Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.

From the Director’s Desk: Stepping Down and Gratitude for Our Community

From the Director’s Desk: Stepping Down and Gratitude for Our Community

 

 

Written by Lexie Bell, Executive Director of the Morro Bay National Estuary Program.

On December 28, I will step down as Executive Director of the Morro Bay National Estuary Program after twelve years at the organization and six years in this role. I will be taking an administrative position at Cuesta College and look forward to continuing to engage in the stewardship of our watershed as a supporting community member.

 

Morro Bay National Estuary Program Executive Director, Lexie Bell, stands in front of the salt marsh in Morro Bay.

Lexie Bell, current Executive Director of the Bay Foundation of Morro Bay, will step down as of December 28, 2021 after six years in this role and twelve years at the organization.

Over the past decade, the Estuary Program has worked together as a community to achieve lasting conservation results. We have protected 2,300 acres and restored more than 400 acres of natural areas. Eelgrass meadows have grown to cover ten times the area measured in 2013. More than 300 volunteers dedicated hundreds of hours each year to collecting high quality date and ensuring restoration success.

Recently, the Estuary Program and partners completed a large-scale floodplain restoration project at Chorro Creek Ecological Reserve near the base of Hollister Peak. This project, two decades in the making, restored 4.8 acres of critical stream-side habitat and reconnected Chorro Creek with its floodplain. You can see the floodplain in action in the photograph above.

Recently, the Estuary Program and partners completed a large-scale floodplain restoration project at Chorro Creek Ecological Reserve near the base of Hollister Peak. This project, two decades in the making, restored 4.8 acres of critical stream-side habitat and reconnected Chorro Creek with its floodplain. You can see the floodplain in action in the photograph above.

Volunteer appreciation hike 2021

Lexie Bell, far right, recently organized a hike for Estuary Program volunteers and staff at Montana de Oro State Park to celebrate the volunteers’ contributions over the past year.

The Estuary Program now serves as a regional source of expertise regarding eelgrass restoration, creek water quality and habitat monitoring, and collaborative project development. Within the national network of estuary conservation programs, Morro Bay leads in implementing community-based science and monitoring efforts.

Shows a volunteer conducting water quality monitoring

A small crew of dedicated volunteers makes our monitoring effort possible. Here, one of our volunteers uses a meter to measure temperature, dissolved oxygen, and specific conductivity on Pennington Creek.

Leaving this organization has been a very difficult decision, but I am proud of our accomplishments and confident in our talented team. I am excited by what’s to come in the watershed. The next phase for the Morro Bay National Estuary Program will deliver increased funding for on-the-ground projects through federal infrastructure funding, new developments in water quality monitoring techniques and technology, and improvements in habitats for steelhead, otters, and brant.

A mother sea otter and her pup float on Morro Bay above a seagrass bed.

A mother sea otter and her pup float on Morro Bay above an eelgrass bed.

I am thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to serve this mission and to work with such a resourceful and dedicated community. Thank you for all you do to keep Morro Bay wild and full of life.


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