1976 was a watershed year for West Marin’s priceless coastal resources – the California Coastal Act was passed into law, implementing the coastal initiative passed by voters in 1972, and Congress passed the Point Reyes Wilderness Act, which designated over 33,000 acres of the National Seashore as wilderness, thereby securing its protection under the 1964 Wilderness Act. EAC is the only organization working to honor the intent and mandates of both laws – to ensure full wilderness status for the West Coast’s only Congressionally designated marine wilderness area at Drakes Estero, and ensure that Marin County’s Local Coastal Program Amendment does not weaken existing coastal resource protections. Both matters involve significant legal, policy, and scientific details to analyze and consider, and EAC has remained continuously engaged to uphold West Marin’s environmental integrity.
Marin County’s Local Coastal Plan Amendments
EAC Working to Protect the Entire Tomales Bay Watershed
Since 1971, EAC has advocated to conserve, restore, and protect the Tomales Bay watershed.
- EAC led the charge to secure international recognition for Tomales Bay. The US Department of the Interior and the International Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands (commonly known as the Ramsar Convention after the Iranian city in which it was signed) have accepted EAC’s nomination of Tomales Bay as a Wetland of International Importance. As of 2016, there are 38 Ramsar sites in the United States, five in California, and two in Marin County (Tomales Bay and Bolinas Lagoon). To qualify, Tomales Bay had to meet rigorous standards. Among its notable characteristics: it supports more than 50 species of waterbirds, numbering more than 20,000 individuals; it is visited by more than 1% of the world’s populations of black brant, dunlin, and western sandpiper and is home to 10% of California’s coho salmon; it is a major spawning ground for Pacific herring; and it supports 13 threatened or endangered species.
- In 2001, after five years of campaigning, EAC convinced the federal government to issue regulations banning jet skis from the Gulf of the Farallones Marin Sanctuary, including all of Tomales Bay. At 948 square nautical miles, this is now the largest jet ski-free area in the country-and one of the largest in the world.
- In the fall of 2010, Marin County was prepared to allow guy-wired study towers for industrial wind turbines to be sited on the ridgelines of the East Shore of Tomales Bay without any environmental review. EAC led the charge to successfully challenge the County’s unlawful, arbitrary approval of the towers. EAC is working to ensure that any wind turbines are the appropriate height, style, and are sited appropriately to protect West Marin’s huge avi-fauna diversity.
- EAC has co-produced four State of Tomales Bay Conferences. These have focused scientific attention on the health of the Bay and its watershed, raised public awareness of the issues facing the Bay, and forged important links between scientists, researchers, environmentalists, ranchers, and public agencies.