I first saw Santa Barbara from the PCH, and California became, to me, rocks, dust, cliffs, and water stretched seamlessly to sky, an endless blue possibility — almost. Because the next thing I saw, and the next reality of California imprinted on me, were oil rigs, black, rigid, and industrial, posted along the horizon. These rigs not only marred the beauty and hope I saw in California’s coastline, but also endangered the health and preservation of marine wildlife in California’s oceans.

From across the nation I had heard about the progressive policies in place on the West Coast, and I was drawn to a community that fights for conservation and protection of the land and the water. After the 1969 Santa Barbara oil, Earth Day was established to ensure that we, as a nation and a people, keep the environment a constant priority in our actions.

Today, California must uphold its reputation as environmental leaders by increasing Marine Protected Areas on its coastline. This will keep the state not only at the forefront of national preservation practices, but also as global leaders in the 30 by 30 movement, one that aims to increase Marine Protected Areas to thirty percent by 2030.

On the horizon, blue pockmarked with black, I now see an opportunity for students, teachers, environmentalists, and politicians: the chance to initiate a mass movement towards marine conservation.


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