Southern California environment news and trends

International Surfing Day officially kicks off California summer

Mercer 20583


Surfer Kelly Slater rides a wave.

Wednesday, June 20, marks the Summer solstice, the longest day of the year. This year, however, the date will also make official a summery surf holiday of which the Beach Boys will surely approve.

As announced by the Surfrider Foundation, the California Assembly this week approved House Resolution No. 30, declaring June 20 as International Surfing Day. Even better, Surfrider Foundation Chief Executive Jim Moriarty has already written an official “sick note” for working surfers to show their employers to excuse any surf-related absences.

The sick note might seem like a well-conceived joke, but it’s already worked for legislative deputy Kevin Bigham, who used it to convince his boss L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino to give him the day off to hit the beach. Maybe combining the letter with the video is the way to go for aspiring Wednesday surfers? Send an email to, and they will send back your very own sick note.


Boy Scouts help plant trees in Santa Monica

Boy Scouts


A boy scout troop.

Boy Scouts are famously prepared. They can also get things done. Due in part to one aspiring to be an Eagle Scout, 19 of what hopes to be 1,000 new trees have been planted in the city of Santa Monica.

17-year-old Boy Scout Josh Lappen, in the process of earning that Eagle Scout status, looked to fulfill his community service requirement. Wanting to do something for the environment, he reached out to a local state park to offer free manual labor. With budget cuts so deep that there was no one to answer his call, Lappen eventually found his way to City Forester Walt Warriner.

As reported in the Santa Monica Daily Press, Warriner connected the ambitious Boy Scout with a pilot program the city recently started with the United States Forest Service. With the goal of earning “carbon credits” by planting 1,000 trees, the city had everything they needed to get the program off the ground, including tress and space. They just needed someone to help start planting them. That’s where Lappen and his team of volunteers (including his Boy Scout Troop 2) came in.


Santa Monica wins sustainable community award

Eric Demarcq/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica

Earlier this month, we reported that California cities Riverside and Santa Monica were both up for one of three 2012 Siemens Sustainable Community Awards. It was announced just last night at a reception in Atlanta that Santa Monica took the midsize community award over Riverside and Jersey City, NJ. Chicago won for large community, while Purcellville, Virginia, took home the prize for small community.

"The awards show just how much the concept of sustainability has evolved for U.S. municipalities," said U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center founder and executive director Stephen Jordan in a press release. "Chicago, Santa Monica, and Purcellville show that getting sustainability right improves quality of life, the efficient use of resources, competitiveness, and attractiveness for residents and visitors."


Two California cities among finalists for sustainable community awards

Mercer 2213

itsjames460/Flickr CC

A Metrolink passenger train car arrives at the downtown Riverside station.

Santa Monica and Riverside are among the nine finalists vying for the 2012 Siemens Sustainable Community Awards. Chosen by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center and Siemens Corporation, the finalists were selected from a pool of over 130 applicants, and judged by a panel of sustainability experts.

Both Riverside and Santa Monica are competing in the Midsize Community category against Jersey City, NJ. Boston, Chicago and Las Vegas are the Large Community finalists, with Middleton, WI, Purcellville, VA and River Falls, WI in the Small Community category.

"In Riverside, we see sustainability as more than a program or a destination but as a way of life that is integrated with economic success and inherent in quality of life," said the city’s Mayor Ronald O. Loveridge in a press release. Riverside was chosen for the Green Action Plan, a 38-point strategy for improving sustainability across eight categories. "We are honored to be recognized as a finalist by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Siemens Corporation for our sustainability accomplishments, and we are delighted to share our best practices with other cities through the Sustainable Community Awards program."


Heal The Bay wants you for Earth Month

Mercer 4096

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.