April 17, 2014

Scotts Valley Decides to Keep Plastic Bags....For Now

Plastic bag found at Carbonera Creek in Scotts Valley.  Photo by Haig White
Scotts Valley City Council held their regular meeting last night, April 16th.  One of the first agenda items was the potential plastic bag ban for the city.  Scott Valley is the only jurisdiction in Santa Cruz County that does not have a ban on plastic bags.

The council decided to wait for the State Legislators to move forward with the state-wide plastic bag ban, SB 270.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reporter Calvin Men, reported on the meeting:

"The Scotts Valley City Council opted not to adopt the ordinance Wednesday night, citing pending state legislation that would ban plastic bags to an extent.

Though Councilwoman Stephany Aguilar made a motion that would have started the process, it failed to gain support from other members of the council.

The proposed ordinance considered several options, including whether to charge a fee for paper bags if plastic bags are banned or continuing to use plastic bags. Another option, modeled after a proposed state legislation, would ban plastic bags at retailers with gross annual sales of $2 million or more or with 10,000 square feet.

The decision came after hearing from dozens San Lorenzo Valley residents and environmental organizations who gave varying opinions on the matter. Some advocated for the ban of the plastic bags and a fee on paper bags to encourage residents to get into the habit of using reusable bags."

Read the full story here

April 10, 2014

Join us in celebrating Earth Day!

Save Our Shores will host four cleanups for Earth Day on Saturday, April 19th

Earth Day is almost here and we want YOU to be a part of the solution to ocean pollution.  SOS is focusing efforts on beaches and inland locations in need of some extra help this Earth Day where volunteers will have the greatest impact.  SOS will host two cleanups in Monterey and two cleanups in Santa Cruz including a free yoga class, a potluck and giveaways for participants.  

Cleanups in Monterey at Elkhorn Slough and Del Monte Beach

Photo by Paul Zaretscky

The Elkhorn Slough Watershed cleanup will take place at Triple M Ranch from 10am-Noon.  This is the first cleanup of its kind and it is in partnership with the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) and the Marine Mammal Center.  Volunteers will meet at Triple M Ranch at 420 Hall Road in Las Lomas, ALBA’s Farm Training and Research Center.  ALBA educates local farmers on sustainable and organic farming practices in the Elkhorn Slough Reserve watershed.  Due to a huge increase in illegal dumping at sites surrounding the reserve, SOS designated this region as a 2014 Hotspot.  The cleanup will be followed by a celebratory potluck where participants can purchase local produce from ALBA and win some new gear from REI.

The beach cleanup at Del Monte Beach is from 10am-Noon.  Del Monte Beach is one of the most popular destinations in Monterey and boasts a great view of our entire National Marine Sanctuary.  As a treat for volunteers, local yoga instructor Lindsay Jackson will lead a one-hour yoga session at 9am.  The check-in table will be located in the beach parking lot next to Municipal Wharf #2.

Cleanups in Santa Cruz at Cowell and Main Beach and the 
San Lorenzo River at Water Street Bridge

Photo by Lauren Dockendorf

The cleanup at the San Lorenzo River will be at the Water Street Bridge from 9am-11am.  The San Lorenzo River has been a major focus for SOS over the past few years, and it has been consistently improving.  Help to continue this effort and join this cleanup.  The check-in table will be at the San Lorenzo Riverway path in the San Lorenzo Part right next to the pedestrian bridge.

The beach cleanup at Cowell and Main Beach is from 9am-11am.  The Cowell and Main Beaches are located right next to the famous Santa Cruz Boardwalk, making them the most popular beaches in Santa Cruz.  The check-in table will be at the Cowell Beach stairs near the parking lot next to the Dream Inn hotel.  

“Earth Day is a great opportunity for everyone in our Monterey and Santa Cruz communities to show their appreciation for the ocean paradise that we have here by participating in one of our four cleanups this year,” said Laura Kasa, Executive Director of SOS.

Materials will be provided at all four cleanups, but consider bringing your own buckets, gloves, bags and reusable water bottles to help reduce trash. Individuals and groups welcome.  If you plan to bring a group of 10 or more, contact volunteer@saveourshores.org.  

If you would like to register for the cleanup ahead of time, visit our website at www.saveourshores.org/earthday.

April 8, 2014

Get to Know Your MPA Monday

Elkhorn Slough Marine Reserve

Imagine a place where you can see a variety of migrating birds, leopard sharks, harbor seals and the largest population of sea otters along the west coast, all in one afternoon.  This is the reality at Elkhorn Slough Reserve.  Because of the amount of diversity in this 1,700-acre slough, it was declaired a Marine Reserve in 2007, the highest level of protection for a Marine Protected Area.

Photo by Ted Belleza
Elkhorn Slough wasn't always the haven it is today.  Back in 1913, the land was owned by Empire Gun Club who used it as a hunting marsh.  They even installed dikes to create a string of ponds for duck hunting.  After the Gun Club left around 1940, the slough was drained and transformed into a pasture for cattle.  Some of the original barns can still be seen at the slough (pictured below).

Photo by Miwa

It wasn't until 1979, when the Department of Fish and Wildlife purchased the land, that the restoration of this important estuary began.  The dikes were removed and the estuary was filled with brackish water (a mix of ocean and fresh water).  

This unique habitat attracts visitors from all over the world.  Especially bird watchers who come to see the extreme range of over 340 species who migrate through this area and some that live there year-round including the endangered Snowy Plover.

Photo by californiampas.org
The Elkhorn Slough Marine Reserve was established in 2007 with the rest of the Central Coast Marine Protected Areas.  The reserve boundary starts about a mile upstream from the Highway 1 bridge and extends all the way to the dock at Kirby Park.  The remaining mile in between Highway 1 and the reserve is the Elkhorn Slough Marine Conservation Area which allows only for fishing and harvesting clams, all other species are protected.  

Are you interested in visiting this mystical place?  You can rent a Kayak from our friends at Kayak Connection, trust us, you will not be disappointed!

March 31, 2014

Get to Know Your MPA Monday

                                                                                                                                                                      Photo by Christian Arballo
Natural Bridges Marine Protected Area (MPA)

One of the smallest MPAs in the Central Coast, Natural Bridges State Marine Reserve is just a half mile long and extends only 21 feet into the ocean.    

Located at the northern edge of the City of Santa Cruz, Natural Bridges is an accessible and popular area where visitors and scientists alike can explore extensive and biologically rich tide pools and sandy beaches.  The famous tide pools at Natural Bridges provide habitat for a wide range of species from baby Giant Pacific Octopus to Gumboot Chiton.

The Natural Bridges State Marine Reserve is a special MPA that does not allow any type of fishing, hence the word reserve.  There are many different types of MPAs that allow some fishing but since this is such a special and unique area along the coast of California, it is protected from all fishing and harvesting activities.

This beach, with its famous natural bridge, is an excellent place to view birds, migrating whales, seals, and otters playing offshore. 

                        Photo by Anders Ohlsson
Natural Bridges is home to the only State Monarch Preserve in California and provides a temporary home to over 100,000 Monarch butterflies each winter!

Did you know? Although only one arch remains at Natural Bridges, at one time three arches once stood here until they collapsed from erosion. The outer arch fell during the early 20th century and the inner arch fell during a large storm in 1980 – all that remains is the middle arch!

For more information about Natural Bridges State Park click here.  For more information on all of the MPAs in the Central Coast of California click here.

March 26, 2014

Local SOS Beach Adopter Saves Seagull from Fishing Line

Anni Rein was walking on Seabright Beach in November 2013 and saw something strange in the tide line.  It was a seagull that had just washed ashore and was right where the sea met the beach.  It wasn’t swimming or flying, it was floating. 

The bird couldn't move its feet, mouth or wings. Seeing the bird in distress, Anni approached the bird and noticed that the bird was tangled in fishing line.  Anni didn't have a knife or scissors, so she asked around for something to get it off.  A man came to help her and said he would get the number for Native Animal Rescue.  He ran up to Save Our Shores sign at the entrance of the beach, got the number and called for help. 

With the animal rescue's advice, they carefully picked up the bird and cut off the fishing line with a car key.  Then got all the line off released bird, they stayed and watched if it would fly.  

"You could see the bird had been harmed by this fishing line for a while, once it was off, it slowly stretched it's wings and was very wobbly and confused on it's feet trying to walk away."  said Anni.

The bird didn't make it very far and didn't look in good health.  They decided to take the advice from the Native Animal Rescue and capture the bird to bring it in.  With a towel to cover the bird and a cardboard box to transport it, the man took the bird to the rehab center.

Anni never got the name of the man who helped her rescue the bird.  Mysteriously, just a few weeks ago, she saw the man walking his dog at the exact same place they had met back in November.  Excited, she asked what happened to the bird.  The man said he took bird to animal rescue and they said it would have a good chance of recovering.  

This story had a very happy ending, but many birds don't have the same fate.  Birds are being found more frequently tangled in fishing line in Santa Cruz and Monterey.  This is a good reminder to fishermen to collect fishing line and not let it go.

March 24, 2014

SOS Hopes to Rescue Panther Beach

If you aren't familiar with Panther Beach, we recommend you go there soon!  It is a Santa Cruz north county beach that is beautiful but consistently trashed.  SOS recently began hosting regular monthly cleanups at Panther Beach to increase awareness and get people involved in keeping the beach clean.  SOS is hoping that these regular cleanups will lead to a well managed and cared for beach.

SOS has been running beach cleanups at Panther beach for over 10 years.  In 2013 alone, beach cleanup volunteers collected over 1,000 pounds of trash.  Because of the immense amount of trash, Panther Beach is one of SOS’ Top 10 Hotspots for 2014.

Starting on January 26th, SOS began running monthly beach cleanups at Panther Beach on the 4th Sunday of each month from 9am-11am.  SOS also installed a sign at the beach offering trash bags to beach-goers to incentivize them to keep the beach pristine.  The second beach cleanup on February 23rd yielded 150 pounds of trash in just two hours! Volunteers were feeling successful in their efforts but then on February 24th, the day after the cleanup, the sign was stolen along with the box containing trash bags.  SOS made these trash bags available in an effort to make it easier for people to pack out their trash with the lack of trash cans at the beach.  SOS is trying to work with State Parks and Caltrans to place a dumpster in the parking lot but until then trash bags were intended to help the situation.

What can we do to bring this beach back to its glory days?

“This is a new approach for SOS to focus on Hotspots as our goal for 2014 instead of just aiming to increase the total number of cleanups we do overall.  We led 280 cleanups in 2013 and after analyzing our data to see which were the dirtiest places, we decided to give those 10 locations extra attention this year,” said Laura Kasa, Executive Director of SOS.

If you are interested in helping to keep Panther Beach clean, please join SOS on the 4th Sunday of each month from 9am-11am.  The sign that was stolen will be replaced in the next month and will hopefully stand for much longer to help keep this beach clean.

March 21, 2014

Living Plastic Free: Challenge Accepted

Let’s play a game.

The rules: ten minutes without touching some form of plastic.

Items that are made out of plastic are off limits, but so is everything that’s wrapped in plastic! Think long and hard about what you’re reaching for… Go ahead, try! Don’t let this game fool you for the struggle is real my friends!

If after ten minutes you have found yourself standing in the middle of your room frozen and completely overwhelmed by what you can and cannot touch, congratulations! You’ve probably just had a startling realization about the amount of plastic in your own home. Take a seat and breathe deeply for a minute or two as you try to rationalize the situation at hand.

Plastic is everywhere, it is practically impossible to go ten minutes without finding it. Cell phones, computers, cars, packaged food items from the grocery store and even the clothes we wear are all related to plastic.
After evaluating our own 2013 environmental footprint we found a few areas that need improvement. Volunteers and employees at Save Our Shores noticed that the most common sources of plastic within the organization were single-use gloves, garbage bags, water bottles, utensils (plastic/bio-plastic), and packaging (food/supplies).

Recognizing our role as part of the plastic consumption problem is the first step towards finding a solution.

Through our actions we hope to not only motivate ourselves in becoming environmental leaders, but to inspire and encourage environmental responsibility in others as well!

List of Common Plastic Slip Ups:
Plastic bags
Plastic bottles
Plastic utensils
Plastic food packaging
Plastic dishes
Plastic tablecloth
Plastic straws
Zip ties

List of Plastic Alternatives:
Reusable cloth bags
Reusable water bottles
Reusable utensils
Food stored in glass containers, cloth bags, or reusable containers
Glass, ceramic, stainless steel dishes
Cloth tablecloth
No straws preferred. Paper straws if necessary
Twine from natural fiber

-Bronti Patterson
UCSC Environmental Studies 2014 and Lead Program and Outreach Intern for SOS