A Greener Santa Barbara: The Year in (Mostly) Good News



Our Earth Day roundup of environmental stories on the American Riviera shows new progress and old battles.

Earth Day is a fitting time to reflect on the progress made in the last year here in what many regard as paradise, the place where Earth Day was born out of a catastrophic oil spill 55 years ago. So here’s a non-exhaustive list of green news for the last 12 calendar pages.


  • Santa Barbara Fisherman Chris Goldblatt founded the Fish Reef Project in 2011 to replenish depleted reef habitat on the Central Coast and around the world. One key ingredient is kelp, which has been declining up and down the California coast, and needs to anchor to a hard, rocky surface on the seafloor. Goldblatt and the Fish Reef Project have been installing “sea caves” (igloo-like concrete structures) around the globe for the past few years, and in March plopped 15 into Goleta Bay to begin the nonprofit’s five-year Goleta Kelp Reef Restoration Project.
  • Starting Jan. 1, a new agreement between fishermen and conservationists opened up 4,500 square miles of cowcod fishing, while simultaneously protecting 600 square miles of the most fragile and diverse deep sea corals off Southern California. Eight areas are now closed to all groundfish fishing gear to protect the living seafloor, but after 20 years of closure for species recovery, recreation and commercial fishermen can now fish cowcod using non-trawl methods.


The state’s last oil piers were removed from Goleta in June. But the oil industry’s long goodbye to Santa Barbara got longer in February when county officials approved a test oil-and-gas well on private North Fork Ranch in Cuyama Valley.

Energy and Climate



Looking back on a year of environmental news reinforces how important the natural environment, especially the ocean, is to Santa Barbarans. And how hard it’s worth fighting to protect it.

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Jim Miller
Jim Miller
Jim Miller, co-editor of Bluedot San Diego and Bluedot Santa Barbara, has been an environmental economist for over 25 years, in the private sector, academia, and the public service. He enjoys sharing his knowledge through freelance writing, and has been published in The Washington Post and Martha’s Vineyard magazine. He’s always loved nature and the outdoors, especially while on a bicycle.
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