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SMBAS Grants to Other Organizations for 2010-11

August 27, 2010

SMBAS had its annual planning meeting at the end of July. One of our duties is deciding which organizations we will support with monetary grants in the coming fiscal year. We have investigated all of the organizations listed below and believe that our donations are well invested. We encourage all our members to consider them when making their own environmentally-related charitable donations.

1. American Bird Conservancy
ABC is a “four-star exceptional” charity whose mission is to conservancy wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. Among their many projects are: acquiring land important to endangered/threatened species in many countries; securing easements in Colombia for wintering Cerulean Warblers; create plant nurseries and plant trees throughout the Americas; reduce seabird mortality from West Coast fisheries; create nesting habitat for owls in the Pacific Northwest; reduce feral cat populations and persuade cat owners to keep their cats indoors; protect Spotted Owl and Marbled Murrelet habitat; lobby for birds & habitat in Washington, DC; acquire and convert coffee/cacao plantations for revenue for local sanctuaries; many dozens more. SMBAS has been a member of ABC for 6 years.

2. Ballona Creek Renaissance
BCR is a small local group whose mission is “to improve Ballona Creek and the community’s use of in terms of water quality, ecosystem, recreation, arts, attractiveness and amenities.” They are an enthusiastic, dedicated and underfunded group who need  help and support from the Westside environmental community. We will give financial support to their community matching projects.  Weblink:

3. Ballona Wetlands Audubon Education Program
SMBAS has helped fund the BWAEP for over two decades, and many members of our chapter have dedicated a great deal of time to them.  Eight months a year, twice a week, they bring groups of 60 schoolchildren – mostly 5th graders – onto the wetlands and give them hands-on experience with reptiles, invertebrates, habitat restoration, plant and bird identification.  Due to widespread budget cutbacks, many schools cannot afford to hire a bus to bring the children to the wetlands, so BWAEP has begun offering “bus scholarships”.  BWAEP expenses are always minimal and all of the labor is done by volunteers.  Former SMBAS founder and long-term member Abigail King volunteered with them for many years, and we are funding some bus scholarships in her name.

4. Birder’s Exchange
Birder’s Exchange, directed by the American Birding Association, is dedicated towards getting birding equipment to poor, birding-destination nations in the Americas. Field guides, binoculars and telescopes, both new and used, are supplied free of charge to individuals and groups in order to increase their appreciation of and involvement in their local wildlife. For example, they recently distributed over 11,000 copies of the Spanish translation of John Kricher’s A Neotropical Companion throughout the Spanish-speaking Americas. Such efforts have created many new birders throughout the Americas. Some volunteer, others work in ecotourism or lead field trips; others go on to pursue education in ornithology and other fields of science. This is a low cost, high-volunteer and high-return organization, directly focused on the development of birding and birders where it is needed most.

5. California State Parks Foundation
As birders and SMBAS members, we use the state parks all the time: for example, our monthly Malibu Lagoon birdwalk at held at Malibu Lagoon State Park. CSPF is over 40 years old, and is the only statewide independent nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting, enhancing and advocating for California’s state parks. Since 1969, they have raised more than $150 million to benefit state parks. They are committed to improving the quality of life for all Californians by expanding access to the natural beauty, rich culture and history, and recreational and educational opportunities offered by California’s 278 state parks ­ the largest state park system in the United States. Many parks have been closed down due to budget cutbacks and they need as much help as they can get. CSPF also supports the current Auto License Plate Initiative.

6. Endangered Habitats League
EHL started over a decade ago primarily to preserve habitat for the threatened California Gnatcatcher which lives only in the sort of brushy chaparral which developers love to clear for housing developments, and SMBAS has supported it since its inception. Since then, they have worked to protect habitat throughout the general SoCal area. They are a small, shoestring operation which deserves our continued support.

7. Friends of Big Morongo
Anyone who has birded at Big Morongo Nature Preserve in the springtime knows its tremendous importance as a high-desert oasis. Millions of migrating birds come up the west Mexican Coast and, after lingering at the Salton Sea, must run the gantlet of the fierce winds at the San Gorgonio Pass. BMNP provides an oasis, sanctuary, resting place and feeding grounds for these migrants before they continue through California and as far north as Alaska and the Canadian Arctic. FBM is a small volunteer organization which maintains the preserve and keeps it open for anyone to visit any time of year, and we are happy to support it.

8. Student Conservation Association
SMBAS began supporting the SCA 5 years ago when we first learned of it. Since then we have sponsored the work of students in both the Santa Monica Mountains and the Tehachapi mountains around Butterbredt Spring. Some of our members have worked with them clearing trails, installing and repairing signs and fences and blocking access of ORV’s from off-limits, protected areas. We get letters from the students thanking us for our sponsorship and reporting on their activities. SCA provides hands-on conservation service opportunities to high-school and college-aged people across the nation and provides opportunities to donors to sponsor students in their local areas. Since 1957, over 50,000 young people have provided over 1/2 billion dollars worth of labor. This year, about 4,000 interns and volunteers will provide over 2 million hours of conservation service.  More importantly, 70% of SCA alumni remain active in conservation in their careers or communities. This is a low cost, highly-effective way of introducing young people to our beautiful wildlands and getting some much-needed work done at the same time.

9. Butterbredt Spring
Our support of the spring is in a class by itself. For over 30 years, SMBAS – spearheaded by Keith Axelson – has championed the spring in all ways possible: mending fences and signage, re-installation of a cattle trough, perpetual negotiating with the landowners and BLM, getting SCA (see above) workers to the area, attending local Governmental Agency meetings, getting it listed as an Important Bird Area, running the Christmas Count, semi-annual field trip campouts, and on and on. Our involvement will continue.
Link to 2008 Christmas Count pictures:
Link to history of Frederick Butterbredt & Sageland:
[Lillian Johnson]

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