Coastal Conservancy Awards Over $26.7 Million for Coastal Protection, Restoration of Bay Wetlands, Beach Wheelchairs, and Explore the Coast program

Board approves funding to support coastal projects and programming

Sausalito, CA – Today, the Board of the California State Coastal Conservancy awarded $26.7 million in grants including $20 million for the first phase of the 1,600-acre restoration of Bel Marin Keys Unit V in Novato, funding for beach wheelchairs at 18 coastal sites, and support for 29 Explore the Coast programs to give Californians unique coastal experiences.

“The Coastal Conservancy exists to protect our coast, but also to ensure that all Californians are able to access and enjoy it,” said Sam Schuchat, Executive Officer of the Coastal Conservancy. “The projects approved by our Board today demonstrate the potential of landscape-scale wetland restoration in urban areas like the San Francisco Bay, as well as the tremendous impact of targeted grants to reduce barriers to coastal access.”

Beach Wheelchair on the beach

Photo: Bonnie Lewkowicz

24 manual beach wheelchairs, five motorized beach wheelchairs and one all-terrain walker will be procured by 11 different grantees, increasing access to the coast from Arcata to San Diego for people with disabilities. The Conservancy’s beach wheelchair grants cover the cost of the equipment as well as storage facilities, repair kits and outreach.

“For Heal the Bay, access to the beach is a primary concern. We bring kids, schools and families from all over Los Angeles County to our Aquarium at Santa Monica beach. We want to ensure everyone can experience the wonder of the ocean.” said Shelley Luce, Heal the Bay CEO and President, “Beach wheelchairs, provided free of charge for students and visitors, will ensure equal access for people of all abilities. It’s wonderful to work with the state Coastal Conservancy – our partner in ensuring California beaches are welcoming to all people.”

“Beach wheelchairs are critical to ensuring that all people have access to our stunning California coastlines. Without these specially designed chairs so many would be left to experience the ocean from afar rather than on the sand. We remain so grateful to the Coastal Conservancy for their commitment to inclusion and access.” said Kate Wheeler, President and CEO of the Crystal Cove Conservancy

The Board also approved $805,000 for 29 Explore the Coast grants to fund coastal experiences for groups who face barriers to access. This is the sixth round of the Conservancy’s Explore the Coast grant program.  In total, the program has funded over 200 projects with over $6 million to support beach days for school groups and families, summer camps to connect Native American youth to their cultures, hands-on ocean science exploration, and surfing, canoeing and kayaking lessons that get people out onto the water, often for the first time.  This year’s round of projects includes sea kayaking, surfing, biking, coastal recreation, and environmental education projects for people with disabilities, indigenous youth, Title 1 schools, and low-income families.

Additionally, the Board approved a $20,000,000 grant for the first phase of the restoration of the 1,600 acre Bel Marin Keys Unit V which, when completed, will create new wetlands habitat for wildlife, flood protection for the community of Bel Marin Keys and complete the Hamilton Wetlands Restoration Project in Marin county. The project will create a mosaic of tidal, seasonal, and transitional habitat by constructing flood control features, placing dredged material to elevate the diked, subsided baylands, and reintroducing tidal waters to the site.  This first phase consists of construction of a new levee, creation of a 44-acre seasonal pond complex and enhancement of an additional 46 acres, modifications to site drainage and a segment of an existing Novato Sanitary District effluent outfall pipeline that crosses BMKV, construction and improvement of necessary access roads, and construction of a water pump system to manage surface water behind the new levee.

The full lists of projects considered and funded at the August Board meeting can be found here:




Notes to Editors:

The Coastal Conservancy is a state agency, established in 1976, to protect and improve natural lands and waterways, to help people get to and enjoy the outdoors, and to sustain local economies along California’s coast. The Conservancy is a non-regulatory agency that supports projects to protect coastal resources and increase opportunities for the public to enjoy the coast.


Since its founding, the Conservancy has:

  • Funded 2,400 projects along the California coastline and in the San Francisco Bay.
  • Protected 390,000 acres of coastal lands through acquisition of fee title and conservation easements.
  • Restored 33,000 acres of habitat.
  • Built 200 new coastal accessway and 210 miles of new trails.
  • Put $1.3 billion to work for conservation projects, and leveraged far more from federal, local government, and private sources.


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