Top

Heal the Bay Blog

Category: Climate Change

Today on #WorldWaterDay we celebrate women environmentalists who saw a problem, spoke up, and changed the world.

Women are impacted by environmental issues like water pollution and climate change at disproportionate rates as a result of systemic inequity.1 Harmful stereotypes and a lack of access to education, economic status, and health resources often leave women and people of color out of the conversations that impact them, specifically about land use, natural resources, and environmental policy decision-making.

Despite these challenges, environmentalists of color and women continue to be on the front lines of creating change. Get to know these 5 women environmentalists who have created an inspiring and bold legacy of activism.

Wangari Maathai (1940 – 2011), Kenya

Founder of the Green Belt Movement, which has planted over 51 million trees, Professor Maathai focused on environmental conservation and women’s rights. She studied biology in her undergraduate and graduate school programs and later won the Nobel Peace Prize for her vast contributions to sustainable development.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Nobel Prize (@nobelprize_org) on

Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores (1971 – 2016), Honduras

Berta Cáceres was an indigenous environmental justice activist and grassroots leader who created the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations (COPINH) in Honduras. She fought courageously against illegal and harmful mining and logging as well as the construction of a dam that would cut off water, food and medicine for the indigenous Lenca people. Cáceres Flores was tragically murdered in 2016, sparking international outrage. The Cáceres family continues to demand justice for this corrupt violation of human rights. 2

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by GAME CHANGERS – (@theunsungheroines) on

Isatou Ceesay (b. 1972), The Gambia

Isatou Ceesay is known as the Queen of Recycling in The Gambia, and rightfully so. Though she was kept from finishing school, she created the Njai Recycling and Income Generation Group, which turns plastic bag waste into purses, creating revenue streams for local women. Ceesay also educates and empowers women through environmental advocacy.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by realkarenabercrombie (@realkarenabercrombie) on

Winona LaDuke (b. 1959), White Earth Indian Reservation

Founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project and Honor the Earth, LaDuke is an environmentalist and political activist with Indigenous communities. She focuses on sustainable development, renewable energy, climate change, and environmental justice. The White Earth Land Recovery Project is one of the largest non-profit organizations in the United States dedicated to recovering original land and maintaining tribal food, water, and energy rights.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Winona LaDuke (@winonaladuke) on

Dorothy Green (1929 – 2008), Los Angeles

Founder of Heal the Bay, the late Dorothy Green was a celebrated environmental and grassroots activist in California who stopped millions of gallons of sewage from being dumped into the Pacific Ocean and changed water policy in California. She also created the Los Angeles & San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council (now the Council of Watershed Health). Her goal was to restore and preserve the ecological health of the ocean and watersheds and advocate for better water quality in the Los Angeles region. Her legacy lives on today in our organization’s mission.

In honor of National Women’s History Month, we thank these women environmentalists, from around the world, who fought for what was right despite facing strong opposition for simply being who they were. Women and girls are leaders in their communities and agents of change. Supporting and listening to them will benefit the health of our planet for generations to come.

 


About the author: Mariana Estrada is a digital advocacy intern at Heal the Bay. She grew up in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles where she enjoys a lively community of close-knit families and great food. She became interested in environmental issues like air quality at an unusually young age due to living in the city. Estrada’s area of focus is combining humanities and environmental issues to create effective and meaningful storytelling that renders real results. She studies English Literature and double-minors in Environmental Systems and Society and Environmental Engineering at UCLA.

1 Gender and climate change-induced migration: Proposing a framework for analysis. Author Namrata Chindarkar. Published by School of Public Policy, University of Maryland, College Park, USA. Published on 22 June 2012. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/254496452_Gender_and_climate_change-induced_migration_Proposing_a_framework_for_analysis
2 Berta Cáceres: 2015 Goldman Prize Recipient South and Central America. Published by The Goldman Environmental Prize. Retrieved from https://www.goldmanprize.org/recipient/berta-caceres/



SINGLE-USE PLASTIC

It’s estimated that there will be more plastic by mass than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050.

What we’re doing: Advocating for a ban on polystyrene food and drink containers in the City and County of Los Angeles. Following the model that propelled the statewide plastic bag ban in 2014, we are fighting to rid our beaches and neighborhoods of polystyrene trash. Our volunteers have removed more than 500,000 bits of Styrofoam from beaches in L.A. County over the past decade!

What you can do: Encourage your favorite restaurants to go plastic-free voluntarily

CLIMATE CHANGE

L.A. County could lose more than half of its beaches by 2100 due to coastal erosion related to warming seas.

What we’re doing: Reducing our carbon footprint is a complicated endeavor involving multi-national agreements, but we’re committed to taking action locally. Our staff scientists are advocating for the restoration of the Ballona Wetlands and other natural buffers to climate change.  Our policy staff is advocating for infrastructure projects that capture and reuse treated wastewater, instead of piping water from up North at tremendous cost and energy use.

What you can do: If you own a car, take public transit once a week. If you aren’t a vegetarian, skip meat one day a week.

Credit: (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

POLLUTED WATER

There are roughly 175 impaired water bodies and 1,317 specific impairments* in greater L.A., meaning they exceed federal clean-water standards and require formal remediation plans.

What we’re doing: Heal the Bay holds polluters accountable by ensuring that cities adhere to their stormwater permits. These MS4 permits**, which will be renewed this year, allow dischargers to send runoff into the L.A. County stormdrain system as long as effluents do not exceed acceptable levels of metals, oils, harmful bacteria and trash. It’s a bit wonky, but watchdogging these permits is essential for maintaining safe and healthy water in our region.

What you can do: Pick up your pet waste … always. Patronize car washes that capture runoff. Reduce chemicals from reaching the sea by reducing your use of pesticides and fertilizers.


*A specific pollutant in a waterbody, measured at levels that exceed federal Water Quality Standards. Many waterbodies in the L.A. Region are impaired by multiple pollutants.

**Permits issued by the Water Quality Control Board that monitor and regulate pollution in stormwater runoff. 



November wildfires in California exacted a terrible toll, from the horrific devastation of the Camp Fire up north to the destruction wreaked by blazes in the greater Malibu area. Here we provide a detailed FAQ about how the Woolsey Fire affected the Santa Monica Mountains area, what the future holds for our region’s largest natural space, and what it all means for the Bay.

How bad is the damage in the Woolsey Fire burn areas from an ecological point of view?

The Woolsey fire burned nearly 97,000 acres and the nearby Hill Fire in Ventura County scorched approximately 4,500 acres. Three lives and many structures were sadly lost. Habitat and open space also suffered big losses; 88% of the land in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) owned by the National Park Service burned. This total does not include land owned by partner agencies — such as State Parks, which is also considered part of the SMMNRA; however, many of those areas also burned.

Chaparral in Southern California’s coastal zones is adapted to fire, but the frequency at which wildfires are occurring is not natural. Humans cause an estimated 95% of California’s blazes. Fires can be harmful to plants, animals, and the ecosystem.

Thick black smoke and heavy flames from the Woolsey fire burn out of control in the mountains in Malibu on Sunday, November 11. (Photo by Gene Blevins)

Plant species and communities adapt to typical fire patterns over time; if that cycle changes in frequency or intensity, we may expect to see longer recovery times. Habitats often cannot recover on their own. For instance, if its seed bank is destroyed by a very intense inferno, the native plant community may not be able to regenerate. After fires, invasive species may proliferate. One plant community may convert to another less biodiverse or complex zone.

Blazes also have big impacts on streams; they change the physical state of the waterway through increased inputs of sediment. For instance, after a fire, and particularly after a rain, deep pools in streams will be filled in with sediment. These changes can last for many years until the sediment is pushed out, which only occurs after many large storms.

Map of burned area from http://www.fire.ca.gov/

What about recreation? What are near-term impacts for visitors to area State Parks and State Beaches?

Many recreational areas are closed. Be sure to check for the latest updates before you head to them.

SMMNRA: Many structures burned:  most of Western Town in Paramount Ranch; Peter Strauss Ranch; part of the NPS/UCLA LA Kretz Field Station; luckily, the Anthony C. Beilenson Interagency Visitor Center at King Gillette Ranch was spared but remains closed. The NPS recommends hiking at Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa and at Cheeseboro and Palo Comado Canyons until other areas are opened.

State Parks & Beaches: Malibu Creek and Leo Carrillo State Parks sit in the burn area. They lost structures and remain closed. Structures lost at Malibu Creek State Park include: employee residences, the historic Sepulveda Adobe, the Red House, the M.A.S.H. set, Hope Ranch (also known as the White Oak Barn) and the Reagan Ranch. Structures lost at Leo Carrillo State Park include: the visitor center, sector office, employee residences, three lifeguard towers, Leo Shop structures, the Junior Lifeguard Complex, and several restrooms. Point Mugu and Topanga State Parks were not in the immediate fire zone but remain closed. The Woolsey fire burned El Matador Beach, and part of the Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach, which remains closed. La Piedra and El Pescador are closed but did not burn. Malibu Lagoon and Point Dume State Beaches also remained out of the fire’s path but are closed.

Check on the status of State Parks and Beaches here: https://www.parks.ca.gov

Check on road closures here: https://dpw.lacounty.gov/roadclosures/

What happened to all the animals that lived there?

Many larger more mobile animals likely escaped immediate danger, such as deer, coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions. In fact, the beloved mountain lions of the Santa Monica Mountains fared pretty well; of the 13 tracked via radio-collars by SMMNRA wildlife biologists, 12 have been confirmed as alive and moving. Unfortunately, #P74 is now presumed dead. Much of the cats’ needed habitat is gone, their food sources are reduced, and the remaining habitat will likely be unable to accommodate the large home ranges that they all require. Smaller less mobile animals likely suffered more direct losses than larger animals. However, all animals face the ongoing long-term impacts of habitat and food loss and increased competition.

Animals that live in streams face additional challenges, particularly as sediment and toxins enter the water after rains. The endangered red-legged frog requires deep pools with year-round water; the NPS has been successfully reintroducing red-legged frogs to a few locations throughout the Santa Monica Mountains. However, a rainfall in a burned area can bring significant amounts of sediment into these pools, filling them in completely and obliterating the frog’s habitat. Luckily, the source population for the red-legged frogs survived the Woolsey fire but ongoing vigilance will be required to ensure their survival.

How long will it take for the area to recover?

A biologist from the SMMNRA told the LA Times that it will take 10-20 years for the area to recover ecologically. Restoration activities, such as planting native plants and trees and removal of invasive species, will likely be needed in many areas. It will likely take significant time for the animal populations to reestablish themselves. Ongoing and new research will be key to monitoring the health of the ecosystems and success in recovery.

How will water quality be affected? What are the biggest dangers?

Fires can have significant detrimental effects on water quality. A forest or brush fire can exacerbate natural processes, such as the leaching of organic material and nutrients from soil, by removing stabilizing vegetation and increasing the potential for sediment runoff into waterways. Additionally, the concentrated brominated flame retardants used to contain and extinguish these fires are toxic and persistent, with long-term effects on water quality, aquatic life, and plant life.

While many of the immediate environmental impacts of a fire are local, atmospheric contamination from the fire plume can travel very long distances and redeposit toxic particulate matter on land or in waterways in other parts of the state and even in other parts of the U.S. Recent fires in California have caused unprecedented loss of private property, which means that the particulate matter in the fire plumes include the chemicals that are used or stored in our homes, offices and automobiles. This includes the metals and chemicals used to construct a building, the fuel from cars, cleaning supplies, other chemicals stored in garages, and much more.

What are the potential effects on water quality when rains – and possibly flooding and mudslides – come?

Stormwater is well known to be a major source of pollution in our waterways, particularly during a “first flush” event. After a storm, pollutants that have settled on the ground are washed into our rivers, lakes and ocean. After a fire, pollution on the ground is increased by the deposition of toxic particulate matter from the fire plume. Rain washes brominated flame retardants and the rest of this contamination into our waterways.

Fires can also cause more runoff, which means less natural filtration to remove contaminants from the environment. Blazes can destabilize the ground beneath us in some areas by removing vegetation, but it can also harden natural surfaces in other areas. This can occur simply through drying out healthy soil into a hardpan. Some plants, when burned, can leave behind a waxy residue creating a water repellent barrier (from KPCC).  This combination of enhanced natural processes, the presence of new toxic chemicals and increased erosion and runoff can cause toxic water conditions, detrimental to environmental, aquatic and public health.

Why are the Santa Monica Mountains important to our local environment?

The Santa Monica Mountains provide critical habitat and open space in close proximity to urban Los Angeles. Los Angeles is located in a biodiversity hotspot; this means that we have more species of plants and animals here compared to many other areas of the country and world. Many plants and animals thrive here and nowhere else, and unfortunately, development and other human impacts threatens this bio-diversity. The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is the world’s largest urban national park and the area provides an incredible opportunity for Angelenos to experience and connect with the natural world.

How is the health of the coastal mountains related to the health of the Bay?

Healthy watersheds and healthy coastal waters are inextricably linked. Heal the Bay has long worked in the Santa Monica Mountains. (You can see some of our scientists at work in the photo below.)  In 1998, we started our Stream Team community science program to assess the health of the Malibu Creek Watershed (the largest watershed in the Santa Monica Mountains and second largest draining to Santa Monica Bay). For 15 years, we conducted monthly water quality monitoring at  12 sites throughout the mountains. We also removed stream barriers and invasive species. In 2013, we published a comprehensive report on the State of the Malibu Creek Watershed. Every summer, we continue to monitor the water quality at popular freshwater swimming holes in Malibu Creek State Park. The land use, management, and way we treat the Santa Monica Mountains and all watersheds directly impacts the health of our local waters for humans and wildlife.

How can we all help people that live in fire-ravaged areas?

STAY INFORMED by following the official sources for disaster relief and recovery resources, including how to donate, upcoming volunteering opportunities, urgent safety information and more:

HOST PEOPLE IN NEED of emergency housing through Airbnb. Many people have been displaced and a roof over their heads along with a warm meal can help with health and wellness, as well as provide the temporary security and comfort people need to get back on their feet.

CONTINUE HELPING days, weeks and months after the disaster occurs. Give blood. Sign up to be a disaster relief volunteer or an environmental educator. Host a fundraiser. Whatever it is you can do, keep it up!

How can people help with the restoration of these natural places?

It is too early to start restoration work right now. Once needs have been better assessed, check out these great organizations and resources for ways to get involved:

SAMO Fund This nonprofit supports the preservation and enjoyment of the SMMNRA; their Outdoors calendar lists great opportunities by many organizations.

SMMNRA  Our local National Recreation Area also offers direct volunteer opportunities.

Mountains Restoration Trust   MRT has long been a partner with Heal the Bay. MRT suffered the loss of its plant nursery in the fire but we know the group will continue to do great work of habitat restoration and removal of invasive crayfish from local streams.

TreePeople  The organization works to restore areas of the Santa Monica Mountains by planting native plants and trees, caring for them, and removing invasive species.

Will this happen again?

Unfortunately, catastrophic fire events are likely to happen again in California. Gov. Jerry Brown aptly noted “This is the new abnormal, and this new abnormal will continue.”  Experts from all fields, including CAL FIRE Director Ken Pimlott, agree that climate change is creating conditions in many parts of the world that make fires in California more likely and more severe. The Fourth National Climate Assessment estimates that the amount of acres burned by fires each year will almost double by 2060.

What is the direct connection to climate change, if any?

It would be inaccurate to say that climate change is the cause of these wildfires in California. However, the impacts of climate change have produced the ideal conditions for record breaking fires. Globally, we have seen 16 of the last 17 years documented as the hottest years on record. With climate change, we anticipate longer periods of drought, followed by heavy precipitation events in California — a weather whiplash, so to speak. We recently experienced the worst drought in California’s history, followed by a very wet winter in 2016-17. While it gave us an incredible super bloom that we could see from outer space, it also ended up leaving behind a lot of dead fuel as the record-breaking temperatures and drought conditions resumed. As a result, we have witnessed 4 of the top 20 largest fires in California  in the last two years. And 15 of the 20 these blazes have occurred since 2002. The Camp Fire, however, is the most destructive by a long shot. And unfortunately, when floods follow fire, dangerous mudslides can result.

How can we better prepare to reduce the risk of this happening again?

In the long term, the best way to reduce the risk of fires is to address the effects of climate change by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and returning our environment to a more natural system (with healthy soils, healthy vegetation and a healthy aquatic ecosystem) that can sequester carbon. This will ensure that the conditions we are experiencing today do not get worse. And there any many small changes that everyone can make at home to help reach this goal, like using public or active transportation, making sure that your home is energy-efficient, and planting new vegetation.

However, we know all too well this these fires are not a future issue, but a risk that we face today. So what can we do today to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our property? The California Wildland Fire Coordinating Group has some tips, at PreventWildfireCA.org, including campfire safety, debris burning, and equipment use. And Cal FIRE has released a guide called Prepare for Wildfire, with instructions on how to put in fire-safe landscaping and create an evacuation plan.

 

 



Amanda Wagner, Heal the Bay’s watershed research fellow, recently attended Gov. Brown’s Global Climate Action Summit 2018 as an official youth delegate from UCLA. Despite negative headlines about climate, she left feeling enthusiastic.

The Global Climate Action Summit, recently held in San Francisco by California Gov. Jerry Brown, brought together NGOs, governments, and private companies from all over the world to talk about climate change and potential solutions.

The event inspired me, especially at a time when climate change disasters seem to be making headlines every day and there seems a lack in leadership in Washington D.C. to address these challenges head on.

A majority of the summit consisted of politicians and CEOs announcing their commitment to a low-carbon future. But several sidebar events focused on narrower themes. Most excitingly, the Ocean-Climate Action Agenda became a key summit challenge.

In the context of climate change, oceans are crucial for maintaining a stable climate. They absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and provide oxygen in return. Maintaining a healthy ocean will be key to curbing climate change.

Unfortunately, climate change is already negatively impacting the ocean by acidifying and warming the waters. Here in Southern California we’ve already made headlines this year with record-breaking temperatures. Our oceans are also acidifying, creating hostile and deadly conditions for many marine organisms. Other negative impacts such as over-fishing and pollution further strain the ocean.

The Ocean-Climate Agenda focuses on the ocean as part of the solution to climate change, rather than a victim. Fortunately, “the ocean is resilient, and it can recover if we help,” Julie Packard, executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, pointed out during her talk.

A number of politicians and researchers, including Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, former NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco, and the Prime Minister of Fiji Frank Bainimarama spoke with great optimism and urgency about the ocean.

Among the most pressing recommendations: creating more Marine Protected Areas and investing in fishery reform. These two efforts can dramatically increase ocean resiliency and allow the sea to absorb more carbon.

Dr. Lubchenco called strongly for more protected areas of the ocean, citing the UN’s initiative to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. Currently only about 4% of the world’s oceans are protected compared to the 15% of land that is protected.

Heal the Bay played a crucial role in establishing Southern California MPAs and we continue to monitor them through our MPA Watch program. We love MPAs and know first-hand the great benefits they can provide to both the environment and the public. Protecting the oceans can help to capture and store more carbon, increase genetic diversity and create save havens for fish. They protect coastal ecosystems, which capture and store additional carbon from the atmosphere.

At the end of the ocean specific sessions, speakers offered up business-oriented solutions to the ocean climate crisis. Daniela Fernandez, founder and CEO of the Sustainable Ocean Alliance, highlighted her Ocean Accelerator program. The eight-week program brings together start-ups, investors, and mentors to develop innovative ocean solutions using technology.

Coral Vita introduced its unique for-profit business model of growing resilient, diverse coral on land-based farms for transplant into coastal regions. Rev-Ocean announced that in 2020 it will launch the largest research vessel on the sea. The ship will serve as a floating think tank for researchers and help improve collaboration and knowledge of sustainable solutions for protecting the ocean.

I am encouraged by the work we are doing in California and at Heal the Bay to protect our oceans. We must continue to protect them and increase the amount of ocean under protection. Creating more protected areas will help the ocean recover and become a partner with us in the fight against climate change. The summit showed progress can be made when smart people – from all sectors of public life – are committed to working together toward a common goal.



¿Sabían que 86% del agua de Los Ángeles es importada de otras áreas? Esto significa que el agua cual toma, usa para bañarse, e incluso usa para regar sus plantas, no es agua local.

Los Ángeles enfrenta grandes desafíos para garantizar el subministro de agua para los 4 millones habitantes de la ciudad.

Siendo una de las ciudades más grandes del mundo, todavía esperamos que alrededor de 500 mil personas lleguen a Los Ángeles en los próximos años. El crecimiento de nuestra población nos presentara nuevas oportunidades de desarrollo, pero también nuevos obstáculos.

Para asegurar un futuro próspero, debemos proteger lo que hace nuestra ciudad grandiosa: nuestro ambiente natural, nuestra economía diversa, y nuestros residentes cual ayudan al avance de la ciudad. Nuestra creatividad entretiene e inspira al resto del mundo, y por eso tenemos que asegurar que las futuras generaciones también puedan disfrutar de un espacio saludable y económicamente prospero que además sea ambientalmente sustentable.

#OURWATERLA

¿Que es el Ciclo del Agua?

Con los recientes cambios climáticos, obteniendo agua para Los Ángeles se ha vuelto más complicado. Para entender el flujo de agua en Los Ángeles, primero se debe entender el ciclo de agua del planeta.

Durante millones de años el planeta ha hecho circular el agua acabo del ciclo del agua. El ciclo empieza cuando el sol calienta el océano y causa la evaporación del agua. Las moléculas de agua se condensan en formas de nubes y finalmente caen del cielo en forma de nieve o lluvia. El suelo absorbe casi toda el agua y la filtra atraves de capas de tierra y rocas para reponer el agua subterránea y el resto del agua fluye a los ríos y arroyos cual regresa el agua al océano para que empiece el ciclo otra vez.

Desafío en Los Ángeles

Los sistemas de alcantarillados pluviales de Los Ángeles están diseñados para mover el agua de las calles, lotes de estacionamientos y techos hacia el océano para evitar inundaciones.  En un día típico de lluvia en Los Ángeles un promedio de 10 billones de agua—equivalente a 120 Rose Bowls—fluye por los alcantarillados pluviales recolectando basura y bacteria, cual es depositada directamente al océano. Esta es la causa principal de la contaminación marina en nuestro océano y también es una perdida enorme de agua dulce para nuestra región.

Los Ángeles: La Ciudad Esponja

Presentemente, la ciudad de Los Ángeles tiene más de un billón de agua subterránea almacenada en la región, pero solo 12% del agua para consumo humano viene del agua subterránea local. Debido a la contaminación de la cuenca de San Fernando solo se puede usar la mitad de la cuenca para abastecernos. Con planes de construir el centro de tratamiento de agua subterránea más grande del mundo, la ciudad de Los Ángeles planea limpiar las aguas contaminadas.

El gobierno local ha pedido una reducción del 50% de agua importada para el año 2025 y que 50% del agua sea local para el año 2035.

¿Cómo vamos a lograr estos cambios? La respuesta es simple: Capturando, Conservando, y Reutilizando. Nuestros líderes deben invertir en una construcción de obras públicas cual capture, limpie, filtre y recicle el agua que ya tenemos. Debemos absorber el agua cual es proveída por nuestro planeta y usarla para el sostenimiento de nuestra ciudad.

Vean más información del plan de la Ciudad de Los Ángeles.

This article is part of the blog series, “Heal the Bay en Español” for our Spanish-speaking community. If you are interested in learning more about this topic in English, view more info on Los Angeles Stormwater and follow the #OurWaterLA hashtag on social media.




Katherine Teshima (on the left) and her friend near the Redondo Beach Pier.

Maayong adlaw, or good day to the Heal the Bay community!

My name is Katie, and I thought the best way to begin introducing myself was with a greeting in the language I’ve been speaking for the past 15 months. I’m currently serving as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer assigned in the beautiful tropical islands of the Philippines.

Before I hopped overseas, I grew up along the sandy shores of Redondo Beach.

There was hardly a summer day that you wouldn’t find me feet first in the sand and head first in the water. I attended Redondo Union High School from 2007-2011 where I first became aware of issues that threatened the ocean as well as opportunities to help out. I was lucky enough that Heal the Bay had broken ground as a club during my junior year, and I dove right in.

During my time at Heal the Bay, I found a new means of connecting with the ocean that I loved so much. For the first time I considered (and literally sorted through) the waste we produce and how we manage to disconnect ourselves from our actions and the environment. I felt pride in the contribution I made during beach clean ups and soon realized that volunteerism was with me to stay.

Fast forward six years and I find myself in no other occupation than a “professional volunteer” with the United States Peace Corps. On the opposite side of the world, in a small town in which I am the only American for miles, and for 27 months I fight for the same cause I took up all that time ago.

As a Coastal Resources Management Volunteer I work within a local government unit alongside small fisherfolk organizations and community groups in improving practices and governance of their environment. This can include anything from solid waste management to coastal habitat assessments and environmental education. On a smaller, more personal scale I’ve found a new place that I call home. I’ve learned a thousand times more from the people and culture than I can ever hope to give back. My perspective has been tested, flexed and grown from interacting in an environment wholly different from my origin.

It is not without difficulty that I continue “the hardest job I’ll ever love.”

As stewards of the ocean we face ever mounting challenges related to its health and sustainability. Global environmental issues are represented in different shades at all local levels and require the associated community’s participation. It is only through the involvement of local stakeholders that the unique conditions and challenges can be addressed in an appropriate and timely manner. With the participation of those individuals directly using the resources we strengthen the capacity of our communities for change.

As we set out to transform our world/community/selves, we must be resilient against the threats of frustration and doubt.

What I’ve found more important than finding a solution to any one problem is building the strength to rise and brave the tasks at hand. It is only through our collective steps forward, backward, and all directions in between that our very real, very important impact will be made.


Through this Community Mangrove Training, local leaders gained practical skills and knowledge to rehabilitate their mangrove forest ecosystems. Mangroves are a critical part of the Philippine environment, as they provide protection for communities from strong storms, nursery habitat for fish and wildlife, and water quality maintenance.


I helped assess the fishing effort in our local bay by surveying the number, GPS location and type of fishing activity. Developing sustainable fishing practices is crucial in the Philippines where more than 50% of animal protein intake is derived from marine fisheries.


The opportunity to work with students – to learn a little bit and laugh a whole lot  – has strengthened the connection I have with my community and my Peace Corps service.


I love to share my journey and inspire others to consider volunteering in their own communities and abroad.  I recently spoke about my work at Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium.


Our work isn’t possible without the real passion, action and commitment from people like Katie and you. Help us spark more positive change in our region, up and down the coast, and around the world.

Make a Year-End Gift to Heal the Bay



Ballona Wetlands Nicola Buck Heal the Bay

Photos of Ballona Wetlands on September 16, 2017 by Nicola Buck.

Excuse the pun, but today marks a watershed moment for one of our region’s most important natural places — the Ballona Wetlands.

After years of delay, state and federal authorities released restoration plans Monday for the beleaguered 600-acre Reserve in the Playa del Rey area. Greater L.A. has already lost nearly 95% of its coastal wetlands, so we’re ecstatic to see officials finally moving forward to protect this ecological jewel.

But it’s not just scientists and enviro junkies who should care. Wetlands touch everyone in our region, no matter where we live.

  • Do you like more thriving open space for all Angelenos?
  • Do you like protecting habitat for local animals and native species?
  • Do you like improved water quality throughout the region?
  • Do you like natural buffers from the coming ravages of climate change?
  • Do you like providing natural spaces for young students to explore?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you already care about protecting and restoring wetlands.

Why Ballona Needs Our Help To Heal

For Angelenos, Ballona Wetlands, located between Marina del Rey and LMU, are the largest wetlands habitat in the region. Unfortunately they are not healthy or functioning well and need our help.

Decades ago, authorities building Marina del Rey dumped 3 million cubic yards of fill onto the wetlands – about 28 million wheelbarrows’ worth. Even before that, to protect against flooding, Ballona Creek was encased in concrete, removing the vital connection between land and water.

These actions served as a double-whammy – degrading natural habitat and starving the wetlands from essential sources of salt and fresh water.

Ballona Wetlands Nicola Buck Heal the Bay

One Step Closer To Restoring Ballona

Today the California Department of Fish & Wildlife and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released their long-gestating draft Environmental Impact Report/Statement (EIR/S), which presents three project alternatives for restoration. They examine the pros and cons of each alternative to meet the overall goals of the project, which are ecosystem restoration, increased public access and enhanced recreational use.

The good news is that the lead agencies seem fully and genuinely committed to a habitat restoration project that grows public access. Our staff scientists look forward to working with them to realize the option that we think best meets the goals for a healthy wetland.

The release of the EIR/S marks the beginning of a 60-day public comment period when anyone can weigh in on the plans.

Robust Restoration Is The Only Option

Heal the Bay is working together with a coalition of leading environmental groups and wetland scientists to advocate for restoration projects that put science first and maximize every opportunity to comprehensively restore our degraded wetlands.

Over the next few weeks, Heal the Bay will dive into the details and options highlighted in the restoration plans. The coalition doesn’t have a preferred alternative at the moment but will identify one in the coming weeks. It’s a thousand-page document – without the appendices! — so our team needs some time to thoughtfully review the EIR/S.

One alternative creates a more natural creek by removing concrete from Ballona Creek to reconnect the land to the water, north and south of the Creek; another alternative keeps the concrete along Ballona Creek but allows water to enter the floodplain north of the Creek, creating a so-called oxbow. Every EIR/S also has to examine the impacts of doing no project. You can see a nice review of the various options here.

Ballona Wetlands Nicola Buck Heal the Bay

Exact details of the restoration are still being worked out. But we can say for certain that we have to do something.

The Ballona Wetlands are highly degraded from fill, are too high in elevation and lack the critical connection to fresh and salt water. In addition, more than half the Wetlands Reserve has been taken over by non-native invasive plants, reducing economic, ecological, and social value.

If we just leave the Wetlands alone, and do no restoration work, they will continue to degrade. They cannot heal on their own.

It’s critical we help our local environment thrive. In L.A. County, on average we have 3.3 acres of greenspace per 1,000 residents – well below the national average for major metropolises. We can do better.

You’re Invited To Explore Ballona

Heal the Bay, along with our partners, is dedicated to Bringing Back Ballona. As part of this effort, we invite you to join us over the next month to discover the wetlands.

We’re hosting events so the general public can explore this amazing resource, see why it needs help, and understand its incredible potential.

Ballona Wetlands Nicola Buck Heal the Bay

You can pick and choose from a number of fun and educational opportunities with our staff, partners and volunteers:

And stay tuned – as we review the alternatives for restoration, we will keep you informed. We are going to need your help. We need you to add your voice to help protect this special green space.

Send in your comments

Please email short letters of support calling for robust restoration of the Wetlands to the key decision makers — the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Fish & Wildlife. Comments are due by Feb. 5.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Daniel.p.swenson@usace.army.mil

California Fish & Wildlife: BWERcomments@wildlife.ca.gov

Ballona Wetlands Nicola Buck Heal the Bay



Heal the Bay has found a unique way to draw attention to the new administration’s attack on climate change science – a sea turtle with a ninja star.

The inspiring March for Science at cities around the nation has concluded, but the fight for rationality and reason lives on.

Many scientists and researchers working in the environmental field around the country feel as if they have a bulls-eye painted on their back – from the very government that has funded their important work for decades.

The new federal administration’s plan to curtail climate change research and to slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency has stoked deep concerns in the nonprofit world.

But Heal the Bay isn’t sitting by quietly. We’re getting quite animated about the issue – literally.

Today, we launched a 60-second PSA to rally digital advocates across the country to petition their Congressional representatives to oppose proposed budget cuts to EPA programs and staff. Public dissent is critical to ensure that essential air- and water-quality safeguards and habitat protections are not abandoned by climate deniers sitting in positions of federal power.

Heal the Bay’s partners in the advertising and animation industries shaped the spot, dubbed “Nature’s Revolt,” as part of a new creative coalition called Our Next 4 Years. Ironically riffing on over-the-top TV cartoon violence, the video offers a humorous take on marine animals fighting fire with fire.

Sarah May Bates, a veteran creative director in the advertising agency world, served as writer and art director on the spot, working with Matthew King, Heal the Bay’s communications director. Scott Graham provided animation, storyboards and character designs. (Full credits are below.)

“Climate change is a huge downer, but the EPA plays an essential role in sustaining this planet in the face of it,” Bates said. “To make a dire message more palatable, we imagined a scenario in which nature could fight back. At the very least, a crab with a rocket launcher can make an important message more engaging.”

Heal the Bay asks “Nature’s Revolt” viewers to take action and add their name to the Change.org/ProtectOurOceans petition seeking continued funding for climate programs at the EPA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. To date, nearly 75,000 ocean-lovers have added their signatures to the Heal the Bay-sponsored petition, covering every state and major overseas territory in the United States.


 

 


Bates previously collaborated with Heal the Bay on “The Majestic Plastic Bag,” the BBC-style nature mockumentary that has been viewed more than 2.3 million times on YouTube, and featured in environmental conferences and classrooms around the world.

Our Next 4 Years is a collective of nearly 300 animation professionals (Emmy- and Oscar- nominees among them) who are donating their creative talents to produce animated PSAs for progressive causes that will be negatively impacted by policies put forth by the current administration.

“For each attempt to roll back hard fought social and economic gains won over the past 70 years, we will fight back with messages to help stem the regressive tide,” said Mike Blum, owner of boutique animation studio Pipsqueak Films. He is one of the co-founders of Our Next 4 Years, along with veteran animation producer Carolyn Bates.

Production teams are matched with other nonprofits to create virtual animation studios in order to tackle causes, including the environment, immigrant rights, affordable health-care, government reform and religious tolerance.

“So often, animated PSAs are out of reach of charities and community organizations, because we move fast and don’t have the long lead time that many animation houses insist on,” said Jayde Lovell, director of film and video for March for Science. “But working with Our Next 4 Years was incredible. They really brought our ideas to life in meaningful, funny and emotional pieces in a week’s time!”

The coalition has debuted eleven videos to date, including “Nature’s Revolt.” In just a few days, the four videos they released in time for Earth Day and March for Science have a combined reach of more than 600,000 people on Facebook. You can watch other videos here.

Full Credits: “Nature’s Revolt”

Animation, Storyboard & Character Designs:
Scott Graham, ScottGraham.carbonmade.com

Creative Director/Writer:
Sarah May Bates, SarahMayBates.com

Backgrounds:
Carolyn Arabascio

Animal Character Designs:
Regie Miller, MyNameIsRegie.com

Text Animation:
Daniela Fernandes Smith

Music:
Jeremy Simon, FurnivalMusic.com

Producer:
Carolyn Bates

Production:
Our Next 4 Years



In honor of Earth Day, we break down the three biggest challenges our seas are facing and outline practical steps you can take to help turn the tide.

Sip smarter

Here’s a troubling thought: It’s estimated that there will be more plastic by mass than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050. In the last 30 years, our volunteers have removed more than 2 million pounds of trash from our shores – that’s the weight of two fully loaded 747 passenger jets! Drink related trash forms the bulk of man-made debris found at Heal the Bay cleanups, accounting for 36% of all items found on L.A. County beaches.

This summer, Heal the Bay is launching its “Rethink the Drink” campaign, but you can get started today by saying “No thanks” to single-use straws, plastic water bottles, coffee lids and beverage cups. And do your part by signing up for one of our monthly beach cleanups.

Change the climate

Here’s another disturbing thought: L.A. County could lose more than half of its beaches by 2100 due to coastal erosion related to warming seas, according to a just-released study from the U.S. Geological Survey. Reducing our carbon footprint is a complicated endeavor involving multi-national agreements, but there are easy steps you can take in your daily life to reduce your impact on the sea. Transportation and food choices are an obvious place to start as a consumer. If you own a car, try taking public transit once a week. If you aren’t a vegetarian, think about skipping meat one day a week.

Heal the Bay also encourages you to speak out against proposed federal budget cuts that would drastically slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate research. Read more about how essential the EPA is to our work and sign our petition.


Exposed bedrock on the beach, below the University of California, Santa Barbara. (Credit: Daniel Hoover, U.S. Geological Survey.)

Fishing for answers

Approximately 90% of fish stocks of large predatory fish like tuna have disappeared globally, and more than half of all fish stocks have been maximized. That means we should all opt for sustainable seafood and eat lower down on the ocean food chain. There is much more to fine sea-dining than tuna, salmon and halibut! Widen your palate and the ocean will thank you. Check out Monterey Bay Aquarium’s seafood guide so you can make ocean-friendly choices when eating from the sea. And visit the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium to learn more about our local marine animals and habitats.

A post shared by Heal the Bay (@healthebay) on


If you really want to get your activist on this Earth Day, please join staff and supporters Saturday morning in downtown L.A. for the national March for Science.



Climate change is real. We could lose two-thirds of our beaches in L.A. by 2100, writes Heal the Bay vice president Sarah Sikich.

As a surfer, scientist, and unabashed fan of romanticized sunset walks on the beach, my heart sunk as my news feed was blasted with a double whammy of bad beach news this week.

First, the White House declared war against the smart climate change policies enacted by the previous administration, which served to protect our communities and the economy. Second, the U.S. Geological Survey unveiled a report that projects that Southern California could lose up to two-thirds of its beaches by 2100 due to climate-related sea-level rise. We cannot afford to move backwards with climate policy when now, more than ever, public health and our environment need proactive solutions to mitigate against and adapt to negative impacts related to rising temperatures.

Los Angeles is known for its beaches. They fuel tourism in the region and provide Angelenos a place to breath, relax, and take in the horizon – offering a break from the buzz and stress of city life. But, these beaches also buffer our coastal communities from the incoming tide and pounding waves. With sea level rise projections of up to 6.5 feet by 2100, eroded beaches would give way to flooding in low-lying neighborhoods, such as Wilmington and Venice. Floods would do damage to coastal infrastructure, like PCH and water treatment plants, pump stations, and other structures that service our communities. A detailed report came out last month from USC Sea Grant that projects detailed impacts from sea level rise along the entire Los Angeles County coastline, and the projections are even starker with the new USGS study released this week.


Exposed bedrock on a beach near Santa Barbara. Daniel Hoover, U.S. Geological Survey

The best way to prepare our coastal communities is to invest in strong climate policy in two ways: mitigating the impacts of climate change by curbing emissions, and by buffering our built and natural environments through adaptation measures that help protect against climate change impacts already underway.

These measures work best when the natural environment is enhanced through measures like dune restoration, protecting and restoring kelp forests, and beach nourishment. And, as demonstrated by the USGS study, agency research is a critical part of the process. Unwinding climate policies and gutting budgets for EPA and NOAA — key agencies that invest in climate research and preparedness — will only leave us with our heads in the sand, drowning from the rising seas.

The good news is that research, planning, and management measures can be put into place to help curb the impacts from sea-level rise. But, the longer we wait, the more difficult it will be to take meaningful action. Now is the time to double down on efforts to prepare and defend our coastlines. Please join Heal the Bay and our supporters in making your voice heard by signing our petition calling for funds to be maintained for climate programs in both NOAA and EPA. More than 70,000 ocean lovers and science believers have joined the call. Please add your voice.

Some comments from our supporters around the nation:

“I’m signing because I believe in science. Climate change is real, and our planet is in peril.” – Andrea from Mill Valley, CA

“These cuts in funding are directly against our country’s and humanity’s best interests.” – Floyd from Anchorage, AK

“The EPA is indispensable – I want myself, my family, my community, my country and my planet to be protected!” – Meg from Salt Lake City, UT

“Any proposed reduction in funding for the EPA and NOAA will adversely affect the U.S.’s ability to combat climate change in ways that we cannot afford.” – Elizabeth from Dallas, TX