Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Aguantaste Patagonia! Chao HidroAysén!

This is not by any means the end of the movement and campaign to protect Patagonia, it is but one more important step towards a sustainable Aysén Reserva de Vida, but this is without question one of the biggest days in the history of Chile, and a tremendous marker in the global movement for environmental justice and ecological sanity. The HidroAysén project, the subject of a solid handful of posts on this blog, and because of the work in Patagaonia really one of the catalysts to why this vozsilvestre blog was ever started, has been rejected by the Chilean government of Michele Bachelet. The government of Bachelet has just this morning rejected the 2011 approval of permits to build 5 dams on the Ríos Pascua and Baker.

Patagonia Sin Represas! #Chao HidroAysén!

In 2008 a group of us from International Rivers ventured to gather a group of adventurers and activists and journalists to traverse the Pascua River watershed. We would prove to be only the third expedition to travel by foot through this remote and wild river valley that pours off of the Southern Patagonia Ice Cap, and what we saw was one of the most amazing and wild corners of Patagonia and Planet Earth, threatened by three massive dams, with two more dams included in the project on the spectacular Río Baker.

It is one of the wildest and most pristine places I have been to in this life, on a planet that is rapidly losing wild places to industry and progress, GRACIAS A TOD@S por tanto compromiso, valor, dedicación, y fuerza. Chao HidroAysén! Aguantaste Patagonia!

See this slide show of images from our 2008 expedition in the Pascua to get a feel for what we have protected!

This is a great day for Patagonia, and por nuestra Wild América! A beautiful day!

This blog was started in December 2007 as I started working officially for International Rivers for the campaign launch in Chile and to pull together and pull off this crazy idea of an expedition to see and know and document the Pascua area, as the HidroAysén mega-project was getting very strong momentum from the government boosters and transnational investors, and the clear threat of dams to Patagonia was looming like a dark cloud on the horizon. The idea of the expedition to the Pascua was to get journalists to meet with Chilean and Patagonian activists right literally at ground zero for this massive dam project. From there on out it was a crazy ride! The expedition was a success and the campaign launch put the worlds eyes on this nefarious mega-dam project. Against all odds the campaign has resisted the irregular proceedings of environmental review. In May 2011 the dams of the project were approved, but thousands of people went into the street and from that moment forth it was apparent that Chile had decided that they as a people wanted their Ríos Libres y sus Comunidades Vivas - queremos una Patagonia Sin Represas!

Chao Pescado

There are other chapters of my life coming to a close now too, and this victory puts it all into perspective. We as humans are capable of amazing grassroots campaigns and movements that can shape our future and that of our children. We are capable of organizing political expressions of our commonly held objectives and beliefs that can effectively confront the vested money interests of extractive industry and the groveling political class that serves them in their planet killing agenda. The important thing is to think big and not succumb to the petty maneuverings of the ambitious -- and get out of there fast once it becomes clear that a groups compass has been lost. Keep flowing, keep moving, keep your vision and values intact, don't get dragged down into the mire of The Millenium Curse. This rejection of HidroAysén comes at a symbolic moment for me in my trajectory as a political participant in our crazed reality. I am also saying Chao EPIC at this juncture of my life, after just more than 3 years as executive director and more than 7 years of intensive involvement, including time as a board member before being invited to work as staff. It became very clear that it was time for me to move on, I did what I could with what I had a chance to work with, and being even just a small part in this victory in Chile only reminds me of the great work that I have ahead of me. Even as things at EPIC may have been left unfinished by my standards, it was clear that my skills are to be best applied in other projects. Flow like a river, stand firm like a mountain. Onwards, it is a new day and a new chapter.

And best of all? Chao HidroAysén!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Spring Came and Went, Summer Is Here, Time Flies in 2013

I rarely if ever post photos or commentary on this blog, but this page is still alive, and if need be I can fire it up again with more regular posts--if I were to ever have the time or discipline. Most of my online energy these days goes into the EPIC website (at www.wildcalifornia.org) or into that silly thing called Facebook, where I have my own page/account and also contribute to a page for EPIC. Facebook is silly, though, because often times if you do not pay for a post it does not receive any more distribution than a post put here on my VozSilvestre blog. That is the quick summary of my web publishing presence these days. These fotos help sum up, however, the real essence of my existence as times flies in 2013. Gracias Kiara, gracias Isabel! Thank you flying time, and thank you 2013.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

This amazing person

Here is a small collection of images that reflect the beauty of this amazing person Kiara who came into our life just three years ago. There is nothing about the composition of this blog that could be a more pleasant update than ones imagination with the images. Posting fotos here after a year of not doing anything with this blog is my showing that time is flowing by, and Kiara is becoming a full, complex, and complete person. You can it see in her eyes, and these pictures of her adventures! Maybe a few folks will see these images and join and say

Happy Birthday Kiara!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Watch! Me!

I have been told that a photo is worth a thousand words. At two years old those words are coming fast, and in a couple of different languages. I promise, Kiara, we are watching you, and loving every second of it!

This girl is a great traveler, and an even better partier! How lucky we are to have her company. This is a selection of some of the better photos from the summer and fall.

Lastly, in this latest post in my long series of infrequent posts, I share our number one hit video:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

White Trinity Granite

I made one of my pilgrimages to the high country of the Trinity Alps Wilderness last week, in the quiet before the Labor Day weekend rush. It is always a gift to get a feel for the White Trinity Granite. In a thought provoking way, going high up on the massif of Thompson Peak was pretty symbolic with my new role in wild advocacy. On the solid granite of the Trinity one feels that they are on top of the Klamath Knot. All the intricate weaving of the river canyons and deep timber tumbling is visible for ever and even further with the view that the granite scrambler has from up high. It is necessary for me to admit, though, that the summit of Thompson Peak still eludes me. My morning attempt was sincere, but I am getting slower and slower, and I did not muster up the batteries for the long push. I won't be too hard on myself. Perhaps more than anything it is the lack of climbing days in this chapter of my life that had my legs burning and sluggish up high. I am sure that if I was getting out more I could keep up with my sporting ambitions a bit better. "Uh-huh, right," says my 45 year-old sarcastic sense of humor.

Regardless of the creak in my bones, I did get up there to the lake for a few nights camping, and for a few hikes a bit higher. The Grizzly Lake Basin on the north slope of Thompson Peak is breathtaking. The falls spilling out of there are world class, and seeing them should be on every backpackers to-do list. How encouraging it is to still get to discover amazing (even popular!) places that I have not seen before, there must still be a few more left out there in the not-so-limitless landscape for me to stumble up to, to stare upon, and to thank for the battery recharge they provide. Even if it is just briefly, it helps in the daily grind of the advocacy job I am surfing these days to have had some real time experience in the wild high country again. It helps to make sure that my heart and soul know, taste, and feel what this gig I am working is really all about.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dinosaurs and Dynamite -- Part II

My colleague Colin Barraclough has just this week succeeded in getting the editors of the Financial Times to publish his travel article about our January 2008 expedition traversing the Río Pascua watershed. The occasion is perfect for a Patagonia memory lane sort of meandering. I thought I might look back and reference an old blog and see if the trip really was as big a deal as Colin says it was. A few years ago I wrote and posted on this Voz Silvestre blog a short composition in español that I titled HidroAysén--Un Tema de Dinosaurios y Dinamita. No one ever read it then, nor will many read it now, but it helps me put Colin's published piece into perspective.

Yes, in perspective, one can say that the Pascua is a kick ass wild place, on the edge of the Southern Patagonia Ice Field, at the southern tip of the planet, a big roaring river in a canyon so steep and full of cold jungle that no one even gets down in there. It is ludicrous to think putting mega-hydroelectric generating facilities in that canyon would be anything short of ecocide. Three dams too many. Three mega-dams? Only dinosaurs with dynamite would dream up that kind of destiny for the wild Pascua.

It was a long wait for Colin's article. Three years of waiting, in fact. In the months after our expedition he was published in newspapers like the San Francisco Chronicle with an article about the issue, but this Financial Times piece was hard in coming.

And it probably never would have been published if it were not for the way the Chileans have massively denounced the May 9, 2011 approval of the HidroAysén environmental impact analysis. A month later and the movement against damming wild rivers in Patagonia is gathering legal traction. For the first time in years of legal challenges the project has met a real and substantial legal injunction from an appeals court, paralyzing the project.

That is the kind of thing that makes the capitalist curmudgeons at the Financial Times sit up and take notice. They sat on it for years. Guess they better run the article after all!

The Pascua is the lesser known of the rivers drooled over by the river dammers in the big mining business plan for the world. It may be unknown, and only so many people have traveled back there, but this jewel of nature's intact legacy is not going to be lost to the Chilenos if they have any say about it. They are even idealistic enough to say "Save Patagonia and You Can Save the World!" I know, it sounds so trite, but I tell you, I think that is pretty right on!

I wrote back in my previous blog:
Dinosaurios y dinamita son los dos ingredientes primarias de la propuesta de hidroAysén—nos queda ver si Chile los traga entera o si se despierta en buena hora para defenderse de una propuesta explosiva y destructiva.
I would say that Chile is waking up and defending itself from this transnational corporation onslaught. Up here en el otro lado, in the land of the redwoods, in the watersheds of the Eel and the Klamath, we celebrate this awakening, and the real possibility of turning the tide on the dinosaurs, and their dynamite. Now it is our turn to do the planet the same sort of favor.

No need to blow up the few refugios silvestres que nos quedan allá fuera. We are going to take care of the global seeds of planet wide restoration. And we won't hold any grudges against the dinosaurs who have been threatening so much damage with their dynamite.

But I do think the old dinosaurs need to try a few

Explosions in the Sky

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ríos Libres Comunidades Vivas ~ Patagonia Sin Represas

Pictures are worth thousands of words. On May 9 of this year the Piñera government in Chile gave approval to the HidroAysén project after three years of irregular and fraudulent review of the dams proposed for the Baker and Pascua rivers in the Aysén Region of Chile's Patagonia.
Suffice it to say that the Chileans are not going to take this laying down. The largest protests since the dictatorship was ended in 1990 have been taking place over the last week, and there are more coming. Reports of up to 80,000 people on the streets in Santiago Friday night demonstrate that Chile knows that the world values Patagonia.

Follow the campaign on the International Rivers website where colleagues continue to do first class work getting the word out. We will not lose this wild corner of our spectacular planet! The world says NO to HidroAysén!