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California’s Critical Kelp Forests are Disappearing in a Warming World. Can They Be Saved?

National Geographic – April 30, 2020

KELP NEED OUR help. Which is why an unprecedented alliance of scientists, fishers, surfers, entrepreneurs, and experts is coming together to revive California’s vital kelp ecosystem, decimated by a warming ocean.

“The California coast without kelp is like the Amazon without trees,” says Tom Ford, executive director of the Bay Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to restoring Santa Monica Bay and its coastal waters.

Indeed, scientists call these fast-growing underwater forests the “sequoias of the sea” for their ability to store large amounts of carbon dioxide. By absorbing CO2 in the surrounding water, seaweed decreases acidification that can kill marine life. Through photosynthesis, kelp forests boost oxygen levels in the ocean while helping protect the coast from erosion by reducing the speed and size of waves. …READ MORE

L.A. Environmental Organizations Adapt to Challenges of COVID-19

The Los Angeles Loyolan – April 24, 2020

…Furthermore, current projects have been put on hold due to the pandemic. One specific project [The Bay Foundation’s Heather] Burdick expressed concern about is sea urchin removal efforts. Sea urchin populations have grown to dangerous levels along the California coast in recent years with devastating effects on kelp forests.

“If we leave them too long, they’ll start crawling back to areas we’ve already worked, so we’re trying to defend those fronts until we can get our teams back out there,” Burdick said.

Chris Enyart works as the watershed programs project manager for The Bay Foundation and is also concerned about the limits the pandemic places on the organization’s operations. …READ MORE

Holding Fast, or Failing? There are dozens of confounding elements working against abalone recovery on the CA coast.

Earth Island Journal – Spring 2020

A small, sun-weathered building situated amidst the ceaseless industrial stir of Terminal Island — a primarily artificial slab of land more or less divided between the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach — seems like a strange place to raise endangered marine invertebrates. Yet, that is exactly what Director of Marine Operations Heather Burdick and her team at the Santa Monica Bay Foundation have set out to do.

“We’ve been doing captive spawning here in our lab with greens and reds, and now we’re starting to work with white abalone,” Burdick announces from the parking lot, over a thrum of shipping trucks and ocean freighters. …READ MORE

Whales Are Dying, but Numbers Are Unknown. Coronavirus Has Stalled Scientific Fieldwork

Los Angeles Times – March 28, 2020

As gray whales began their northern migration along the Pacific coast, earlier this month — after a year of unusually heavy die-offs — scientists were poised to watch, ready to collect information that could help them learn what was killing them.

The coronavirus outbreak, however, has largely upended that field work — and that of incalculable other ecological studies nationwide.

…“The biggest challenge we’re facing is the planning for the unknown. So many ‘what ifs’ need to be considered,” Heather Burdick, director of marine operations at the Bay Foundation, said Wednesday.

The Bay Foundation, a research nonprofit, is usually out on the water several times weekly to restore kelp and feed the endangered species that scientists have been trying to reintroduce into the ocean. “Our team … call today was focused on contingency plans for contingency plans,” she said. …READ MORE

Exploring the LAX Dunes

El Segundo Scene – March 2020

El Segundo community member Darlene Gaston gives voice to what so many of us are thinking in her essay “Big Little Blue,” published last year in El Segundo Writes: A Collection of Writing from the Community. “Shouldn’t I have seen a blue butterfly by now?” she asks herself…

Her curiosity growing with time, Darlene eventually finds herself exploring the restricted-access LAX Dunes on foot one Saturday morning, months later, having signed up along with other citizen-volunteers to help remove invasive plant species from the area. The clean-up event is a monthly effort coordinated by Friends of the LAX Dunes (FOLD), The Bay Foundation, Loyola Marymount University’s Coastal Research Institute, and Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), and Darlene is there to help, to learn about the ecology of the dunes, and to finally catch a glimpse of the storied El Segundo Blue. …READ MORE

Girl Scouts Visit the Beach

Santa Monica Daily News – February 28, 2020

On Jan. 21, The Bay Foundation staff’s Karina Alvarez and Nick Pilaud gave a tour, along with the City of Santa Monica’s Andrew Basmajian, on the successful and influential Santa Monica Beach Restoration Project. The tour was for a local Girl Scout group, K-12. …SEE PHOTOS

Manhattan Beach Looks to 2020 and Beyond During State of the City Address

The Beach Reporter – February 27, 2020

Nearly 250 community members gathered Wednesday morning to get overview of the past year and what’s to come for Manhattan Beach.

…Hersman detailed sustainability, the recent tobacco ban and housing at the podium.

…Manhattan Beach with The Bay Foundation and the L.A. County Department of Beaches and Harbors is starting a Beach Dune Enhancement Project this year, she said, which will restore the sandy beach and dune habitat along .5 miles of Bruce’s Beach, from 36th Street to 23rd Street. Restoring the native plants will protect against sea level rise and coastal storms, Hersman said. …READ MORE

Photographing the Future of Sea Level Rise: CA King Tides Project 2020 Launches in Malibu; PLUS…Update on Westward Beach / Zuma Sand Dunes Restoration Project

The Malibu Times – January 18, 2020

A group of locals interested in documenting sea level rise with photographs gathered at Westward Beach last Saturday to learn the ropes. The California King Tides Project—a partnership of the California Coastal Commission, state and federal agencies and nonprofit organizations since 2010—is an annual winter project where citizen scientists volunteer to take photos of the highest high tides of the year, known as King Tides.

PLUS:  The Bay Foundation described its Malibu Living Shoreline Project, which aims to restore three acres of sandy beach and dune habitat at Zuma Beach and Westward Beach (agencies call it “Point Dume Beach”)  in partnership with the City of Malibu, LA County Department of Beaches & Harbors and California State Coastal Conservancy:  “We’re evaluating the potential of restored dunes to grow, keep pace with sea level rise and protect structures from coastal flooding,” explained Karina Johnston, science director at nonprofit The Bay Foundation. …READ MORE

Green Boating: An Interview with Marine Biologist Victoria Gambale from TBF

The Mariner – December 2019 (pg. 10-11)

From the Editor: On the heels of The Bay Foundation winning the Outstanding Service Award (with associated partners) for their involvement in the Pumpout Nav app, we thought it would be a good time to talk about so-called green boating. We spoke with marine biologist Victoria Gambale from TBF about what local boaters can do (or not do) to make the environment around us a cleaner place.

The Mariner: What can boaters do to be more environmentally conscious?…READ MORE

Helping the Kelp Make a Comeback

Green Under Pressure (podcast) – November 25, 2019

Kelp forests, the base of marine life on the Pacific Coast, including the seafood we eat, are disappearing. The Bay Foundation’s hands-on restoration effort might be the answer. Interview with Executive Director Tom Ford. (6 min.) …LISTEN

Can the Long-Lost Abalone Make a Comeback in California?

Los Angeles Times – November 7, 2019 (print, Nov. 9)

Hunched over a tank inside the Bodega Marine Laboratory, alongside bubbling vats of seaweed and greenhouses filled with algae, Kristin Aquilino coaxed a baby white abalone onto her hand.

…Eight months before the white abalone were packed up in Bodega Bay, Heather Burdick and her team were on a research boat off the coast of Palos Verdes, tending to the other half of the operation: Learning and practicing how to put abalone deep into the ocean.

On this cold January day, they were checking on 1,200 farm-raised red abalone they had left in 20 makeshift homes built out of milk-crate-like boxes anchored to concrete slabs. Burdick and her team at the Bay Foundation had tucked them along a reef about 70 feet deep. Like easing fish from the pet store into an aquarium, these so-called SAFEs (Short-term Abalone Fixed Enclosures) help reduce the shock of a new habitat. …READ MORE (plus video)

What Even Is Local Seafood?

LAist.com – November 6, 2019

The waters off Southern California are rich with marine life. As part of his effort to serve the freshest seafood possible, much of what [Chef Michael] Cimarusti offers at Providence is sourced from the Pacific. “There are so many amazing ingredients that are being harvested right here,” he says.

But for most consumers, it’s not that easy. If you don’t want fish flown in from halfway around the world, if you want your seafood to be as local as your fruit and veg, you’re going to need a definition. What even is L.A. seafood?

…Los Angeles has always been a seafood town. Long before the arrival of the Spanish, the Tongva and Chumash people relied on the waters off modern Los Angeles for sustenance.

“This was an exceptionally rich landscape both on the terrestrial side of things and especially so in the ocean,” says Tom Ford, executive director of The Bay Foundation, a nonprofit group dedicated to protecting the Santa Monica Bay. …READ MORE

Explosion of Oregon’s Purple Sea Urchin Population

Oregon Public Broadcasting, “Think Out Loud” (radio) – November 4, 2019

Populations of purple sea urchin have exploded up and down the West Coast, decimating kelp and crowding out other marine animals. In a recent count of one Oregon reef, the population of purple urchins was 350 million, an increase of 10,000 percent over the last five years. Shellfish biologist Scott Groth with the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife explains the factors that have led to this situation. We also hear from Tom Ford, the executive director of The Bay Foundation, about efforts to remove urchins and restore kelp on the southern California coast. …LISTEN

These Purple Creatures are Eating All Our Kelp. It’s Time to Eat Them.

NationSwell.com – October 31, 2019

There are underwater forests spanning millions of acres — but they’re rapidly dying due to climate change and an unlikely predator.

Kelp forests, which are often referred to as the rainforests of the sea, play an important role in fighting climate change. Kelp, which is a type of macroalgae, is estimated to sequester 634 metric tons of CO2 each year — slightly lower than the amount of emissions released from the country’s largest carbon emitter, Texas.

Instead, the kelp forests are being replaced with the “ecological equivalent of a parking lot,” said Tom Ford, the executive director of The Bay Foundation, a nonprofit environmental group in the Santa Monica Bay area. …READ MORE

Santa Monica Beach Grows Taller to Beat Sea Level Rise

GOOD Eco News (video) – October 23, 2019

Belinda Waymouth interviews Tom Ford, noting:  “Sea level rise and coastal erosion are already happening. The most effective solution: Helping mother nature help us!
The Santa Monica Beach Restoration Project is the perfect example of Less is MORE. It’s also a double winner: planting native species creates habitat and coastal resiliency. Here’s my conversation with one of the scientists working on the project, Tom Ford, Executive Director of the Bay Foundation.”  WATCH

Legalizing the Other Weed (kelp)

Important, Not Important (podcast) – October 8, 2019

In Episode 81, Quinn & Brian discuss: Legalizing the weed of the sea.

Our guests are Bren Smith and Tom Ford (TBF), two fine, clean-living gentleman who are out on the water, every day, trying to change the way that we eat and use the ocean to our benefit — and, more importantly, to the ocean’s benefit (which seems obvious to us, but apparently is not). …LISTEN

The Bay Foundation Director Tom Ford Advocates for National Estuary Program Funding

The Planning Report – October 3, 2019

Facing persistent threats to federal funding, leaders of National Estuary Programs (NEPs) across the US were invited to speak before the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Water, Resources, and the Environment to highlight the incredible success and leveraging power that US EPA funding brings to coastal communities and ecosystems. With the mission to protect and restore Santa Monica Bay and its adjacent waters, The Bay Foundation’s Executive Director and Santa Monica Bay NEP Director, Tom Ford, spoke to TPR on the progress being made to address some of the challenges wrought by climate change and the ripple effect that such success can have when shared. …READ INTERVIEW HERE

The Dunes Are Alive Along the Santa Monica Coast

LAist.com – September 30, 2019

We covered a lot of ground during our recent special series on climate change, including the grim fate of our beaches. …One of the ways the city of Santa Monica has been working to address specific aspects of that change — sea-level rise and coastal flooding — is with something called “living dunes.”

Part naturally occurring sandhills, part landscaping, the living dunes represent an attempt to help nature restore itself along the Santa Monica waterfront.

The Bay Foundation, a non-profit environmental group, partnered with the city to set aside three acres of sand for this beachside experiment to see how well the dunes could combat beach erosion compared to other methods.

…”Beaches normally want to have plants and dunes,” said researcher Melodie Grubbs, director of watershed programs at The Bay Foundation….READ MORE

2013 Malibu Lagoon Restoration Declared a Success

Malibu Times – September 27, 2019

From 2012-13, the 31-acre Malibu Lagoon underwent a nine-month-long restoration process initiated by California State Parks. Twelve acres of wetland near the mouth of Malibu Creek were drained, wildlife was trapped and relocated, heavy equipment scooped out a thousand tons of trash and fill, channels and bridges were removed, banks were reshaped and native vegetation was replanted. The reconfigured lagoon netted two additional acres of wetlands.

…In a report released last week, the nonprofit Bay Foundation wrote, “Post-restoration results show the lagoon has been on a positive trajectory for the past six years.”

…Scientists now conclude that, over the past six years, the restoration project has met or exceeded all of their goals in terms of water circulation (which keeps sediments and nutrients from building up), oxygen levels, the successful nesting of rare birds including western snowy plovers and California least terns, functioning as a habitat for juvenile fish like the federally endangered tidewater goby, a diversity of plants and wildlife, less algae, and a more diverse and sensitive invertebrate community (like starfish, crabs, mussels, etc.).…READ MORE

Electric Car Rebates, Sea Level Rise, Living Dunes

KPCC 89.3 “Take Two” – September 19, 2019

We visit the beaches of Santa Monica to get a tour of its living dunes project. The dunes are just one way researchers are trying to combat the vanishing beaches along the California coast.
Guest: Melodie Grubbs, director of watershed programs with The Bay Foundation.  LISTEN (starts at 25:38 min.)

Back to School: Kids at the Environmental Charter Schools in South LA Are Taking Climate Change into their Own Hands

LA Weekly – August 29, 2019 (print), August 26 (online)

Students Giovani Benitez and Kevin Luna just welcomed a wheelbarrow of food waste from neighborhood restaurant Yo Way Eatery and are turning it into mound of sawdust and hay that will both feed their community and make a small dent in climate change.

…The Table to Farm Composting project at the ECS schools in South Los Angeles is a waste reduction pilot program, which started in Inglewood, that combats methane generated by landfills by connecting restaurants with compost hubs, urban farms and community gardens for a multifaceted food waste reduction program.

…The Bay Foundation (distinct from “Heal The Bay”)  developed the program, which grew out of their Clean Bay Restaurant program. The organization’s focus is the Santa Monica Bay and efforts to avert trash going through  storm drains into the ocean.  It also works to educate boaters on how to keep the bay clean….READ MORE

Volunteers Help Protect El Segundo Blue Butterfly on LAX Dunes

Spectrum 1 News SoCal – July 12, 2019 (multiple airings)

Pulling weeds and removing debris is how many volunteers spend their Saturday mornings once a month. They do this to help preserve the LAX Dunes.  One … is Melodie Grubbs who works for The Bay Foundation. The foundation partners with Los Angeles World Airports to host these habitat restoration events.

“When we remove some of these non-native weeds we are just giving that little help they need to grow,” says Grubbs.

According to Grubbs, there are many native species on the dunes that need protecting, like various shore birds, lizards and plants. When a non-native species come in, it disturbs the ecosystem for the native ones….WATCH / READ MORE

Budget Cuts Will Devastate US Estuaries, Experts Warn

Courthouse News Service – June 25, 2019

The House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment invited experts …to testify this morning against the Trump administration’s proposed 31% cut to the Environmental Protection Agency budget — a move that would cut nearly $650 million in funding for environmental and restorative efforts. One such effort is the National Estuary Program, which is composed of 28 regional organizations that monitor and protect local environments through the help of state, local and federal organizing and funding. The program would no longer receive any federal funding if the cuts go through.

The subcommittee also heard Tuesday from Tom Ford, executive director of the Santa Monica Bay National Estuary Program and the Bay Foundation, one of 28 recipients that divvy up the $26.5 million in National Estuary Program funding. “Collectively, and on average over the last 14 years, the program has tallied up leveraged resources of $19 for every $1 invested by Congress,” Ford testified. “The Santa Monica Bay NEP that I direct leveraged $29 for every $1 over the past 5 years.”…READ MORE

Honey Pot Day for Waste-Free Harbors in SoCal

The Log – June 15, 2019

It’s always a good time to manage your boat’s sewage. The Bay Foundation’s Honey Pot Day, which runs from June 1 through Sept. 30, aims to educate boaters about proper waste disposal while also offering a mobile app for free pumpout services….READ MORE

Report on Velella Velella with Tom Ford

Spectrum News 1 – May 10, 2019

Tom Ford interviewed by reporter Angela Sun on the velella velella on Santa Monica beach. Aired on multiple newscasts throughout the day. WATCH VIDEO

Shopper & Diner Report:  Eco-centric Eateries, etc.

The Eastsider – May 10, 2019

The Bay Foundation announced its first four ReThink Disposable Certified restaurants and two are in Atwater Village and Silver Lake. Gus’ Tacos Mexican Grill in Silver Lake is using silverware instead of plastic-ware, reusable cups and straws upon request. Meanwhile, Palette Food and Juice…READ MORE

12 Burning Questions with Tom Ford

The Los Angeles Loyolan – April 24, 2019

This week, Senior Editor Sami Leung sat down with Tom Ford, co-director of the Coast Research Institute, executive director of the Bay Foundation and a part-time faculty member teaching environmental science.

From kelp forest work and other projects, to students, building a team, the Coastal Research Institute and his favorite sea creature READ MORE

This LAX-adjacent Ghost Town is Now ‘Priceless Coastal Real Estate’ for Rare Owls

Los Angeles Times – February 17, 2019

When the Los Angeles beachfront community of Surfridge disappeared decades ago to make way for the jet age, nature was slow to reclaim the sandy dunes and upscale lots that once dominated the path of planes taking off from Los Angeles International Airport.  …Surrounded by hurricane fencing and “no trespassing” signs, the LAX Dunes Preserve is now a haven for some of the rarest creatures in California.

…[V]olunteers organized by nonprofit organizations such as the Bay Foundation and Friends of the LAX Dunes have been working with authorities and the preserve’s owner — Los Angeles World Airports — to help restore the landscape.

…Today, after three years of weed removal, “we’re seeing a surge in native vegetation in some of the places we’ve cleaned up,” said Melodie Grubbs, director of watershed programs for the Bay Foundation. “Invasive plants including mustard and Russian thistle, for example, are being replaced by lupine, deer weed, evening primrose, buckwheat and California poppies.” …READ MORE

Surfing Dirty: Malibu Magazine investigates the possible effects [of Woolsey fire] on Malibu’s marine life

Malibu Magazine – January / February, 2019

…Tom Ford, the Executive Director of The Bay Foundation, explains that while they have not had the opportunity to monitor the open ocean potentially impacted by the aerial deposition of ash, they have – in assistance with the National Parks – witnessed deposits of sediment, ash, and particles of burnt wood lining the shores of Malibu Lagoon. “We’re going to see additional amounts of organic pollution, organic toxins, and metals in the smoke and ask because of the structural fires” For says. In terms of water quality, even low concentrations of metals can be very toxic.” …READ MORE  (Complete Woolsey fire magazine issue here.)