Coastkeeper Wraps Up for the Happy Holidays

Thank you for your support this year. It’s been one of ups and downs – so many victories, a few losses and a goodbye to some of the members of our Coastkeeper family. And Coastkeeper really is a family – a ridiculously good-looking, smart, passionate, talented, compassionate, funny, driven family. The staff of Coastkeeper, our team of dedicated volunteers and our supporters work tirelessly to make our collective desire for clean water a reality.

You, our supporters who commit your time, talent, funds and name to the important work of keeping the coast clear, have a lot to celebrate. This year we’ve seen years of hard work culminate in some very special victories.

South Bay Power Plant shuts down
The sweetest words I’ve heard all year came from Dynegy spokesman David Byford in October, “Our operations will cease at the end of the year.” An aging power plant, a few months shy of half-a-century, will shut down next week. The South Bay can begin to recover its past glory as an incredible habitat and nursery for migrating birds, turtles, fish and countless other species. I first heard of the plant’s negative impacts in law school, 2001. The next summer I helped Coastkeeper and the Environmental Health Coalition to fight a destructive discharge permit and limit some of the damage. To see the Plant finally cease operations, nearly a decade into my own involvement and many more years after environmental giants like Laura Hunter and Jim Peugh began the fight is hugely satisfying, and more than a bit humbling.

Network of Marine Protected Areas adopted in Southern California
More than four years ago Southern Californians came together to implement the Marine Life Protection Act in our coastal waters. Through an expansive public discussion process including 60 meetings and hundreds of hours of service by our staff members and many other environmental, community, and fishing groups, a statewide system of underwater parks grew. The path to this amazing win for our coastline was not easy – our staff were threatened, some groups boycotted the process, and fears about how this decision would impact lives and livelihoods had to be overcome. Ultimately, the Fish & Game Commission’s approval of the Integrated Preferred Alternative map shows the dedication and resources needed to protect the “Yosemites of the sea.”

Indirect Potable Reuse Pilot Project Moves Forward
If you enjoy the reliability of water in your home when you turn on the tap, or for agricultural production, or even industrial processes, you have to be concerned that San Diego is at the end of a very long pipeline. The overdependence on imported water, and the environmental quality impacts that reliance brings, brought Coastkeeper to dip into the water supply debate. What we’ve found is a long history of mistrust and a lack of transparency and dialogue. Fortunately, we’ve spent the past few years building an award-winning coalition of environmental, consumer, business, labor, development, taxpayer and technical organizations to support the development of a safe, reliable, sustainable and cost-effective local water supply. With the approval this year of a public outreach contract and the award of the contract to design, build and operate the Advanced Water Purification Facility, we are well on our way to the overall goal.

These three examples of victory after years of hard work remind me that nothing worth having comes easily. It is with your long-term support – morally, financially, even physically, that we reach these critical goals, and soldier on to the next victories. Whether you’ve only just heard of San Diego Coastkeeper or you are a long-time supporter, thank you. We’ll be resting up next week, eager to get back to the frontlines in 2011.

Surprise: San Diego Port Honors Bruce

I love surprises. Especially when they happen to good people.

Today our staff and many friends of our former executive director, Bruce Reznik, had the pleasure of tricking him into attending a hearing at the Port of San Diego so they could surprise him with a proclamation. The commissioners honored him for his 11 years building Coastkeeper and leading the environmental community in San Diego–an honor we agree that he very much deserves.

The commissioners said it best themselves, so please watch the events unfold at today’s meeting. And congratulations Bruce.

(The audio isn’t the best…darn iflips. I recommend using headphones for the most clarity.)


The hardest decision in my Coastkeeper history

BRuce_Reznik_blogChange can be a good thing.

Today I announced my departure from Coastkeeper, an organization that I’ve had the pleasure to lead for the past 11 years.  I am stepping down as Executive Director immediately, though I’ll continue to work as an advocate for the organization and its work. In my time at the helm, I’ve watched our organization transition from Baykeeper to Coastkeeper, achieve amazing successes, and grow our staff from two into an entire office full of environmental experts. We’ve become a large family dedicated to protecting the waters in San Diego, and one that I’ve grown to love.

Since 1995, together with you, we’ve won many environmental victories for our region. We have successfully helped to educate children, remove trash from beaches and waterways, improve stormwater regulations, build a water quality monitoring program, advocate for sustainable policies, reduce sewage spills and beach advisories and so much more. Together, we have built a vibrant environmental community that makes coastal protection a larger part of the public and political conversation.

And for that, I’m thrilled.

It is with this solid base and stellar reputation that we’ve built for Coastkeeper, I know that the organization will continue to safeguard the community’s waters. I look forward to my next adventure, and the organization looks forward to its next decade.

Today is a day of change, and it’s good.

Bearded Pirate and Old Friend Joins the Ranks of Coastkeeper


Captain Scott Schaad and First Mate (and Staff Accountant) Victor Vasquez on patrol for pollution

Scott Schaad still owes me 10 margaritas at Fred’s in Old Town. Granted it was a ridiculous bet years ago, but I’m still holding him to it. And as crazy as it seems, I forgot that I actually had free drinks waiting for me at one of my favorite Taco Tuesday spots. That was until I had the true pleasure of welcoming our newest Volunteer Boat Captain Scott Schaad to the Coastkeeper family last week.  

You see, Scott and I use to be co-trip leaders for Aztec Adventures, SDSU’s outdoor recreation program. Back in our undergrad days, Scott and I had the oh-so-terrible job of taking fellow students down to Baja’s beautiful and pristine coastline for weekend kayaking and surf trips. On one of these adventures, Scott and I were taking some students kayaking through a pristine coastline just south of Ensanda; a place I can only hope San Diego’s entire coastline looks like again someday. After a long day of paddling, Scott and I attempted to cook a delicious dinner and dessert for our eagerly awaiting group of students. Unfortunately, our dessert concoction turned out to be what could only be considered an ill-conceived sugar, butter and pumpkin flavored soup with overtones of burnt toast.

While the dessert was a complete disaster, Scott didn’t want to waste the valuable calories, so he bet me ten margaritas that I couldn’t eat the whole thing.  Of course I did, and to date, I haven’t redeemed my bounty.  

After those college adventures, Scott and I got busy with that whole pesky “real life” thing and kinda lost touch. Luckily, the winds of fate changed, and our other Volunteer Boat Captain and Programs Director at the Mission Bay Aquatic Center, Kevin, mentioned he knew a guy who would be interested in volunteering to help out with pollution patrols on our boat. That guy turned out to be my old friend Scotty Schaad, who is now working as the Lead Wakeboarding Instructor for the Aquatic Center.

We at Coastkeeper couldn’t be more stoked to welcome Scotty on board. With Kevin and Scott at the helm, our boat program is poised to take off.  I’ve had the chance to get to know both guys, and they both have a true passion for helping to protect our ocean ecosystems.


Captain Straw keeping a wary eye for violations of the Clean Water Act.

Our Coastkeeper staff has big plans to make the most of having these champions of the environment on board. Our toxic waterways crew has been out on the boat discussing ways to supplement the water quality data on our wiki with our boat program, and our education and outreach team is working with Scott and Kevin to reach out to the boating community to promote eco-friendly boating.

The best part of the whole story, for me, may be reconnecting with an old friend.  It’s always a great feeling to have such a good person in the mix, and even though I’m extremely grateful to Scott (and Kevin, of course!) for donating his time and energy . . . I’m still going to cash in on those margaritas.