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San Diego Coastkeeper Celebrates 20th Anniversary

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San Diego Coastkeeper, following in the footsteps of environmental activists from the 1960s, honored Coastal Champions Monday.

The honorees included individuals and businesses involved in helping protect and restore the region’s inland and coastal waters. The organization celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

Water keeper groups started in this country in 1966, when a couple of Hudson River fishermen in New York took action against illegal but tolerated dumping that had been fouling the water and killing the fish for years. That group became Riverkeeper. Similar groups started popping up across the country after the Riverkeeper’s triumph over river pollution.

San Diego BayKeeper was the 15th such group in the country. Its mission was to clean up pollution and prevent dumping in the bay. The group changed its name to Coastkeeper and expanded its reach to all "fishable, swimmable and drinkable" waters in the county.

Megan Baehrens, executive director of the San Diego Coastkeeper, said the region has come a long way in protecting the waters.

“The biggest accomplishment since 1995 is this concept of environmental sensitivity,” Baehrens told KPBS Midday Edition on Tuesday. “It’s really become a movement not just throughout the country but really here in San Diego. Things have become drastically more healthy and safe.”

Baehrens said there are more than 2 million keeper organizations around the world.


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