The Cleanest Line

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    Broken Rivers: By the Numbers


    As Patagonia moves out of its Broken Rivers phase of the Our Common Waters environmental campaign, we wanted to take a look back at what was achieved in the last couple of years as it relates to broken rivers/dam removal. We often don’t take the time to consider these events during or after the course of our campaigns. So, with that in mind, please look at the following list of accomplishments that happened with the hard work of thousands of citizens across our land.

    • Dams taken down in 2012: 53 and counting
    • Major dams removed in Washington: 3 – The Condit Dam on the White Salmon River, Elwha Dam and Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha River
    • Size of the Glines Canyon Dam – in terms of all dams removed in human history: Largest, at 210 feet
    • Number of miles of river habitat that Atlantic salmon will be able to access thanks to ongoing Penobscot River dam removals in Maine: 1,000
    • Number of river herring traveling upriver on the Kennebec in Maine before removal of the Edwards Dam: 200,000
    • Number of herring returning to the river after removal of the dam: 3 million
    • Number of emails sent to members of Congress regarding Congressman Hasting’s "worst dam bill ever" to prevent federal funding for dam removal: over 8,000 (opposed)
    • Number of actions taken, encouraging NOAA to continue funding the Community-based Restoration Program and the Open Rivers Initiative: 10,394 (since 2005 these government programs have removed dams and culverts, restored rivers and freed up passages for wild fish)
    • Number of emails sent to protest two boondoggle dam and reservoir 
proposals on the Chattahoochee River, listed as one of the 10 Most 
Endangered Rivers of 2012 by American Rivers: 3,352
    • Number of dams in the U.S. labeled “high” or “significant hazard” by the Army Corps of Engineers: over 26,000

    For more, see all blog posts from the Our Common Waters campaign.

    [Photo: Instructions for removal of the Matilija Dam, Ventura County, California. From "We're Just Getting Started: Elwha and Condit Establish Dam Removal Momentum"]

    Register to Vote Here – It’s National Voter Registration Day

    by Andy Bernstein


    Presidential elections are the most popular and least popular event in America. In 2008, 131 million Americans voted for President. That's three times as many people as watched the Oscar's. A full 90 percent of registered voters turned out and more than four out of five young registered voters cast a ballot in 2008, marking the largest total turnout in history.
    But that leaves about 70 million eligible Americans who sat it out. Think everyone you know votes? Think again. Across the board, in every demographic, people choose to let others decide who should determine the future.
    There are many reasons for this. When unregistered voters are asked why they aren't registered, about half say they just don't care (give them points for honesty). But that leaves over a huge swash of Americans who found the voter registration system too confusing or missed the deadlines and didn't register for that reason.

    [Above: Jack Johnson breaks his no-social-media rule for National Voter Registration Day.]

    Continue reading "Register to Vote Here – It’s National Voter Registration Day" »

    Remembering Russell Train

    Russell Train, who led the Council on Environmental Quality under President Nixon and then the Environmental Protection Agency under Gerald Ford, died Monday, September 17. The New York Times in its obituary said that Mr. Train, "shaped the world’s first comprehensive program for scrubbing the skies and waters of pollution, ensuring the survival of ecologically significant plants and animals, and safeguarding citizens from exposure to toxic chemicals."

    [Above: Remembering Russell Train. Video: World Wildlife Fund]

    I had the honor of working with Mr. Train on an essay Patagonia published in 2004, when George Bush was president. We run the essay here again because of its strong support for the environment, because of Mr. Train’s bi-partisan approach to the world we live in, and because of its elegance. (Some parts of the essay relate only to the Bush administration but most of the essay could have been written very recently.)

    Continue reading "Remembering Russell Train" »

    What’s at Stake for the Places We Love this Election

    by Vanessa Kritzer, League of Conservation Voters

    AyC3QVOCEAEtA0u.jpg largeWhen you wake up on November 7th, what kind of future do you want to have ahead?

    A future in which your children – and the generations beyond them – will have the opportunities to play in the same forests, discover the same animals, climb the same mountains, and swim in the same lakes that have been such an important part of your life? A future when you don’t have to worry that the air you breathe and the water you drink may be endangering your life and the lives of your loved ones? Or a future in which Big Oil and Dirty Coal are given free rein to pollute our environment, put our public health at risk, and hasten global warming in order to protect their billions of dollars in profits?

    [Above: The author shares why she votes the environment during Wilco's concert at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, Vienna, Virginia. Photo: @LCVoters]

    You might think that no election could have such a major impact on your life, but the decisions we make this November – and the leaders we elect – will make all the difference in whether we can protect the places and way of life that we love going forward.

    Continue reading "What’s at Stake for the Places We Love this Election " »

    Save Our wild Salmon

    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 " »

    Patagonia Clothing: Made Where? How? Why?

    Patagonia_labelAbout once a week, one of our stores or our customer service receives a question about the manufacturing of Patagonia clothing: Where do you make your clothes? Are they made in China? Why? Why don’t make you make them here in the United States? What are the conditions inside your factories?

    We thought it would be helpful if we shared a lengthy post, with links to more information.

    First, Patagonia doesn’t own farms, mills, or factories. Yet what is done in our name is not invisible to us. We are responsible for all the workers who make our goods and for all that goes into a piece of clothing that bears a Patagonia label.

    It took us a long time to ask ourselves what we owe people who work for others in our supply chain. We had high sewing standards, even for casual sportswear, and exacting standards for technical clothes. To meet quality requirements, our production staff had always been drawn to clean, well-lighted factories that employed experienced sewing operators. Although we had always bargained with our factories over price and terms, we never chased lowest-cost labor.

    Continue reading "Patagonia Clothing: Made Where? How? Why?" »

    Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline: Join Hands Around the White House, November 6th

    [Demonstrators in front of the White House protesting a proposed pipeline that would bring tar sands oil through the U.S. from Canada. Photo: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images]

    From mid-August to early September this year, concerned citizens gathered at the White House to protest the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline. Over 1200 people were arrested during this peaceful protest, and their act of civil disobedience, along with similar events and petitions nationwide, sent President Obama a simple message:  Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline.

    The Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline would originate in Alberta, Canada and pass through the West and Midwest of the United States ending up in Houston where most of the oil will be shipped overseas. Six companies have contracted for three-quarters of the oil. Five are foreign.The New York Times in an editorial opposes the pipeline

    Nebraska Cornhusker football fans booed when a Keystone ad showed up on the Jumbotron at a recent game. The next day the university ended their sponsorship deal with Trans-Canada Pipeline.

    Continue reading "Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline: Join Hands Around the White House, November 6th" »

    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

    [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 " »

    Running to the Sea - Help Save the Colorado River Delta

    Delta_rivers end0636

    "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" »

    A Watershed Moment for Wild Salmon

    SOS banner

    Here at Patagonia, we have two or three holy grails of conservation. One is the permanent protection of the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wild Refuge and another the restoration of the legendary salmon runs in the Columbia and Snake River Basin.

    Salmon swimming We have advocated for over 10 years that the best way to achieve this second goal is by removing the four lower Snake River dams and allowing the salmon and steelhead a fighting chance to finish their upstream journey of many miles (as long as 900) home to spawn. Removing these dams would be the largest river restoration in our nation’s history and would be an inspiration for the rest of the country to take the initiative to build a healthy future not just for salmon and rivers in the Northwest, but for other endangered wildlife and waterways across the U.S.

    With the recent federal court ruling on the latest Obama administration's salmon plan, we asked Steven Hawley, journalist, author (Recovering a Lost River), salmon expert and self- proclaimed river rat for his take on the federal court decision. Here’s Steven, with a fish story that’s about a lot more than fish:

    [Salmon moving upstream, from this earlier post about the pending salmon decision. Photo: © University of Washington, Thomas Quinn]

    Continue reading "A Watershed Moment for Wild Salmon" »

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