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Coastkeeper’s Local Roles

Orange County Coastkeeper doesn’t just talk the talk when it comes to advocating for fishable, swimmable, drinkable waters. On both local and state levels, we bring our insight and expertise to ensure the voice of the water is represented.

MPA Watch

Orange County is home to seven Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) from Bolsa Chica in the north to Dana Point in the south. To assure the maximum effectiveness of MPAs, we must be aware of the types of human activities that occur in or near them. With the proper information on human use, we can manage our MPAs to minimize any negative effects these activities may have on the marine ecosystem.

With sound practices, data from effective volunteer monitoring programs can be used to assist the cities, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), in protecting the MPAs by identifying sites where additional resources such as signs or docent educators may be needed. Coastkeeper is running a program to assist cities and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in managing them through a countywide volunteer program to document human activities.

The Orange County Marine Protected Area Council (OC MPAC) Watch Program enlists volunteers, community groups, and local government to monitor human uses in and around the seven Orange County MPAs. The program is organized and run by Orange County Coastkeeper with the help of the cities of Newport Beach, Laguna Beach and Dana Point, as well as the California State Parks Department, the Laguna Bluebelt Coalition, and the Ambassadors of the Environment Program at the Ritz Carlton.

Are you interested in volunteering for MPA Watch? For more information, contact Ray at or 714-850-1965.

Learn More

Marine Protected Areas Work!
Enjoy this video about the Laguna MPAs, created by the Laguna Bluebelt Coalition.

One Water One Watershed

California bond funding has traditionally been distributed on a competitive basis using the Integrated Regional Watershed Management Program, but the Santa Ana Watershed Planning Authority suggested a different system.

The Santa Ana Watershed Planning Authority is a joint powers agency established to operate the desalters along the Santa Ana River, the Santa Ana River Interceptor Line and plan for the Santa Ana Watershed.

The Planning Authority proposed an idea to distribute bond funds from a holistic perspective based on knowledge of the Santa Ana watershed. With an understanding of all the challenges that the region faces in dealing with water resiliency, they created One Water One Watershed.

Coastkeeper’s President, Garry Brown, has served on the One Water One Watershed Steering Committee since its inception to help make funding recommendations to the Santa Ana Watershed Planning Authority Board of Commissioners.

For north and central Orange County, western Riverside County and southwestern San Bernardino County, the One Water One Watershed Steering Committee is comprised of City and County elected officials, industry, business and environmental representatives, plus a representative from the Regional Water Quality Control Board. The role of the committee is to vet proposed applications for funding and weigh the benefits of each project to the watershed as a whole.

Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA)

In 1992, Orange County voters approved a half-cent sales tax increase to fund Orange County Transportation Authority projects. Since polling showed the second most concerning issue to Orange County residents was beaches closing due to polluted runoff, Coastkeeper suggested a portion of the sales tax increase go toward water quality best management practices.

Coastkeeper’s proposal to the Orange County Transit Authority Board of Directors was accepted and immediately adopted by voters. For the thirty-year life of the sales tax increase, two percent of the gross revenue will fund water quality. Now, an Environmental Cleanup Allocation Committee will develop criteria for distributing funds to cities around Orange County.

Today, Garry Brown, Orange County Coastkeeper’s founder and president, has served as chairman of committee. To date, approximately $50 million has been either encumbered or distributed to Orange County cities and the County to improve water quality.