The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Oct 2012

Fatbike Expedition Comes to a Quiet Halt

Andrew Badenoch raised nearly $10,500 via Kickstarter to fund his zero-fuel Arctic adventure, but he abandoned his trip and left his backers in the dark.

77zero_portraits-026-6402 Andrew Badenoch. Photo: Joe Bell

Back in February, I wrote about Andrew Badenoch, an ambitious Portlander who had just raised nearly $10,500, via Kickstarter, to fund a solo fatbike and packraft trip from Bellingham, Washington, to the southern coast of the Arctic Ocean and back—a staggering, 7,000-mile journey. All this was despite the fact that Badenoch had no appropriate expedition experience. What he did have was a snazzy website, a compelling pitch video on Kickstarter, and a lot of ambition. I called that story "The Curious Case of Andrew Badenoch."

Since then, the story has gotten more and more curious. Due to logistical challenges, he launched his expedition many weeks after his target departure. He made it up to a small town in north central British Columbia, roughly 830 miles from Bellingham. He holed up there for at least a couple of weeks, apparently trying to arrange for food and gear deliveries, but then turned back south sometime in mid-August, it appears. I do not have exact dates or specific details of his trip because Badenoch has never provided them to me, or to his 212 Kickstarter backers.

In fact, his Kickstarter backers have not heard from him since May 3.

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Filming the World From a Bird's Eye View

GannetsWIngedPlanetGannets. Photo: Winged Planet

When filmmaker John Downer was in elementary school, he got down in the dirt of his parents' garden so that he could film the insects, frogs, and toads using a Super 8 camera. “I think that kind of, as I look back now, inspired my way of filming,” says the 59-year-old director. “Which is to try and get in the animal world.”

He studied zoology in college and then went to work in radio for the BBC before landing a job making TV shows for children. One of those shows involved filming life in a garden with miniaturized cameras that he built. “That was the first time I ever married advancements in technology with the capturing of images,” says Downer.

From there he got a job on the nation’s top-rated animal show, “Wildlife on One.” After making a show about snakes, he moved on to birds. He raised a duck from birth so that it imprinted to him as a parent, and a year later filmed it while flying in a parascender—a parachute pulled by a vehicle. He also stripped a Super 8 camera down to a lens, a film cartridge, a motor, and a battery so that he could put it on the back of a buzzard. The bird flew, and he got some grainy footage. “That was an inspiration,” he says.

But he knew inspiration wasn’t going to cut it for the film he ultimately wanted to make. He imagined capturing a bird's eye view of the world from multiple species. To do that, he needed to wait for smaller and more sophisticated technology. Twenty-five years later, he used drones, POV cams, and ultralights to film the new Discovery Channel show “Winged Planet” (October 6, 8 P.M. EST). I called him up to find out more about the making of the two-hour-long special.

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Group Seeks to Stop Wild Horse Roundup

Wildlife advocates are seeking a halt to the government roundup of some 3,500 horses and burros on public land after an investigation indicated that some of the animals were being illegally sold for slaughter in Mexico. In a report published September 28, ProPublica suggests that the Bureau of Land Management, in a pinch to unload the animals after failure to find a buyer, has broken the law. The animals are protected under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. "They aren't placing enough wild horses through adoption so they need to put a freeze on roundups," said Anne Novak, executive director of Berkeley, California-based group Protect Mustangs. "Killing them is not a solution. Selling them to slaughter is not a solution. They need to be responsible for their actions and stop the gluttony of roundups at taxpayer expense." Bureau of Land Management officials deny that any horses are sent to slaughter, but that, due to overpopulation, rounding them up and moving them is a necessity. The number of relocated wild horses in holding pastures in the Midwest has increased from just 1,600 to over 45,000 this summer alone.

Via UPI

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Sioux Struggle to Buy Back Black Hills

Sioux tribes are struggling to raise $9 million to fund the purchase of a parcel of land in the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota. The plot, 1,942 acres of plains in the heart of the Hills, came up for sale this summer, and the Reynolds family, who has owned the land since 1876, accepted the Sioux's $9 million bid. Despite the offer, many Sioux are still unsure about the deal. The land originally belonged to the Sioux, as stated in the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, until it was seized by the U.S. government later that century. “It’s like someone stealing my car,” said Tom Poor Bear, vice president of the Oglala Lakota Tribe, “and I have to pay to get it back.” The purchase is being lead by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, whose annual budget is around $8.1 milion. Various tribe leaders will meet Friday to discuss a plan, but the Rosebud say they’ve yet to receive any financial commitments from other tribes. They have until November 30 to come up with the money. 

Via New York Times

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Costa Rica to Ban Recreational Hunting

Costa Rica is set to become the first country on the American continent to ban recreational hunting. The bill was approved by the country’s legislature on Tuesday by a 41-5 vote. President Laura Chinchilla is expected to sign it into law this week. "We're not just hoping to save the animals but we're hoping to save the country's economy, because if we destroy the wildlife there, tourists are not going to come anymore," an environmental activist who campaigned for the reform said. While hunters caught violating the ban can be fined up to $3,000, the law still allows for subsistence hunting, sport fishing, or the hunting of animals for scientific purposes. Costa Rica is home to a wide variety of rare species and generates some $2 billion in revenue from tourism.

Via Reuters

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