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Center for Bay and Coastal Dynamics Dedicated

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thumb_20091217-01The Center for Bay and Coastal Dynamics —a partnership among three research and education institutions and the Port San Diego— is being hailed as a collaboration that will help solve major environmental and research problems associated with San Diego Bay.

The research center, which was officially dedicated on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009, is a partnership between the Port of San Diego, San Diego State University, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD and Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute. The new center is housed at San Diego State University's Coastal and Marine Institute Laboratory located at the former Naval Training Center (map) near San Diego Bay.

"What has been created is a significant partnership among three premiere education and research institutions, and in my view, a world-class port," Port Commissioner Scott Peters said in remarks to more than 50 people who attended the ceremony. "I fully expect this center will earn recognition throughout the region, the state and even globally."

Peters, the chair of the Port's Environmental Advisory Committee and others paid tribute to outgoing Port Commissioner Robert J. "Rocky Spane" for his help in establishing the center.

"Rocky played an important role in the establishment of the Center and we wanted to recognize him for his contribution," said Board of Port Commissioners member Robert "Dukie" Valderrama. "Some years back, Rocky had a vision of a place that would conduct cutting-edge education and research...it would be a place where some of the best minds around would study and investigate"

Joining Valderrama and Peters were leaders from the three education and research partners who acknowledged the importance of the collaboration that will allow scientists to map San Diego Bay and conduct long-term scientific monitoring of the entire ecosystem.

"While the Port Act is specific with respect to the bounds of the bay and its tidelands, we also recognize that the resources of the bay are intimately connected to its watershed, to the coast, and to the ocean that sustains it," said Tony Haymet, Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

thumb_SDSU_Coastal_Waters_Lab"Ensuring the environmental and economic needs of the bay and coast are very important now and in the future," said Stanley Maloy, Dean of San Diego State's College of Sciences. "The center will provide that type of collaboration and cooperation to solve major environmental and research problems facing the Port of San Diego – projects ranging from ensuring water quality, understanding the seismic stability of the harbor floor, restoring sea turtle and fish populations and the role of sea grass in providing the habitat for a healthy bay."

Said Donald B. Kent, President of Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute: "The launch of the Center for Bay and Coastal Dynamics brings together four respected entities to address questions – what are the environmental challenges facing San Diego Bay, how do we minimize these impacts and ensure that we and the creatures that live in and near the bay all thrive together? The answers will benefit not only us, but our children and grandchildren."

The collaboration was recognized by California State Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny, Senator Christine Kehoe, Assembly member Tom Torlakson, and Assembly member Mary Salas in a resolution complimenting the center for its progressive approach in sharing the resources required to do sound science.

Spane, who just concluded eight years of service on the Board of Port Commissioners, was recognized for his efforts in the center's establishment.

He was also recognized as the founder and first chairman of the Port's Environmental Fund, which provides grants for environmental research, education and projects connected to the health of San Diego Bay.

The Board of Port Commissioners established an environmental fund in 2006, jump-starting it with $5 million. Each year one-half of one percent of the Port's total earnings is set aside for this fund, about $600,000.

Since its creation, more than 50 projects have been funded and most of them have been completed. Projects include enhancing fish habitats in San Diego Bay, restoring the J Street salt marsh in Chula Vista and constructing osprey nesting platforms along the waterfront.

Environmental Fund projects currently being studied at the Center for Bay and Coastal Dynamics include the monitoring of bay water to gauge the effects of the Otay River watershed that flows into San Diego Bay and the Tijuana River watershed that flows into a tidelands area near Imperial Beach.

"This partnership will undoubtedly provide great benefits to our institutions' scientists and to all future scientists who come out of our academic programs," Haymet said.

In addition to training graduate and undergraduate students, the center will be a resource for project-based learning for students ranging from grades 6 through 12.