Where Blue Meets Green
There are times when going back in time perpetuates the future; perhaps one concept that progressives and conservatives might agree on. Now and then.
New Year’s Day, Laguna Beach will become the first city in California to be ringed by blue and green belts. A line only on a map, invisible to the human eye, will offer protection to the natural habitat of sea and surrounds. This environmental feat is the result of the implementation of an underwater marine park along our rocky coastline, an extension of what began with the marine protection area bordering Heisler Park.
What does this mean for ordinary citizens? Not much. No restrictions on beach or water activities other than a ban on fishing in the hopes of rebuilding rapidly diminishing ocean life.
No threat to the beach town culture.
What it means for the ocean is the prospect of healthy kelp beds and the concurrent regeneration of marine life. Michael Beanan, a spokesman for Laguna Bluebelt, a major force behind this endeavor, reports that the Cabo Pulmo Marine Reserve in Baja California has proliferated over 400% in the 10 years since the formation of that protected area. Over time, restoration along our shore is expected to provide yet another attraction for visitors who cherish the marine environment. And that may translate into jobs as well as tourism, which is good for the city’s economy. What might be called a win-win.
After all, Laguna was founded not only as an arts community but a nature-loving community.
Some things do not change.
The green-blue belt represents a coalition of the mighty and the well-meaning, spearheaded by “mermaids,” activist women in leadership roles. First and foremost, the four female city council members who carried this flag [male council member Kelly Boyd, defender of commerce, was the sole naysayer] as well as mermaids who lobbied the Department of Fish and Game and OC Marine Protection Council, with support from Laguna Ocean Foundation, OC Coastkeeper, Ocean Conservancy, and Zero Trash Laguna, among others.
The greenbelt as well has been nurtured by steadfast environmentalists, many of them land-mermaids, with stewardship by the former city manager and council, and advocacy by Laguna Canyon Conservancy, among others.
Protecting the environment takes more than a village; it takes tight coalitions of the most passionate believers. Although such partnerships often ebb and flow with time, in this moment in time, they are of one mind. A great way to start this new year.
Randy Kraft is a freelance writer who previously covered City Hall for the Indy and pens the OC BookBlog for www.ocinsite.com.