Here are just a few examples of the kinds of achievements our member organizations are making happen throughout the year. To find out more, visit the listing of our members to see the accomplishments of each organization.
Greenhouse Gas Reduction
Californians Against Waste Foundation educated California’s state agencies (including the California Air Resources Board and CalRecycle) and other climate policy leaders (including local governments and the Climate Action Reserve) on the greenhouse gas reduction benefits of recycling. As a result, several entities have taken action to implement policies to reduce waste, including the Climate Action Reserve’s development of carbon offsets for organic waste diversion projects and the ARB’s implementation of a mandatory commercial recycling program.
Pacific Environment’s California Program initiated a major campaign, “Keeping California’s Clean Energy Promise.” This grassroots effort led the way in effectively stopping the threat of liquefied natural gas terminal construction on the California coast, setting the stage for California to phase out “once-through cooling” power plant technology. The campaign gained passage of aggressive climate action plans in Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville, which will lead these cities to reduce 36 percent of their emissions by 2020. The campaign also paved the way for the formation of two coalitions, the LCEA and RACE – both critical platforms for voicing community environmental concerns well into the future.
The Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee (DTPC) achieved the long-term goal of fencing both sides of Harper Lake Road (Kern County) to protect desert tortoises from being crush by passing vehicles. This project is the culmination of decades of work and provides almost 14 miles of protective fencing. We completed 7.5 acres of habitat enhancement as part of our ongoing restoration efforts at Camp “C”. The land in California City was nearly devoid of vegetation and highly compacted from years of off-highway vehicle use prior to the restoration efforts of the DTPC. These accomplishments demonstrate the DTPC’s efforts to continue our mission of conserving the desert tortoise and the habitat in which it lives.
Bringing Natives Back to Bahia! After working for 30 years to protect this spectacular 632-acre property along the Petaluma River in Novato from development, the Marin Audubon Society acquired the Bahia property and completed the final stages of wetland construction in 2008. Our work continued into 2009 with the help of many volunteers from the community. We have removed thousands of non-native invasive plants, constructed four on site nursery beds and have grown thousands of native grasses to be planted along the upland of the wetland areas. We have planted 2,000 native plants and will continue into 2010 to finish the job. We've already noticed an increase in wildlife and people coming to enjoy this beautiful, natural place.
Save the Bay’s 7,000 community volunteers planted more than 25,000 native plants and removed more than six tons of trash and 12 tons of invasive weeds to help us in our vision of 100,000 acres of restored Bay habitat. And in a time of state budget downsizing, we helped create the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, a new regional entity that will secure public funding for Bay restoration.
Our targeted objectives would not have been accomplished without the help of generous workplace giving donors throughout the Bay Area and California through EarthShare. Thank you for your involvement in protecting and restoring San Francisco Bay.
On Earth Day 2009, the Ecology Center’s Berkeley Farmers’ Market became the first farmers’ market in the nation to implement a plastic bags ban. Many other markets, including the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market and North Oakland’s Temescal Farmers’ Market, are following suit. The plan eliminated the distribution of plastic bags at food stands by having vendors adopt a biodegradable, non-GMO corn-based alternative. The Ecology Center educated customers on the hazards of plastic, as well as other available options to purchasing the biodegradable bags. These include taking bags from the used bag bins or making reusable cloth bags.
Save the Bay’s Bay vs. Bag web-film which premiered Earth Day 2009 generated more than 105,000 viewings on-line and national interest via ABC’s World News Tonight and the Huffington Post. Along with raising public awareness, we have partnered with San Jose – the region’s most populous city – to enact policies that will restrict the use of plastic bags.
Protected Space and Education
Environmental Defense Center’s Open-space Preservation and Educational Network (OPEN) has had a major impact on increasing public education and participation about the impact of community plans on open space and agricultural lands. We have engaged farmers and environmental advocates to bridge traditional differences to seek policies that discourage urban sprawl into rural areas. As a result, new Santa Barbara County policies have become much more protective of open space resources.
Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) acquired a conservation easement on 772 acres of irreplaceable farmland this year, permanently protecting it for food production while also safeguarding open space, natural resources, and scenic values. MALT’s stewardship program annually monitors the natural and agricultural resources on every protected property. MALT is also a partner in the Marin Carbon Project which is studying ways open pastureland sequesters carbon. MALT’s outreach programs were experienced by more than 8,000 people who visited Marin farms during one of the 30 Hikes and Tours held this year, and/or took part in special events such as Harvest Day at the Farm, lectures at Cavallo Point, or the Ranches & Rolling Hills landscape art show and sale. In addition, more than 1,000 schoolchildren visited farms as part of MALT’s Farm Field Studies program.
Species Preservation and Education
In cooperation with the San Diego Zoo, the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association has successfully bred peninsular pronghorn, a species that was facing extinction a few short years ago. Now released to a reserve in Baja California, the herd is thriving, and the Zoo is now in a position of hosting the “insurance” population for the species. Of course, conservation means nothing if the next generation doesn’t build on current successes. To that end, the Zoo continues its more than 30 informal and formal education programs to introduce young people to the natural world and hopefully engender the conservation ethic which will assure the future of our plants and animals.
Sustainable Planning and Education
Greenbelt Alliance launched Grow Smart Bay Area, a rigorously researched analysis of how our region can grow sustainably, with vital open spaces protected and livable neighborhoods near jobs, shopping, and recreation. The announcement of this vision, along with the report Grow Smart Bay Area drew the attention of media outlets such as the San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Business Times, Marin Independent Journal, Contra Costa Times, KPFA, and KQED’s Forum. The San Francisco Chronicle described the vision as a “refreshingly upbeat view of the future.”
In 2009, the Planning and Conservation League Foundation traveled around the state, providing community workshops on how to cut the carbon footprint of new development and how to participate in the implementation of new environmental laws such as SB 375 and AB 32. These laws focus on transportation, land use and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Through these workshops, the Foundation provides practical information and strategies to build livable, walk-able communities that focus on infill development, effective public transportation and reducing carbon emissions.
Natural Resources Defense Council played a crucial role in crafting and passing the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) in 1999, and has since been a partner in the collaborative, science-based process of achieving its goals. The first law of its kind, the MLPA requires creation of a comprehensive statewide network of marine protected areas, or underwater Yosemites, that serve as havens for wildlife and ensure our ocean ecosystems remain productive for future generations. Once complete—and it is now more than half done—this necklace of biological jewels will stretch the full length of California’s coast.
Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) Helps Farmers and USDA Work Together for the Environment. Due to years of effort by OFRF, more than $50 million in federal funding annually flows to organic agriculture programs to promote conservation, improve organic acres and transition new acres to organic. In 2009, OFRF worked with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to urge farmer participation in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program Organic Initiative. More than 4,000 farmers applied the first year. That represents huge potential for increased and improved organic farm acreage. OFRF also surveyed organic farmers nationwide for advice on improving the 2010 program, which again offers $50 million to growers to conserve resources through organic farming.
On June 17, 2009 Pesticide Action Network launched a new online tool: the What'sOnMyFood? website. The searchable database uses USDA data to show what pesticides are found on different foods, in what amount, and -- for the first time -- links those residues to the health effects associated with exposure to each of the chemicals. In addition to highlighting the potential direct health effects of pesticide residues, What'sOnMyFood? points to the many problems associated with pesticide use before food reaches the kitchen table.
San Diego Coastkeeper co-coordinated the 25th annual Coastal Cleanup Day in San Diego County where 10,283 volunteers participated at 80 sites countywide. Of all cleanup sites, 38 were coastal and 42 were inland, further demonstrating the shift to inland sites as many local beaches have less of a problem with litter. These volunteers removed an impressive 174,491 pounds or 87 tons of trash, recyclables, and green waste from cleanup sites, showing an increase in the amount of trash collected when compared to 2007 and 2008 debris totals.
The 25th Annual Coastal Cleanup Day marked the largest community wide cleanup effort in Santa Cruz County to date. 3,802 volunteers removed over 9,000 pounds of trash and nearly 4,000 pounds of recycle from our local beaches, rivers, sloughs, and kelp beds. In the last two years, SOS volunteers have removed over 93,000 pounds of trash from Santa Cruz County’s waterways and beaches. Specifically, volunteers removed: over 75,000 cigarette butts, over 24,000 pieces of plastic, over 13,000 plastic bags, over 12,000 pieces of Styrofoam.
"Save The Bay's program gets urban underserved students out into nature, something that happens rarely in their everyday life. It helps create a sense of environmental stewardship in a culture and generation that is sometimes very disconnected from the natural environment." --Tenth Grade Science Teacher.
More than 5,500 students and 185 teachers participated in our Watershed Education Program, which leads students on canoeing field trips, creek cleanups and native seed plantings to expose them to Bay ecology. Since 1997, the Program has brought more than 75,000 students and teachers onto the water and into Bay wetlands, teaching and inspiring environmental stewardship and community leadership in today’s youth. Past students have begun recycling programs in their schools, volunteered for more restoration trips with Save The Bay and contributed to conserving natural areas.
In 2009, Urban Corps of San Diego County celebrated its 20th Anniversary. In two decades, the organization has employed over 6,500 youth, removed 72 million square feet of graffiti, planted 11,000 trees, and diverted 16.5 million pounds of recyclables from landfills. Over 1,300 youth have graduated with their high school diploma in the process. The year brought state-wide awards for best Recycling Program and best Urban Forestry Program, as well as the debut of the Recycling ECO Center, the first of its kind in California. The Center is a sustainability training facility for Corpsmembers and the public and includes a rooftop garden for hands-on learning.
Save The Bay recently secured the nation’s first municipal storm water discharge permit. This permit mandates a 40 percent trash reduction goal by 2014, and a goal of zero trash by 2022. This permit applies to 70 cities from Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties and Fairfield-Suisun metropolitan area, which together comprise 75 percent of the region’s population.
All of our member organizations have won important victories this year. Visit the listing of our members to see the accomplishments of each organization.