Sempra Energy to aid Cardiff Reef

“As a longtime surfer and full-time environmentalist, local resident Kelly Sarber has been working for better surf and a more vibrant ocean. As she reports below, the fight to improve our way of life has just been given a nice gift for the new year.” Chris Ahrens
By Kelly Sarber
The surfing community’s ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship got a shot of adrenalin from the Sempra Energy Foundation’s recent grants to several local, grassroots, environmental organizations which will use the proceeds for environmental education, outreach, and water quality monitoring to benefit North County coastal communities. Helping local kids learn about unique, coastal watersheds and their impact on ocean quality is important to improving how our society manages impacts from human sources. And, the surfing population is one of the most affected by water quality, since we are typically the first to be exposed to ocean run-off at the many river mouths in North County.
The Sempra Energy Foundation recently awarded more than $1 million to several regional, nonprofit organizations. This includes more than $100,000 to three nonprofits that have successful grassroots programs, scientific analysis and educational outreach in our area. The San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, San Diego Coastkeeper and San Diego Audubon Society were selected to receive grants because of their dedication to protecting and conserving natural resources, increasing environmental education and improving environmental health and safety.
The San Elijo Conservancy plans to use their award to expand its wetlands curriculum to include third-, fourth- and fifth-graders, building on field trips to the visitor center and wetlands by Encinitas and Solana Beach students. The conservancy also aims to expand its educational outreach to include Escondido schools due to the city’s geographic positioning as the headwaters for The San Elijo Lagoon. “This is a great opportunity for us to expand our blossoming education program into a geographic area that hasn’t been that engaged, but which actually plays an important role in the overall health of Escondido Creek and ultimately, the San Elijo Lagoon, Cardiff Reef and our ocean,” said Doug Gibson, executive director/principal scientist of the conservancy. “The Sempra Energy Foundation can take pride in helping create a platform whereby the community, industry and schools can work together to raise educational standards that create young environmentalists.”
San Diego Coastkeeper will use its Environmental Champions award to help fund its countywide water quality sampling and public information program that has become a necessary tool for any surfer that demands up-to-date information about water quality at their favorite surf break. Currently, 400 volunteers are monitoring water quality in our bays and shoreline to protect the public’s health and provide a baseline of scientific data for water quality. “With the Sempra Energy Foundation’s generous donation, we can continue to facilitate this volunteer-based program and share the results with all of the county’s residents, regulatory agencies, academic institutions, businesses and nonprofits,” said Jamie Ortiz, communications director of San Diego Coastkeeper. Surfers can get information at www.sdwatersheds.org.
The San Diego Audubon society plans to use the grant to provide resources to assist the newly formed San Diego Children and Nature Collaborative to expanding access to the outdoors for families from low-income and diverse backgrounds. The Audubon Society has been a champion of protecting the coastal region’s unique environment as well as increasing the community’s understanding and appreciation of birds and wildlife habitats. “We have learned that creating a deep connection between kids and nature cements a lifelong commitment to the environment,” said Chris Redfern, executive director for the Audubon Society. The nonprofit will create a Web portal to allow people to go on line and quickly identify nature locations in their specific neighborhood to help make the outdoors easily accessible for everyone.
For more information about the Environmental Champions Awards, visit www.sempra.com/sommunity/foundation/champions.htm.

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