OPC is Hiring an Environmental Scientist

Wind TurbineOPC is hiring a limited term Environmental Scientist (Offshore Wind Program Manager) to help advance strategic priorities related to offshore wind development in California. The Environmental Scientist will also be responsible for grant and contract management including developing scopes of work and budgets, tracking deliverables, and coordinating with grantees. The Environmental Scientist will provide additional support and capacity for OPC’s other strategic priorities, including ocean energy decarbonization, as needed.

Applicants should have a strong scientific and policy background, working knowledge of coastal and ocean issues and stakeholders in California, experience working on projects or research and/or developing or analyzing regulations, energy impact assessment on natural resources and the economy, policy, or legislation related to offshore wind development in California or elsewhere, and excellent written and verbal communication skills. The ability to work in a fast-paced environment and prioritize tasks is a must.

Minimum qualifications for an Environmental Scientist, including necessary education and experience, can be found here. Completion of the Environmental Scientist State Civil Service Examination is required, and exam scores must rank in the top three tiers within the applicant pool to be further considered in the application process; information on the examination can be found here.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all OPC staff are currently working remotely.  However, once staff return to the office, the Offshore Wind Program Manager will be required to work from the office in Sacramento one to three days a week. This position is limited term (minimum of two years) with the potential of becoming permanent.

The application deadline is February 3, 2022.  For more details and to apply, please visit: https://www.calcareers.ca.gov/CalHrPublic/Jobs/JobPosting.aspx?JobControlId=286521

OPC’s Year in Review: Meeting Challenges, Advancing Equity, Protecting Our Ocean

“As we look to 2022, our goal at the agency is to… continue California’s global leadership, combating climate change, transitioning our economy, and protecting our people and nature in the meantime. I believe strongly that people are resilient and that nature is resilient. We can adapt and weather these changes we are experiencing right now, and we at the Natural Resources Agency and across state government are focused on strengthening the resilience of our communities, our residents, and of our natural places to these changes we are experiencing. I’m optimistic that we will work harder than ever before and make unprecedented process toward building this resilience.” – from California Natural Resources Secretary and Ocean Protection Council Chair Wade Crowfoot’s end of the year video message

As 2021 brought global challenges to the forefront, the state of California responded with bold, decisive actions to protect our coast and ocean. OPC staff led multiple projects designed to restore wetlands, improve water quality, prevent plastic pollution, respond to environmental justice inequities, promote sustainable fisheries, protect marine wildlife and build resilience to climate change.

Despite the many looming threats, we continue to find hope in the form of scientific solutions to the planet’s biggest problems and in the promising work done by our grantees on the front lines. Join us in celebrating specific achievements from the past year below: … read more

Draft Statewide Microplastics Strategy is Available for Public Comment

OPC is pleased to release the draft Statewide Microplastics Strategy, which outlines a statewide research strategy and recommended early actions to reduce microplastic pollution in California’s marine environment, consistent with Senate Bill 1263 (Portantino, 2018).

We welcome feedback on this draft Strategy.

Public comment should be submitted to OPCmicroplastics@resources.ca.gov by 5:00 pm on January 21, 2022.

 A revised draft, based on public comment, is anticipated to be released in February 2022 for consideration by the Ocean Protection Council at its February 23, 2022 meeting. Questions can be directed to OPC’s Water Quality Program Manager, Kaitlyn Kalua at Kaitlyn.Kalua@resources.ca.gov.

California Seeks Feedback on Draft Strategy to Achieve 30×30 Conservation Target

To protect biodiversity, advance equitable access to nature, and combat climate change, the California Natural Resources Agency today released a groundbreaking document detailing strategies and opportunities to conserve 30 percent of California’s lands and coastal waters by 2030.  

The draft of Pathways to 30×30: Accelerating Conservation of California’s Nature is now available for public review and feedback. Pathways to 30×30 responds directly to Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-82-20, which aims to accelerate conservation of California’s lands and coastal waters through voluntary, collaborative action, and makes California the first state to commit to the ambitious global “30×30” target. 

An underwater scene featuring a sheepshead

Photo by Zack Gold

“The level of collaboration and leadership by OPC on 30×30 has been tremendous. I look forward implementing this strategy together,” says Dr. Jennifer Norris, Deputy Secretary for Biodiversity and Habitat and lead for 30×30 California.

OPC has coordinated closely with Dr. Norris and additional CNRA leadership on the coastal and ocean components of California’s 30×30 initiative, building on the Conservation of Coastal Waters Advisory panel report released earlier this year. The pathway to conserving 30 percent of California’s coastal waters by 2030 will include the 16 percent of state waters currently protected within the state’s network of marine protected areas and a prioritized focus on working with federal resource managers to strengthen biodiversity conservation measures in California’s federally managed National Marine Sanctuaries, which currently cover 40.6 percent of state waters.  

Sanctuaries provide an opportunity for California to meet or exceed the 30×30 target while ensuring that access and sustainable use is maintained. Strengthened protections within Sanctuaries could include:  

  • Restoring and revitalizing indigenous stewardship,  
  • Phasing out the use of particularly harmful fishing gear,  
  • Strengthening water quality protections,  
  • Restoring degraded habitats,  
  • And/or banning single-use plastics within Sanctuary watersheds.  

Moving forward, OPC will be working with the research community, other state and federal agencies, Tribes and Tribal governments, and coastal stakeholders – including commercial and recreational fishermen – to identify areas that are important for biodiversity in California’s coastal waters, assess major threats to biodiversity and explore additional protections that could be implemented to address those threats.  

“OPC is looking forward to working with the National Marine Sanctuaries, fishing and environmental communities, and other ocean stakeholders to develop and implement a path to 30 percent conserved coastal waters by 2030”, said Dr. Mark Gold, Deputy Secretary for Oceans and Coastal Policy and Director of the Ocean Protection Council. “We have an extraordinary opportunity to leverage our efforts with the federal 30×30 initiative with an objective of thriving coastal waters.”

Do you have thoughts on how California can best protect biodiversity and achieve “30×30” for the coast and ocean? We want to hear from you! Visit CaliforniaNature.ca.gov to review the draft Pathways to 30×30 document and submit feedback by January 28, 2022. 

Prop 68 Climate Resilience Miniseries Episode 15: South Orange County Regional Coastal Resilience Strategic Plan

“Any type of solution to shoreline erosion and sea level rise will take a regional effort” – Susan Brodeur

Today we are at Capistrano Beach in South Orange County talking with some of the members of the collaborative Prop 68 Project to develop a regional, collaborative Strategic Plan to address shoreline management decisions around coastal erosion and sea level rise. South Orange County has been experiencing severe coastal erosion for years and as a result, beaches have been narrowing.

The Strategic Plan will bring together stakeholders (public entities, private landowners, beachgoers, OCTA, Metrolink, State Parks, Orange County Parks and others) to find solutions to long-term erosion along approximately seven miles of eroding sandy beach stretching from Dana Point Harbor to San Clemente State Beach. “We’re all experiencing the same issues – loss of beach, loss of sand,” notes Susan Brodeur, Senior Coastal Engineer with OC Parks and the Project Manager for OC Parks, the convener of this collaborative effort. 

The Strategic Plan will provide the framework for the implementation of future projects, knowing that sea level rise will only exacerbate existing challenges around shoreline erosion. By bringing together the best available science and specifically, the State’s Guidance on Sea Level Rise, this Strategic Plan is a necessary step forward in maintaining California’s iconic beaches in South Orange County. “We don’t want to lose this asset…this is not what people came to realize as the California Dream with its sandy beaches, not coming to see a bunch of rocks and nowhere to put your towel,” adds Brodeur.

… read more

Communities Entitled to Environmental Justice to Receive $7.5M for Coastal Water Quality Projects

At its December 7 meeting, the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) for the first time approved funding exclusively for coastal water quality projects that directly benefit Communities Entitled to Environmental Justice (CEEJs). A total of $7.5M in Proposition 1 funds will be disbursed to six projects that support multi-benefit ecosystem and watershed protection or restoration, habitat enhancement, resilience to climate change and community engagement. 

While OPC regularly funds important ocean- and coast-related projects throughout the state, this is the Council’s first time soliciting projects that provide direct benefits to state-defined disadvantaged and severely disadvantaged communities, California Native American tribes, and communities that score above 80 percent on CalEnviroScreen results.

Secretary for the California Natural Resources Agency and OPC Chair Wade Crowfoot commended the state’s investment in the proposed community-driven projects, saying, “This effort is a really powerful model for how the state can prioritize funding that more effectively advances both natural resources protection and environmental justice.” 

OPC Wetlands Program Manager Maria Rodriguez agreed. “This is OPC’s first step in accomplishing a dedicated pathway for funding EJ communities and projects that put community benefits at the forefront and emphasize social and economic benefits,” she said. “These are elements that OPC is working to incorporate into other funding opportunities to ensure community benefits are meaningful, direct and can be delivered through projects or programs OPC is leading.”

Funded projects span California’s coastline

… read more

Prop 68 Climate Resilience Miniseries Episode 14: Stinson Beach Adaptation and Resilience Collaboration

The technical sea level rise studies we’ve completed to-date have shown the coastal hazard impacts we can expect in the coming decades – and that gives us the ability to share that information with the people who are going to be directly affected. That’s crucial because public awareness and understanding of these hazards is critical if we’re going to be able plan effectively for the future.” – Julia Elkin

Today we are Stinson Beach, located on the scenic Marin County coastline, talking with Julia Elkin, the Project Manager on this Prop 68 Project to develop and deliver a community adaptation planning process for Stinson Beach that addresses existing and future coastal hazard impacts and sea-level rise. 

Located about an hour north of San Francisco, Stinson Beach is a highly valued California beach to both residents and visitors. Many Californians visit Stinson Beach for relief during extreme heat events or poor air quality days. Stinson Beach has immense value – and it is highly vulnerable to sea level rise. “Our opportunity now is to work with the public and plan for that slow-moving emergency that is sea level rise because the decisions that we can make now help us plan for a future that meets our community values and reduces harm to both our natural systems and human communities,” says Elkin. 

Challenges with coastal erosion, flooding and storm surges are not new to Stinson Beach. That said, climate change will only exacerbate the intensity and frequency of these coastal hazards. Adaptation responses that will be explored through the Stinson Beach Adaptation and Resilience Collaboration, or Stinson ARC, will include nature-based strategies, long-term realignment of existing structures and infrastructure and structural options. … read more

OPC is Hiring an Administration and Finance Analyst

OPC is hiring a limited term Associate Governmental Program Analyst to provide critical support for grant and contract administration, accounting, and other administrative duties, as needed. Applicants should have strong attention to detail, high-level proficiency with Microsoft Office Suite (including Word, Excel and Outlook), and experience related to bookkeeping, invoice processing, budgets, or other related work. The ability to work in a fast-paced environment and prioritize tasks is a must.

Completion of the Associate Governmental Program Analyst State Civil Service Examination is required, and exam scores must rank in the top three tiers within the applicant pool to be further considered in the application process; information on the examination can be found here. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all OPC staff are currently working remotely. However, once staff return to the office, the Associate Governmental Program Analyst will be required to work from the office in Sacramento one to three days a week. This position is limited term (minimum of two years) with the potential of becoming permanent.

The application deadline is December 10, 2021. For more details and to apply, see here.

New Report: Understanding the Flow of Microplastics from our Cities to the Ocean

Despite increased awareness, plastic pollution continues to infiltrate our oceans and beaches, littering the seafloor, ocean surface, beaches and shorelines. It also takes a toll on our economy: California communities spend more than $428 million annually to clean up and control plastic pollution. Because plastic never truly degrades, only breaks into smaller and smaller pieces, clean up and control is extraordinarily difficult.

The good news is California has been a leader in slowing down plastic at the source by banning single-use plastic bags and the use of microplastics in face scrubs and toothpaste. Microplastics, those under five millimeters in size, are found even in places considered “pristine,” as well as in drinking water and food, including shellfish, salt, beer, and honey.

Understanding how microplastics end up where they do is critical to eliminating them from the environment. Toward that goal, OPC funded a study by the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI), A Synthesis of Microplastic Sources and Pathways to Urban Runoff.

Building on SFEI’s major finding that storm-driven runoff from cities is a major pathway for microplastics to enter California’s waterways, this new report pulls together available information on pollution sources, including textiles, cigarette filters, other fibers, single-use plastic foodware and vehicle tires. It illustrates how plastic products break down into microplastic particles as they move through the environment, traveling through the air, depositing on the urban landscape, and washing into streams, rivers, and coastal locations during storm events.

SFEI’s findings, alongside the Microplastic Pollution in California: A Precautionary Framework and Scientific Guidance to Assess and Address the Risk to the Marine Environment released in May 2021, provide the foundation for the forthcoming Statewide Microplastics Strategy being developed by OPC pursuant to SB 1263 (Portantino, 2018), which will be considered for adoption by the Council at its Feb 2022 meeting.

Together, these reports have informed a two-prong approach to addressing microplastic pollution: ‘no-regrets’ actions that can be employed now to prevent the proliferation of microplastic pollution, and identifying California-specific research needs to inform future action.

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