Conservacion Patagonica IDIOMA: ESPAÑOL

Proposed Hydroelectric Mega-dams

Will Patagonia's wild rivers be dammed to produce electricity for distant markets? Hidroaysen, a company controlled by the international energy conglomerate Endesa / Enel, plans to construct five massive hydroelectric dams along the Baker and Pascua rivers, two of Chile's mightiest rivers. Few rivers this large in the world remain undammed and free flowing.

Transmitting the energy north to Santiago would require constructing a 1,200-km-long high voltage corridor. This large swath of clearcutting would fragment wildlife habitat in more than a dozen protected areas and reserves. This project would open the door to damming other Patagonian rivers, since constructing the transmission line is the largest expense of the project.

Two dams would forever change the course
of the Baker River

The Baker River valley would be flooded

These dams would not directly affect the future Patagonia National Park, which will remain as wild and scenic as ever. Nonetheless, this project illuminates the need to develop an alternative, more environmentally friendly regional economy—or else industrial projects like this will continue to make inroads in the area. Conservacion Patagonica is fighting the damming of the Baker and Pascua Rivers because we believe that Patagonia's spectacular natural beauty, abundant wildlife, and unique culture are worth preserving. Through creating Patagonia National Park as a cornerstone for ecotourism development in the region, Conservacion Patagonica promotes a viable alternative to short-sighted industrial development.

The Council for the Defense of Patagonia, a coalition of more than 70 conservation organizations including Conservacion Patagonica, is leading the fight—the biggest environmental battle in Chilean history. This coalition of local, regional, national, and international NGOs includes many of Chile's leading conservationists and has pursued a multi-pronged approach to oppose the dams. Its Patagonia Chilena ¡Sin Represas! campaign has produced detailed technical comments in response to the Environmental Impact Assessments that Hidroaysen has submitted, delaying the project and forcing the company and government regulators to better examine the project's impacts. Dam opponents have waged a large-scale media campaign, using billboards throughout Chile, full-page ads in local and national newspapers, radio and TV spots, and online updates to raise public awareness and generate support. Alternative energy studies have demonstrated that Chile can meet its energy requirements through other renewable energy technology and improved efficiency.

Patagonians protest the mega-dams

“Patagonia Chilena ¡Sin Represas!” campaign billboard

While citizen protests have demonstrated local and regional opposition to the project, Hidroaysen still plans to continue with the multi-billion dollar project. As of 2010, grassroots citizen pressure has succeeded in delaying the permitting process, invigorating the Chilean environmental movement, and raising public awareness internationally about the threat to Patagonia's wild rivers. But the campaign needs your help. To join the fight to keep Patagonia's rivers wild and free, visit Patagonia Chilena ¡Sin Represas!

Learn more about the fight against HidroAysén

Victory Against HidroAysén: Dam Project is Cancelled
(6/12/14) After years of campaigning, negotiating, and hard work, the threat of the HidroAysén dams has finally been laid to rest.
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From Cochrane to the Colorado: the Kayakers Paddle to Learn and Defend
(7/31/13) As inspiring as adventuring through spectacular landscapes can be, sometimes seeing the massive impact of human development sharpens our focus on the need to take action.
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Endangered Aysén: Rios to Rivers and Los Escualos Team Up on the Baker River
(7/31/12) Fun’s a strong force for conservation. As we’ve seen for ourselves, adventures in wild landscapes engage us profoundly in the future of these places.
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Midsummer Floods: Jan. 27th GLOF on the Baker River
(1/31/12) What triples the volume of an already massive river? The Baker already lays claims to many superlatives: largest river by volume in Chile, draining from Lago General Carrera, the second largest lake in South America, and from the Northern Patagonian Ice Field.
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Demonstrating by the Baker to Keep Patagonia’s Rivers Wild
(3/14/11) Yesterday morning, we loaded up the big white dump truck with six lambs prepared for roasting, firewood, an axe, big picnic tables, and sacks of bread and potatoes—standard supplies for anti-dam demonstrators around here.
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Positive Signs for Patagonia’s Rivers
(6/6/12) Patagonia’s rivers have made headlines again—this time with surprisingly positive news.
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Newsflash: HidroAysén Announces the Route of its Power Lines
(12/14/11) Recently, HidroAysén announced the route of their proposed transmission line, now estimated to cost USD$3.8 – 4 billion, although likely more: between Cochrane and Chaitén, a distance of about 1,200 miles, there would be 1,500-1,700 high tension towers.
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An Update on the HidroAysen Damns and Patagonia Sin Represas
(11/15/11) Just a few months ago, the proposed damming of Patagonia’s Baker and Pascua rivers made headlines worldwide.
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