of the evidence is that climate change is occurring and will get worse, 2) it will have enormous impacts on fish, wildlife and natural ecosystems, and 3) the policy response to this challenge set forth in the American Clean Energy and Security Act, HR 2454, (Waxman-Markey) is encouraging and consistent with Patagonia's call for the establishment and protection of migration corridors for animals, the focus of our current environmental campaign: Freedom to Roam. That's what our original blog post regarding Waxman Markey was all about. (click the link below to keep reading)

    [Photo: From The Wilderness Society website, A pika, which is a species threatened by global warming, in the wild. Photo by William C. Gladish]

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    Freedom to Roam: A Rancher and an Environmentalist Search for Common Ground on Wolves (Part 2)


    Last week, in regards to the recent delisting of gray wolves as an endangered species and in conjunction with our Freedom to Roam campaign, we brought you Part 1 of an interview between NRDC’s Senior Wildlife Advocate Louisa Willcox and Montana rancher Becky Weed -- two individuals with two distinct points of view and a shared willingness to engage in constructive dialogue. Here's the second half of the interview. [Photo: Roy Toft, California Wolf Center]

    Q: How common is it to find ranchers who believe there is a way to protect wolves and their way of life?

    Becky Weed (rancher): ‘Seems like a simple question, but in fact no one has really good data on this. It is safe to say that many, many ranchers wish wolves had never come back and that wolves are yet another threat to a precarious way of life; that is certainly the dominant stereotype. But it is useful to remind ourselves that quite a few ranchers have already begun “living with wolves” since the reintroduction in the '90s. It has been difficult and has come at considerable cost in some situations, but some ranchers are climbing this learning curve in spite of themselves, and right now we have no systematic mechanism for monitoring that progress. Sometimes I fear the zeal of passionate enviros (and the inflammatory rhetoric that they are fed from distant fundraisers) blinds them to the embryonic progress that is so vital for a long-term conservation ethic that transcends rural-urban divides.

    It is also useful to remind ourselves that the sons and daughters of many of today’s ranchers are growing up amidst shifting paradigms of wildlife and agricultural perspectives. Many such young people have no desire to show disrespect for their parents’ traditions but they also know that they need to find their own way, and for some that means a new tolerance for carnivores. I can’t give you an exact figure on how many people are thinking that way, but several have visited our ranch, daring to explore the rancher/conservationist turf. The exact percentage almost doesn’t matter to me; these are the "early adopters," the innovators, the leaders. The numbers will come later – if we as a society do this right.

    Even though no one can answer your question precisely, I think we can say that the more  ranchers that are encouraged and supported concretely in their efforts to ranch alongside wolves, the more such ranchers there will be. To me this means that some lethal control will be part of the story, but it will not be the whole story. There may be some ranches, or some parts of ranches or grazing allotments where people conclude it doesn’t make sense to run livestock, but I and many wolf advocates do NOT favor simply running ranchers off the land. Such an oversimplified policy would be tantamount to cutting off our nose to spite our face. Ranchers, like wolves, live and work in communities and ecosystems. Thus the most strategic responses to wolf problems and benefits will also operate at that level.

    Louisa Willcox (NRDC): More common than you might think from reading the papers. I have met a number of ranchers who believe there is a way to protect both wolves and their way of life. But these ranchers often do not want to be publicly identified as being “pro-wolf” because of the potential for negative repercussions from their more conservative, anti-wolf/rancher colleagues. As long as hardliners like the Farm Bureau are in charge of the debate from the ranchers’ side, there is little incentive for the pro-wolf ranchers to engage. But thankfully, there are a number of tolerant ranchers out there. Without them, we would not have made as much progress as we have towards wolf recovery.

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    Freedom to Roam: A Rancher and an Environmentalist Search for Common Ground on Wolves (Part 1)

    Image[1]_2 The presidential election last fall gave many environmentalists new hope, but the Obama administration has since outraged many gray wolf advocates by upholding a Bush-era decision to take them off the endangered species list in over half a dozen states.

    After being nearly wiped out in most of the country, recovery efforts in the last two decades have helped the wolf population in the Northern Rockies rebound to what is now an estimated 1,645 wolves or more. Federal officials – and many ranchers and politicians who have long complained about the impact of wolves on livestock and big game herds – say that's enough. But some environmentalists strongly disagree, including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). They recently joined other groups in filing a lawsuit in Montana that could temporarily block the resumption of regulated wolf hunts there.

    [Female Mexican gray wolf yearling born in 2007 at the California Wolf Center. Photo: Roy Toft, California Wolf Center]

    Amidst what has often been cast as a bitter fight between two sides, the NRDC’s Senior Wildlife Advocate Louisa Willcox and local Montana rancher Becky Weed have been working with several ranching groups to come up with new solutions. As a special feature of our current environmental campaign, Freedom to Roam, Patagonia decided to interview these individuals to highlight their willingness to engage in constructive dialogue and search for new alternatives to old environmental problems. We also wanted to understand more about a complicated issue many of us care deeply about. Their answers, provided by email, are below:

    Q: Was the Obama administration’s decision on the Northern Rockies gray wolves a surprise, given the expected change in approach of the administration on environmental issues?

    Becky Weed (rancher): The administration’s decision was not shocking, although I was a little surprised that it came as quickly as it did. I do not see this decision as a sign that the Obama administration is in lockstep with the previous administration by any stretch of the imagination. The more revealing steps will come as we see how the delisting details are handled now that a delisting process is underway.

    Louisa Willcox (NRDC): The Department of Interior’s decision to delist Northern Rockies gray wolves was a big disappointment. The decision was announced in March, before the administration had put key high-level officials in the Department of Interior and a new director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in place.  We do not believe they adequately reviewed the Bush rule, which has significant problems - problems so severe that we are challenging the decision in court

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