Amigos De Bolsa Chica


 

About

Amigos de Bolsa Chica is a 501(c)3 organization formed in 1976 by a group of local residents to protect the Bolsa Chica wetlands from development. Concerned about the loss of coastal wetlands, our mission was to protect, preserve and acquire the Bolsa Chica wetlands and surrounding open space to create a viable ecosystem, and to provide education about the importance of wetlands.  With emphasis on science, we garnered public support to achieve major reductions to the development plans and we spearheaded an effort that resulted in the state's acquisition in 1997 of 880 acres of wetlands. Additionally, a large portion of a major lowland restoration project was completed in 2006.

Because 90% of California’s wetlands have been lost to development, Bolsa Chica is vital for the preservation of the state’s threatened biodiversity. Our Bolsa Chica Field Trip programs provide educators with tangible examples of the importance of biodiversity. More than 200 species of migratory and resident birds can be found at Bolsa Chica. It is also home to and nursery for many species of fish and invertebrates. In addition to biodiversity, wetlands are vital in combating climate change. Coastal wetland ecosystems around the U.S. store 500,000 metric tons of carbon per year. Phytoplankton are the primary food source in the ocean food web, create over 50% of the oxygen in the atmosphere, and assist in regulating climate through carbon dioxide cycling.

To address the lack of awareness regarding phytoplankton in coastal ecosystems and other issues related to water quality in a highly urbanized area, the Amigos de Bolsa Chica created FLOW (Follow to Learn about the Ocean and Wetlands) in 2014. Volunteer Citizen Science-based FLOW consists of weekly plankton collections and analysis in support of the California Department of Public Health’s Harmful Algae Monitoring Program. Citizen Scientists also share their knowledge of water quality analysis and the greater ecology of the wetland-ocean ecosystem with elementary school, middle school, high school and community college students

Since 1976 the Amigos de Bolsa Chica has sought to involve the community in the protection of wetlands and the local environment.  To get people to care about the wetlands, they first have to understand their local environment and its cultural and ecological importance. Access to strong science has always been the key. Strengthening our education programs and volunteer base with funding for enhanced equipment will impact additional long-term goals of the organization. While government and community support for long-term funding for the maintenance of the Bolsa Chica restoration project is the priority, a stronger community voice will influence local policies on water quality and advocate for further restoration of wetland areas within the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. Additional goals of the Amigos de Bolsa involve the creation of a FLOW documentary on our water quality research, partnerships with other educational entities, the creation of online educational opportunities, and offsite visits to schools with microscopes and other scientific instruments.
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