Elkhorn Slough Foundation Receives California’s Highest Environmental Honor

In ESF, Press by Administrator

esf_logo_trans-cropMEDIA RELEASE

January 21, 2015

For more information:

Lorili Toth, Director of Development & Communications
Elkhorn Slough Foundation
(831) 728-5939

Also see Press Release from California Environmental Protection Agency:

http://www.calepa.ca.gov/awards/geela/ available after noon January 21.

For an overview of the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Awards

and a complete list of this year’s honorees.

Elkhorn Slough Foundation Receives California’s Highest Environmental Honor

Governor Brown Awards 2014 Environmental Leadership Award to ESF

Governor Brown is honoring The Elkhorn Slough Foundation (ESF) with California’s highest environmental honor, the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA). The Elkhorn Slough Foundation is receiving in the Ecosystem and Watershed Stewardship category for its ecosystem-based watershed stewardship focused on land acquisition, education, science and land restoration in order to successfully maintain one of California’s important wetland areas.

The GEELA Award recognizes individuals, organizations, and businesses that have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made notable, voluntary contributions in conserving California’s precious resources, protecting and enhancing our environment, building public-private partnerships and strengthening the State’s economy.

“This is a great honor for the Elkhorn Slough Foundation,” says Mark Silberstein, Executive Director of the Foundation. “It is a testament to the enduring effort of broad community support and extraordinary commitment by many people to take care of this remarkable place. The conservation of Elkhorn Slough is a success story on the coast of California. We are happy to have played a role in this work and look forward to the next chapter.”

The Ecosystem and Watershed Stewardship award highlights innovative and sustainable approaches to land, water and resource management that restore or protect natural conditions, functions and processes, and provide economic, social and environmental benefits including productivity and sustainability of forests, farms or other natural resource lands, and the conservation of open spaces.

The Elkhorn Slough Foundation is being honored for its many achievements and collaborative work in protecting the rare habitat of the central coast. Particular highlights from ESF’s accomplishments include; brokering 48 land transactions, directly protecting nearly 4,000 acres of land, restoring more than 2,000 acres of coastal habitats and developing innovative research and education programs. Over $50 million has flowed through the Elkhorn Slough Foundation for land conservation and programs, bringing key resources to the economy of rural Monterey County.

“Elkhorn Slough stands as a national model of public private partnership in strategic science-based conservation, engaging a wide range of stakeholders to protect and improve an entire coastal watershed,” said Julie Packard, Executive Director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. “In my view the Elkhorn Slough Foundation stands as a clear leader and a bright light in demonstrating ecosystem-based management of critical wetland resources.”

The Elkhorn Slough Foundation is well known for its collaborative approach to conservation. ESF was created in 1982 to support education, research and outreach as the nonprofit partner of the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, one of 28 Research Reserves around the country funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. ESF initiated and developed research, education and volunteer programs on the National Estuarine Research Reserve in the 1980’s. These programs are now managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and over the years have served hundreds of thousands of students and visitors. The Foundation continues to work closely with the Department of Fish and Wildlife to help support the education, outreach, and research mission of the Elkhorn Slough Reserve.

The Elkhorn Slough Foundation is a community-supported, non-profit accredited land trust whose mission is to conserve and restore the Elkhorn Slough and its watershed. The Elkhorn Slough Foundation holds the largest acreage of conservation lands in the Elkhorn Slough watershed with close to 4,000 acres under its stewardship. As a land trust working to protect Elkhorn Slough and its watershed, ESF has conserved and restored native wetland and upland habitats, created buffer zones between cultivation and marshes, and protected hundreds of acres of productive farm and ranch lands. Encompassing a wide variety of habitats — including oak woodlands, maritime chaparral, coastal prairie, and the largest tract of tidal salt marsh in California south of San Francisco Bay — the Elkhorn Slough watershed is a natural resource of local and national significance, supporting an incredible diversity of wildlife, recreational opportunities, and economically productive working lands.

Estuaries like Elkhorn Slough are among the most threatened ecosystems in California, harboring disproportionate numbers of rare, threatened, and endangered species, including two-dozen listed species using the slough. Upland and tidal habitats in and around the slough harbor 340 species of birds, 550 marine invertebrate species, 100 fish species as well as resident sea lions, harbor seals and the highest concentration of endangered Southern sea otters on the west coast.

ESF works closely with The Nature Conservancy, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the California Department of Parks and Recreation to conserve and steward these lands. Together these groups have conserved 12% of the Elkhorn Slough watershed, working collaboratively with industry, farmers, governments and community members on pragmatic approaches to conservation.

The Elkhorn Slough Foundation is a founding member of the California Council of Land Trusts and is accredited by the national Land Trust Accreditation Commission.

ESF’s primary partner, The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) manages the 1,700-acre Reserve, providing 5 miles of public trails, education, research, and volunteer programs.

For more information on Elkhorn Slough, visit www.elkhornslough.org