Damning Patagonia

Damning Patagonia

In the remote Aysen region of Chilean Patagonia a multinational energy company is pursuing plans to build six dams on two rivers that would irreparably

In the remote Aysen region of Chilean Patagonia a multinational energy company is pursuing plans to build six dams on two rivers that would irreparably damage the natural beauty, and untapped fishing potential, of the region. Endesa, the company behind the development, seeks to build four dams on the Baker River and two on the Pascua River to generate hydroelectricity. The proposed dams would create a cheap source of power for the booming Chilean economy and is heralded by its supporters as a way to wean Chile off foreign sources of energy.

But the resulting impoundments and the thousands of miles of transmission cables will also destroy tens of thousands of acres of forest and ranchlands, including habitat for the rare huemel deer, among countless other species. The trout fishing on these remote and pristine rivers, of course, will suffer as well.

Blue Ribbon Flies owner Craig Mathews recently visited the Aysen region and fished the Baker River with his wife, Jackie, and Patagonia Inc. founder Yvon Chouinard. He sent us this report:

"Yvon, Jackie and I spent a good time on our knees and butts inching along, presenting imitations of the emerging caddis, midges, mayflies and stones to rising trout on the shoreline. What a grand time we had fishing this enormous river. Even with immense flows over 38,000 cubic-feet-per-second, or like 250,000 gallons of water flowing down the river every second, and enormous pools and runs over 20 feet deep, we found fish feeding along the shoreline or holding in the upper currents sipping emergers and adult insects. We had a fine time stalking the shorelines and walking on overhanging rock ledges along the river searching for big rainbows finning and holding 12-18 inches under the surface… It is hard to imagine the area as a backwater, created by the dam proposed by Endesa. Gone would be miles of wilderness trout fishing, turquoise to emerald transparent tonalities and the river's powerful volume."

Conservacion Patagonica is a conservation organization working on a variety of initiatives to protect and preserve the region from a variety of threats, and is at the forefront of the battle over the Endesa dam proposal. For more information visit: conservacionpatagonica.org