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Heal the Bay Blog

Category: California Coast

Bay lovers, here’s your one big chance to make your voice heard about the planned restoration of the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve in Playa del Rey.

As we’ve been telling you, this highly degraded ecosystem is one of the few remaining coastal wetlands left in greater L.A. It needs some TLC – a lot of it, actually.

Even if you don’t live near the Reserve, you should care deeply about its future. Wetlands are incredibly important for water quality, flood control and open space in our increasingly urbanized region.

Heal the Bay staff and the other members of our Wetlands Principles Coalition will attend a public meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 8 to discuss various alternatives for bringing this area back to full life. The California Department of Fish & Wildlife “CDFW” will be holding its only scheduled meeting to provide an overview of various restoration alternatives and gather public input.

In September, the CDFW and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a draft Environmental Impact Report/Study for the restoration of the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve. The public comment period has been extended to Feb. 5.

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

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Given that Los Angeles County has already lost 95% of its coastal wetlands, it’s critical that the state act to protect Ballona. Wetlands are unique habitat that connect land and sea.

Right now, only 3% of Ballona’s roughly 600 acres is functioning habitat. That simply is not enough. To be clear, there are a few vocal opponents who contend that no work should be done to restore the wetlands. But our coalition believes strongly that we must act now, guided by the best science, to prevent further irreversible deterioration.

Our Wetlands Principles Coalition has been busy analyzing the highly technical EIR document. We have been examining the various Alternatives for four key desired outcomes: increased habitat quality to benefit native wildlife, greater protection from flooding, improved water quality and increased public access to trails for education and nature appreciation.

Attend the hearing and tell officials that you want a robust restoration of the Ballona Wetlands that:

  • Maximizes natural wetland habitat and function
  • Protects native wildlife and plant diversity
  • Increases natural buffers against climate change
  • Minimizes negative disturbance
  • Provides open space and access for all
  • And most of all you want to BRING BACK BALLONA!

The public meeting will be held at Burton Chace Park. RSVP for the public hearing and we will provide you with more information about how to prepare and be heard.

If you cannot attend the meeting, you can also send your comments by email to:

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

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

Read more about our efforts to “Bring Back Ballona” and also register for our Explore Ballona events this month, ranging from bike tours to habitat restoration.



Estamos todos preparados para el Día de la Limpieza Costera, mañana es el día. Cada año, con la ayuda de nuestros voluntarios, recogemos datos para calcular los resultados. Como es un evento global, se puede ver los resultados de aquí, el condado de Los Ángeles, pero también se puede ver los resultados de otros lugares como, México o Brasil.

En el año pasado, en el condado de Los Ángeles se recogieron 29,635 escombros con la ayuda de 9,556 voluntarios. De los escombros, 28,087 eran basura y 1,548 eran reciclables. La cosa recogida más interesante fue un estetoscopio.

En Belize se recogieron 11,289 libras de escombros con la ayuda de 937 voluntarios. En total, recogieron 91,884 libras de escombros de 29.9 millas de costa. La cosa recogida más interesante fue un árbol navideño cual incluia las luces.

En Brasil se recogieron 3,082 libras de escombros con la ayuda de 1,977 voluntarios. En total, recogieron 31,255 libras de escombros de 34.5 millas de costa. La cosa recogida más interesante fue un frasco de perfume.       

En Guatemala se recogieron 21,066 libras de escombros con la ayuda de 440 voluntarios. En total, recogieron 81,452 de escombros de 9.1 millas de costa. La cosa recogida más interesante fue una lámpara.

En México se recogieron 131,396 libras de escombros con la ayuda de 20,588 voluntarios. En total, recogieron 898,234 de escombros de 127.3 millas de tierra. La cosa recogida más interesante fue un microonda.

En Puerto Rico se recogieron 127,573 libras de escombros con la ayuda de 17,943 voluntarios. En total, recogieron 597,940 de escombros de 253.6 miles de costa. La cosa recogida más interesante fue una muñeca de vudú.  

Explora los resultados del Día de la Limpieza Costera, un evento global que está celebrado por todo el estado de California, cuando voluntarios recogen basura y escombros de las playas, los ríos, los arroyos, los parques y los espacios públicos. Contamos todo lo que recogen los voluntarios para concienciar sobre los desafíos de la contaminación. Heal the Bay está orgulloso de coordinar los sitios de limpieza con La Conservación del Mar y La Comision de la Costa de California.



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Regístrese para El Día de la Limpieza Costera 2017

Miles de personas limpiarán las playas, los ríos, los parques, las escuelas, y las cuencas hidrográficas por todo el estado de California (un medio millón de personas por todo el mundo) en el sábado el 16 de septiembre — El Día de la Limpieza Costera, el día del voluntario más grande del mundo.

Es un movimiento global compuesto de las comunidades y las organizaciones locales. Juntos podemos quitar basura y escombros de los hábitats locales, nuestros barrios, y ciudades.

Además de crear un medioambiente más limpio, todo lo que recogerán los voluntarios va estar registrado para concienciar sobre los desafíos de la contaminación. En El Día de la Limpieza Costera 2016, había más que 18.3 millones libras de basura y escombros recogidos en unas horas. ¡La unión hace la fuerza!

Eventbrite - Coastal Cleanup Day 2017


Participe en El Día de la Limpieza Costera

¿Quiere meterse más en El Día de la Limpieza Costera? Hay muchas oportunidades de participar:

  • Capitán del sitio: Ayúdenos a informar los voluntarios, explorar la defensa del agua, y prepárese para el evento del voluntario más grande del mundo. Regístrese.

 

  • Prácticas: Las prácticas son para la gente que ama el mar, defensores de los animales, y los que sueña para agua limpio. Solicite hoy para ganar experiencia en apoyar un evento de voluntario masivo y disfrutar de trabajar con uno de los más fiable (y divertido) fines de lucros en Los Ángeles.

 

  • Colaboración: De realizar las quedadas empresarial, los actividades de fitness en el aire libre y entretenimiento, hasta las ofertas de comida y bebida, hay muchas maneras de participar. Hagamos algo juntos. Contactenos.

 

  • Recaudación de Fondos: Entrege a sus ideas para un nueva campaña creativa de Heal the Bay de crowdfunding. Creemos que albergar un evento de nadar desnuda en el puerto de Santa Mónica es más divertimos que girar un cheque. Inspírese.

 

  • Patrocinios: Ayúdenos en hacer que este evento sea una experiencia inolvidable para los voluntarios. No pierda la oportunidad de ganar buena voluntad para su marca. Contactenos.

 


¿Porque tenemos un Día de la Limpieza Costera?

Explorar las historias y los resultados del Día de la Limpieza Costera, un evento global que está celebrado por todo el estado de California, cuando voluntarios recogen basura y escombros de las playas, los ríos, los arroyos, los parques y los espacios públicos. Contamos todo lo que recogen los voluntarios para concienciar sobre los desafíos de la contaminación. Heal the Bay está orgulloso de coordinar los sitios de limpieza con La Conservación del Mar y La Comision de la Costa de California..

🐟 Comunicado de Prensa para El Día de la Limpieza Costera 2017

🐟 Artículo de lo que se puede esperar de Día de la Limpieza Costera 2017

🐟 Galería Fotográfica del Día de la Limpieza Costera 2016

🐟 Los Resultados del Día de la Limpieza Costera: Global

🐟 Los Resultados del Día de la Limpieza Costera: El Condado de L.A. & Global

🐟 Los Resultados del Día de la Limpieza Costera: El Condado de L.A.



Participating in our biggest volunteer event is guaranteed to lift your spirits, writes aquarium staffer and veteran organizer Randi Parent.

This will be my 13th year as a Heal the Bay staff member rolling up my sleeves to organize our biggest volunteer event of the year — Coastal Cleanup Day — on Saturday Sept. 16. (I should be logging No. 14, but taking my daughter to college was the priority a few years back.)

It’s a day of big numbers: half a million people around the globe, volunteering to tidy up their favorite park, stream, lake or shoreline. Millions of pounds of debris picked up, documented, bagged and disposed of, all within a few hours on a Saturday morning by folks in 112 countries. Heal the Bay has historically organized coastal and inland sites in L.A. County, welcoming up to 20,000 volunteers spread out at cleanup locations from Malibu to Compton.

I usually help mobilize our biggest site, next to the Santa Monica Pier, where we’ve sent more than 2,000 people out along the beach. But I’ve also assisted at much smaller inland cleanups, where the power of a few community groups spreading out along a concrete-lined riverbed makes everyone feel mighty, as they weigh their garbage haul at the end of the morning.

For this year’s event – which runs from 9 a.m. to noon – it’s exciting to hear we’ll be including several locations around the county where active wetlands restoration is in progress.

Volunteers are removing invasive plants that choke waterways and they’re removing the trash that accumulates in the overgrowth too – a win-win for the native plants and animals that depend on these riparian habitats for their survival. These sites – LAX Dunes and Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve in Playa del Rey, Medea Creek in Agoura Hills and Alta Vicente Reserve in Rancho Palos Verde — all offer an opportunity to become involved with an ongoing restoration project.

But no matter the size, scope or location of the cleanup, there’s been one constant in my 13 Coastal Cleanup Days with Heal the Bay: the genuine feeling of satisfaction and connection I receive after spending a morning with community members, school groups, families and individuals who really care. In a world full of dysfunction and strife, we gather for a simple task that makes a world of difference. On one Saturday in September, we can all make a small corner of this planet that much cleaner and healthier. It may sound corny, but it’s a very powerful moment.

I look forward to meeting you at the Pier cleanup site this year. But there are many more to choose from! Please register today.



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This site is right in front of the luxurious five-star Ritz Carlton resort in Dana Point, but one-star water quality persists in the bird-ridden spot. Local agencies have argued that the meandering portion of Salt Creek has facilitated a greater bird population, and in turn increased the amount of bird feces at this location—ultimately leading to the poor water quality. A falconry program was implemented to reduce bird-related bacterial counts at the mouth of the creek. However, potential harm to federally threatened snowy plovers during their nesting season halted the program—a decision Heal the Bay supported. The City of Dana Point has also invested in an Ozone Treatment Facility to treat dry weather runoff.

Heal the Bay analysts assigned A-to-F letter grades to 416 beaches along the California coast for three reporting periods in 2016-2017, based on levels of weekly bacterial pollution. Some 96% of beaches received A or B grades during the summer.

But pockets of fecal bacteria still trouble our waters and threaten the health of millions of beachgoers. Here’s our look at the 10 most polluted beaches in the state – our annual Beach Bummer List.

To avoid illness, ocean-goers can check the latest water quality grades at their favorite beaches, based on the latest samples, each week at beachreportcard.org (or download the Beach Report Card app for Apple or Android). For more information, check out our Beach Report Card blog post or read the full report here.



Much-needed winter storms may have relieved California’s historic drought, but all that rain came at some cost – poor beach water quality.

Bacterial pollution at some of California’s most popular beaches spiked dramatically in 2016-17, according to Heal the Bay’s 27th annual Beach Report Card, which the nonprofit released today.

Heal the Bay analysts assigned A-to-F letter grades to 416 beaches along the California coast for three reporting periods in 2016-2017, based on levels of weekly bacterial pollution. Some 96% of beaches received A or B grades during the high-traffic summer season (April-October 2015), slightly above the statewide five-year average.

Wet weather was a different story, however. Record rainfall created billions of gallons of polluted runoff, which poured into storm drains and out to the ocean. Nearly 48% of California’s beaches received C to F grades, about 12% more than the statewide five-year average.

La Jolla Cove, a popular swim spot.

Polluted ocean waters pose a significant health risk to the tens of thousands of year-round ocean users in California. Those failing grades indicate a significant health risk to the tens of thousands of year-round ocean users in Southern California, who can contract a respiratory or gastrointestinal illness from one morning swim or surf session in polluted waters.

Beach Bummers

Heal the Bay’s infamous Beach Bummers List, which ranks the 10 most polluted beaches in the state, was split between Northern and Southern California. San Clemente Pier and La Jolla Cove are both making their first ever appearance on the Beach Bummer’s List. Clam Beach County Park, Mother’s Beach in Marina del Rey and Santa Monica Pier have each been Bummers for the past four years. Check out our Beach Bummers Slideshow, which has more details about each of the Bummers.

  1. Clam Beach County Park, McKinleyville (Humboldt County)
  2. San Clemente Pier, San Clemente (Orange County)
  3. Cowell Beach, West of Wharf, Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz County)
  4. Lakeshore Park, Marina Lagoon, San Mateo (San Mateo County)
  5. La Jolla Cove, La Jolla (San Diego County)
  6. Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica (Los Angeles County)
  7. Capitola Beach, Capitola (Santa Cruz County)
  8. Luffenholtz Beach, Trinidad (Humboldt County)
  9. Mother’s Beach, Marina del Rey (Los Angeles County)
  10. Monarch Beach, North of Salt Creek, Dana Point (Orange County)

Mother’s Beach in Marina del Rey, a repeat Beach Bummer.

On a more positive note, 32 beaches in the state were named to Heal the Bay’s Honor Roll, meaning they were monitored year-round and received perfect A+ grades weekly, regardless of rain or dry conditions. Orange County boasted the most beaches on the Honor Roll, with 14 sites earning top marks.

Staying Safe at the Beach

“We want people catching waves, not bugs, when they head to the beach,” said Sarah Sikich, Heal the Bay’s vice president and longtime ocean policy advocate. “The reassuring news is that if you swim at an open-ocean beach in the summer away from storm drains and creek mouths you statistically have very little risk of getting ill.”

Swimming or surfing at a beach with a water quality grade of C or lower greatly increases the risk of contracting illnesses such as stomach flu, ear infections, upper respiratory infections and rashes.

Here’s how you can make sure that you stay safe at the beach:

  • Check BeachReportCard.org for the latest water quality grades.
  • Avoid closed beaches
  • Swim at least 100 yards away from flowing storm drains and piers.
  • Wait at least three days after rainfall before entering the ocean.

Baker Beach, San Francisco.

How to Stem the Tide of Bacterial Pollution

California often swings from extended dry periods to shorter periods of intense, wet weather. Our region needs to do a better job of capturing runoff before it hits shorelines. Heal the Bay advocates for reusing that water directly for non-potable purposes or sinking that water back into our aquifers rather than letting it flow uselessly to the sea.

If Southern California cities had the infrastructure in place, then they could have captured and reused a bulk of the 100 billion gallons of stormwater that drenched our region last winter. That’s enough water to meet the needs of 2.5 million people each year – about a quarter of L.A. County’s population.

In response, Heal the Bay’s policy staff is advocating for public funding measures to build nature-based projects that capture, cleanse and reuse runoff rather than dumping it uselessly into the sea. The Our WaterLA coalition is working with the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to place a funding measure on the ballot for innovative multi-benefit projects that will capture runoff and create public green spaces countywide. Look for the measure on the county ballot next year.

Heal the Bay to Forecast Water Quality

This summer Heal the Bay, Stanford University and UCLA are expanding their predictive beach water quality forecasting program. Using sophisticated statistical models, environmental data and past bacteria samples, the scientific team can accurately predict each morning when beaches should be posted with warning or open signs.

Promising results from the past two summers (at Arroyo Burro Beach, Santa Monica Pier Beach and Doheny Beach) demonstrated that agencies can post a warning notice immediately at pollution impacted beaches based on predictions rather than waiting days for test results. These new models will protect public health by providing more advanced water quality information to public health officials. This summer, Heal the Bay will run models for 10 beaches, from San Diego to Santa Cruz counties.



Update: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has issued a reminder that White Sharks are a protected species under both state and federal fisheries laws and regulations.

An increase in shark sightings in Southern California – and even some beach closures – have raised long-standing concerns among many ocean users. Here staff scientist Dana Murray Roeber separates fact from fiction.

Why are we seeing reports of white sharks in the Bay?

Santa Monica Bay is home to dozens of species of sharks and rays. Many of them are small, like the swell shark and horn shark, and live in kelp forests and rocky reefs. Juvenile great white sharks are seasonal residents of Southern California’s coastal waters, likely congregating in Santa Monica Bay due to a combination of abundant prey and warm water as summer comes. White sharks are frequently spotted by boaters, pier-goers, surfers and paddlers – especially between the surf spot El Porto and the Manhattan Beach Pier. Juvenile white sharks, measuring up to 10 feet long, prey mostly on bottom fishes such as halibut, small rays and other smaller sharks. Progress to protect marine species has advanced over the past 50 years, including protections for marine mammals, an important food source for adult white sharks. These protections have likely led to a healthier and growing population of white sharks and marine mammals alike, which is a good sign for our oceans.

Is it a good or bad thing there are so many of them in the water?

Sharks are at the top of the food chain in virtually every part of every ocean. They keep populations of other fish healthy and ecosystems in balance. In addition, a number of scientific studies demonstrate that the depletion of sharks can result in the loss of commercially important fish and shellfish species further down the food chain, including key fisheries such as tuna.

Where are they coming from and where are they going?

White sharks usually migrate south in the winter when California’s coastal waters drop below 60 degrees. However, our local ocean waters stayed warmer in 2014-16 due to El Niño-like conditions and climate change. Again this winter, it is believed that most of the juvenile white sharks didn’t leave Southern California.

What are the popular spots from them in So Cal?

White sharks are congregating in shallow waters off Huntington Beach, San Onofre, Long Beach, Santa Monica Bay and Ventura.

What are the real dangers to humans?

There is always a risk when entering the habitat of a large predator – whether in the ocean, or the African savanna, or Kodiak Island. Poor water quality, powerful waves, strong currents and stingrays pose a greater threat to local ocean-goers than sharks.

How can I avoid sharks in the sea?

According to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, there have only been 13 fatal white shark attacks in California since the 1920s. Eating a hot dog poses a greater danger to life and limb than any shark. If you’re still concerned, here are some quick tips to avoid run-ins with fins:

  1. Avoid waters with known effluents or sewage.
  2. Avoid areas used by recreational or commercial fishermen.
  3. Avoid areas that show signs of baitfish or fish feeding activity; diving seabirds are a good indicator of fish activity.
  4. Do not provoke or harass a shark if you see one!

What should you do and what shouldn’t you do if you think you see a shark?

First, assess the risk. If you see as small horn shark or thornback ray, it is safe to swim in the area. But keep your distance from the animal. If a larger shark is spotted, it is best to evacuate the water calmly, trying to keep an eye on the animal. Do not provoke or harass the shark. Report your shark sighting, with as much detail possible, to local lifeguards. If you or a companion are one of the very, very few people each year bitten by a shark, experts advise a proactive response. Hitting a shark on the nose, ideally with an inanimate object, usually results in the shark temporarily curtailing its attack.

Why are many species of sharks protected?

Despite popular perceptions of sharks being invincible, shark populations around the world are declining due to overfishing, habitat destruction and other human activities. It is estimated that over 100 million sharks are killed worldwide each year. Of the 350 or so species of sharks, 79 are imperiled according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. There are several important spots for Northeastern Pacific white sharks in California, yet they are vulnerable to ongoing threats, such as incidental catch, pollution and other issues along our coast. White shark numbers in the Northeastern Pacific are unknown but are thought to be low, ranging from hundreds to thousands of individuals. They’re protected in many places where they live, including California, Australia and South Africa. It is illegal to hunt, pursue, catch or kill a great white shark in California, with anyone caught causing harm liable to criminal prosecution.

Can I fish for white sharks in California?

Federal regulations implemented in 2004 prohibit white shark retention in California, requiring their immediate release if caught. Additionally, in 1994, white sharks received special protected status in California State law, which prohibits take of white sharks except by special permit and some commercial incidental take allowances. State of California regulations also protect white sharks from recreational fishing. Under these protections, it is illegal to fish for or pursue white sharks, and they must be released immediately if caught inadvertently while fishing for other species.



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



The environment took a big hit in Washington D.C. this week, writes Sarah Sikich, Heal the Bay’s Vice President. Today, we’re launching the first of three actions you can take to fight back locally. Stay tuned for two more actions in the coming days.

If you’re a scientist or a clean water advocate, it’s hard not to be concerned about recent developments in Washington, D.C. I’ve tried to remain positive. I’ve taken an observational attitude for overheated rhetoric about reining in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, hoping it would be more talk than action. I’ve hoped for the not-so-terrible, while preparing for the worse. Unfortunately, these threats are becoming reality.

3 Strikes & Clean Water Is Out

Three big blows have been dealt by the new administration to environmental and public health protections. These actions come from the White House, but their effects will ripple from D.C. to Santa Monica Bay:

Strike 1: Massive cuts to the US EPA budget and workforce.

The administration recently proposed the US EPA budget 2018 plan, which includes funding cuts of 25%, staff reductions of more than 3,000 people, and the complete elimination of funding for beach water quality monitoring across our nation. The impacts here in California will be felt deeply.

US EPA grants help underwrite the weekly sampling and testing of beaches in California, support public health protection against contaminated fish off the Palos Verdes Shelf for under-served communities, our local Santa Monica Bay Natural Estuary Program, and much more.

The administration has said it is committed to promoting clean water and clean air, but these actions demonstrate otherwise. It seems virtually impossible to maintain basic protections, given such deep cuts and job losses.

Strike 2: Weakening of the Clean Water Rule.

This week’s executive order directing US EPA to reevaluate the Waters of the U.S. rule has the potential to weaken clean water and habitat protections for countless streams and wetlands throughout our nation. The Obama administration expanded the definition of what water bodies are afforded protection by the federal Clean Water Act in 2015, safeguarding the drinking water of nearly 120 million Americans.

We have lost over 95% of wetland habitat in the greater L.A. area. With the threat of rolling back wetland protection at the federal level, it is imperative to bolster wetlands protection here in California. The California State Water Board is currently in the process of finalizing a statewide Wetland Policy. Heal the Bay scientists have been actively engaged in this process and we urge the State Board to adopt a strong policy that ensures wetland habitat is meaningfully protected and enhanced throughout our state.

Strike 3: Repeal of the Stream Protection Rule.

This law – enacted late last year under the Obama administration – protects waterways from being polluted by coal mining. The waste is not just toxic to aquatic life, but also poses major community health impacts. Many communities throughout the nation will suffer if these protections are repealed.

Take Action To Protect What You Love

These rollbacks jeopardize public health and economic vitality, both of which depend upon clean water and a healthy environment. But, Heal the Bay and its supporters are not going to remain silent. No matter what happens in D.C., there are concrete steps we can take in our backyard to ensure clean water and vibrant ecosystems.

Here is one simple thing you can do now to protect beach water quality monitoring and other critical environmental and community health programs:

Tell Congress to Maintain EPA Funding



Leslie Griffin, Heal the Bay’s chief water quality scientist and Beach Report Card manager, likes to kiss and tell. Here’s her list of the cuddliest spots for couples along the California shoreline.

Wanna enjoy a long walk on the beach?

I know it sounds like a line, but this lovers’ activity is a cliché for a reason. A seaside stroll proves both calming and romantic, with the vast ocean rippling along the shore while your toes sink into the cool sand. Or maybe your dream beach date consists of gazing at a gorgeous sunset while you enjoy a seaside picnic.

Either way, we are all about getting a little sandy, whether with a loved one, a friend, or for a little solo escape into the outdoors for some dedicated me time.

Here are 10 spots we love for love (and their great water quality too!):

Torrey Pines, San Diego

Source: Dan_H, flickr

What we love about it: Torrey Pines State Beach has picturesque views of the San Diego coastline and the adjacent Torrey Pines State Reserve is filled with little trails leading down to the shore. We recommend that you only take marked trails and watch your footing, but the views are worth the adventure.

What to do here: We love the Torrey Pines Trail to Black’s Beach in the morning for a beautiful way to start your day. Fair warning: some nudists like to visit this beach as well.

Water Quality: The only sampling site at Torrey Pines is at the Los Penasquitos Lagoon outlet. That site received good grades in our most recent annual Beach Report Card.


La Jolla, San Diego

Source: Wikipedia Commons

What we love about it: This spot is great for lovers and families alike, with plenty of adventure to be had by all ages.

What to do here: This is the perfect spot for a SUP (stand up paddleboard) adventure, snorkeling, kayaking, or even just a picturesque walk along the beach. For stunning ocean views over dinner, check out the Marine Room at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club.

Water Quality: La Jolla shores received great grades in our annual report last year.


Victoria Beach, Orange County

Source: Daniel Peckham, flickr

What we love about it: Straight out of a fairy tale, this shoreline spot is guarded by La Tour, a 60-foot castle-inspired tower.  Built in 1926, the structure provided beach access for a home on the cliff above.

What to do here: Looking to be someone’s knight in shining armor? Look no further. To get here, walk to the north end of Victoria Beach in Laguna Beach, around the bluff and past another sandy section of beach. (This is a privately owned structure, so while you can walk up to it, please do not try to go inside or climb on the structure.)

Water Quality: Victoria Beach received A+’s across the board in our last annual report.


Crystal Cove State Park, Orange County

Source: Wikipedia Commons

What we love about it: With such a long swath of open sandy shores, this is an ideal spot for a romantic seaside stroll, or perhaps for a love-inspired photoshoot.

What to do here: If you’re looking for post-beach walk eats with an ocean view, the Beachcomber Café is a fun option.

Water Quality: Crystal Cove has great water quality in the summer or whenever the weather has been dry. Given the buckets of rain we have (thankfully) gotten this year, make sure to heed any beach posting signs you may see.


Palos Verdes Peninsula, Los Angeles

Source: Mark Esguerra, The Marke’s World

What we love about it: We love the PV areas so much, we had to lump the whole peninsula together as one of our top locations. Palos Verdes wraps around from the base of the South Bay down to San Pedro, and features beautiful neighborhoods, coastal trails, clean beaches, and tidepool adventures.

What to do here: If you’re looking for some marine biology-inspired adventure, time your visit for low tide to go tidepooling at Abalone Cove. For a short hike and a hidden rocky beach, check out Palos Verdes Bluff Cove.

Water Quality: The Palos Verdes area is home to multiple Honor Roll beaches, including Abalone Cove Shoreline Park.


El Matador State Beach, Malibu

Source: Elliot McGucken, 500px

What we love about it: This was easily the top rated romantic spot by Heal the Bay staff. Dramatic cliffs and coves (and even secret sea caves) make this beach feel like the backdrop of a steamy Hollywood romance scene. Whether it’s energizing a new flame or a longtime squeeze, you can expect El Matador to light your fire.

What to do here: Explore the dramatic landscape, take Instagram-worthy photos, find little hideaway spots for you and your date to share secret kisses, and wrap up your evening with a gorgeous sunset view.

Water Quality: El Matador is an Honor Roll beach with awesome water quality.


Arroyo Burro, Santa Barbara

Source: Damian Gadal, flickr

What we love about it: Santa Barbara is the perfect little getaway for a weekend of romance. If you’re looking for some time together to rest, rejuvenate, and rekindle the fire, Santa Barbara is the perfect place.

What to do here: We love Arroyo Burro for a sunset walk, and with plenty of parking and restroom access it’s a stress-free beach walk experience.

Water Quality: Arroyo Burro has great water quality in the summer or whenever it has been dry enough that the creek hasn’t breached. Make sure to heed any beach posting signs you may see if you’re feeling like taking a dip. But if the creek is flowing, be sure to stick to the sand over the waves.


Big Sur Coastline, Monterey

Source: Wikipedia Commons

What we love about it: Another area that is just so beautiful, we can’t limit it to just one beach. The shoreline in Big Sur is renowned for its rustic coastal beauty. A drive along the twisty coastline is certain to inspire awe. Pull off whenever your heart desires, and be sure to take photos so you can revisit the view whenever you like.

What to do here: McWay Falls is a stunning spot where you can watch a perfect little waterfall pouring directly to the beach. The Bixby Canyon Bridge is another cult favorite, and there’s even a Death Cab for Cutie song to match. There are plenty of hiking trails, camping sites, and little cafes to warm up in.

Water Quality: Monterey water quality testing only extends as far south as Carmel, so while there aren’t any sampling sites to rely on, the area is un-urbanized and thus less likely to have bacterial problems.


Baker Beach, San Francisco

Source: Wikipedia Commons

What we love about it: If you’re in the Bay Area and looking for an ideal view of the Golden Gate Bridge, this is our favorite sandy spot.

What to do here: The dramatic backdrop makes this spot ideal for a photo shoot, or even just a quick selfie-sesh. We’d recommend cuddling up for a romantic picnic and enjoying the sunset together.

Water Quality: Just be sure to avoid swimming near the creek outlet if you’re looking to take a penguin dip.


Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County

Source: Wikipedia Commons

What we love about it: The farther north you go in California, often the more dramatic and rural the coastal landscape. This National Seashore is a prime example of that raw beauty, and it is sure to take your breath away.

What to do here: There a quite a few campgrounds and hiking trails within the area if you’re looking to get back in touch with nature.

Water Quality: Marin County no longer samples within this area. The closest active sampling station is Bolinas Beach (another beautiful spot), just south of Point Reyes.


Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card is the only comprehensive analysis of coastline water quality in California. We monitor more than 500 beaches weekly from Oregon to the Mexico border, assigning an A to F grade based on the health risks of swimming or surfing at that location.