2014 Annual Report: A Year of Intention
Whereas 2013 was a year of expansion at Save Our Shores, 2014 was a year of intention. A lot of time and energy went into strategic planning and analysis of programs, in order to ensure the effectiveness of the organization. In doing so, SOS was able to identify needs and create solutions. Examples include targeting 10 Hot Spots as part of the cleanup program, increasing marine science education in underserved schools, hiring a Communications Specialist in order to better publicize Save Our Shores’ programs and events, condensing the Sanctuary Stewards training program, and increasing clean boating awareness in three counties. SOS plans to build on this foundation in the coming year, continuing to strengthen its programs with the goal of better serving the community.
Beach and River Cleanups
In 2014, Save Our Shores led a total of 348 beach and river cleanups. During these cleanups, the Save Our Shores team and community volunteers removed a total of 49,469 pounds of waste. When compared to 2013, that is 64 additional cleanups and an increase of 15,437 pounds of waste. The top three items collected this year were cigarette butts (109,844), plastic pieces (46,978) and plastic food wrappers (27,317).
At the start of the year, SOS identified 10 Hot Spots to focus on. These Hot Spots demonstrated the greatest need for outreach and cleanup efforts, according to data and community input. The goal of the Hot Spots program is to remove sites from the list as they are given the attention they require. The 2014 Hot Spots were: Cowell/Main Beach, Davenport Main Beach, Panther Beach, Sunny Cove Beach, the San Lorenzo River, Sand City, Pajaro River/Watsonville Slough, Aptos Creek, Elkhorn Slough and Soquel Creek.
With funding from REI, Save Our Shores was able to lead these Hot Spot cleanups this year:
• Cowell/Main Beach: 34 cleanups (2,448 pounds of waste)
• Davenport Main Beach: 26 cleanups (3,817 pounds of waste)
• Panther Beach: 19 cleanups (5,218 pounds of waste)
• Sunny Cove Beach: 8 cleanups (194 pounds of waste)
• San Lorenzo River: 26 cleanups (7,201 pounds of waste)
• Sand City: 5 cleanups (648 pounds of waste)
• Pajaro River/Watsonville Slough: 3 cleanups (3,509 pounds of waste)
• Aptos Creek: 3 cleanups (2,479 pounds of waste)
• Elkhorn Slough: 3 cleanups (6,050 pounds of waste)
• Soquel Creek: 1 cleanup (600 pounds of waste)
Save Our Shores expanded its Holiday Relief efforts in 2014 to include Memorial Day, July Fourth and Labor Day, and increased the number of cleanup sites each day, with an emphasis on Hot Spots.
Save Our Shores gave the beaches north of Santa Cruz extra attention this summer with a new program called North Coast Cleanup Day. On June 22, July 27 and Aug. 24, Save Our Shores worked to restore the beauty of Davenport Main Beach and Panther Beach (both Hot Spots), as well as Bonny Doon Beach, 4 Mile Beach and Shark Tooth Beach—all of which are consistently trashed by parties, camping and heavy foot traffic. With the help of 83 volunteers, SOS removed a total of 1,322 pounds of waste.
Graph 1: The data collected at Davenport Main Beach in 2014 shows that the number of SOS cleanups directly correlates to the amount of waste on the beach. In the summer, when SOS hosts weekly cleanups (vs. monthly cleanups), the amount of waste decreases significantly.
Graph 2: In 2014, Panther Beach (green) accumulated more waste than Davenport Main Beach (blue). There were weekly beach cleanups at Davenport in June-September, whereas there were only monthly cleanups at Panther. As a result, there is much less waste at Davenport. This proves that weekly cleanups are more effective.
During the 30th Annual Coastal Cleanup Day, 3,884 volunteers helped Save Our Shores prevent 24,379 pounds of pollution from entering Monterey Bay. That is the most waste removed from the Central Coast to date! From 9 a.m.-noon on Saturday, Sept. 20, SOS tackled 83 sites located between Waddell Creek and Big Sur. The top five dirtiest sites were Elkhorn Slough Research Reserve (4,800 lbs), Lompico Creek at Lompico Park (4,100 lbs), Felton Covered Bridge Park (2,700 lbs), Upper Carr Lake (2,062 lbs) and San Lorenzo River at Fillmore Street in Ben Lomond (817 lbs).
Save Our Shores cleaned local beaches and rivers with 20 corporations this year, including Intuit, SanDisk and Yahoo, Inc! Two of the biggest corporate cleanups in 2014 involved the Santa Cruz Warriors and PG&E. On March 15, La Posta co-sponsored a cleanup at Seabright State Beach with the Santa Cruz Warriors basketball team and 250 volunteers. Together, they removed 137 pounds of pollution. Then, on July 29, 350 volunteers with PG&E removed 687 pounds of waste from Del Monte Beach.
This was a historic year for Save Our Shores’ advocacy efforts. The Monterey Bay region continues to lead the way with the strictest single-use plastic bag bans in the state. And now, with the passage of SB270, California is the first state to ban single-use plastic bags.
Save Our Shores and the Central Coast Sanctuary Alliance—a group which now includes more than 100 businesses and nonprofits that all support single-use bag bans—have been working with local jurisdictions to pass bans since 2011.
In addition to banning the distribution of single-use plastic bags, Save Our Shores and the Alliance have pushed for a more realistic definition of a reusable bag (4.0 mils thickness) in each ban. Up until this point, plastic bags at 2.25 mils thickness were considered “reusable,” yet Save Our Shores’ data proves that very few customers reuse bags that thin.
In early 2014, the City of Watsonville was the first jurisdiction in the state to amend its ban to include a 4.0 mils thickness requirement based on Save Our Shores’ data. The City of Capitola as well as the City and County of Santa Cruz followed suit.
Then, in late July, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an ordinance to prohibit retailers from distributing single-use plastic bags in the unincorporated county. The ordinance included the 4.0 mils thickness requirement for reusable bags and stated that the stores would be required to charge a fee for all bags they provide.
Since the formation of the Central Coast Sanctuary Alliance, two cities have resisted bans: Scotts Valley and Sand City. That is, until late August, when Governor Jerry Brown signed SB270—statewide legislation that phases out the single-use plastic bags that grocery stores and other retailers hand out to customers.
While the Monterey Bay bans are considerably stronger than SB270, the bill is a giant leap in the right direction. Now that shoppers will be charged a fee for bags, Save Our Shores is confident that they will start bringing their own reusable ones. And with fewer plastic bags being distributed, there will be less litter on beaches and in waterways.
This year, Save Our Shores increased its clean boating outreach in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Mateo counties. SOS conducted outreach with more than 1,000 boaters during 22 Dockwalker events. The team discovered that many boaters at Pillar Point Harbor, located in San Mateo County, are not well informed about clean boating practices. To address that issue, Save Our Shores will continue to provide support to that community, including serving as a resource for oil pollution prevention tactics.
In 2014, Save Our Shores filled a total of 9,832 volunteer positions via its cleanups, outreach events, advocacy efforts and Dockwalker, Beachkeeper and education programs.
The SOS staff trained 36 new Sanctuary Stewards. Rather than continue to offer one six- to eight-week training session featuring guest speakers, the SOS staff condensed the training into a two-day Crash Course offered five times per year.
Save Our Shores still offers presentations by guest speakers on a quarterly basis, however, they are now open to the public and trained volunteers. These presentations provide continuous education for trained volunteers and offer a platform for the public to get involved.
The SOS staff increased the number of volunteer appreciation events this year. Instead of hosting an annual party, volunteers come together quarterly, so that they can get to know the staff and one another better, as well as talk about the organization’s work.
Sanctuary Stewards often take on leadership roles at Save Our Shores. One example from 2014, is Haley Mander’s weekly Clean Up Cowells program. The Santa Cruz local and Dream Inn employee was disheartened by the amount of waste on Cowell Beach, and so she formed a weekly cleanup. Since the beginning of May, Mander and a team of volunteers have met up every Sunday morning from 9-11 a.m. to prevent pollution from entering the Monterey Bay. Together, they have collected more than 1,400 pounds of waste.
Save Our Shores reached 4,729 students in 121 educational programs in 2014. Of those students, 1,060 came from the Pajaro Valley Unified School District or northern Monterey region. This was a conscious effort by Save Our Shores to reach more underserved students in those areas. SOS now has partnerships with more than 15 schools in the two regions.
SOS also obtained funding this year for a small pilot project to pay for bus transportation for field trips to the beach with students from four schools in Watsonville.
In addition, SOS worked with three schools that came to Santa Cruz from Utah and Los Angeles, Calif. as part of an alternative break program or traveling component of their education.
To help educate local youth about Marine Protected Areas and why they are important, Save Our Shores created an MPA Passport this year. SOS staff handed out 150 MPA Passports this fall to students in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District and northern Monterey region as part of its marine science education program. MPA Passports were also distributed at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center, Kayak Connection, the Natural Bridges Visitor Center and the Elkhorn Slough Foundation.
Filled with activities, including a game in which the student must match the sea creature to its native MPA, true or false questions about local MPAs, and opportunities to draw underwater scenes, the MPA Passports are fun for the whole family, and a unique resource for local teachers in need of supplemental learning tools.
As students engage with their MPA Passports by completing activities, Save Our Shores will share their efforts with the community.
Green Business Certification
After seven months of hard work, Save Our Shores received its Green Business Certification in August 2014. The City of Santa Cruz Public Works Department—a partner in the Monterey Bay Area Green Business Program—awarded SOS with the certificate, after the organization met program criteria for conserving resources, preventing pollution and minimizing waste. In order to be certified, SOS created a complete environmental program for greening its office space.