Jun 12, 2020

Director’s Desk: We Are Still Here, Monitoring, Restoring, Educating



We are in a time of colliding arcs of history, immersed in the uncertainty and heightened emotions of change. The backdrop of this moment, like all moments, is our Earth. The place that holds and nurtures us. In the Morro Bay watershed, we are exceedingly lucky to be able to enjoy the beauty and peace of our estuary. The fluidity of the bay—the changing of the tides, the movement of the birds, the ever shifting fog line—brings both comfort and a mirror to the constant change around us.

Morro Rock Fog View from Los Osos
Fog drifts in front of Morro Rock in this view from White’s Point near the Morro Bay State Park Museum of Natural History.

Although each of us may not be able to get outside directly, I hope the beauty of our wild surroundings has brought some joy to this time of uncertainty. I personally have felt gratitude for the place we live when I have had the chance to bike ride with my kids to our neighborhood trails, hear the chattering quail on my morning run, and enjoy the vibrant California poppies persisting in our garden.

California poppies and other flowers bloom
California poppies and other wildflowers color our yards, gardens, and hillsides during the spring.

Throughout the many changes of the past few months, the Estuary Program has continued our work to protect and restore Morro Bay, and you have been right there alongside us. You might have read our blog posts on eelgrass restoration and actions you can take to help keep the bay clean. You may have tuned in for our online talks about State of the Bay or supported clean water by picking up after your pet.

While Estuary Program staff have had to work from home, like so many of us, we are still here, monitoring, restoring and educating. We have also been able to keep our water quality monitoring and habitat restoration work going. With permission from the County Emergency Operations Center, we have continued collecting data at many creek and bay sites and implementing restoration projects.

Monitoring Coordinator, Makenzie, sports a mask during fieldwork.
Morro Bay National Estuary Program Monitoring Coordinator, Makenzie, sports a mask during a recent fieldwork session during which staff followed strict social distancing and other health protocols recommended by the CDC.

We are deeply grateful for the community spirit and commitment that has underpinned our efforts to protect and restore Morro Bay for twenty-five years. Our volunteers embody that spirit with every hour they give.  Unfortunately, for safety reasons, we have had to ask them to stop their work for the bay temporarily. We dearly miss our volunteers—the joy they bring to the science of our work, and the community we have all built together. Our dedicated volunteers ensure that we can collect high quality data at over dozens of sites throughout the watershed. Although we have rearranged staff duties to continue collecting most of the data our volunteers would usually collect, we hope to share the experience of the cool creek waters and magical fog-wrapped mornings on the bay with our volunteers again soon.

Volunteer Sue tests water quality in a local creek.
We miss our volunteers! We can’t wait until volunteers like Sue, pictured, can get out into the field to test water quality and gather data again.

Stick with us. Even as we are kept physically apart, we are a community connected by the bay. We will keep science, restoration, and education moving forward with your support. We need you to keep picking up trash when you see it, talking to your neighbors about the bay, and tending your bay-friendly gardens.

This local volunteer takes a well-earned break after picking up trash along Morro Strand beach and near the rock. Others like her have taken it upon themselves to keep our beaches and waterways clean during quarantine, while maintaining social distancing and practicing other health precautions. Thank you for all you do!

Learn more ways you can support the bay through science and service at https://www.mbnep.org/community-science/. Donate at mbnep.org/donate. And tell us what you think! You can interact with us on social media and send us messages at staff@mbnep.org.

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Help us protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary!