To you – for helping us get here,

This year marks the 45th year anniversary of Save Our Shores. 2023 started with a roar, as the Monterey Bay area was hit with a series of catastrophic storms. And then, the Parajo River levee failed. The levee failure rendered an entire local community without homes. Belongings and livelihoods were destroyed.

Our response to the storms was robust. It had to be. It is part of our storied history. Save Our Shores steps in when the changing climate gives us lemons.

Hardship has befallen so many people these past few months and we were amazed at the community-wide, all-hands-on-deck, response to clean up what had been destroyed. Here and now – as we plan for future – we celebrate our 45 years and all that we have accomplished with the support of this resilient community.

Perhaps you or someone you know has taken part in a beach cleanup, signed an advocacy petition, were involved in a Save Our Shores education program or have seen our policy work in action (e.g plastic bag ban).

In honor of our 45 years, let’s take a moment to revisit how we got here. We are a small, local nonprofit with a BIG impact. We’re on a mission to deliver more equitable environmental change to the Monterey Bay area.

Save Our Shores began in 1978 as a grassroots effort to eliminate the threat of oil drilling off the central coast of California. To accomplish this feat, we brought together some 26 coastal communities to pass a variety of ordinances that inhibited the construction of on-shore infrastructure that would be required for offshore drilling.

Those important ordinances, as voted upon and adopted by public process, put these core issues into the hands of the community members. As a result, you can look out into the Monterey Bay Sanctuary and see uninhibited views and feel a bay that is thriving. It is my personal commitment to this community to never take this for granted.

Following that victory, we collaborated with other local environmental groups, community leaders, governing bodies, and representatives in D.C. to get the Monterey Bay designated as a National Marine Sanctuary. This designation was secured by an act of Congress in 1992 and afforded our waters even greater protections.

Since then, Save Our Shores has led the way in the establishment and management of Marine Protected Areas, delivered marine science education to thousands of local students, led the community in the stewardship of the Monterey Bay Area, and continued the advocacy work that protects this place I am so proud to call home.

What have we accomplished as an organization since then?  We have accomplished SO much that a timeline of many of our highlights that can be found below. We are fully committed to equitable environmental action by ensuring our beaches and watersheds are clean, continuing and building upon our diverse education programs – and by leading the kind of change that really matters.

Our hope is to inspire you to take part in this effort, to know that little actions add up to big change, and to work with us to ensure a habitable future for all. We hope you’ll join us.


A Brief History

  • 1978 – Formed as a grassroots movement to prevent offshore drilling
  • 1980 – Incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit
  • 1981 – Organized first Coastal Cleanup Day along North Coast of Santa Cruz
  • 1985 – Advocated for passage of 26 local ordinances to prevent offshore oil drilling
  • 1988 – Conservation Working Group to establish ecological boundary for the Sanctuary
  • 1992 – Celebrated the establishment of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
  • 1994 – Launched the clean-boating Dock Walkers Program
  • 1996 – Established the Sanctuary Stewards volunteer program
  • 1999 – California Coastal Commission took our Dock Walkers program state-wide
  • 2006 – Became Annual Coastal Cleanup Day Regional Coordinators for Central Coast
  • 2009 – Launched the Adopt-a-Beach Program
  • 2010 – Created the Central Coast Alliance to regulate single-use bags and polystyrene
  • 2012 – Helped to pass a plastic bag ban locally
  • 2016 – Adopted statewide
  • 2017 – Successfully secured agreement to shut-down sandmining on the Sanctuary’s coast
  • 2019 (implemented in 2023/24) – CA Single-Use Toiletry Ban in Hospitality businesses
  • 2023 – Launched our afterschool Junior Sanctuary Stewards Program