The Cleanest Line

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    We're Just Getting Started: Elwha and Condit Establish Dam Removal Momentum

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    On Saturday, September 17, demolition started on two Elwha River dams – the largest dams to be taken down in our nation’s history. And this is just one example from a movement that is gaining momentum and traction across the country this year.

    Communities are evaluating local dams that block free-flowing rivers, altering the natural ecosystems and species that rely on the flow. Dams kill fish and prevent migrating species like salmon from spawning, and they block nutrients and needed sediment from being transported downstream to coastal beaches and wetlands. These impacts ripple throughout the local environment, but also have huge social and economic consequences.

    [Above: Fletcher Chouinard, Malinda Chouinard, Yvon Chouinard, Claire Chouinard and Matt Stoecker have a message for President Obama. Elwha River, Washington. Photo: Michael Hanson]

    Continue reading "We're Just Getting Started: Elwha and Condit Establish Dam Removal Momentum" »

    The Great Salmon Run - running the route of one of nature's great migrations

    Ty Draney, a member of the Patagonia Ultrarunning Team, and friend Luke Nelson recently completed the Great Salmon Run in partnership with Save our Wild Salmon. The pair were inspired to trace over 120 miles of the Snake River sockeye's migration route, motivated by facts like these:

    • Thirteen populations of salmon and steelhead are officially in danger of extinction. The four remaining Snake River stocks are either threatened or endangered.

    • The Columbia Basin was once home to the largest salmon fishery in the world — supporting tens of thousands of jobs, providing a nutritious food, and generating billions of dollars in economic activity each year.

    • Up to 30 million wild salmon and steelhead once returned to the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Today, it is less than one percent of the number.

    Snake River sockeye salmon migrate higher than any salmon in the world: Adults swim 900 miles and climb 6,500 feet in elevation — from the Pacific Ocean to Redfish Lake in the Rocky Mountains of Idaho.

    • With more than 200 dams, the Columbia Basin today is among the world’s most dammed landscapes. Removing four costly dams will restore salmon, create jobs, save money, and establish a clean energy blueprint for the future.

    Here’s Ty’s report:

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    [Bighorn Crags, deep in the heart of the Columbia Basin. Central Idaho. All photos: Matthew Irving]


    "I think we're taking this whole salmon metaphor way too far...." 

    That's all I could think at the time. We had been wandering off course for hours, trying to get up to the Bighorn Crags. As it turns out the 78 miles we ran along the river was the easy part. We had left Boundry Creek at first light, hoping to make good time while the weather was cool. The trail was very runnable and we were in high spirits.

    Continue reading "The Great Salmon Run - running the route of one of nature's great migrations" »

    The Writing on the Wall

    Amy Irvine McHarg is a beautiful writer. We asked her to write a post about what she cares about and to remind the readers of the Patagonia catalog to look for her essay “Seeing Red” in your mail soon. "Seeing Red" is one of a series of essays written by fine writers as part of Patagonia's current environmental campaign, Our Common Waters.

    From Le Midi-Pyrenees region of France, September 2011

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    [Painting from the Chauvet cave. Photo: HTO, via Wikipedia, used under Creative Commons license.]

    I am standing in a cave that one enters from a steep and riotously lush hillside in the southwest of France. I have been to this region before, then as a nomad climber, to scale (or flail on) its steep and sublime walls of limestone. This time I am here to explore beyond the surface - a kind of descent in place of ascent - into subterranean concavities opened up over millenia by the persistent passage of water. Come to think of it, the process is not unlike how the finest one-finger pockets, or mono doigts, were created on the exterior walls - that is, if you don't count the ones drilled out by climbers who fancied themselves, debatably, as great sculptors of stone. 

    Here in Grotte de Niaux, there are paintings of animals that undulate on walls, shimmer in shadows. Horses, bison, and ibex move as if they are emerging from some other, even more interior, kind of realm. About the master craftsmanship of such ancient paintings, dated back to the Upper Paleolithic, Picasso said something to this effect:

    Since then, we have learned nothing. 

    Continue reading "The Writing on the Wall " »

    To the Elwha and its Salmon - Welcome Home

    While the Patagonia environmental team was busy hosting its Tools for Grassroots Activists Conference last week, one of our activist community's greatest victories in recent decades was unfolding, the removal of the Elwha Dam. If you haven't had a chance to get the full story behind the Elwha's removal, check out yesterday's post from the New York Times, or the Seattle Times' comprehensive special coverage. Today's post is for all those who couldn't be on-hand to celebrate this unique moment in our environmental history.

    To all those who worked so hard for this victory: Thank You.

    And to the Elwha and its salmon, on behalf of advocates of free-flowing rivers everywhere: Welcome Home.


     

    And from American Rivers, American Whitewater, and the Hydropower Reform Coalition, a film by Andy Maser:

    Year of the River: Episode 1 from Andy Maser on Vimeo.

    Your Help is Needed to Protect the Green and Colorado Rivers

    Recently Patagonia participated in a Save the Colorado River campaign funding meeting that provided over $150,000 (including $25,000 from Patagonia) to over a dozen outstanding nonprofits working to protect and restore the ecological health of the Colorado River and its watershed. The Save the Colorado River campaign is a partnership between business and philanthropic groups, founded by New Belgium Brewery and including Patagonia, CLIF Bar, Teva, Kenney Brothers Foundation, the Environment Foundation, Environment NOW, National Geographic and Clean Water Fund. Learn more at:   www.savethecolorado.org
     
    Through Save the Colorado River and the Our Common Waters campaign, we encourage you to read on and lend your voice to a coalition of 20 conservation groups who are fighting to stop the proposed Flaming Gorge Pipeline water project…

    Please sign the petition at StopFlamingGorgePipeline.org

    The Colorado River Watershed today faces many challenges, as our need for water in the west continues to grow.

    From hopeful beginnings at the headwaters of its longest tributary, the Green River…

    UpperGreenRiverWY
    Photo: G. Thomas, via Wikimedia Commons

    to the dry and cracked landscape of the Delta, 50 miles south of the Mexico border.  Where the mighty River once met the Sea of Cortez in a rich estuary, it is now reduced to this:

    End of colorado
    Screen-grab from Pete McBride's short film about the proposed Flaming Gorge Pipeline project.

    These conditions will only get worse as human consumption increases and climate change threatens to jeopardize the snowpack that feeds the river.

    Hit the jump to read more about the proposed Flaming Gorge Pipeline project, and watch Pete McBride's image-rich video trailer.

    Continue reading "Your Help is Needed to Protect the Green and Colorado Rivers" »

    Running to the Sea - Help Save the Colorado River Delta

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    "But along the way I learned how the problem could be fixed and that the delta is far from dead both in terms of people who care about it and the remarkable habitat that still remains." –Jonathan Waterman

    When our fall catalog lands in your mailbox, you’ll find an excellent essay on the Colorado River by Jon Waterman, a writer who has devoted himself to the river and everything that depends on it. The Colorado was once a great river but it has been ruined by water greed. You can find out more about the river and Patagonia’s ongoing campaign at Our Common Waters. Here, Jon sends an urgent and eloquent plea to help save the Colorado. Please take action today.

    In June 2008, as I began paddling the 1,450-mile long Colorado River, the knowledge that the river had not reached the sea for a decade outraged me. And it wasn’t just because paddling the last 90 miles would be a challenge. It is outrageous because we have shunted our most iconic western river to the greatest desert estuary in North America and not only has this been swept under the rug by our Bureau of Reclamation, but people I met everywhere along my journey from the Rockies toward the Sea of Cortez were largely unaware that the river had run dry.

    [Above: Pete McBride portaging toward the sea along the empty river banks. Photo: Jon Waterman]

    Continue reading "Running to the Sea - Help Save the Colorado River Delta" »

    Take Action! Tell President Obama: Stop the Tar Sands Pipeline

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    For the past four days, concerned groups of Americans have gathered at the White House in protest of the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline. Our friend and founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben (pictured, photo: Shadia Fayne Wood), was arrested on Saturday along with 64 other brave people for engaging in a non-violent action of civil disobedience in front of the White House. Their goal is to send President Obama a simple message: “Stop the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline.” Today, we're asking you to send the same message.

    The protests are being organized by TarSandsAction.org will continue over the next two weeks. But the President needs to hear from every person on the planet who’s concerned about a dangerous and destructive project that would pump over one million barrels of dirty "tar sands" oil from Canada to the USA ... every day. Here’s how you can help:

    Take_action_large 1. MOST URGENT: Sign the petition at 350.org telling President Obama to reject the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline. The pipeline cannot be built without a "presidential permit" from the Obama Administration. 350.org are hoping to add as many names as possible before they deliver it to White House officials on September 3rd.

    2. Send in a solidarity message or photo to the people taking action at the White House.

    3. Take part in Moving Planet – a worldwide climate rally on September 24 – and move beyond all fossil fuels in the loudest, most beautiful way possible.

    If you’re unfamiliar with the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline project, continue reading for a list of background links and a video highlighting the first day of sit-ins at the White House.

    Continue reading "Take Action! Tell President Obama: Stop the Tar Sands Pipeline" »

    Juan Pablo Orrego Explains Why HidroAysen Threatens The Heart of Chilean Patagonia

    In our coverage of the Chile dam fight, we’ve heard from many Americans who’ve visited Patagonia but we’ve yet to hear from someone who lives there. That changes today with this post from Juan Pablo Orrego, the president of Santiago-based NGO, Ecosistemas, and a leading international voice in the Patagonia Sin Repressas (Patagonia Without Dams) campaign.

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    [Juan Pablo Orrego at Patagonia El Golf. Photo: Rodrigo Farias]

    The construction of five big hydro-power plants in the region of Aysen, considered the heart of Chilean Patagonia, has raised the national awareness of its negative impacts to levels never seen before. The complexity of the problem is evidenced in the many fronts that the debate opens, as well as in the variety of players that have joined efforts – from Patagonia to Santiago, Argentina, Bolivia, USA, Canada, Italy and Spain – to oppose this project that belongs to Enel (Italy), Endesa (Spain-Chile) and Colbún (Chile).

    The three main issues this project involves are the local impact, the national energy policy, and the “energivorous” development model (highly inefficient in the use of energy, and predator of natural resources) installed in Chile during the past decades.

    Continue reading "Juan Pablo Orrego Explains Why HidroAysen Threatens The Heart of Chilean Patagonia" »

    Don't Dam Patagonia - Now Is the Time to Dig In

    As the new Patagonia catalog hits your mailbox, we asked Craig Childs the author of "Rios Libres," the environmental essay in that catalog, to give us a little background on the essay. - Ed

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    [Taking the power of the Rio Baker's still-wild waters. All photos: ©James Q Martin]

    We did good work down there - interviews and camera lenses. We sat in a bishop's house in Coihaique, his cigarette tucked into his palm as he blew smoke to the ceiling and told us Chile's water is not for sale. A young man sitting by a warm cocina in a one-room shack explained to me that he is a habitante, one who inhabits this place. Because of that, he said he was necessarily an activist.

    Continue reading "Don't Dam Patagonia - Now Is the Time to Dig In" »

    America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2011

    Susquehana
    [One of America's longest rivers, the Susquehanna provides fresh drinking water to millions of Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic residents. It faces increasing contamination threats as a result of unregulated use of highly toxic fracking chemicals used to extract natural gas from within the river's watershed. Photo: Don Williams]

    This year, Patagonia’s environmental campaign, Our Common Waters, spotlights the need to balance human water consumption with that of animals and plants. We are working with organizations like American Rivers to talk about the most pressing issues surrounding freshwater and can think of no better place to start than our threatened river systems. With that in mind, we are proud to work with American Rivers and share their list of  America's Most Endangered Rivers of 2011.

    Sixty-five percent of our drinking water comes from rivers, yet many of our rivers are too polluted for fishing, swimming, and other basic uses.

    And the threats to this year’s endangered rivers are serious: Cancer-causing mine waste. Record floods. Sewage. Dams. 

    Sign the petition to save America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2011

    The ten rivers named as America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2011 spotlight an issue of urgent concern to all Americans: clean water. Hit the jump to read about the rivers, then take action to save them.

    Continue reading "America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2011" »

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