Shutting Down Santa Monica Bay

Washington DC government shutdown capitol

Heal the Bay CEO Ruskin Hartley examines how the federal shutdown is affecting the Bay.

There is a greenhouse up in the Santa Monica Mountains brimming with new life and hope. In it, staff and volunteers of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area have dedicated countless hours growing native plants. When planted out, the vegetation will help restore the creeks and rivers that flow into Santa Monica Bay.

With the federal government shutdown and “non-essential” staff furloughed, these plants are now fending for themselves. Well, that’s not strictly true. At the last minute, the restoration ecologists trained the law-enforcement personnel in how to operate the greenhouse and water the plants. Don’t get me wrong. I am sure they can do a good job of it — but they also have thousands of acres of closed parkland to protect. I fear they will be busy elsewhere.

It’s a small example of the impact the shutdown is having on our work to protect and restore the waters of the Bay. But then multiply it by each area of impact — the research into the sea lion die-off earlier in the year that is now halted, the EPA staff who are no-longer working on beach pollution and storm-water issues, the Coast Guard vessels now drastically cutting back on routine patrol — and it starts to add up. The longer the impasse lasts, the greater the cumulative impact on the Bay, and the bigger (and more costly) the hole we’ll have to dig out of. That’s a cost we will all have to bear as the politicians go about their dance in D.C.

Of course, the Bay does not have a bank account, so it will pay the price differently -- in lost opportunities that further delay the day our local ocean is fully healthy.

Meanwhile, we’re continuing to do our bit to safeguard the Bay, quietly and calmly with your help. And with fewer federal employees out there working on the same goal, we’ll have to stretch a little further to cover the gaps. We couldn’t do it without your support. Thank you!

To learn more about how you can help, consider attending one of Heal the Bay's regular volunteer orientations.

government shutdown