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Patagonia National Park Opens For Visitors + Why We Still Need To Fight Damming Patagonia’s Rivers

November 16th, 2011

At the southernmost end of the Americas lies wild Patagonia, a still unexplored land of legendary natural beauty. Vast expanses of open space stretch out in all directions. A curious geological past has shaped this varied and dynamic landscape. Bordering the fjords of the Pacific coast, the world’s largest extrapolar icefields contain some of the region’s most impressive peaks, while to the east, the windswept steppes stretch out to the Atlantic coast. Glacier-fed rivers, full of some of the world’s purest water, tumble between jagged, never-climbed mountains. Herds of long-necked guanacos gallop across expansive grasslands as Andean condors, one of Earth’s most massive birds, soar overhead.

Six years ago, Conservacion Patagonica launched its most ambitious project yet: the creation of Patagonia National Park in the Aysen Region of southern Chile. When complete, this 650,000-acre expanse of grasslands, wetlands, mountains and rivers will secure permanent protection for an ecologically critical region of Patagonia. Spanning the Jeinimeni and Tamango Mountains and the Chacabuco Valley, the future park will mark a new chapter in Patagonia’s history: from failed sheep ranching to conservation and ecotourism. Simultaneously, the park will counter some of the threats to Patagonia, including desertification, habitat loss and industrial development.

This December, the Patagonia National Park project is opening to visitors. This gallery of photos will have you packing your passport and buying your plane ticket now…

The vision of an expansive wilderness area in Patagonia, where flourishing ecosystems support healthy populations of all native species, where visitors deepen their appreciation of wildness, and where ecotourism and eco-education help local communities thrive, inspires us. It’s a bold vision, but protecting the Earth’s last wild places and diversity of life demands that we think and act big.

One threat especially, requires bold action from not only the community in Patagonia, but the global community as a whole. Together, we must stop the proposed damming of Patagonia’s Baker and Pascua rivers. via Conservacion Patagonica:

Patagonia Sin Represas, the campaign that began in Cochrane as a small grassroots movement to oppose HidroAysén’s plan for five mega-dams, had blossomed into a series of large-scale demonstrations that swept through Chile’s major cities in May and June…

Yet despite these legal advances and the outpouring of opposition to the dams, HidroAysén has managed to push its project forward through the impressive series of obstacles the opposition has thrown in its path…

But the battle is far from over. From here, the case will go to the Chilean Supreme Court. So it seems there is still a chance to turn this roadblock into a dead end for the dams. For those who wish to stand in solidarity with the Sin Represas movement, the best advice is simple: don’t give up. From what we’ve seen so far, public opposition from both in and outside of Chile has been the strongest force in delaying HidroAysén’s agenda. Whether taking to the streets in Santiago, raising awareness about this unfinished story, or engaging in the growing dialogue around Chile’s need for alternative energy.

TAKE ACTION HERE.

Patagonia is one of those places that we cannot tame. It’s identity lies in its wildness. And it’s up to all of us to protect it.

Learn more about this special place and how you can protect it here.

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