by Nate Grey
The early morning stillness is broken by a whining sound. I can barely detect it over the sound of the river whispering past. I re-set to cast and send the big black leech cross current to the far bank. I mend the line and settle in for the short drift. The light is too low to see the fish. I know they are there, though. The previous evening I had scouted. The far bank showed several rainbows two feet long or longer. Big fish. Healthy fish. Hungry fish. I’m actually a little chilled. It’s worth it, though. Later in the day other folks will arrive. I’ll be long gone by then, asleep in my tent. Getting up at 3AM is definitely worth it for the solitude and the chance to fish these big fish without worry of getting stepped on by other folks looking to do what I’m doing. So far I’ve hooked and lost four fish. In my mind, each fish larger than the last. The fish are athletic jumpers and managed to spit the big barbless black leech each time. And each time I’d curse my slow reaction time.
Again, I hear the whining noise. The early morning fog seems to attenuate the noise for a moment and then it’s gone again. I wade downstream to set up for a pocket against the far bank that showed several larger fish the previous day. These fish are large for a reason. They’re well fed. Extremely well fed. The bigger rainbows feed on the corpses and eggs of the dead sockeye salmon that are soon to accumulate here. The larger rainbows know that the smorgasbord is soon to start.
The sockeye are the reason these rainbows are here, the reason I’m here. Without the sockeye there would be rainbows but not nearly as large nor as abundant. The sockeye are what makes this whole river teem with rainbows. It’s not just the adult salmon the rainbows feed on but the young fry and smolt of the salmon as well. Spring, summer and fall there is a steady stream of food provided by the salmon and the rainbows take every advantage.
[Photo: Mark Emery]
Continue reading "The Whole Altar" »
by Pat Ford
2012 marks the Save Our wild Salmon Coalition’s 20th birthday – and the 14th year we have worked with Patagonia. Apart from commercial and sport fishing industry associations within SOS itself, Patagonia is the longest-running business partner in our work. Our work is to help Columbia-Snake wild salmon restore themselves – the fish will do the restoring, if we provide some basic conditions and get out of their way – by, for example, restoring a working Snake River in eastern Washington by removing its four outdated dams.
With help from Patagonia and other allies, we have forced the federal government to honor its obligations to wild fish and as a result tens of thousands more salmon and steelhead are now alive. This has bought time against extinction for these most imperiled wild fish. And we have built a lot of support for the largest river restoration ever done on earth, 140 miles of the lower Snake River. The American Fisheries Society’s western division calls this the surest way to restore the Snake’s salmon and steelhead.
[Above: Sockeye Salmon in Little Redfish Lake Creek. Oncorhynchus nerka.
Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA), Idaho, USA. Photo: Neil Ever Osborne, ILCP]
Continue reading "Save Our wild Salmon " »
by Emily Nuchols
Sometimes destruction is a good thing. Last year, we watched bulldozers and jackhammers break apart and remove massive chunks of concrete from the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams on the Elwha River in Washington, and we cheered as the first flows of water broke through the cracks. We had been waiting for this moment for more than 20 years. The Elwha and its wild salmon and steelhead had been waiting for more than a century.
A month later, we stood motionless with hundreds of people, until we heard the first pop of dynamite exploding at the base of Condit Dam on the White Salmon River in Washington. With that dramatic eruption, the White Salmon broke free — reclaiming its wild course for the first time in 100 years.
Continue reading "American Rivers Announces America’s Most Endangered River for 2012" »
Patagonia’s Our Common Waters campaign isn’t only about demolishing dams. The impact of a dam on rivers and ecosystems lingers well past their expiration date, so removing them is still necessary in many cases. But that’s the work of remedying our past mistakes. The future requires that we find new ways to reduce our water and energy footprints so fewer dams are built in the first place.
That’s what this essay, "Putting Water Back," is about – finding creative new ways to alter consumption patterns, and in areas where we haven’t yet found a way to do that, helping others who have.
Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, sometimes quotes environmentalist David Brower, who was once asked why conservationists are always against things. Brower’s reply: “If you are against something, you are always for something. If you are against a dam, you are for a river.”
"Putting Water Back" is also about keeping an eye on what we are for. Doing so opens us up to the wide range of solutions needed to mend the environment and to keep up the momentum on the road ahead.
[Above: An adult steelhead – one of only two seen in 2011 during an afternoon spent looking for steelies on the Ventura River. Photo: Matt Stoecker]
Continue reading "Putting Water Back" »
by Topher Browne
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 " »
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" »
by Jason Rainey
Water is life. Our bodies are about 60% water. Over two thirds of the surface of the Earth is covered by water, but only 0.006% of the Earth’s freshwater reserves is stored in rivers. As Patagonia's Our Common Waters campaign points out, the rivers of today’s world are broken. Roughly two-thirds of the world’s rivers have been dammed and diverted, and many major rivers of the world are tapped out before they reach the sea. Fifteen percent of the annual rainfall around the globe is now sequestered in reservoirs instead of replenishing floodplains and carrying nutrients to the sea.
The Colorado, the Indus, the Nile and the Yellow are just a few of the rivers that have had their perennial connection to the ocean broken. And nations that are rapidly industrializing threaten the remaining great rivers of the world with new dam-building schemes.
Continue reading "A World of Rivers" »
by Mike E. Wier
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" »
by Taylor McKinnon
The Obama administration rang in the New Year with a gift to wildlands and wildlife: a 20-year ban on new mining on 1 million acres of public lands around Grand Canyon National Park. The move, in the face of a rash of new uranium-mining claims, bans new claims and prohibits exploratory drilling and mining on existing claims lacking “valid existing rights” — the vast majority of claims in the area. It’s a historic decision for an iconic landscape that will save streams and rivers from pollution and protect scores of species from the scourge of industrial mining waste.
Editor's note: We're late getting this good news posted, but it's worth celebrating nonetheless. We asked you twice to take action on this issue — first in February with a special video from Jonathan Waterman, then again in April — and your voices have been heard. Thank you. Photo: James Q Martin
The decision is clearly popular. Nearly 400,000 people from 90 countries wrote the Interior Department urging the ban. And since it was enacted, it’s won praise from Indian tribes, businesses, elected officials, scientists and outdoor enthusiasts who value the canyon’s environmental health and its economic value as a tourist attraction.
Continue reading "Grand Canyon Wins New Protections From Uranium Mining" »