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Our Laguna: Coastal foundation marks 10 years

February 28, 2013|By Barbara Diamond
  • The Laguna Ocean Foundation offers docent-led tours of local tidepools.
The Laguna Ocean Foundation offers docent-led tours… (Coastline Pilot )

Laguna Ocean Foundation is celebrating its 10th anniversary this spring — and it hasn't let any grass grow under its feet.

A small group of concerned Laguna Beach residents took to heart the VISION 2030 project that identified the need to protect Laguna's coastal resources and created the foundation in 2003. Since then, staff members have logged more than 20,000 hours educating a half million folks about Laguna's tidepools. And they don't even count volunteer hours.

"Our message is that we have this gorgeous resource at our feet and we need to be good stewards of it," said Louise Thornton, foundation chair. "The government has preserved gems of land in national parks and in California we are working to preserve the gem of the ocean.

"Our most public activities are, of course, the TideWater Docent Program, conducted by volunteers and our several Tidepool lnterpretive Education Programs, conducted by staff members."

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The foundation was an active participant and supporter in the Marine Life Protection Act initiative process and subsequent formation of the new Laguna Coast Reserve.

"None of what we have done, however, would have happened without the dedication of our volunteers and the support of our community," Thornton said.

The founding board members included Chair Fred Sattler, Walker Reed, Mia Davidson, Kurt Wiese, Ed Almonza, Candice Burroughs and Jeanne Meyers Thornton's hero.

"We started on a wing and a prayer," Sattler said.

And it took flight.

"We began the volunteer docent program and decided it needed a home, so we got our 501 c3 and began to raise a little money," Sattler said.

With financial assistance in 2006 from Montage Laguna Beach, the foundation was able to hire staff to provide interpretive education at the Treasure Island tidepools on weekends year-round when the tide is below 2.5 feet and the weather is enjoyable.

Besides educating the public, staff members track the number of visitors — an average of 28 folks per hour — and for five years, have conducted quarterly surveys of shorebirds along the Laguna Coast. Human data has been collected since 2005.

"All of this information provides valuable insight for our future management of this resource," Thornton said.

The Laguna Coast Reserve went into effect in 2012 and prohibits the taking of any marine life forms along most of the Laguna coast.

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