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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Weekly Post: TATSHESHINI: Saving a River Wild

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild by Robert Glenn Ketchum

In 1990, I was invited on a 10-day float down the Tatshenshini, a huge river system flowing from Western Canada to the Pacific Ocean that literally divides two of North America's largest national parks, Canada's Kluane National Park and Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park. A gold mine was being proposed mid-river. I broke the story in LIFE magazine. There were many other articles and a book. The mine was never developed and the river is now a wilderness corridor. This is a conservation SUCCESS story!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #56
TATSHENSHINI:  Saving a River Wild, #56:  The pilots intended to go up-and-over the coastal range to reach the #Tatshenshini corridor. So, as we gained elevation, I got one last remarkable look at the #AlsekRiver as it wound its way across the #YakutatForelands to the #Pacific. This image demonstrates the danger of floating a river of this size. If you recall, earlier in this blog (posts #14-16), I told the story of the catastrophic morning “mistake” that threw #CeliaHunter into the Tat, and nearly drowned one of our guides. That incident came about because our “cargo” raft was almost pulled down the “wrong” braid in the river by the strong current. At river level, it's often difficult to tell which is the “right” braid.  The wrong one may ground, or trap, a boat. Look at the meandering confusion in the upper-third of this image (which we floated through). Even from this “eagle’s view” it's difficult to recognize the “right” braid. THIS is where the experience of a river guide is essential. Thank you to our excellent guide, Dick Rice, for keeping it a GREAT trip for all!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Tatshenshini @glacierbaynps @Life @Wilderness #WeAreTheWild @nature_AK

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Weekly Post: NO PEBBLE MINE: Pictures from Ground Zero by RobertGlennKetchum

NO PEBBLE MINE Pictures from Ground Zero 
by Robert Glenn Ketchum

Thank you to the EPA for recognizing the value of the Bristol Bay fishery. 
NOW, what can we do to protect this habitat further? 
Mission: To protect the national parks and national refuges of southwest Alaska, 
and the Bristol Bay fishery from the development of the Pebble mine, and other commercial risks.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015 

NO PEBBLE MINE #146, Pictures from Ground Zero:
NO PEBBLE MINE #146, Pictures from Ground Zero:   Purple-tongued, and completely pigged-out on blueberries, we stumbled down to the rocky beach and ambled back to camp. Food prep started immediately because we all needed to re-energize. As the evening wore on, the wind picked-up again, so out came more layers of clothing. Inside our “cocoons” of Capilene, fleece, and shells, the food kicked in and warmth flooded back into our bodies.  (Thank You @Patagonia and @HellyHansen -- I was groovin’). We were definitely tired, and a bit sore from the long day’s walk, but the wind was blowing the storm to pieces on the peaks. and the basin was putting on a light show. In one last glorious hurrah for the day, we found a big patch of spongy tundra facing the lake, and lay down to watch the “special effects.” FANTASTIC visuals were accompanied by sense-around sound as well. First we would hear gusts coming from up in the summits behind the second lake. They would then stream towards us across the water, bluster about our camp, shaking tree branches and rain-flys, only to scuttle off and down the outlet of the #ChilikadrotnaRiver (to the left in this image.) It was QUITE an amazing concert!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd @NRDC @OrvisFlyFishing #NoPebbleMine #LittleBearProd

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Weekly Post: TRACY ARM WILDERNESS - An Alaskan Kayak "Trip" Through Time by Robert Glenn Ketchum

TRACY ARM WILDERNESS - An Alaskan Kayak "Trip" Through Time by Robert Glenn Ketchum

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act (#Wilderness), this new blog focuses on a wilderness area in the #Tongass rainforest of southeast Alaska. This is the tale of a 10-day kayak trip - a testament to WHY wilderness is important, by world-renowned Conservation Photographer Robert Glenn Ketchum.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

TRACY ARM Wilderness - An Alaskan Kayak "Trip" Through Time, #45
TRACY ARM Wilderness - An Alaskan Kayak "Trip" Through Time, #45:  Finally somewhat ice-free, we paddled along the shoreline of the small bay to find a rock strewn BEACH that was approachable. It had probably been created by a VERY substantial river pouring out of a side-cut valley. We had missed this entirely in our journey up the #fjord, because this beach wasn't visible from our paddling position.  Once again, scale is EVERYTHING! After setting up camp, I got back in my kayak to make this image. The river comes in from a sizable valley that is barely visible. Note the dark “notch” that angles up and to the right, at the top of the whitewater falls coming down to the beach.  That is the valley! Also, note the dark edge of the shoreline.  That's kelp, still exposed, as the tide hasn't crested yet. What is barely noticeable is another band of greenish rocks, above the dark line of seaweed. That line is where the high-tide stops. Check out how close to our “kitchen” the water will come! Something else you can't see here are the smaller “arms” of the river, which flow in, around, and through our encampment. We considered camping on the hill above the tents, however, the scrub was so dense there wasn't any place for our tents. So instead, we found ourselves flirting with the incoming tide, hoping it didn't rain harder, and cause the river to swell!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd @Wilderness #Wilderness #Tongass

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Bobby Andrew, Defender of Bristol Bay by Joel Reynolds

Saying Goodbye to Bobby Andrew, Defender of Bristol

by Joel Reynolds, Western Director and Senior attorney, NRDC, Los Angeles

I didn't expect the Pebble Mine would outlast Bobby Andrew. He was a fighter who never seemed to get tired. Over 70 years old, and he was always willing to make the trip - whatever the trip, wherever it took him -- to talk, to testify, to tell the terrible story of the uniquely reckless scheme by international mining giants to poison the communities and wild salmon fisheries of Alaska's Bristol Bay with a gigantic copper and gold mine.

photograph © copyright, Natural Resources Defense Council 2015 @NRDC @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd 
At the age of 72, Bobby died last month, and the traditional Russian Orthodox 40th Day service occurs this week, when his soul is released from the Earth. When he talked, people listened, because there was no denying his personal stake, his authenticity, his legitimacy in representing the people of Bristol Bay. He was a Yupik elder and a member of the Ekwok Tribe, longtime spokesperson for Nunamta Aulukestai, a life-time subsistence and commercial fisherman, born in Alegnagik, near Dillingham -- and he looked the part. The determined and immovable opposition of Alaska Natives to the Pebble Mine was reflected in his face -- serious, resolute, even angry - and he was repeatedly featured in full page ads around the world as the face of the regional coalition against the Pebble Mine.

photograph © copyright, Natural Resources Defense Council 2015@NRDC @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd 

But Bobby Andrew didn't just look the part. He could talk chapter and verse about all aspects of the project or its impacts, and he wasn't afraid to have that conversation with anyone - a state official in Alaska, a federal regulator at the Environmental Protection Agency, a member of Congress on the Hill, or the CEO of a multi-billion dollar international corporation. And when he spoke, he did so not in anger but with conviction, a gentle firmness, and an easy smile that disarmed rather than threatened. Even his opponents couldn't help but like and respect him, because he was the genuine voice of Bristol Bay, unquestionably prepared to fight to the bitter end if necessary to oppose a colossal injustice.
photograph © copyright, Natural Resources Defense Council 2015@NRDC @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd 
I didn't know him well; I met him for the first time in the fall of 2009 at a meeting in King Salmon. But during the years since, I had the privilege of joining forces with him in Los Angeles, in Washington, D.C., and in London. Each April, along with a small group of regional and coalition leaders (including Nunamta, BBNC, Earthworks, and BBRSDA), we went to London to meet with the CEOs of the Pebble mining giants based there (and their management teams) and then testify at the companies' annual shareholder meetings.
photograph © copyright, Natural Resources Defense Council 2015@NRDC @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd 

We did our best to have some fun along the way - on a couple of restaurant outings, for example, using the London Financial Times ad featuring Bobby's image to secure a free bottle of wine for the visiting Alaskan celebrity, travelling half-way around the world to defend his home.
photograph © copyright, Natural Resources Defense Council 2015@NRDC @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd 
But it was generally unpleasant work, because the low income communities victimized by the massive projects of the world's major mining companies are consistently secondary among the priorities that determine whether a project does or does not proceed - and if it does, how its impacts are managed. It's a very long way to travel from Alaska, even for someone with the most personal stake in the subject matter, only to feel marginalized by the process, managed like a troublesome outsider, immersed in corporate condescension.
photograph © copyright, Natural Resources Defense Council 2015@NRDC @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd 
Bobby was undeterred, refusing to be worn down, refusing to be ignored, until ultimately the mining giants decided that he and his coalition colleagues weren't going away. In fact, through his consistent presence, the mining executives grew to respect him -- even like him -- with his easy smile and soft voice; then, remarkably,they began to listen to what he had to say.

photograph © copyright, Natural Resources Defense Council 2015@NRDC @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd 

Eventually, for a host of reasons, these executives decided that maybe the opposition wasn't all wrong about the Pebble Mine - understanding over time that the social license they had hoped to achieve from the communities of Bristol Bay might never be forthcoming, that the broad-based opposition of Alaskans (and their growing list of allies) would only continue to intensify.

Ultimately, each of the major Pebble corporate partners concluded that -- maybe -- they could get a better return on their investment someplace else -- someplace where the likes of Bobby Andrew wouldn't be fighting them.  

photograph © copyright, Natural Resources Defense Council 2015@NRDC @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd 
By April 2014, all of the major mining companies had abandoned the Pebble Mine, leaving the small Canadian company Northern Dynasty Minerals to carry on alone as the once formidable Pebble Partnership -  with too little funding and no realistic chance of developing the project. The fight isn't over, of course, because there always seems to be enough money to hire lawyers and lobbyists, paid to make it appear that their client still has a pulse. But no one can dispute that the venture is only a shadow of its former self, and Bobby Andrew is one of the important reasons why.

The Pebble Mine is, after all is said and done, the best example of the worst the world has to offer - a reckless scheme by international miners to enrich themselves by impoverishing the people, the children, and the communities of Bristol Bay. While the mining giants and their distant shareholders get the profit, Alaska gets the toxic waste -- forever.

photograph © copyright, Natural Resources Defense Council 2015@NRDC @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd 
Thanks to Bobby Andrew and the extraordinary coalition of diverse interests for (or with) whom he spoke so effectively, that scheme is on life support today. But terrible ideas like the Pebble Mine are hard to kill definitively, and, though Bobby has been gone for 40 days, his legacy remains in the steadfast and relentless commitment of his coalition partners, both in the region and elsewhere, to carry on the fight for as long as it takes.

From all of us at NRDC, thank you Bobby. We'll never forget you.

~Joel Reynolds

Follow Joel Reynolds blog here

Monday, March 30, 2015

Earth Month Los Angeles 2015 featuring Conservationist Robert Glenn Ketchum

April 2, 2015 – April 26, 2015

About Earth Month Los Angeles 2015 
Earth Month Los Angeles 2015 is an inspiring, collective exhibit focused on the protected parks of the United States, featuring images from award-winning photographers, including Jack Dykinga, Robert Glenn Ketchum, Ian Shive, Michael Miner and Louie Schwartzberg. Their subjects range from Mojave National Preserve to the Channel Islands and many more public lands across the country.

The exhibit was envisioned by the Western National Parks Association, The G2 Gallery and El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, with the intent of sharing the diverse natural beauty of municipal, state, regional and national parks, while promoting their protection and stewardship. Earth Month Los Angeles 2015 -- housed in the heart of downtown L.A. -- hopes to raise awareness about the variety of public lands accessible to urban residents just outside the city.

Earth Month: : Los Angeles is sponsored by El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, Western National Parks Association, The G2 Gallery, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and California State Parks.

Earth Month Los Angeles 2015 Artists:

Beverly Houwing
Buddy Weiss
Charity Vargas
Dan Gottlieb
Don Whitebread
Ian Shive
Jack Dykinga
Jenny Ross
Jodie Hulden
Allan Ross
Jim Stimson
Marc Muench
Peter Essick
Jolene Hanson
Larry Brownstien
Louie Schwartzberg
Matthew Khuns
Michael Caley
Michael Miner
Robert Glenn Ketchum
Stephen Strom
Tom Lowe
Vidya Narasimhan
Scott Tansey
Matt Whitmire – Griffith Park Trail Cam
Will Taylor

Pico House 
424 N. Main St 
Los Angeles, CA 90012 

M-F 10-5
Sat & Sun 10-6 
* please note the Pico House closes periodically for filming and events.

@LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

National Wilderness Conference

The other recent event celebrating the 50th Anniversary of The Wilderness Act I participated in was National Wilderness Conference in Albuquerque, NM. Organized by all of the collective federal agencies that manage wilderness lands, this was a multi-day event featuring numerous presentations and distinguished speakers such as Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, author Terry Tempest Williams, and Senator Tom Udall. I was asked to be an "inspirational" closing keynote speaker, along with my old friend, Dave Foreman, author of Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching, and co-founder of Earth First!, the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance and  most recently, the Rewilding Institute

Dave Foreman, EcoWarrior, and Robert Glenn Ketchum, Conservation Photographer
Dave Foreman, Environmentalist, and Robert Glenn Ketchum, Conservation Photographer, 2014

Monday, January 26, 2015

50th Anniversary of The Wilderness Act

As I mentioned previously, 2014-2015 is the 50th Anniversary of The Wilderness Act. There were many celebrations of this, and I took part in two of them which have some interesting links I have provided here for you to enjoy. 

The Crary Gallery in Philadelphia is in Warren County, near to Tionesta township and the Allegheny River. Tionesta was the home of Howard Zahniser who wrote the original Wilderness Act, so the Crary Gallery honored him by having a large exhibit of photographers whose work would show the breadth of wilderness in North America. Among them, I am the only photographer whose work has ever actually helped to create wilderness, so the curator honored the special nature of those images and included brief text / stories with the display. 

If you would like to see the actual gallery and installation, here is a short YouTube video:
Wilderness at 50 - invited photographers
Wilderness at 50 - invited photographers

There was also a very nice print catalog produced for the exhibit: 

The essays are short yet very informative and worth a read. You will learn something about the amazing American wilderness system and enjoy great pictures as well!

And lastly, here are the images I was proud to display as wilderness to which I feel a special connection:

Tracy Arm, TRACY ARM-FORDS TERROR WILDERNESS, Tongass National Forest, AK

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd 
During the 1980's, considerable momentum developed within the environmental community to protect the largest of all national forests, the Tongass rainforest in southeast Alaska. A unique old-growth, temperate rainforest covering over 1,000 islands and a coastal fjordland, the Tongass was being clearcut, an industrial logging technique that was disrupting substantial habitat. Beginning in 1985, Ketchum spent 2-years in Southeast, photographing and doing research that was then published as the Aperture book, The Tongass: Alaska's Vanishing Rain Forest.  Ketchum had the book delivered to all of Congress, exhibiting prints at the National Museum of Natural History and in the Senate Rotunda. In 1990, President George Bush, Sr. signed the Tongass Timber Reform Bill into law. Not only was it the most comprehensive timber reform bill in American history, it created 11 new wilderness areas and protected over one million acres of pristine forest habitat. In acknowledgment of the contributions of his work, Ketchum was invited to the White House to meet President Bush and also given the United Nations Outstanding Environmental Achievement Award by the King of Sweden. 


photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd 
In 1998, Ketchum was introduced to southwest Alaska and the Bristol Bay fishery by fellow board members of the Alaska Conservation Foundation. Intending to make the public more aware of this remarkable part of the state and the valuable fishing resources, Ketchum published, Southwest Alaska: The Last Great Salmon Fishery in 2001. Fish were not the only resource however for the area hosts Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Katmai National Park and Preserve, and the largest state park, Wood-Tikchik. In 2004 Ketchum published, Wood-Tikchik: Alaska's Largest State Park. In 2005 a huge Canadian mining consortium proposed the largest open-pit copper and cyanide gold-leach mine in the world, to be located adjacent Lake Clark National Park in the headwaters of the fishery. In response, Ketchum organized and circulated an exhibit entitled, "Southwest Alaska: A World of Parks and Wildlife Refuges at the Crossroads" and he began building an extensive social media platform.
Southwest AK
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd 
Southwest Alaska is home to Alaska's largest state park, two national parks, and two national wildlife refuges, one of which is 4.5 million acre Togiak National Wildlife Refuge - a completely roadless wilderness. All of these wild lands are pristine habitat that would have their air and water quality severely compromised if the proposed Pebble mine were to be built. Besides the books and exhibits, Ketchum also used his imagery to build a social media following and helped to create a coalition of over 100 partners opposing the mine. Currently the spokesperson for that group is Robert Redford, and the media campaign has been so successful, as of this year all the principal investors have withdrawn. Further, the EPA is considering canceling the mining permit. Former Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, gave Ketchum the Partnerships In Conservation Award for the work he did to help build the coalition.

Mt. Fairweather and the Alsek Glacier, 1 a.m., GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK AND PRESERVE, AK

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd 
In the mid-1980's a Canadian mining consortium proposed developing a gold mine on a tributary of the Tatshenshini, a large river that comes out of Canada and winds it's way between Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Ketchum was asked by The Nature Conservancy to float the river and his photographs and story were published in LIFE magazine, breaking this news in the American press. Concerns the mining would impact the parks, the river's fishery and the perhaps even the Gulf of Alaska caught the attention of politicians, in particular, Al Gore who voiced opposition to the mine in the Senate, and spent time persuading his friend, the Canadian Prime Minister, to reconsider the mining permit. Ketchum and a coalition of photographers and writers generated many stories in the press and worked together to produce a book, Tatshenshini: River Wild. Canada withdrew the mining permit, and requested World Biosphere status for the river corridor to protect its wilderness. In so doing, three vast wilderness areas, Wrangell-St.Elias - Tatshenshini - Glacier Bay, were linked creating the largest legally designated contiguous wilderness expanse on the planet.

Orvis Supports No Pebble Mine

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