Author Craig Childs, climber/entertainer Timmy O’Neill, filmmaker Ed George and photographer James Q. Martin have been engaged in a massive project that will bring film, words, images and activism together in an attempt to save the rivers of Chilean Patagonia. Called Rios Libres, the project is focused on raising awareness behind a campaign to stop HidroAysen’s proposal to dam the pristine Baker and Pacusa Rivers.
Patagonia’s rivers are under attack! A consortium of European and Chilean mega-companies seeks to place a total of five dams blocking the rivers that are the lifeblood in the heart of this diversely rich region. Two of the dams are slated for the Baker, Chile’s longest and highest flowing river. The other three would be built along the Pascua, Chile’s third highest flowing river. Both rivers serve critical ecological functions that would be lost forever as a result of damming.
The damage and destruction from such a project would not stop at the rivers. There are plans to clear-cut at least 1,600 km (1000 mi) of pristine old-growth forest in order to build the longest transmission line in the world. Over 2,450 km (1,500 mi) of line would be built to transport the electricity northward to support population centers and, ultimately Chile’s massive mining industry. Together, the dams and transmission lines would damage communities, scar the landscape, and wreak havoc on ecosystems. Additionally, these projects would hasten the extinction of species such as the torrent duck, the Chilean river otter, and the endangered Chilean deer, the huemul, which is on the Chilean coat of arms.
Here’s a look at the trailer of the upcoming film “Power in the Pristine” the team made:
You can take action to help save the rivers by writing to ENEL, the Italian corporation that owns a controlling asset in HidroAysen HERE.
In the words of Childs:
I don’t know why I want this river to run. I could not sit at a table with a microphone and explain it. I don’t know why the heart breaks when we have drawn and quartered yet another landscape, named it as ours, used it to fuel our every global ambition from paper clips to plastic cups. But god do I want this river to move, another dark thread binding the surface of this planet, another path uninterrupted.
Read more accounts of the team in Patagonia written by Childs and O’Neill HERE.