Caring for the beaches, oceans and coastlines has always been a big part of the NEC’s mission. We’re reminded of this as we celebrate the 30th annual California Cleanup Day, which is actually the 35th year since the program was initiated right here in Humboldt County. Much of our efforts continue to revolve around the same issues of litter, pollution and use, although some of the specific threats and potential consequences have shifted with time. This was at the forefront of a recent Ocean Protection Council/Ocean Science Trust workshop in which participants tried to define a “healthy” ocean and the best ways for state agencies to ensure one. On a local level, we strive for three characteristics: clean, productive and protected.
Thanks to the outstanding efforts of Coastal Education Specialist Justin Zakoren, our Whale Tail grant-funded Clean Beaches, Healthy Communities program has been a big hit at summer schools, camps and programs across the county. Through fun presentations utilizing the NEC’s watershed model, plus hands-on activities, children from five to 14 have a better understanding of how watersheds work, the interconnectivity of rain, land, rivers and ocean, and the harm done by toxins and trash.
A New Model
As we move forward into the school year, Zakoren will continue his presentations with a particular focus on typically underserved communities. An exciting development involves the watershed model, which, wonderful as it is, doesn’t reflect how land-use issues have evolved over the dozen or so years since it was created. To that end, local artist Matthew Oliveri is currently working on a new model, to further expand the NEC’s outreach and education abilities. We look forward to unveiling the 2014 watershed diorama by the end of October.
Art from Trash
Another new creation is the marine debris sculpture based on the art of the Washed Ashore project. Using trash from multiple cleanups and with help from volunteers, SCRAP Humboldt’s Tibora Girczyc-Blum coordinated the construction of an impressive salmon that will play an important role in discussing the problem of marine debris in classrooms and elsewhere in the community. News Channel 3 included a spot on the project on the station’s “Green Report” in August.
Taking Good Care of the Beach
Our main focus through August and into September has been, of course, Coastal Cleanup Day. We’ve acquired several new sponsors in addition to our wonderful repeat supporters from past years. Click here for more information on Coastal Cleanup Day 2014. For those who enjoyed Coastal Cleanup Day and are seeking a greater commitment, don’t forget we also coordinate the local Adopt-a-Beach program. Interested participants can check out our website, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 822-6918.
Marine Protected Areas
This December marks not only the two-year anniversary of the North Coast marine protected area network, but the completion of the California state network as a whole. The implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act took over a decade, largely due to unprecedented public involvement in deciding how and where in state waters these special protected areas should go. Many factors came into play, from habitat types to economic considerations. Fortunately, discovering more about what is out “there” will happen sooner, as baseline monitoring projects are already underway here on the North Coast. Eleven projects, largely including local researchers and fishermen, received $4 million of funding from the state. Look for a detailed description of several of these projects in the next EcoNews.
Stay in Touch!
Each week brings opportunities to keep up on ocean happenings. Tune into Coastal Currents on KHUM 104.7 FM each Wednesday at noon. Read “Your Week in Ocean” on the Lost Coast Outpost. Monthly updates can be heard the fourth Thursday of each month on The EcoNews Report at 1 p.m. on KHSU. Prior episodes are available at our EcoNews Report Archive page.