Orange County Coastkeeper is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect and preserve the region’s marine habitats and watersheds through education, advocacy, restoration, research and enforcement.
Their vision is to preserve the integrity of our community by ensuring clean waterways, harbors and coastal waters, along with a healthy water supply for generations to come. We collaborate with a variety of stakeholders and believe that environmental solutions are also smart business solutions. Our unique community-wide approach to watershed management promotes equitable, achievable strategies that meet broad societal goals and avoids future conflicts.
The work OCC does for Orange County’s watersheds revolves around their Five Program Pillars.
EDUCATION: WHALES (Watershed Heroes: Actions Linking Education to Stewardship) is Coastkeeper’s environmental education program, providing robust marine science curricula, environmental field trips, and bus transportation at no cost to high schools in Orange County. Students participate in water testing, biological assessment, marine life surveys, habitat restoration, community action projects and career development activities. We also host Kids Ocean Day where we bring out 700 inner city elementary school students to the beach to teach them about their watershed, participate in a beach cleanup, and do an aerial art photo with a message to sustain our ocean.
ADVOCACY: Through a collaborative approach, we work with public and private agencies to develop water quality solutions that balance the needs of the environment and the community. Our main focuses are eliminating polluted urban runoff, and advocating for behavioral changes that will create a healthy future for our water supply. We successfully campaigned against the Foothill South Toll Road, rescued Crystal Cove and were intensely involved in the success of the Marine Life Protection Act.
RESTORATION: To preserve critical habitat and species, Coastkeeper has worked to restore kelp forests, eelgrass beds in Newport Bay, and the green abalone population off the Orange County Coast.
RESEARCH: Coastkeeper conducts scientific research on sediment and water quality analysis in local waterways and harbors. Our reports are utilized by governmental agencies at every level to create policy and regulations that address water-related challenges. Coastkeeper keeps a special focus on emerging technologies and innovation that can prevent pollution, and reduce water and energy use.
ENFORCEMENT: Coastkeeper’s Law and Policy staff strongly believes our natural environment should be preserved, restored, and accessible. Our staff helps shape government policy, enforces the Federal Clean Water Act by filing litigation against polluters, and protects safe coastal access.
History of Orange County Coastkeepers
The concept of “waterkeepers” dates back to 19th century England, where self-appointed fishermen acted as wardens of private streams to ensure that the waters were healthy, abundant, and safe from poachers. In 1983, fisherman John Cronin founded the Hudson Riverkeeper, and today there are 204 Waterkeepers worldwide.
Orange County Coastkeeper was founded in 1999 by Garry Brown, an Orange County native who remembers abundant abalone, catching bonito and barracuda from the piers and inside the harbors, and digging for clams along the beach in Newport as a young boy. Realizing that his sons could not enjoy the same coastal waters he had, Garry established Orange County Coastkeeper, which became the 27th Waterkeeper to be licensed in the United States. Our professional staff of 12 includes highly dedicated educators, marine scientists, and attorneys, who all share in Coastkeeper’s commitment to swimmable, drinkable, fishable waters for Orange County.
Looking to take action? Click Here to Volunteer with the Coastkeepers!
Read about great upcoming events AND what the OC Coastkeepers have already accomplished.
Not enough time in the day to volunteer? Make a donation here!