Spotlight on Our Shores

Rockaway Beach sunset by C. Knowles

Rockaway Beach sunset by C. Knowles

By Cynthia Knowles, Pollution Prevention Specialist, San Mateo County Environmental Health

I have the honor of living in what I believe to be one of the most striking, beautiful places anywhere – the San Mateo County coast. And it’s full of wonders. Pedro Point sunsets, whales swimming alongside surfers at Montara state beach, Mavericks beach…Dually exhilarating AND calming.

For some, a sense of place is not just an address, but a personal experience, relationship or connection; an area rich in unique characteristics, including cultural ones, that make it special. My strong attachment to a sense of place helps define who I am and where I belong.


Pledge to protect coastal resources and make your contribution to assure that activities we love so much can endure like boating, swimming, surfing, walks on the beach, picnics and other relaxing, stress-reducing activities.

Pedro Point Headlands by C. Knowles

Pedro Point Headlands by C. Knowles

This pledge can be simple. How? Avoid contamination upstream to limit contamination downstream, on our coastal playground. Read on for a few suggestions:

  • Don’t litter. Trash threatens aquatic life when it flows into our waterways. Am I preaching to the choir? Okay, how about…
  • Properly maintain your vehicle to prevent motor oil leaks. A video of the first rains of the season in Pacifica shows motor oil residue just before it enters the storm drain (next to the cigarette carton). Check out the video.
  • Pick up after your pet. Easy.
  • Adopt your local storm drain. Keep the storm drain near you clear of debris, leaves and anything that does not belong there – essentially everything but water. I asked my neighbors to join me in caring for our neighborhood storm drains.
  • Participate in a local beach or creek clean-up (Coastside Land Trust, Acterra, Pacifica Beach Coalition, Save our Shores). Go to the beach AND help preserve its health. Clean-ups are a great way for kids to learn that stewardship is necessary. Once a neighbor gave me $5 when they saw me picking up litter along the coast.
  • Dockwalk at a local marina. Dockwalking is a fun way to educate boaters about the part they play in protecting our coastal waters from hazardous materials common to boating activity. CalBoating’s Boating Clean & Green program trains volunteers to provide information and free absorbents to boaters. Save our Shores pioneered the Dockwalker strategy and the California Coastal Commission and CalBoating have promoted it statewide since 1999.
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