Sacramento -- Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1363, authored by Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) and sponsored by Audubon California, which requires the Ocean Protection Council, in coordination with the State Coastal Conservancy, to restore eelgrass to mitigate the impacts of global warming on the ocean and California’s coastal species last Thursday.
“Governor Brown has been a leader in working to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions, and I appreciate that he saw the value in my bill,” said Senator Monning. “SB 1363 is an important step forward in the restoration of eelgrass in the state, a multi-beneficial native California plant that creates a more hospitable environment for other native species and helps to mitigate the impact of carbon dioxide on the earth’s atmosphere.”
Eelgrass is the most widely occurring aquatic plant in the world, growing throughout the west and east coast of the United States, Canada and along the coast of Baja California. California has lost 90 percent of its eelgrass acreage, a worrisome drop because it acts as a protective nursery ground for fish and is an important food source for waterbirds like Surf Scoters and Pacific Brandt. Research has also proven that eelgrass can improve water quality and mitigate sea level rise.
"Hundreds of thousands of birds' well-being is dependent on a healthy eelgrass habitat," said Brigid McCormack, executive director of Audubon California. "I want to thank Governor Brown for signing SB 1363 into law and making this commitment to restore eelgrass and take action on global warming."
SB 1363 establishes the Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Reduction Program to:
- Develop demonstration projects to evaluate the best locations for carbon dioxide removal strategies, including the protection and restoration of eelgrass beds;
- Generate an inventory of locations where conservation or restoration of aquatic habitats, including eelgrass, can be successfully applied; and
- Incorporate the consideration of carbon dioxide removal during the habitat restoration planning process to fully account for the benefits of long-term carbon storage of habitat restoration.
SB 1363 will go into effect on January 1, 2017.
About Audubon California
Audubon California is building a better future for California by bringing people together to appreciate, enjoy and protect our spectacular outdoor treasures. With more than 50,000 members in California and an affiliated 48 local Audubon chapters, Audubon California is a field program of the National Audubon Society. Learn more at www.ca.audubon.org.