Southern California environment news and trends

Santa Monica’s Heal the Bay earns California tourism award

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The beach in Santa Monica, Calif.

It was announced last week that environmental advocate group Heal the Bay was awarded the Tourism Stewardship of the Year Award during the 30th Annual California Travel Summit.

The award was created by the California Travel Association “to recognize the group that has done the most to protect, preserve, restore, improve, expand or otherwise enhance California's natural, cultural or historical treasures,” according to a press release from the Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“Tourism is such a vital part of Santa Monica’s economy,” explained Kim Baker, the vice president of marketing at the Convention & Visitors Bureau by phone today. “In 2011, more than $35 million was generated by our local hotels alone. The city had 6.5 million visitors from outside of Santa Monica County.

“We’ve found through surveys and focus groups that the beach is the most popular aspect of Santa Monica to visitors,” Baker continued. “Given how hard Heal the Bay works on improving water quality and keeping the beaches clean, this recognition is well deserved.”


Green party: Happy World Environment Day 2012!

Today (June 5th) marks the 40th observance of World Environment Day, established by the United Nations to celebrate environmental action and awareness. As reported by the Huffington Post, this year’s theme is ‘Green economy: Does it include you?’ The UN Environment Programme defines the green economy “as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. In its simplest expression, a green economy can be thought of as one which is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive.”

The host country for this year’s World Environment Day is Brazil, culminating in the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development happening there later this month.

Locally, eco-positive organizations like Environment California are very supportive of World Environment Day, but hope it leads to more people taking action in their everyday lives that benefit the world around us.


Heal The Bay wants you for Earth Month

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prayitno/Flickr CC

Santa Monica Beach.

Heal The Bay is supersizing Earth Day. The Santa Monica-based nonprofit environmental group is expanding the concept to launch Earth Month next month with more than 50 events across L.A. County throughout April.

Among the many festivals and outreach programs are a series of volunteer-based events that are expected to draw thousands of participants, particularly over Earth Day weekend, April 21-22.

According to a press release, people interested in getting involved can pre-register at, with a volunteer orientation scheduled for the evening of April 9 at Heal The Bay’s main office in Santa Monica.

For Earth Day, Heal The Bay’s monthly “Nothin’ But Sand” beach cleanup in Santa Monica will feature the star power of Ian Somerhalder, best known as the main hot guy on TV show “The Vampire Diaries.” It’s all in conjunction with Somerhalder’s Foundation and its “Get Dirty” initiative, with Whole Foods Market and the California Coastal Commission also getting involved.


Heal the Bay to get a new president? Mark Gold stepping down

Tara Crow/Heal the Bay

Mark Gold (in navy windbreaker at far right) got Dodgers to clean up beaches.

Woah. Mark Gold was Heal the Bay’s first employee in the late 19-eighties, a staff scientist who went on to take an engineering doctorate from UCLA. He became executive director for 12 years, then president of the group for more than 5. Under his leadership, Heal the Bay has acted as an aggressive watchdog at regulatory hearings, pushing for lower impact coastal development, limits on how coastal power plants can use sea water, and improved water quality in the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers watersheds. Gold has lobbied lawmakers aggressively too, criticizing legislators recently for failing to pass a statewide plastic bag ban. Gold will now run a coastal center at UCLA’s Institute for the Environment and Sustainability. Heal the Bay’s executive director Karen Hall and assistant director Alix Hobbs will run the place while the group’s board of directors considers the next president.