Must-read commentaries in Indy’s June 28 edition by Mike Beanan (“We Are All in the Plume”) and Charlotte Masarik (“County Ocean-Sampling Misses Pollutants”).
We’re on extended vacation with grandkids in Maine, ocean swimming and paddling at Kennebunkport and in mountain lakes near Poland Springs. City, county and state stewardship of nature and historic preservation is rigorous here.
Maine reminds me of Laguna in early 1950’s, when the shoreline was a world of discovery. Detached kelp washing up in north Laguna was full of sea life we’d capture and rescue, often a seahorse or octopus. Local public school teacher Dan McFarland and early city lifeguards Mike Vogel and Rod Reil taught us how release our catch from buckets of sea water out on a rocky point.
The abundant sea life bringing scuba divers with spear guns and abalone irons around southern California to Laguna was conspicuously depleted by the time Dan McFarland’s daughter Melinda and I had graduated from LBHS. Due partly to local measures marine life made a comeback in Laguna. Still, it may well never be as much like it was in the past as it could be.
We spent at least five hours a day in the water, never worried about slimy, greasy muck that now spoils daily paddles, swimming and diving in our coves. Today swimmers are treated for viral and bacterial infections, including e-coli. Laguna can’t control impact of surrounding regions, but what we do locally still really matters a lot.
Yet, for years City Hall has ignored our calls to give top priority – along with any other elective projects – to a 50 year overdue upgrade of our downtown storm drain system. That’s the only way to prevent regular five-year floods coursing downtown streets and alleys, dumping tons of plastic, chemicals, human and animal toxic waste into our local seashore.
If weather and flooding intensify as predicted, each Laguna Canyon watershed deluge reverses the benefit of all our local beach cleanups. How can we enlist youth and parents in beach stewardship demanding time and effort, but not act responsibly as a city to end preventable high volume pollution?
Kids are smart, know an exercise in futility when they see one. I bring trash in on every paddle, but do so knowing that if we want young people to learn small-scale stewardship we also need to demonstrate large scale stewardship.
Howard Hills, Laguna Beach