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Chula Vista Nature Center Gets Funding Help

Money From Port of San Diego Will Fund Education, Endangered Species Programs

Aired 1/11/12 on KPBS News.

The Chula Vista Nature Center is getting a needed increase in funding with a $125,000 grant from the Port of San Diego.

The Chula Vista Nature Center is getting a needed increase in funding with $125,000 from the Port of San Diego.

The money will help pay for a variety of educational and endangered species protection programs at the Chula Vista Nature Center.

Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas).
Enlarge this image

Above: Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas).

The nonprofit zoo and aquarium is located on the southern rim of San Diego Bay.

Nature Center Executive Director Brian Joseph said the funding comes at a critical time.

"It allows us to work toward sustainability in a very, very difficult economy," said Joseph. "So it provides us a real boost and we'll be seeking further port funding but we appreciate that they recognize the good conservation work that we do."

Joseph said the money helps protection efforts for the endangered Eastern Pacific Green Sea Turtle, which inhabit San Diego Bay.

"All of the species of sea turtles are highly endangered," said Joseph. "The Port funding is allowing us to care for the turtles at the nature center and also to have educational programs that are associated with sea turtle conservation."

He said the worldwide population of green sea turtles has decreased 90 percent in just 50 years.

Joseph said part of the Port of San Diego funding will be used to support the Nature Center's new seasonal exhibit, "Washed Ashore" and a camp program for youngsters.

Offered year-round during school breaks, the camps provide education and entertainment through wild play and outdoor exploration within the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge; up-close, hands-on encounters with local wildlife such as crabs, stingrays, sea turtles, sharks, owls, hawks and reptiles; as well as group games, nature-inspired arts/crafts and scientific experiments aimed at inspiring a new generational of environmental champions.

Joseph said the Port funding will also assist the Nature Center's highly successful Light Footed Clapper Rail Propagation Program, part of the United States Fish and Wildlife Services recovery program for the endangered marsh bird found in the protected wetlands of southern California and Baja California.

He said the money will also help create school partnerships, including curriculum development, teacher training and student field trip transportation to bring an increased number of students from within the San Diego Bay watershed region to the Nature Center for environmental education programs.

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