Protect and Preserve campaign raises money for Orange County environmental nonprofits

Miss Haggis, a California sea lion after rescue. She has a bad eye and fishing hook in her esophagus.
(Courtesy of Pacific Marine Mammal Center)

Environmentalists flexed their financial muscle this week during the Protect and Preserve Orange County campaign.

The fundraising effort called for people to donate to seven of the county’s environmental nonprofit organizations over a 24-hour period on Wednesday, several of which had local connections.

Philanthropists came through in raising $144,502, which nearly doubled the original goal of $75,000 set for all the groups combined. The Orange County Community Foundation helped put on the day of giving, during which contributions were made by 450 donors.

“It’s gratifying to see members of the Orange County community choose to support local environmental nonprofits that will protect and conserve our coastline and unique ecosystems,” Shelley Hoss, president and chief executive of the Orange County Community Foundation, said in a statement. “We are thrilled with the final results of this collaborative fundraising effort that will help ensure our natural resources flourish and are enjoyed by Orange County residents for generations to come.”

The generosity was especially evident in Laguna Beach. Rich in natural beauty, the seaside community tucked into the mouth of a canyon is home to three of the participating organizations.

Three elephant seal patients ready to be released back into the wild.
(Courtesy of Pacific Marine Mammal Center)

Pacific Marine Mammal Center raised the most money with $41,300 in contributions coming from 172 donors, followed by Laguna Canyon Foundation with $40,089.89 from a group of 100 donors, and then Laguna Ocean Foundation with $30,745.

“The Protect and Preserve money will definitely help out with [our patients] tremendously, help us with these more difficult rescues that we have late in the season,” said Krysta Higuchi, the events and public relations manager of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center.

Ocean Defenders Alliance ($17,470), the Ecology Center ($9,755), Newport Bay Conservancy ($3,010) and OC Habitats ($2,132) also participated in the Protect and Preserve Orange County campaign.

Each of the organizations included in the campaign will be able to keep and utilize the funds it raised, Higuchi said.

“It was just fantastic,” Higuchi added. “It’s so great to get … behind a collective mind for the sustainability of the ecosystems in Orange County. It’s great teamwork and collaboration between all the different organizations, and we were just completely blown away by all the support.”

Nyjah, a late in the season elephant seal rescued from Crystal Cove, learning to eat fish on his own in the side pools.
(Courtesy of Pacific Marine Mammal Center)

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