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Heal the Bay Blog

Category: Palos Verdes Peninsula

Free Bird! You might be grateful to hear your favorite band cover this song…or not.

At Heal the Bay, we can say without irony that we are grateful to Freebirds in Agoura Hills for teaming with us to restore the Malibu Creek Watershed in January. Not only did a group of Freebirders join us, but they surprised us and brought burritos! It was an awesome day, pulling weeds, planting mulefat, eating burritos. Thank you, Freebirds!

A big thanks to the Gesso Foundation for their longtime support of our Key to the Sea program.  Due in large part to their generosity, we’ve successfully provided thousands of Los Angeles County-based students and their teachers (K-5th grade) with high-impact environmental education and memorable field trip experiences. For many of these students, participation in the program marked their first chance to explore the beach environment and witness marine life up close! 

The Gesso Foundation was created in accordance with the wishes expressed in the will of acclaimed artist Frank Moore, who died in 2002. The Foundation’s purpose is twofold: to preserve, protect, and expand awareness of Frank Moore’s art; and to support non-profit organizations devoted to the arts, social justice, environmental or AIDS-related causes.Morphing Swallow by artist-philanthropist Frank Moore

Much like Mary Poppins herself, moms rely on Mommy Poppins LA, consulting the site for non-boring, low-cost activities to do with kids. Meanwhile Heal the Bay and our Aquarium couldn’t spread the word about our kid-friendly, fun AND educational happenings without their help. As parents and as youth educators, we thank the staff at Mommy Poppins LA for being such a helpful resource.

Do you devote your free time to volunteer with Heal the Bay? Then it’s time for us to thank YOU. Please join us on February 19 at Bodega Wine Bar as we celebrate you and all that you do to help protect our Bay…and beyond.

Join us to help revive Malibu Creek by removing weeds and planting natives on February 10. 



Do you care about clean water in your community? Love putting on a show? Want to make change (not just the money kind)?

Join our elite Speakers Bureau team to help raise educational awareness across Los Angeles in schools, workplaces and social groups.

For more than 25 years, Heal the Bay has relied upon people just like you to help spread the word about ocean pollution.

Last year we were able to reach 55,000 people! Obviously, we can’t do this on our own: We need you!  

Our winter training sessions begin on Tuesday, March 5, 1-4:30 p.m. at the Los Angeles River Center. Sessions run through the month on Tuesdays in March  (the 12th and the 19th), with a talk on Saturday, March 16, 9:30 a.m.-noon at Venice Pier. Attendance at all sessions is mandatory.

Register for Winter Speakers Bureau Training.



As representatives of Heal the Bay, we often get asked: “Is the bay healed yet?” People know we’ve been at this a long time (more than 25 years). While the answer is a qualified “yes,” we still work every day to fulfill our mission to make southern California’s coastal waters and watersheds, including Santa Monica Bay safe, healthy and clean. Our tools?  Science, education, community action and advocacy.

Each year we discuss where we’ve been, where we’re headed and how we’re going to get there. It’s a valuable process requiring that we all know what our HtB colleagues are up to: whether we’re teaching school kids at our Aquarium, coordinating our next advocacy campaign or analyzing water samples in Malibu Creek.

Here’s what we came up with for our goals of 2013:

Science

Marine Protected Areas and Fisheries

In 2013, we plan to continue to build our MPA Watch program. We will review data collected by MPA Watch volunteers and interns, and share it with management, enforcement, and other monitoring agencies to help understand and evaluate how local Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are being used. We also plan to inform and evaluate the development of fisheries management plans for key southern California fisheries, including spiny lobster. Additionally, in 2013, we will work with local and statewide partners to advance the statewide sustainable seafood policy developed by the Ocean Protection Council (with Heal the Bay’s involvement) and local efforts to promote sustainable seafood. On the education front, we are playing a leadership role in creating new MPA curriculum for teachers with the Southern California Aquarium Collaborative.  

Stream Team

Heal the Bay will continue to develop our Stream Team program. We plan to begin evaluating watershed impacts associated with agricultural development in the Santa Monica Mountains, including vineyards. Additionally, we hope to inspire residents and recreationists in the watershed to become Creek Stewards, and help scout for watershed health impacts throughout these mountains.

Malibu Creek Watershed

We will educate local partner groups and management agencies about the findings of Heal the Bay’s State of the Malibu Creek Watershed report. We will also work with watershed partners and policymakers to prioritize and implement recommendations detailed in the report aimed at improving local stream and watershed health.

Predicting Beach Water Quality

Heal the Bay will continue our partnership with Stanford University in developing a predictive beach water quality models. The models will use oceanic and atmospheric factors (i.e. tides, waves, temperature, wind direction etc.) as inputs to forecast indicator bacteria concentrations at beaches, as means of providing early “nowcast” warnings of human health risks (our current methods take 18-24 hours to process, leaving the public with day-old water quality information). We plan to develop simple models for 25 different California beaches that will rapidly “predict” when beaches are in or out of compliance with water quality standards. Additionally, these models will be helpful in identifying and prioritizing beach cleanup and abatement priorities.

Education

Youth Summits

To take student learning beyond the classroom into community action and civic engagement, Heal the Bay will organize more youth summits. Students learn how to protect what they love through adjusting their own behavior, speaking publicly to businesses and governments and educating others in their local communities.  This year we will focus on scheduling these events quarterly, formalizing their structure, and expanding their reach throughout Los Angeles County high schools.     

Teacher Opportunities

Heal the Bay will expand our teacher education and professional development opportunities in 2013.  New workshops and field experiences will be offered to help increase teacher expertise in teaching environmental principles and concepts, marine and watershed science knowledge, and best practices for melding field and laboratory activities into their own classroom curricula. 

Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

To further educate the 75,000-80,000 annual visitors to the Aquarium about water conservation, we plan to overhaul the Green Room, named after Heal the Bay’s founding president Dorothy Green, with a new exhibit in her honor. The education room will include interactive, bilingual exhibits on watershed education and the urban water cycle, as well as a space dedicated to Dorothy’s accomplishments and inspirational vision.

Classroom Enrichment

In 2013, we’ll expand our environmental education outreach to more low-income communities and to a wider range of age groups. Through our partnership with the Discovery by Nature program, we’ll be able to reach classrooms in underserved communities, where public education in the sciences — as well as field trip funding — are limited.

Advocacy

A “Yes” for Clean Beaches

In the new year, Heal the Bay will mobilize support for the Clean Waters, Clean Beaches funding measure, which will drive an extensive and multi-faceted water quality clean up and conservation program in Los Angeles County.  The proposed measure would address contaminated drinking water, polluted stormwater runoff as well as toxins and trash in the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers, among other challenges.

Plastic Bag Bans

In 2013, we will take a leadership role in advocating for a strong single-use bag ordinance for the City of Los Angeles that is consistent with several other policies adopted by local governments in the area. We will work with partner groups and City Council offices to conduct outreach to the community about the pending ordinance, and ensure that a final policy is adopted that eliminates single-use plastic bag usage in the City at grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores, and greatly reduces paper bag distribution from these locations.

Community Action

Zero Waste Cleanups

In 2013, Heal the Bay plans to run all Nothin’ But Sand monthly beach cleanups as Zero Waste events.  Building upon the success of the 2012 Zero Waste cleanups in October and November, we shall focus this year on not generating excessive waste in the process of performing large-scale public volunteer events. The hope is that the public will witness our commitment to practicing what we advocate, by going reusable and minimizing trash.

Compton Creek

Heal the Bay, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Goldhirsh Foundation, will complete a project to build trash capture devices in the concrete portion of Compton Creek, just upstream of the earthen-bottom, riparian section. Compton Creek is the last major tributary that feeds into the Los Angeles River before it ultimately reaches the ocean in Long Beach. The devices ‑- adjustable metal racks that will be bolted into the channel bottom — will capture trash from dry weather urban runoff and low volume producing storm events and go a long way toward improving water quality.  

A Park in South L.A.

Heal the Bay is partnering with Wisdom Academy for Young Scientists (WAYS) Charter School to complete the construction of the WAYS Reading & Fitness Park on the site of 4,000-square feet of unused City land in 2013. This park, located at the intersection of McKinley Avenue and 87th Street in South Los Angeles, will be on the leading edge of green technology, recycling street water to irrigate its own landscape.

Help us reach our goals this year, donate now and keep the field trips, advocacy campaigns and water testing afloat!

Read more about Heal the Bay and how we work to fulfill our mission.



This trashcan tells quite a tale, discovered more than 2,500 miles away from our Santa Monica base on a Hawaiian beach.

Researchers found the intact plastic trashcan emblazoned with Heal the Bay stickers while they were surveying 2011 Japanese tsunami debris at Ki’i Dunes on Oahu.

“It really highlights the fact that trash travels very far,” Nicholas Mallos, a conservation biologist and ocean debris specialist at the nonprofit Ocean Conservancy told LiveScience.

Mallos and colleagues from the Japan Environmental Action Network, the Oceanic Wildlife Survey and the Japan Ministry of the Environment just completed the beach survey in Hawaii in search of tsunami debris.

Heal the Bay Trash Can in HawaiiThe Hawaii survey turned up masses of typical ocean garbage, including fishing nets and traps, Mallos said, noting the irony of also finding a “Heal the Bay” trashcan.

The problem of typical ocean trash is inextricably linked to the issue of tsunami debris, Mallos continued. Tsunamis aren’t preventable, but regular ocean litter is, he said. Apparently even trashcans can become part of the problem.

You can help reduce the problem of plastic in our oceans by ditching one-time use plastics and going reusable instead, from grocery bags to coffee mugs and water bottles.

UPDATE 1.22.13: A Hawaiian Islands Land Trust employee reported today that another Heal the Bay trashcan has washed up in the Aloha state; this time along the shoreline of Maui’s Waihee Refuge.

Read more about plastic marine debris.

Become part of the plastic pollution solution: Join a cleanup effort, our Speakers Bureau or the many other ways we offer to get involved.



Planting one of the first MPA signs along Los Angeles’ coast felt like it’d been a long time coming.

California lays claim to the only statewide network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), or underwater parks, where ocean wildlife can thrive with less disturbance from humans. Yesterday our Coastal Resources Director Sarah Sikich and I, along with our colleagues at L.A. Waterkeeper, installed the first MPA signs in Los Angeles County along access points in Malibu’s marine reserve. 

Southern California’s marine protected areas have been in effect for a year — after years of hard work to implement them– and now they’ll finally be marked.

Point Dume State Marine Reserve is located on the Malibu Coast, and includes a rocky headland peninsula, one of the world’s most popular coastal destinations. Migrating gray whales often stop off and feed along Point Dume, and the reserve’s kelp forests, canyon, and tide pools teem with octopus, anemones, and sea stars. Historically, Point Dume’s kelp forest has been the largest in southern California, providing food and shelter for a variety of sea life, including sea lions, grunion, and spawning squid.

It took over a year to get these initial simple signs designed, approved, funded, and installed- but an even longer public process to identify, negotiate, and designate MPAs along the Southern California Coast. Big thanks to the collaborative efforts of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Los Angeles Waterkeeper for helping to make these signs become a reality!

Next up are installing MPA signs along the Palos Verdes coast and Catalina Island … and later on this year, beautiful and informative MPA interpretive signage which will include images, maps, and multi-lingual descriptions of our local MPAs. For Heal the Bay, this is just the first step in education signage, but an exciting one to help with marine protected area education.

 

Dana Roeber Murray, Heal the Bay’s Marine & Coastal Scientist

For ocean lovers who want to get more involved with underwater parks, join our MPA Watch training program on January 30 and February 2 to help monitor these vital environmental resources. 



Through a powerful collaboration between Holocaust survivors and teen filmmakers, Heal the Bay received a video gift that will definitely keep on giving.

Students produced It’s Not Just One, a public service announcement that vividly depicts the impact of littering on the health of our communities and ocean.

The PSA was created in a “Righteous Conversations Project” workshop held over the summer at Harvard-Westlake school aimed at students in 7th-11th grades from all over L.A.

These teens worked with Holocaust survivors to pinpoint injustices they wanted to confront together. Through the workshop they learned to harness the power of media messages, the ways video can be used to raise awareness and effect change.

Participating survivor Idele Stapholtz’s message was simple. “I was a child survivor,” she recalled sharing with the students. “To be a survivor in this world means that you need to understand and respect something precious, help save it and keep it pure.” 

It’s Not Just One was inspired by Harvard-Westlake freshman Michael Kellman’s love for the ocean. “I really wanted to do something about pollution in the ocean because the ocean is a huge part of my life,” he said. “I row crew in Marina del Rey every day and that’s my favorite thing in the world.”

Once the student filmmakers (Sarah McAllister, Kelly Morrison, Kyra Perez and Jordan Seibel) completed the PSA, they decided to gift it to Heal the Bay, which pleased Idele, a longtime supporter of Heal the Bay’s work. With her husband Ben, Idele spent years volunteering at what is now Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium.

“I thought It’s Not Just One was incredible. The result is so powerful,” she said.

Righteous Conversations launched in 2011 and is a project of Remember Us.  Harvard-Westlake’s Visual Arts and Film Chair Cheri Gaulke led the workshops.

Learn more about participating in the Righteous Conversation workshops.

Watch Heal the Bay’s videos, from mockumentaries to hip hop music videos and silent films.



On January 8, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the suit, Los Angeles County Flood Control District v. Natural Resources Defense Council, which was initiated by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Los Angeles Waterkeeper in 2008. The suit focuses on the issue of liability for the discharge of toxic pollutants under the District’s municipal storm water permit (“MS4”). 

The Court ruled very narrowly on the case and remanded it back to the 9th Circuit Court. 

The good news is that the Clean Water Act’s enforceability has not been changed as a result of their decision.

For more information please see the NRDC and LA Waterkeeper’s press release and this blog post on the Center for Progressive Reforms Page.

Learn more about the Clean Water, Clean Beaches Measure which would reduce harmful pollution from getting into our waterways.

Stay up-to-date on our clean water advocacy work, follow us on Twitter.



You may have difficulty fulfilling your New Year’s resolution this week if it involves morning outdoor exercise, and your preferred location is the beach, especially if your go-to spot is typically narrow like Dan Blocker or Carbon Beach. Why, you wonder? Because the King Tides are upon us.

King Tides are extreme high tide events that occur when the earth, moon, and sun are aligned in such a way that their gravitational forces reinforce one another causing the highest and lowest of tides. They occur in the winter and summer, but tend to be most dramatic in the winter, as they often coincide with storm events. The rain, wind, and high surf can intensify their effects. Places like Huntington Beach and Newport Beach experienced major flooding during last month’s King Tides, which overlapped with some big surf.

These are naturally occurring and predictable, but the King Tides can also shed light on the challenges coastal California faces with the threat of climate change and sea level rise. Predicting sea level rise is not an exact science, but under moderate greenhouse gas emissions scenarios, sea level rise along the California coast is projected to rise from 1-1.4 meters by 2100 (3 to 5 feet).  The King Tides can help us visualize the impact of rising waters on the California coast.

King Tides at Carbon Beach January 8-10 2013
King Tides at Carbon Beach, January 8-10, 2013

Approximately 85% of California’s residents live or work in coastal areas.  These communities and the associated environment are threatened by sea level rise and increased storm intensity, which is likely to cause increased erosion and flooding. But the good news is that if we plan for it, we can adapt. Heal the Bay is involved in such planning efforts, through groups such as Adapt LA. And, we can look to cases like Surfers’ Point in Ventura, where climate change adaptation plans have already been implemented.

In an effort to help document King Tides throughout the state and help people visualize the threat of sea level rise, the California King Tides Initiative encourages people to photograph King Tides at their local or favorite beach and share them through Flickr. These photos will also help educate Californians about threats associated with sea level rise. If you are interested in visiting the beach to help document this unique event, Friday morning marks the highest of tides this week. Tides will top almost 7 feet at 8:15 a.m. in Santa Monica. Check out a tide chart to time your visit, and be careful exploring!

 Sarah Sikich, Heal the Bay Coastal Resources Director

Many of Heal the Bay’s initiatives are connected to climate change. Learn how you can help turn the tide.



Veteran TV broadcaster Huell Howser passed away Sunday night. Here Communications Director Matthew King remembers his work with Heal the Bay.

If anyone could make plastic bags come alive, it’d be Huell Howser.   

As Heal the Bay’s newly hired Communications Director six years ago, I’d been grappling with how to engage the public about the environmental costs associated with society’s addiction to single-use plastic bags. I’d sent out press releases, assembled fact sheets and written earnest letters to the editors about Los Angeles County’s proposed bag ban. But something was missing. We needed some human interest.

So I sent a long email to Huell suggesting that California’s Gold spend a day on the beach taking an up-close look at what plastics were doing to our shorelines. To my surprise, he responded positively and quickly to my pitch. I’ve placed several Op Eds in the L.A Times and successfully arranged dozens of segments on local TV news programs since then, but Huell calling me back that afternoon and coordinating the filming schedule marked one of my greatest professional moments here.

Media relations professionals often lose perspective about the issues they pitch. Self-doubt naturally creeps in when success hinges on the mercurial interests of overworked journalists. Is this topic compelling to most people? Does anyone really care about this?

Huell served as bit of a gold standard. He had made a career of mining the profound in the mundane. So if he found plastic bags interesting, then by default they were interesting.

On the drive down the 405 freeway to the Manhattan Beach Pier, my colleague Kirsten James and I did our best Huell impersonations. I made a bet with Kirsten that I could get Huell to drawl the amount of plastic bags we use each year in L.A. County in dragged-out astonishment. “Noooooo, Kirsten! NINE BILL-YUN plastic bags??!!”  I won my bet.

Huell became a bit of a caricature to some jaded members of L.A.’s media community, with his beefy biceps and cornpone demeanor. But that sunny afternoon in the South Bay proved to me that his TV personality wasn’t some calculated act. Off camera, he bubbled with the same Southern charm and decency as shown on screen. It could’ve been model trains or an old mill, but on this day plastic bags inspired that sense of wonder and incredulity that marked his best work.

Huell never proselytized about environmental protection, letting the sheer beauty of California’s special places speak for itself. Before you can expect people to act, you have to inspire. And inspire he did. For that, environmental organizations up and down the state owe Huell a debt of gratitude.

In subsequent years, I’d occasionally suggest other ideas to Huell: looking for great white sharks in Santa Monica Bay or exploring Compton Creek. He didn’t take the bait, but he always made a point of calling me back personally to tell me why. Most journalists don’t respond to pitches, no matter how well-crafted and personalized, either by phone or email. You get used to the rejection, but it still grates. It’s a simple thing, but Huell’s calls showed class and consideration. He didn’t have to telephone, but he did.

My last phone call from Huell came a few months ago, declining an invitation to attend a Heal the Bay event in Santa Monica celebrating African-American surf culture in Southern California. He wanted to attend, he said, but would be traveling. As we chatted on a fading Friday afternoon, he seemed a bit tired. I said goodbye and wished him well.

Huell will be remembered as the champion of the obscure. But I think of him celebrating the essential: to be kind, to be curious, to be connected. California will miss him.



It’s been a long road – more than 12 years – but, California’s statewide network of coastal marine protected areas (MPAs) is now complete. As of Dec. 19, 2012, the final piece of the coastal MPA network (along the North Coast) is effective.

Our state’s marine life will now have safe haven along about 16% of our entire California coastline, lining our 1,100 miles of coast like a string of pearls, protecting habitats, ocean ecosystems, and marine natural heritage.

California’s state legislature enacted the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) in 1999, directing the Department of Fish and Game to design and manage a statewide network of MPAs to protect marine life and habitats, marine ecosystems, and marine natural heritage. Heal the Bay was most actively involved in the effort to designate MPAs in southern California under the MLPA, and is now working with partner groups throughout the state to monitor and conduct outreach about these new underwater parks.

Through the phased “MLPA Initiative” process various interests ranging from fishing groups to conservationists designed 119 MPAs, which have been adopted off the CA coast- first in the Central Coast in 2007 and 2010, then along the Southern California coast, which entered into regulatory effect on Jan. 1, 2012.

This network of MPAs is designed to function together as an interconnected system.  California’s MPAs are being monitored by state and federal agencies, researchers, citizen science groups, and others.

The North Coast MPAs going into effect marks a historic moment to be celebrated – this is the first statewide network of underwater parks in the U.S. As an investment for future generations, this system of MPAs will lead to a stronger and more resilient marine ecosystem in California.

Dana Roeber Murray

Heal the Bay’s Marine & Coastal Scientist 

Want to do more to steward our ocean environment? Join Heal the Bay’s citizen science program, MPA Watch. Training begins January 30.