Monday, December 20, 2010
The Oakland-based California State Coastal Conservancy has awarded a $500,000 grant to the city of Santa Cruz to help fund interpretive exhibits at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center, slated to open in the summer of 2012.
This award brings the total funds raised toward a $3 million capital campaign to $2.1 million. These funds will be used to create permanent interpretive exhibits.
Santa Cruz is partnering with NOAA’s Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation to develop the Exploration Center, which is expected to host 200,000 visitors per year with a focus on educating guests about the impact people have on protecting the ocean.
Dawn Hayes, Education & Outreach Coordinator for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, explains that the center is designed to educate visitors not just about marine ecosystems, but the impact human activity has on the ocean. “Everybody lives in a watershed, and that watershed drains to a large water body, and those all are connected. The folks who live 100 miles inland may not realize that what they throw in a storm drain may end up in the ocean here,” she says, and making that connection is the Center’s primary objective.
During the summer, tourists from the Central Valley and East Bay will be the target demographic. “That’s the big carrot for us—really trying to connect with the inland communities,” Hayes says. During the winter months, the Center’s primary target audience will be local families and students sixth grade and older.
Workers broke ground on the 12,600-square-foot facility last month after eight years of planning.