The Cleanest Line

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    Keeping Our Waters Swimmable – Bioswale Project at Patagonia HQ and Swimmable California Day

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    Over the past couple of years, and recently through the Our Common Waters campaign, Patagonia has focused our attention on one of the more challenging water pollution issues: stormwater runoff. When rainfall hits an impermeable surface – such as a parking lot, roof or sidewalk – it runs off, carrying with it all sorts of unsavory stuff: trash, animal waste, oil, gasoline, detergents, pesticides, chemical residues, and heavy metals like copper and lead. Basically, everything on the surface is washed away. This stormwater runoff flows to the lowest point in the area which is usually a storm drain. And from there it flows into a channel, a creek or river, and in coastal areas directly into the ocean without being filtered or cleaned.

    Polluted runoff is the number one source of contamination to California waters. Contamination from polluted runoff at Southern California beaches sickens approximately one million swimmers every year. Here in Ventura, where our headquarters are located, swimmers and surfers are strongly advised to stay out of the ocean for 72 hours after it rains. And polluted runoff to the coast threatens California’s $40 billion ocean-based economy. California Coastkeeper Alliance is partnering with businesses like Patagonia to get the word out about these serious health and economic impacts and tackle polluted runoff.

    This is our ocean, our coast, and our local rivers and streams. It matters to us what’s going in our waters.

    [Above: Patagonia’s Ventura, California headquarters front entrance. This walkway runs over a newly constructed bioswale that filters runoff from our parking lots. Photo: Jeff Johnson]

    Continue reading "Keeping Our Waters Swimmable – Bioswale Project at Patagonia HQ and Swimmable California Day" »

    DamNation – 80,000 Dams, 51 Interviews and One Film

    By Katie Klingsporn

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    In July of 2011, Felt Soul Media filmmakers, Ben Knight and Travis Rummel, packed camera gear, computers and a few changes of clothing into a borrowed Sportsmobile van, braced themselves for a whole lot of time together and hit the road.
     
    It was the beginning of a 9,000-mile journey across the U.S. and beyond to research, chronicle and wrap their heads around a growing movement to tear down obsolete dams.

    [Above: Co-director Travis Rummel in the field during the filming of DamNation. All photos courtesy of DamNation]

    Continue reading "DamNation – 80,000 Dams, 51 Interviews and One Film" »

    Fracking In Our Backyard

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    Through our current campaign, Our Common Waters, and with exposure to increased oil and gas development near our homes and communities, we have grown concerned about hydraulic fracturing (commonly called "fracking") and its impact on water, air, soil, wildlife habitat, and human health. Over 90% of oil and gas wells in the U.S. use fracking to aid in extraction, and many fracking fluids and chemicals are known toxins for humans and wildlife.

    For decades, natural gas (methane) deposits were tapped by single wells drilled vertically over large, free-flowing pockets of gas. Then came fracking, a water- and chemical-intensive method that promised the profitable extraction of natural gas trapped in shale.

    [Above: A natural gas fracking site in Erie, Colorado across the field from an elemetary school. Photo: Topher Donahue]

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    Help Protect Bristol Bay – Watch Sea-Swallow’d and Take Action Today

    By Ryan Peterson



    As with any creative endeavor, the process of building is fraught with self-doubt. But when I showed a draft of my film, sea-swallow’d to my friend Teplin Cahall 5 months ago, I got a boost. You see, Tep can't talk. He was born that way. Because of this and some associated developmental issues, he sees the world a little differently than do the rest of us.

    One gauges Tep’s thoughts and feelings on a matter by the glints of ecstasy or tears of rage that accumulate in his eyes, and the alternately soothing or garish noises that his vocal chords are able to emit. His emotions are pure, raw, unfiltered by the complications of the wide world. He’s like an animal - innocent, instinctual, knowing only truth. In this way, if you can decipher his notes and read his analyses, Tep is the best critic a friend could ever have. To date, according to his dad, Fitz, Tep has watched sea-swallow’d several hundred times. I take this as approval.

    Continue reading "Help Protect Bristol Bay – Watch Sea-Swallow’d and Take Action Today" »

    DamNation – The Grand Dame of Dam Busting

    By Katie Klingsporn

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    Folk-singer, desert goddess, rabble-rouser and all-out spitfire Katie Lee has been raging against Glen Canyon Dam and its reservoir, Lake Powell, for more than 50 years.

    And she’s not slowing down.

    Lee, who is featured in DamNation, a documentary film produced by Patagonia and Stoecker Ecological in conjunction with Felt Soul Media, has penned protest songs and authored books about Glen Canyon, the dam and the Southwest over the years. Just now wrapping up her latest project, “Dandy Crossing,” she tells the story of the handful of people who once lived at Hite, a river crossing that was drowned by Lake Powell, and what happened to them after they were forced from their homes.

    Lee, who is in her 90s, also serves on the advisory board of the Glen Canyon Institute, an environmental group that advocates the draining of Lake Powell and the restoration of the Colorado River. She still performs and speaks for educational and non-profit organizations, as well.

    [Above: The one and only Katie Lee, outside her home in Jerome, Arizona after her interview for DamNation this fall. Photo: Ben Knight]

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    Colorado River is Nation’s #1 Most Endangered River

    By Amy Souers Kober



    We are all connected by fresh water. Rivers run like arteries, crossing state and international borders, and sustaining our communities. In the west, one river links seven western states and Mexico. It’s a river that goes by different names – Red, Grand River Red, Rio Colorado, the Mighty Colorado.

    The Colorado River is truly a lifeline in the desert. Its waters provide habitat for a host of wildlife including four federally-listed endangered fish species. The river and tributaries support a $26 billion recreation economy, and a quarter million sustainable jobs. Millions flock to the river for fishing, boating, and hiking, or just to stand in awe atop the Grand Canyon to witness the breathtaking formations carved by water and time.

    [Above: Colorado River - America's Most Endangered River 2013. Video: Pete McBride for American Rivers]

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    A Million Comments Against Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

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    Tar sands oil in the Keystone XL pipeline will cross more than 1,000 bodies of water through three states threatening freshwater with a devastating oil spill. We want to get a million comments against Keystone XL to the State Department by April 22. The clock is ticking.

    Protect freshwater: add your name to the growing numbers of people who oppose this pipeline.

    Take action at 350.org

    Patagonia's current environmental campaign, Our Common Waters, spotlights the need to balance human water consumption with that of plants and animals. Learn more.

    [Vast open-pit bitumen mines require massive clear-cutting of the pristine boreal forest in the Alberta tar sands. Photo: John Woods / Greenpeace]

    A Watershed Moment for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

    By Nate Ptacek



    Brushing past lily pads, my canoe cuts through the serene calm of a September evening. I glide silently under massive pines in the fading light, careful to avoid the weathered snags of black spruce jutting out from shore. The water is still warm, but there is a slight chill in the air – a reminder that the brief northern summer is waning. 

    Suddenly, the silence is broken by a loud buzz. With a few draw strokes, I reach the source – a large dragonfly is trapped on the water’s surface, blown into the lake during a passing storm just an hour before. Ripples echo out in a delicate pattern as she struggles to take flight. Instinctively, I reach into the water, taking care not to crush her wings as she trembles wildly in my grasp.

    [Video: Watershed from Nate Ptacek]

    Continue reading "A Watershed Moment for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness" »

    Cooking Up a Conservation Victory in Canada’s Sacred Headwaters

    By Shannon McPhail

    We Did It!

    It's not often that a small, rural region of communities declares victory against one of the largest corporations on the planet, so when it happens - WE NEED TO CELEBRATE!

    Editor's note: I remember hearing Shannon speak back in 2010 when she, Ali Howard and a group of kayaking filmmakers visited Patagonia HQ to screen Awakening the Skeena. Shannon was passionate, funny and full of fight. We've published a number of posts on this issue – from protests to photos to film – so it's with great joy that we share this wonderful news today.

    The problem? Royal Dutch Shell wanted to drill 1,500-10,000 coal bed methane gas wells in the Sacred Headwaters, where three of Canada's greatest wild salmon and steelhead rivers, the Skeena, Stikine and Nass are born.

    These rivers are among the last surviving intact, kick-ass, grizzly bear chasing 30-pound salmon over waterfalls kind of rivers. Native and white families harvesting enough food for the winter kind of rivers. Dip your head in and drink the water without tablets or filters because it’s so clean kind of rivers. Not a single dam anywhere kind of rivers.

    Continue reading "Cooking Up a Conservation Victory in Canada’s Sacred Headwaters" »

    Streams of Consequence: Public Outcry Successfully Halting Dams in Patagonia

    Words by Chris Kassar, photos by James Q Martin

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    “Patagonia is not for sale! Protect her rivers!”   

    “Defend Aysén! Keep Patagonia free from dams!” 

    These chants echoed through the streets of Santiago, Chile in April 2012 as tens of thousands once again voiced their opposition to HidroAysén’s proposal to dam two of Patagonia’s pristine rivers, the Baker and the Pascua. A few days earlier, the Chilean Supreme Court voted 3-2 in favor of the HidroAysén dam project in Patagonia and against appeals filed by opponents. 

    This decision was a major setback, but it has not turned out to be a green light for dam construction. Almost one year after the Supreme Court’s decision, the rivers still run free and a critical element of the project – the longest proposed power line in the world (1,180 miles from Patagonia to Santiago) continues to be a huge headache for HidroAysén, a big business partnership between an Italian energy company and a Chilean energy company called Colbún.

    Continue reading "Streams of Consequence: Public Outcry Successfully Halting Dams in Patagonia" »

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