Charities We Love is a monthly series featuring inspirational charities from around the world. At We Are Travel Girls we care about giving back and hope this series will help our readers learn about charities and non-profit organizations that are doing incredible work. This month we are excited to feature the Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, who are helping to protect and restore the Santa Barbara Channel and provide clean water.
Founded in 1999, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper (SBCK) is a grassroots non-profit organization whose mission is to protect and restore the Santa Barbara Channel and its watersheds through science-based advocacy, education, fieldwork, and enforcement. We are a senior member of Waterkeeper Alliance, a global network of 340 independent Waterkeeper organizations on six continents collectively protecting 2.7 million square miles of watersheds. A core value of all Waterkeepers is that human beings have a right to clean water and that the strength and health of a community are inextricably linked to the cleanliness and safety of their water resources.
SBCK serves the communities living in the 500 square miles of coastal watersheds stretching from the Gaviota Coast to the Ventura River. Our work benefits the entire population of this region (245,000 people) by protecting and restoring the water resources on which we all depend for a vast array of uses, as well as the 7 million tourists who visit each year to enjoy our beaches and coastal waters. Young people (ages 7-18) in particular benefit from our environmental education program, which reaches more than 1,500 students annually and specifically targets underserved students in our community. We also engage at least 350 volunteers of all ages every year in our citizen science monitoring programs, beach clean-ups, and other initiatives.
With boots on the ground, a boat on the water, a band of smart, passionate change-makers on our team, and the trust and support of our community, SBCK makes a big impact for a small organization. We’ve compelled numerous polluters to clean up their act, effected countless policy changes to better protect our waterways, engaged 3,700 volunteers, and educated tens of thousands of students and adults about water pollution and solutions in classrooms, in the field, and through creative media and public outreach campaigns.
SBCK uses a strategic synthesis of education and outreach, monitoring, science-based advocacy and enforcement of environmental laws to defend our community’s right to clean water and to inform, inspire and empower people to speak and act for our waterways. We work on the water, in the halls of government, in classrooms, and in our community to keep watch for clean water, foster environmental stewardship, hold polluters accountable, and advocate for our waterways and the people, businesses and wildlife that depend on them.
SBCK builds environmental awareness and stewardship, changes attitudes and influences the decisions of tomorrow by educating policymakers, students and the wider community about the biggest threats to the Santa Barbara Channel and its watersheds and solutions to address those threats. We deliver frequent presentations to schools, community groups, policy-makers, and the general public, and educate people through our volunteer programs, at community events, and through the news, our website and social media, newsletters, video storytelling, and other creative communication tools.
We’ve educated 33,000 kids through our Youth Environmental Science Education and Stewardship Program, fostering water literacy and stewardship through interactive, standards-aligned lessons, experiments, field trips and partnerships with other education providers. We provide educational “Seafari” cruises on our boat for underserved youth so they can experience and learn about the ocean firsthand, including through an interactive “live dive” in a kelp forest. We also organize numerous clean-ups to engage volunteers in removing trash from local creeks and beaches.
SBCK patrols the Santa Barbara Channel and its tributaries to identify, deter and respond to citizen reports of pollution. We collect and disseminate scientifically rigorous data to aid decision-makers in protecting local waterways and to raise awareness about their primary threats. Our Stream Team Program has trained and engaged 1,200 volunteers to date to measure eight key water quality indicators every month at 45 stream sites along our coast. We test water quality at high-visitation beaches to ensure the safety of ocean recreation and to protect public health.
Aboard our boat, the R/V Channelkeeper, SBCK also monitors water quality and marine habitat health in the Santa Barbara Channel, including monitoring cruise ships to detect and deter dumping, partnering with researchers to monitor ocean acidification and harmful algae blooms, surveying Marine Protected Areas, and assessing impacts of oil spills and other sources of pollution. Regulatory agencies regularly utilize our monitoring data to inform and prioritize their pollution prevention and restoration efforts, and our watchdog patrols have identified and helped clean up numerous water pollution problems.
ADVOCACY & ENFORCEMENT
SBCK represents our community’s interest in clean water by providing expert, science-based stakeholder advocacy and testifying before government officials to influence policies to better protect our waters and habitats. We review and weigh in on wastewater discharge permits to ensure that requirements for pollution control, treatment and monitoring are as stringent as possible, and on Environmental Impact Reports for proposed development projects that may impact water resources and habitats to ensure that adequate mitigation measures are imposed or that environmentally harmful projects do not get built. We birddog compliance with and enforcement of clean water laws and hold polluters and government agencies accountable. If clean water laws are violated and the government fails to respond, on rare occasions we file citizen lawsuits to protect the public interest in clean water. SBCK also coordinates closely with the California Coastkeeper Alliance and other Waterkeepers and partners to strengthen water policies at the state and federal levels.
SBCK is an efficient, effective and innovative organization with a proven track record, strong community support, and big aspirations for continued growth and achievement. We are rising to the daunting new challenges facing our precious and increasingly threatened water resources, and we aim to make an even bigger impact in the years ahead. Please visit www.sbck.org to learn more and support our work for clean water on California’s Central Coast.
Santa Barbara Channelkeeper and their community thank you tremendously for your support!
Do you know of an inspirational charity or non-profit organization? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! And if you’d like a charity to be considered for this series please submit their story via our Contribute Page.
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