If you watched the Academy Awards last night you may have seen Patagonia's founder, Yvon Chouinard, appear on a commercial for the American Express Members Project, a new partnership with social-action network Takepart.com. The piece was filmed in and around Ventura County by Robert Richardson – himself an Oscar-winning cinematographer – and directed by Scott Hicks of Shine fame. Read the official press release (Word doc).
["Yvon Chouinard and the American Express Members Project Commercial" on YouTube. Video: Robert Richardson and Scott Hicks]
The dam that's featured is Matilija Dam, an outdated monstrosity that sits 18 miles upstream from Patagonia HQ on a tributary of the Ventura River. With its crumbling concrete and silt-filled reservoir, Matilija Dam no longer serves any beneficial purpose. Its removal would allow native Southern Steelhead trout to once again use the river to spawn, and give local beaches a much needed boost in sediments (more sand) from the steep canyons of Matilija Creek.
At almost 200-feet tall, it would be largest dam ever removed in the United States. Later this week we'll share more about Matilija Dam and current efforts underway to free the river.
All proceeds that Yvon receives from the commercial will be divided between five of environmental groups of his choice: Conservacion Patagonica, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Freedom to Roam Coalition, Native Fish Society and Save our Wild Salmon.