Water watchdog helps empower coastal residents to promote healthy eelgrass populations
ORANGE COUNTY – November 2, 2016 – Today, Orange County Coastkeeper expands its efforts to protect Newport Bay’s unsung hero – eelgrass. Coastkeeper will educate the community through increased outreach efforts, including an interactive presentation on November 10 for all Newport Bay boat and dock owners.
“Eelgrass is often portrayed as an annoying younger sibling – bothersome, always in the way and impossible to get rid of,” says Sara Briley, Coastkeeper’s marine restoration director. “Our goal is to give residents a better understanding of the plant’s importance to the Bay and new services to ease the process of dredging and replanting.”
Through the presentation, Coastkeeper hopes to work with local residents who might have a negative perception of eelgrass by:
- Demystifying the new eelgrass permit by walking through the application process
- Explaining how the new dredging permit affects individual property owners
- Offering a new perspective on eelgrass with an underwater video tour
- Examining Coastkeeper’s eelgrass restoration efforts in Upper Newport Bay
- Defining Coastkeeper’s services to help residents meets requirements under the new plan
In partnership with the City of Newport, Coastkeeper offers education and restoration services to property owners in need of eelgrass mitigation at an affordable price to discourage illegal harvesting. Through these services, environmental advocates and residents can come together for the same goal, promoting a harmonious relationship with eelgrass in Newport Bay.
Expanded restoration projects go hand-in-hand with the City of Newport Beach’s new Eelgrass Protection and Mitigation Plan in Newport Bay that sets a minimum eelgrass population standard and reduces the responsibility of individual property owners to maintain eelgrass.
“Instead of sticking with past policies that amplify costs for dock owners to protect eelgrass, this new campaign is a win-win for the people and plants that share the bay,” says Briley. “All who enjoy Newport Bay can look forward to better water quality, more fish and a resilient bay ecosystem – all benefits of an increased eelgrass habitat.”
Under the City of Newport’s new plan, the number of routine dredging projects — which may negatively impact shallow water eelgrass — will be determined based on bay-wide eelgrass levels. If the eelgrass is doing well, more dredging is allowed up to a maximum allowable limit. If eelgrass bay-wide falls below the established minimum level, fewer dredging projects impacting eelgrass will be permitted.
Since 2012, Coastkeeper has planted 1,300 square meters of eelgrass in Upper Newport Bay and, with a bit of help from Mother Nature and the right conditions, eelgrass coverage at the project sites has more than tripled. Coastkeeper sees this campaign as the next step in ensuring a plentiful eelgrass population in Newport Bay.
For more information about Coastkeeper’s restoration efforts and how to obtain mitigation help, please visit coastkeeper.org/restoration. For more information on the dredging permit process with the City of Newport Beach, click here.
ORANGE COUNTY COASTKEEPER: Orange County Coastkeeper is a member of the International Waterkeeper Alliance, which has 236 different independent programs across 29 countries. Founded in 1999, the mission of Coastkeeper is to protect and promote sustainable water resources that are swimmable, drinkable, and fishable. Coastkeeper is a nonprofit clean water organization that serves as a proactive steward of our fresh- and saltwater ecosystems. We work collaboratively with diverse groups in the public and private sectors to achieve healthy, accessible, and sustainable water resources for the region. We implement innovative, effective programs in education, advocacy, restoration, research, enforcement, and conservation. For more information, visit www.coastkeeper.org or call 714-850-1965.