Assemblyman Rich Gordon Protecting Volunteerism in California

April 14, 2011

(SACRAMENTO)  Since 2000, Save The Bay’s Community-based Restoration Program has engaged over 50,000 volunteers in hands-on restoration projects.  Volunteers participate in projects varying from beach and creek cleanups, to growing and sowing native plants at the organization’s two nurseries, to actually removing invasive weeds and planting native seedlings in the wetland “transition” zones – the buffer habitat between land and water.  As a result, sites such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline, San Francisquito Creek, Bothin Marsh, and several others surrounding San Francisco Bay thrive from a pristine eco-system and an engaged community to protect them.

Volunteer programs throughout the state, including the Community-based Restoration Program, exist and are growing because of amendments made to the Labor Code to exempt volunteers from being paid for public works projects.  With the current exemption set to expire at the end of this year, Assemblymembers Rich Gordon (Menlo Park) and Warren Furutani (Long Beach) introduced AB 587 to extend the law for an additional five years.

Passing through the Assembly Labor Committee with unanimous support, the bill is expected to be voted on by the full Assembly in early May.  The bill is supported by over 100 local and state wide groups, including the California Council of Land Trusts (bill sponsor), California Association of Local Conservation Corps, the Trust for Public Land, California State Parks Foundation, Save the Redwoods, and Sierra Club.

“At a time when California is addressing very serious fiscal deficits, extending this sunset provision will allow California to tap into one of our greatest and most economical resources – volunteerism,” said Assemblyman Gordon.

This year, Save The Bay estimates over 5,000 adults and youth will donate 20,000 hours to enhance or restore 120 acres of vital Bay habitats by hand.

“Restoring the Bay’s vital marshes is urgent work made possible by thousands of volunteers willing to give their time and sweat,” said Save The Bay Executive Director David Lewis. “There is no reason to change this law that allows volunteers to improve our quality of life and environment through non-profit and community groups.”

Save The Bay is holding their next community cleanup on April 30 at Redwood Creek in Redwood City.  Community members and interested parties are invited to participate in the Spring Cleanup Project, and can sign up by visiting Save the Bay’s website: https://www.savesfbay.org/secure/spring-cleaning-redwood-creek-redwood-city.
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Assemblyman Rich Gordon represents the 21st Assembly District, which includes much of Silicon Valley, including the communities of San Carlos, Redwood City, Atherton, Menlo Park, Portola Valley, Woodside, East Palo Alto, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Monte Sereno, Los Gatos and the Almaden Valley. Website of Assemblyman Rich Gordon: www.asmdc.org/members/a21/

Save The Bay is the largest regional organization working to protect and restore San Francisco Bay. Formed in 1961, Save The Bay is celebrating 50 years as the Bay’s leading champion, protecting our natural treasure from pollution and inappropriate shoreline development; restoring habitat; and securing strong policies to re-establish 100,000 acres of wetlands that are essential for a healthy Bay. We engage more than 25,000 supporters, advocates and volunteers to protect the Bay, and inspire the next generation of environmental leaders by educating thousands of students annually. Save The Bay is proud to have achieved this impressive milestone and remains dedicated to making the Bay cleaner and healthier for people and wildlife.
www.saveSFbay.org