Gaviota lupin image by Jill Frandsen
Spring flowers are blooming all over the Gaviota Coast. Hiking out to Naples is a visual explosion of intense green hillsides and delicate wildflowers popping up all over the place. It’s beautiful.
Many thanks to Phil McKenna, who recently stepped down after two years as President of the Gaviota Coast Conservancy (GCC). Phil served during a critical transition following the long-time leadership of Mike Lunsford, one of the founders of GCC, and as a key voice on our Board. Phil’s leadership led to a stronger financial base, and newly active committees that do the majority of GCC’s work. Phil will remain on the Board and continue his critical role in helping protect the Coast.
Also, I'd like to welcome two new board members to our crew: Nancy Black and Karen Feeney. Each bring critical skills, proven track records and well-developed talents to our team, and we're grateful for their participation.
I’ve assumed the Presidency earlier this year after joining the Board several years ago. For those of you who may not know me, I’ve been active in local environmental issues for several decades, serving on the boards of Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, Environmental Defense Center, and Santa Barbara County Action Network, where I was a representative on the Naples Coalition. More recently, I'm currently a Governor’s appointee to the Ocean Protection Council.
While my kids are scattered across the country and the globe, they find time to regularly come back and visit my wife and I, and spend time enjoying this special part of the California coast. In my professional life, I’m a partner in a sustainability consulting firm with clients across North America, Europe, and Israel.
This is a critical time for the Gaviota Coast. All that is special about the coast, the unique confluence of varied habitats and biological richness, complemented by Chumash heritage, a strong ranching culture, agricultural productivity, abundant marine resources, and incomparable waves and beaches, make it a place worth saving.
Currently, GCC tracks 27 separate issues that have the potential to adversely affect the integrity of this coastal area. The California Coastal Commission recently voted 7 - 5 to fire their Executive Director, Dr. Charles Lester. Perhaps there has never been a time in the last 40 years when coastal California appears to be subject to greater risk of inappropriate development. Regardless of who takes over the Executive Director role, it appears that the Commission is moving in the direction of quicker development approvals and fewer opportunities for coastal advocates to intervene and offer changes that would enhance protection of the coast.
Now, more than ever, we need to find permanent solutions that protect and restore this special place. We invite you to join with us in these efforts. Whoever replaces Dr. Lester, we will continue our work and, as always, we value your ongoing support in our efforts to protect the Gaviota Coast.
In respect for the earth,
Michael S. Brown, President
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