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DAMNATION

DamNation Poster

Katie Lee DamNation

I had the extreme pleasure of watching DamNation last night at the Patagonia offices in Ventura, CA. (The film was introduced by Yvon, an added bonus.) It officially premieres at SxSW next week, so if you’re down in Austin, rush on over to see it.

Above is a photo of Katie Lee, one of the best parts about the film.

March 5, 2014 | Politics, The World Is On Fire! | Continue Reading | Comments { 0 }

R.I.P.

Pete Seeger

We’ll miss you, Pete Seeger.

(From the New Yorker. One of our favorite stories. Ever.)

January 28, 2014 | History, Music/Movies/Books, Politics | Continue Reading | Comments { 0 }

Sally Jewell

Sally Jewell

Obama has tapped Sally Jewell, CEO and President of REI, to take over the Department of the Interior from the outgoing Ken Salazar. (The DOI oversees much of America’s public lands through the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and other agencies.) Jewell, who is 57 years young, has grown the company’s sales from $900 million to $2 billion since taking over  the stewardship of REI in 2005. More info over at Adventure Journal:

She grew up sailing and camping and spent five weeks climbing in Antarctica. She’s won numerous awards for conservation and environmental work, including the 2009 Rachel Carson Award for environmental conservation from the Audubon Society, a track record that is sure to be touted by opponents. But prior to joining REI, Jewell worked in the banking industry for 20 years and before that she worked as an engineer for Mobil Oil, experience that should blunt criticism.

That is just…well….awesome.

February 6, 2013 | Politics, Public Lands | Continue Reading | Comments { 1 }

Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Monument, located just east of California’s Salinas Valley, about a two hour drive from San Francisco, is about to come a National Park. The bill passed through the Senate last Sunday and now awaits President Obama’s signature.

From Gadling.com:

Located in California’s Gabilan Mountains, just east of the Salinas Valley, Pinnacles National Monument is the site of an ancient volcanic field. The volcano has long since eroded and moved further north along the San Andreas Fault, but its remnants remain throughout the area today. The landscape features towering rock spires, large boulders, narrow canyons, talus caves and other amazing geological formations, all of which have made it a popular destination for climbers.

The 26,000-acre site has also been instrumental to the comeback of the California condor, giving the birds a place to roost amongst its rocky cliffs. The National Park Service has released 32 free-flying condors into the park since 2003, and it has proved to be a safe home for the extremely endangered birds. Elevating the monument into a national park will provide further protections to the condor’s habitat, improving their chance for continued recovery in the future.

January 7, 2013 | Politics, Public Lands | Continue Reading | Comments { 1 }

DeChristopher Released From Jail

Tim DeChristopher, who has been jailed for the past 18 months at Herlong Federal Prison in California for disrupting federal oil and gas exploration auctions, will be released prison on October 24th. That’s good news to a lot of people’s ears. He’ll spend the rest of his two year term (six months if my math is correct) at a Salt Lake City halfway house, employed at a Unitarian Church under a work-release program. Peaceful Uprising, the activisit group that Dechristopher founded, has this to say about the whole situation:

Obviously his friends, his family, his community is excited to have him back here in a halfway home, but we are going to respect whatever time he needs. We will honor that he is still serving time until April 2013.

For those of you who don’t know who DeChristopher is and why he matters, well, I’ll give you the short of it. In 2008 DeChristopher, a climate control activist, entered a federal oil and gas exploration lease auction. The BLM was selling 116 parcels of land in Utah red-rock country and DeChristopher bid on 14 of them (22,500 acres) for 1.8 million. He won, and at the time, had no money to pay, so the feds picked him up for misrepresenting himself. Months later, the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, deemed the auction illegal. In addition to the auction being deemed illegal, DeChristopher had raised the funds for the land and the BLM refused to accept the money. The Jury wasn’t allowed to know either of those little fun facts during the trail and he was found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison.

Be happy about this one. It’ll be a good thing when he’s done with church work.

MP3: Bill Evans Trio – My Man’s Gone Now

October 9, 2012 | Politics | Continue Reading | Comments { 2 }

DamNation

by Bryce Cowell

Dams serve three primary purposes that are vital to us humans: water supply, agricultural irrigation, and electricity. However, not all dams are created equal. Some no longer serve their original purpose and their environmental impacts are well-documented. So do we really need all of these dams? And which ones are appropriate for Hayduke, Seldom, Doc and Abbzug to take out?

The Patagonia-sponsored documentary film DamNation attempts to answer these questions from both sides of the debate. Slated to be released in early 2013, this film is the cornerstone of a campaign to restore US waterways to their former untamed glory while taking into consideration the socioeconomic consequences.

Each dam in this country needs to be objectively analyzed on a case-by-case basis to determine if removal is beneficial to the majority. And of course, there are potent political and financial goliaths that are going to try to prevent that from happening, even if the costs outweigh the benefits.

One such controversial dam, the O’Shaughnessy Dam (pictured above) is located within Yosemite National Park. This fall, San Franciscans will vote on whether to keep the damn thing in place or restore Hetch Hetchy, which John Muir referred to as “one of nature’s rarest and most precious mountain temples,” and devise a modern water plan.

**So the question is, which dams do you think should be removed or improved?

August 14, 2012 | Politics, The World Is On Fire! | Continue Reading | Comments { 3 }

The First 70

The First 70:

Last May California announced plans to close one quarter of their 278 parks, a devastating move that is intended to save the state a mere $22 million per year. The closure list includes thousands of acres of park land, recreation areas, wildlife reserves, and 50% of the state’s historic parks. By July 2012 Californians will be bereft of 70 magnificent natural parks. The media has done little to disclose the ongoing closures or emphasize their impact.

Not wanting to miss the chance to see these places before they were gone forever, we decided to make our way across California in a converted airport shuttle bus, shooting as many parks and people as possible. Individuals we met along the way were concerned about the closing of their local parks, but no one had a collective firsthand experience of the overall picture. As we connected dots on a map, a pattern emerged. No one knew exactly what the conditions of closure would be, nor could they see how the state would ultimately benefit.

(Hat Tip: Geoff Holstad)

June 25, 2012 | Long Hairs, Politics | Continue Reading | Comments { 2 }

Burt’s Bees x NPS x Maine

Outside has a great article about Roxanne Quimby, co-founder of Burt’s Bees, and her quest to turn 74,000 beautiful acres of Maine into a new National Park. Politics involved? Of course.

If you’re living out east, you’ll want to read this.

MP3: Michael Martin Murphy – Rainbow (Wo)Man

June 25, 2012 | Politics | Continue Reading | Comments { 0 }

The Wilderness Letter

Below is a portion of Wallace Stegner’s Wilderness Letter, written to the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission in 1960. The letter was used to introduce the bill that established the National WildernessPreservation System in 1964.

Dear Mr. Pesonen:

I believe that you are working on the wilderness portion of the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission’s report. If I may, I should like to urge some arguments for wilderness preservation that involve recreation, as it is ordinarily conceived, hardly at all. Hunting, fishing, hiking, mountain-climbing, camping, photography, and the enjoyment of natural scenery will all, surely, figure in your report. So will the wilderness as a genetic reserve, a scientific yardstick by which we may measure the world in its natural balance against the world in its man-made imbalance. What I want to speak for is not so much the wilderness uses, valuable as those are, but the wilderness idea, which is a resource in itself. Being an intangible and spiritual resource, it will seem mystical to the practical minded–but then anything that cannot be moved by a bulldozer is likely to seem mystical to them.

I want to speak for the wilderness idea as something that has helped form our character and that has certainly shaped our history as a people. It has no more to do with recreation than churches have to do with recreation, or than the strenuousness and optimism and expansiveness of what the historians call the “American Dream” have to do with recreation. Nevertheless, since it is only in this recreation survey that the values of wilderness are being compiled, I hope you will permit me to insert this idea between the leaves, as it were, of the recreation report.

Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clear air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence, so that never again will Americans be free in their own country from the noise, the exhausts, the stinks of human and automotive waste. And so that never again can we have the chance to see ourselves single, separate, vertical and individual in the world, part of the environment of trees and rocks and soil, brother to the other animals, part of the natural world and competent to belong in it. Without any remaining wilderness we are committed wholly, without chance for even momentary reflection and rest, to a headlong drive into our technological termite-life, the Brave New World of a completely man-controlled environment. We need wilderness preserved–as much of it as is still left, and as many kinds–because it was the challenge against which our character as a people was formed. The reminder and the reassurance that it is still there is good for our spiritual health even if we never once in ten years set foot in it. It is good for us when we are young, because of the incomparable sanity it can bring briefly, as vacation and rest, into our insane lives. It is important to us when we are old simply because it is there–important, that is, simply as an idea.

We are a wild species, as Darwin pointed out. Nobody ever tamed or domesticated or scientifically bred us. But for at least three millennia we have been engaged in a cumulative and ambitious race to modify and gain control of our environment, and in the process we have come close to domesticating ourselves. Not many people are likely, any more, to look upon what we call “progress” as an unmixed blessing. Just as surely as it has brought us increased comfort and more material goods, it has brought us spiritual losses, and it threatens now to become the Frankenstein that will destroy us. One means of sanity is to retain a hold on the natural world, to remain, insofar as we can, good animals. Americans still have that chance, more than many peoples; for while we were demonstrating ourselves the most efficient and ruthless environment-busters in history, and slashing and burning and cutting our way through a wilderness continent, the wilderness was working on us. It remains in us as surely as Indian names remain on the land. If the abstract dream of human liberty and human dignity became, in America, something more than an abstract dream, mark it down at least partially to the fact that we were in subdued ways subdued by what we conquered.

Read the rest here.

April 3, 2012 | Politics | Continue Reading | Comments { 0 }

Dan Richards

In 1972, then California Governor Ronald Regan signed legislation banning the sport of hunting mountain lions for five years. That ban was twice renewed before the voters passed Proposition 117 in 1990, which officially made it illegal to hunt the cats in the state.

Last week, president of the California Fish and Game Commission, Dan Richards, traveled to Idaho where he shot a mountain lion. Legally. When the picture above started getting circulated around the ol’ internets, people of The Golden State, including former SF mayor and current lieutenant governor, Gavin Newsom, were calling for Richards resignation.

Pretty sticky situation if you ask me. The dude didn’t really commit any crimes, right? He did go to Idaho to kill the mountain lion. But then again, there’s the obvious part about him killing a mountain lion. Read more here.

Thoughts?

February 28, 2012 | Politics | Continue Reading | Comments { 32 }