SM BAY — Santa Monica-based environmental watchdog Heal the Bay announced Tuesday the appointment of Ruskin Hartley as its new chief executive officer.
Hartley is a veteran environmentalist who most recently held the title of executive director at the Save the Redwoods League in San Francisco.
In his 15-year stint with the organization, Hartley protected 70,000 acres of redwood forest, raised $100 million of public and private support and launched an initiative that studied the effects of global warming on ancient forests, according to a new release.
The conservationist has also conducted research on traditional irrigation systems in Oman and worked as a post-war environmental planner in Kuwait.
“Ruskin Hartley is a leader who will inspire, motivate and lead Heal the Bay’s talented staff,” said Stephanie Medina, chairperson of Heal the Bay’s Board of Directors.
“He’s a noted speaker on environmental issues with a collaborative science-based conservation orientation. His skill as a strategic planner and his ability to bring vision and clarity to our mission will support Heal the Bay’s reputation as an environmental champion.”
Hartley, who begins his tenure Sept. 16, said he is excited to build upon his experience with urban conservation in Santa Monica.
“For me it’s all about protecting these iconic places,” he said, noting that he looks forward to the challenge of persuading Southern Californians to take to heart the issue of ocean preservation.
“If we can’t get it right in Santa Monica and Southern California we can’t get it right anywhere — we’ve got to keep the ocean clean,” he said.
“It’s about getting people to understand that.”
Hartley and his team aim to direct the organization as it navigates four key policy issues this year: advocating for the implementation of a strong stormwater permit for Los Angeles County; working to uphold the moratorium on oil drilling in Hermosa Beach; developing a beach water quality model to disclose potential bacterial pollution; and consulting with local governments to push forward policies protecting coastal communities from the effects of climate change.
“Given the complexity of the issues coming forth — water quality, population change — if we get those issues right, if we’re able to get … people living down there enjoying clean water, it can be a model for around the world,” Hartley said.
“[Santa Monica] can be a laboratory for other cities.”
Hartley will get his feet wet next week preparing for the Sept. 21 national Coastal Cleanup Day, an annual event in which Heal the Bay takes a leading role.
According to Heal the Bay’s website, the organization coordinated more than 60 beach, inland, dive and kayak cleanup sites in Los Angeles County last year.
The day gives Hartley and other environmental activists across the state a platform to promote their fight to keep the oceans clean and protected.
“People are busy, they have a lot going on in their lives,” he said.
“There [are] a lot of people who put the beaches first, and there are a lot of people who assume they’ve always been there and always will be there.”
“That’s the role of … Heal the Bay, to help other people bring in that focus and realize those dreams.”