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Morro Bay National Estuary

May is for Bay: victory garden and composting

May is for the bay! All month we have been looking into ways to be more environmentally friendly, so that our bay stays healthy and beautiful. In these interesting times, many of us have been dedicating more of our time to gardening. I personally am excited to eat my yummy tomatoes! Did you know you can make your own environmentally friendly fertilizer at home by composting kitchen scraps?  Something that can easily be done at home? Yay!   Protect your bay! Compost!  How does composting help the environment?  By composting, you can redirect up to thirty percent of your waste from the landfill, where it would either rot or mummify, back to the earth where it can nourish new life. By diverting your …

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Estuary Program Career Profile: Monitoring Coordinator Makenzie O’Connor

    Towards the latter end of my high school years, I had a very precise vision of where my life was headed. I would finish all of my courses in the top percentile, leading me to my undergraduate studies at UC Santa Cruz, where I would pursue my Bachelor’s degree, and later, my career in Marine Biology. I would be an active member of the farming community and make a life for myself along the Santa Cruz coast. As far as I was concerned, there was no other option. Life, on the other hand, had different things in store …

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Hike from Home: Shark Inlet Hike

The trail to Shark Inlet is a hidden gem, known among the locals for its accessibility to the dunes. It is a short family friendly stroll that has lots of beautiful vegetation along the way. Here is what you have to look forward to once this time passes and we’re all able to get back out on the trail.   This trail is short, but lovely! Here is a map of the trail.  Finding the trail head  Pretend you are heading from San Luis Obispo toward Montana de Oro on Los Osos Valley Road, then turn right onto Monarch Lane. You’ll take Monarch Lane until it ends and the trail-head is right there.  This is what the start of the trail looks like. Since this hike starts in …

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April Showers Bring May Flowers

The rain has passed and now we are in an ever-blooming spring. When thinking of spring, most folks think of flowers. And boy, oh boy, do we have loads of wildflowers in SLO County! Even though we  can’t go out and enjoy them as much as we did last spring, we can at least admire some photos from our archives.  Some of the flowers popping up this time of year are native,  while others are nonnative, or even invasive. Get ready folks, put on your flower focus face you are about to feel wildly educated!   First, let’s start with the basics, what is a native plant versus a nonnative or invasive one?  A native plant is one that originates from the area where it is currently growing. For example, if we take our native California poppy and plant it in Florida, …

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Photograph Friday: Appreciating Our Corner of the Earth

    This week marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.  In 1970, the first Earth Day drew 20 million people together in support of a more environmentally sustainable future. At the time, that was 10% of the total population of the United States. We can trace the roots of the Morro Bay National Estuary Program back to that day, which set in motion a decade of environmental reforms and grassroots work for a greener future. In 1972, the Clean Water Act established pollution control programs and protections for surface water quality. In 1987, Congress created the National Estuary Program …

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Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest 2020: Adult Winners Announced

  What a long, strange spring it’s been! One of the bright spots for us at the Estuary Program has been reading the entries for this year’s Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest: A National Treasure in Words. We always love reading what you’ve written about the bay, its wildlife, and what this special place means to you. This year, your words and the imagery you conjured took on even more significance as we looked for some extra light and connection to the natural world. Thank you to everyone who entered the contest for sharing your unique perspective and your presence, …

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Hike from Home: Tour the Portola Point Trail with Us

This too shall pass, but until then, here is a reminder of the beauty that Morro Bay has to offer. History of Portolá Point trail Portolá Point offers one of the best viewpoints in Morro Bay, allowing you to see a scenic panorama that includes the Morro Bay estuary, the sandspit, and distant Morro Rock. The name of the trail comes from Gaspar de Portolá, who was in charge of the Portolá expedition from 1769-1770. This was an expedition of land and sea. The goal was to travel from San Diego to Monterey Bay, but they somehow passed it and …

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Field Updates March 2020: Rain, Storm Flow, Eelgrass Restoration

Storm clouds over the Morro Bay estuary

The Rain Returns March brought more rain after a dry February, with the San Luis Obispo CIMIS rain gauge receiving 5.75″ of precipitation. This helped increase the flow of creeks throughout our watershed and brings our total up to 12.36″ of rain since the start of the water year in October, 2019. Check out this link to learn more about water years, and to read some highlight about the 2019 water year. Surface flow and storm flow Around Morro Bay, different creeks maintain varying levels of surface water flow. This means that some creeks have no visible surface water flow, …

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Recycling with flair (aka get ready for crafts)

We hope you are staying healthy and sane during these crazy times! Finding ways to stay entertained seems to be getting harder, especially if you have kids at home. Have you thought about reusing your recyclables or re-purposing plastic trash as a crafty pastime? Odds are you have plastic packaging and other items at home that can’t be recycled. Instead of tossing them in the trash, you can reuse them as craft materials. Beyond keeping trash out of the landfill, you’ll also be cutting down on your carbon footprint by reusing something instead of buying new supplies that have to …

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The recycling world is plastic (malleable) it’s time for an update!

How is California doing with recycling?  If you’re wondering how California is doing with recycling, the short answer is, not very well. Because of California’s location on the West Coast, the state has depended heavily on selling recyclables to China. Since China put the National Sword Policy into action in 2017, the U.S. has been struggling to support the recycling system and keep it from crumbling. For those of you who haven’t read our first blog on the business of recycling, we recommend reading it first, it will blow your recycling mind!   A National Sword Policy Refresher  As a refresher, here is a quick summary of the National Sword policy. The U.S. has been dependent on China buying our …

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