New Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center Receives Grant Award from CA State Parks

Monterey, California - April 18, 2011 - The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation received a $500,000 grant from the State of California’s Parks & Recreation department for their Sea Beyond the Beach capital campaign in support of the new Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center to be built in Santa Cruz, CA.

The grant money is coming from Proposition 84, $10 billion approved by state voters in November 2006 for water quality and natural resource protections. The grant is for state-of-the-art, interactive, bilingual educational exhibits at the Exploration Center. An estimated 200,000 people per year are expected to visit the Exploration Center—free of charge—and engage in a unique, hands-on introduction to the diverse ecosystems of California’s Central Coast. The Exploration Center has a prime location on waterfront property next to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Construction is now underway and the Grand Opening is scheduled for the Summer of 2012.

“The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is grateful to California Parks & Recreation for their recognition of the importance the Exploration Center plays as a nature education facility,” said Jason Patlis, CEO for the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. “This grant brings us much closer to achieving our campaign goal of $3 million,” said Patlis. With this grant, the capital campaign is now at approximately $2.7 million. “We are coming down the home stretch, and it is gratifying to see such strong community support for this partnership between public and private groups at the local and national levels.” added Patlis.

In order to complement other regional marine facilities, the Exploration Center’s exhibits will focus on ecosystems and large themes—watersheds and water quality; sanctuary geology and current research on the Davidson Seamount; critical ecosystems like rocky shores, the intertidal zone, and kelp forests; migratory species; deep-sea creatures and habitat; and conservation issues such as the role of marine protected areas and the importance of our national marine sanctuary system.

“National Marine Sanctuaries are critical tools in ocean conservation, and yet so few Americans know of them. The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s Exploration Center to be built in Santa Cruz will help address that gap in awareness, and we are grateful to the State of California for their recognition and support,” said Fred Keeley, Santa Cruz County Treasurer and the Chairman of the campaign’s Leadership Committee. The California State Coastal Conservancy also awarded a $500,000 grant to the Exploration Center in December 2010.

The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is the private, non-profit partner to NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. The Foundation supports efforts to educate and motivate people on ways they can help preserve, protect and promote our nationwide network of marine sanctuaries for future generations to enjoy. The 14 sites within the National Marine Sanctuary System protect special places in the oceans and Great Lakes, from the Florida Keys to the Hawaiian Islands and from Lake Huron to the Gulf of Mexico. Visit www.nmsfocean.org.

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) is a federally protected marine area offshore of California’s central coast and part of NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary System. Stretching from Marin to Cambria, the MBNMS encompasses a shoreline length of 276 miles and 6,094 square miles of ocean. Supporting one of the world’s most productive and diverse marine ecosystems, it is home to a variety of marine mammals, seabirds, fishes, invertebrates and plants. The MBNMS was established for the purpose of protecting and preserving this vital area as well as ensuring its sustainable use, conducting and coordinating ongoing research, and offering educational opportunities to foster stewardship for this national treasure. For more information about the sanctuary, the Exploration Center and how to make a donation to support the capital campaign, visit www.montereybay.noaa.gov.

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