Channel Islands
Paul Wellman (file)

The seas surrounding the Channel Islands have a new partner in preservation, research, education, and more, as the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Foundation is officially expanding its scope into southern waters. Officially launching during a presentation this Friday, the Channel Islands Sanctuary Foundation will now help the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary by funding and otherwise supporting the work that the federal agency conducts around the islands.

“Especially in today’s day and age, the value of private-public partnerships has never before been more critical,” explained Dennis Long, the executive director of both foundations, whose 10:30 a.m. talk on Friday will be before the Sanctuary Advisory Council meeting at Casa Las Palmas in Santa Barbara. “These agencies have got a fairly large mandate and generally are understaffed and underfunded. Our role has been to fill in some of those gaps.”

The Monterey Bay Sanctuary Foundation was founded in 1995 to aid the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and has been successful largely due to its ability to collaborate with state and local agencies as well as other nonprofits, said Long, explaining, “We pick projects where we can add a lot of value.”

There was once a locally founded foundation designed to do the same thing for the Channel Islands NMS, “but it just never gained momentum,” explained that agency’s director Chris Mobley. “Conversely, the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Foundation has been very successful with Dennis at the helm. It just seems more efficient to have this foundation expand south rather than trying to have two. We tried it, and we just didn’t succeed, but not for want of trying.”

Long agreed, explaining that his Board of Directors, which has already supported some Channel Islands work in less formal ways, identified the formation of a new foundation here as a goal for this year. “There are significant economies of scale for a nonprofit,” he explained. “It’s a whole lot easier for us to add something to part of our business process that already exists than for somebody new to create it from scratch.”

As for what Santa Barbaras can expect the new foundation to do, Mobley pointed to the new building at UCSB that will house his agency as well as a new outreach center known as OCTOS, for Outreach Center for Teaching Ocean Science. “Let’s suppose local schools need money to pay for buses to get their kids up there one day,” said Mobley. “If a grant could be found to get that funding, as a federal agency, it’s sometimes very difficult and sometimes impossible to receive those funds. But a foundation like this one, they are the perfect entity to receive those funds and spend them on behalf of students partaking in the education programs.”

But that’s just one idea, as the foundation will support the full gamut of work done by the agency, from environmental projects to research trips and more, all funded by a “diverse set of revenue sources,” according to Long, such as government contracts, private foundation grants, and individual donations.

Perhaps most of interest to ocean fans in the Santa Barbara area is that the Channel Islands Sanctuary Foundation will be hiring a community liaison to generate ideas and communicate with those closest to the islands about which projects should be supported. Expect that job listing to be published sometime after Friday’s meeting.

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