Rio Baker Runs Free

Chile's five-dam HidroAysén hydroelectric project rejected; Patagonian rivers saved

El Saltón: the proposed site for the Baker #2 Dam. HidroAysén, the Chilean-Italian-Spanish dam-building company, proposes two dams on the Baker, and three more on the even more remote Pascua River. The 2,750 megawatts of energy generated would be transmitted over 1,400 miles north and injected into Chile's central grid. None of the energy would benefit the region of Aysén. Photo by Susan Munroe. Click HERE to see the full gallery

El Saltón: the proposed site for the Baker #2 Dam. HidroAysén, the Chilean-Italian-Spanish dam-building company, proposes two dams on the Baker, and three more on the even more remote Pascua River. The 2,750 megawatts of energy generated would be transmitted over 1,400 miles north and injected into Chile’s central grid. None of the energy would benefit the region of Aysén. Photo by Susan Munroe. Click HERE to see the full gallery

Today, Chile's Committee of Ministers ruled unanimously against a controversial five-dam hydroelectric project that would’ve threatened two wild and classic rivers flowing through the South American nation’s southern Patagonia region. Ríos to Rivers, a Colorado-based, conservation nonprofit who has long advocated for the protection of the Baker and Pascua rivers through its unique student kayaking exchange program between the U.S. and Chile, declared the Ministers’ rejection of the 2011 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which had approved the dams, a huge victory.

“[It] sends a strong signal that it is possible to protect Patagonia’s pristine rivers, keep them free of dams, and work together to provide energy with renewable resources, which will have less of an impact on the fragile beauty of Chile,” Ríos to Rivers stated in the press release. “We thank you for your support in reversing the approval of the mega dams! We will keep you informed of our efforts to both encourage environmentally sensitive and regionally appropriate renewable energy systems and more permanent protection for the rivers.”

Click HERE to read more on the ruling from the Natural Resources Defense Council

And HERE to see a full photo gallery of a group of Rios to Rivers’ student-kayakers paddling the threatened sections, and HERE to read about how a paddling exchange can create the next generation of conservationists.

See what the river has to offer: