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Environmental Program Director to Restore, Protect Estuaries Nationwide

The Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission Executive Director, whose local projects have included restoring kelp forests off the Palos Verdes Peninsula, has been given the nod to work on public awareness to promote estuary protection across the U.S.

Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission Executive Director Shelley Luce has been appointed to chair a nonprofit that works with the federal government to restore and protect 28 estuaries across the nation.

Luce will serve a two-year term at the nonprofit, Association of National Estuary Programs, to coordinate relationships between public agencies and private companies and address ecological management issues.

The ANEP supports 28 individual programs in the National Estuary Program, a federal program established in 1987 that identifies estuaries at risk and provides grants to protect the areas. The Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission is one of the 28 programs that the Environmental Protection Agency created.

“The National Estuary Program fulfills a unique role in fostering collaboration among very broad stakeholder groups,” Luce said.  “It’s really hard to get people from different perspectives and agendas to work together on one key thing—protecting our precious estuaries—and ANEP is critical in supporting the National Estuary Programs in getting this job done. I’m excited to be chair of this committed group.”

In addition to identifying potential partnerships, Luce will also coordinate an outreach campaign to elected officials and increase public awareness over the importance of estuaries.

One of the projects the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission spearheaded includes the lower Topanga State Park berm enhancement that removed non-native vegetation and planted native species, including 100 coast live oaks.

The commission has also been working to restore kelp forests off the Palos Verdes Peninsula, due to the overall decline of kelp coverage that has led to a reduction in sea urchins and in turn their predators, such as the seat otter and spiny lobster. Scuba divers refurbished some areas with sea urchins and introduced reproductive kelp blades to the area. 

The Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission oversees the 266-square mile Bay and its 400-square mile watershed.

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