Baykeeper’s Blue Rivet Award honors heroes who have made a significant difference for San Francisco Bay. The Blue Rivet Award includes a plaque with an actual Golden Gate Bridge rivet representing individual efforts by the many community members and businesses that join together to create a thriving, healthy San Francisco Bay. The awards are presented during an annual dinner celebration of Baykeeper’s community of support.
2021 Blue Rivet Award Recipients
Fresh Air Vallejo for leading the way to stop a proposed Vallejo shoreline shipping terminal, which would have ramped up toxic shipments of cement and coal on the Bay. As a result of community-led advocacy by Fresh Air Vallejo volunteers, assisted by Baykeeper’s legal team, the terminal developers withdrew their appeal of the proposed permit.
Autonomous Imagery for their exceptional work as drone operators, supplementing Baykeeper’s on-the-water pollution patrol program with detailed aerial footage. Autonomous Imagery also generously gifted us with Osprey, our very own patrol drone, which has been an essential tool over the past year for investigating pollution, including the recent Chevron oil spill in Richmond (pictured, below).
United Airlines, whose employees have volunteered hundreds of hours with Baykeeper to clean up Bay shorelines impacted by the highest levels of trash. For the last four years, United Airlines has also contributed thousands of dollars in flight vouchers, allowing Baykeeper staff and partners to travel across the country pre-COVID to collaborate with fellow Waterkeepers and other grassroots water activists.
Pictured, above: Dan Koopman and Niko Milonopoulos of Autonomous Imagery (left panel); Liat Meitzenheimer and Don Osborne of Fresh Air Vallejo (middle panel); Baykeeper Executive Director Sejal Choksi-Chugh and Vincent Passafiume of United Airlines (right panel).
2019 Blue Rivet Award Recipients
In 1989, a research scientist who had been studying the Bay for a decade was becoming increasingly alarmed that the Bay he loved was unhealthy. The environmental laws that were supposed to protect the Bay were not being enforced. And polluters were illegally dumping waste in the Bay with no fear of detection.
Dr. Michael Herz had heard about Hudson Riverkeeper, a new group formed by concerned fishermen who had begun patrolling New York’s Hudson River by boat. They used the Clean Water act to bring legal cases against polluters, get fines levied, and obtain court settlements that protected wetlands.
Mike thought San Francisco Bay could use a “keeper” group to watchdog the Bay. He surveyed Bay Area regulatory agencies, environmental organizations, and fish and wildlife groups. Everyone agreed that a “Waterkeeper” for San Francisco Bay made sense. So he raised funds from foundations, opened an office on the shoreline, and began patrolling the Bay in a 26-foot motorized boat.
Within a year, Mike had launched San Francisco Baykeeper, the fourth Waterkeeper in the US and first on the West Coast. In his first few years, his passionate, courageous, and tenacious activism set the course Baykeeper still pursues today: patrolling the Bay by boat, finding and stopping polluters, and defending the Bay from the biggest threats.
His victories to protect the Bay and reverse course against the harms the Bay was facing make him a true rivet for Bay protection. Baykeeper is proud to honor Mike with a Blue Rivet Award in the year of our 30thanniversary of defending the Bay.
Eight years ago, Baykeeper’s Development Director, Eliet Henderson, received a call. The caller wanted to know if Baykeeper’s work helped sharks in the Bay? When Eliet said yes, our work to stop pollution directly benefits Bay sharks, a partnership was born.
10Fold Communications first launched their Media SharkTank event in 2011 to help tech companies sharpen their media pitches in order to earn more press coverage for their innovations. Since their clients were facing the exciting challenge of media “sharks” as judges, Susan Thomas, CEO of the Bay Area technology communications firm, wanted to ensure that the event would help real live sharks. So she happily selected Baykeeper as the event beneficiary.
Ever since, 10Fold Communications has supported Baykeeper through its Media SharkTank. At the annual event, executives of Bay Area companies have three minutes each to test their media pitch in front of a panel of business and tech journalists for expert feedback.
10Fold Communications is a high-tech integrated marketing and public relations agency headquartered in Pleasanton. Since she founded 10Fold, Susan has built it into one of the top 10 independently-owned public relations agencies on the West Coast.
Baykeeper honors Susan Thomas and 10Fold for eight years of outstanding support that benefits all San Francisco Bay wildlife, including the sharks, and everyone who goes to the Bay for recreation, beauty, and inspiration.
No Coal in Oakland
Since 2014, a developer has been eyeing Oakland as a spot to build a new shipping terminal that would export millions of tons of Utah coal. That means dirty coal would arrive in long trains of open cars, on tracks close to San Francisco Bay's shore. These trains would pass through many East Bay cities, shedding highly toxic dust and pieces of coal into local neighborhoods and the Bay. Coal is a known pollutant that harms fish and causes serious health concerns for people.
No Coal in Oakland is an all-volunteer grassroots organization campaigning to stop coal from being transported by rail into Oakland. These caring activists are dedicated to protecting our communities and the Bay from coal pollution. While Baykeeper’s lawyers and scientists legally challenged the coal export project, and provided expert testimony to Oakland leaders about the harmful impacts of coal on the Bay, the passionate activists at No Coal in Oakland were busy mobilizing hundreds of Oakland residents to advocate against coal exports at Oakland City Council meetings.
Together, in 2016, we persuaded Oakland city leaders to ban the handling and storage of coal from Oakland. This victory would not have been won without No Coal in Oakland’s impressive education and outreach efforts to mobilize the community.
Baykeeper honors No Coal in Oakland for outstanding advocacy to stop coal pollution. And we’ll keep working together until coal pollution is no longer a threat to local communities and San Francisco Bay.
2018 Blue Rivet Award Recipients
For two decades, Baykeeper head skipper Geoff Potter has kept the Baykeeper boat on the water and in shipshape. Geoff is one of the most dedicated volunteers in Baykeeper’s history, having spent thousands of hours maintaining the Baykeeper boat and patrolling the Bay. He selected and trained our team of volunteer skippers, and performed much of the boat's maintenance himself. Whenever the boat needed to be hauled out and repaired or repainted, Geoff oversaw the process. His vast seagoing experience made him an especially valuable volunteer. Geoff had a rewarding career in the Coast Guard and a stint as a Bay ferry captain. Along with his wife, Phoebe, he spent 12 years exploring the U.S. and Europe in their 43-foot sailboat. Over his years with Baykeeper, Geoff often steered the boat as we discovered major pollution sources, the first step in Baykeeper’s effective action to stop the contamination. He also piloted the boat through four Bay Parades, Baykeeper’s annual on-the-water celebration of the Bay, as well as many other swim and paddle events in Baykeeper’s history. This year Geoff hangs up his head skipper hat, though he will continue to serve as a volunteer skipper on our regular Bay pollution patrols. Geoff leaves a legacy of great dedication and having made an outstanding contribution to Baykeeper’s work to protect San Francisco Bay.
New Resource Bank
New Resource Bank is a different kind of financial institution, one that’s dedicated to supporting environmental protection through green banking. Baykeeper was one of New Resource Bank’s very first clients. We appreciate that our deposits are used for loans to sustainable businesses and nonprofits that advance environmental protection and community empowerment, and are not used for loans to the polluters we oppose in our advocacy for San Francisco Bay. New Resource Bank is a B corporation, certified to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. The company also goes beyond banking to build relationships between like-minded clients, supporting nonprofits through professional trainings and advice. Plus, the company’s headquarters earned LEED Gold certification for energy and resource efficiency. The bank’s staff is committed to supporting the cause of protecting the Bay, and they care about the work Baykeeper does. Gary Groff, a senior executive at the bank, is a former member of our Board of Directors and is an ambassador of our mission to protect San Francisco Bay. New Resource Bank staff members regularly volunteer at Baykeeper shoreline cleanups, take part on our annual Bay Parade, and attend our Annual Dinner. Baykeeper is proud to honor New Resource Bank as a company working to make a better world.
Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment
Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment supports grassroots action to protect the environment, consumers, and public health. With a focus on environmental justice and youth leadership, the foundation created its New Voices Are Rising program to develop young leaders in Oakland’s low-income communities and communities of color. New Voices provides the voice of youth in the No Coal in Oakland campaign, joining with Baykeeper and many other local organizations to oppose a developer’s lawsuit to overturn Oakland’s ban on coal export. New Voices Are Rising activists recently published an opinion piece in the East Bay Express and organized a march and rally to say “No!” to coal in Oakland, which would contribute to global climate change and worsen public health in West Oakland. Plus, for decades, the Rose Foundation has worked in partnership with Baykeeper to multiply the impact of our work. When Baykeeper settles Clean Water Act lawsuits, the polluters are required to pay penalties to partly mitigate their past pollution. The Rose Foundation uses these funds to provide grants for other local grassroots organizations, who pursue critical projects like educating residents about protecting the Bay and the restoration of sensitive wetlands around the Bay. The foundation’s staff members also take part in our annual Bay Parade, help Baykeeper develop partnerships with other groups, and serve as ambassadors for Baykeeper in the community.
2017 Blue Rivet Award Recipients
Over decades of public service, Loni Hancock has been a leader for the environment. She was a member of the Berkeley City Council for eight years, and one of her achievements was the preservation of the Berkeley marina from development. She later served as Berkeley’s first woman mayor. During her six years in the California State Assembly, Loni chaired the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources. She led the committee to pass environmental legislation that protects open space, expands recycling programs, and promotes healthy city-infill strategies in the state. Loni then served eight years as a California State Senator, representing parts of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. She authored several pieces of legislation that increased governmental oversight over oil refineries, and another bill that created a statewide mattress recycling program. She capped her long and successful record of pro-environment legislation by authoring a 2016 bill that bars state funding for coal export facilities in California. The legislation helps protect San Francisco Bay from coal pollution.
Anchor Brewing is a business dedicated to environmental conservation and to preserving California’s natural heritage and outdoor lifestyle. Anchor brews its products using farm-grown natural ingredients, traditional methods, and local resources. San Francisco’s cool foggy air is part of their brewing process. Anchor Brewing also partners with Baykeeper in our annual Bay Parade, hosting our Bay Parade Party. The Bay Parade is the Bay Area’s only on-the-water celebration of the Bay. And Anchor Brewing’s partnership has been essential to the Bay Parade’s success. We honor Anchor Brewing for joining with us to raise awareness of San Francisco Bay pollution issues and celebrate a thriving Bay that’s safe for recreation. And we especially appreciate Anchor crafting a custom ale just for the Bay Parade! Accepting the Blue Rivet Award on behalf of Anchor Brewing, Matt Davenport, Anchor Brewing President.
Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge
Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge (CCCR) is an all-volunteer community group that has tirelessly worked to protect and expand San Francisco Bay’s wetlands and habitat for endangered species. The group’s name reflects their dedication to bringing more Bay habitat under the protection of the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge. Baykeeper is very proud to have partnered with Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge on efforts that have put on hold plans for unwise development along the Bay’s shoreline. The Citizens Committee recently helped stop a massive development project slated for Newark tidal marshes. We especially honor Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge for its many years of courageous activism to protect the former Cargill salt ponds in South Bay from development. The Committee’s work is even more impressive because this small, local, all-volunteer group has influenced federal, state, and local policies that have an impact on San Francisco Bay’s wetlands. Accepting the Blue Rivet Award, left to right, top: Eileen McLaughlin, Gail Raabe, Ruth Vose. Bottom, CCCR Founder Florence LaRiviere, Arthur Feinstein.
2016 Blue Rivet Award Recipients
Roger Castillo is known as The Watchdog of the River for his tireless volunteer stewardship of the Guadalupe River. The river flows from the Santa Cruz Mountains, through San Jose, and into the South Bay. A self-taught naturalist, Roger is dedicated to cleaning up the river and restoring habitat so that Chinook salmon can be observed spawning on gravel and more naturally functioning streambeds and riverbeds. He chairs the nonprofit Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Group, studying hydrology and urban planning, reporting fish poachers, testifying at public hearings, and educating kids. After 22 years as a volunteer filing complaints and assisting storm water inspectors to track down polluters, he recently completed training and is now a Certified Storm Water Inspector. Roger knows how to identify the best spots for salmon to spawn and when the rainbow trout are feeding in the river. He was the first to discover a family of beavers when they arrived, and found the fossil of a Colombian Mammoth nearby. He shares his knowledge, and is credited with connecting the community to the Guadalupe River.
Paul Johnson is the founder of Monterey Fish Market, based in San Francisco and Berkeley. He believes strongly in sustainability and leaving a healthy ocean for future generations. The company buys only from fisherman who catch their products in a sustainable manner, and assists fleets of fishing vessels in converting from fishing practices that harm fisheries to sustainable fishing practices. Paul also writes, lectures, and educates. He advocates for directed fisheries, catching target species and little else; with minimal waste and by-catch, the catch always fresh, and removed at an age and volume that does not affect the stocks' ability to reproduce at a sustainable rate. Sustainable fishery methods may include encircling seine nets, long lines, hook and lines, jigging, weirs, traps, dipnets, harpooning, gillnetting, diving, and trolling. He is the author of Fish Forever: The Definitive Guide to Understanding, Selecting, and Preparing Healthy, Delicious, and Environmentally Sustainable Seafood.
Levi Strauss & Co.
Levi Strauss & Co. is a San Francisco Bay-based company that has demonstrated ecological stewardship both locally and globally. Through its pioneering sustainability initiatives, Levi Strauss & Co. has directly reduced water waste and pollution from its operations. These initiatives include:
- Developing Water<Less, to reduce the use of water, energy, and chemicals in clothing production (saving 1 billion liters of water since 2011);
- Establishing wastewater discharge requirements for worldwide suppliers, limiting contaminant levels entering global waterways;
- Developing Waste<Less clothing that incorporates 20 percent post-consumer waste (using 11.9 million recycled plastic bottles since 2013); and
- Promoting a consumer care culture that includes: washing less, washing in cold, line drying, and clothing reuse, repurposing, and recycling.
Levi Strauss & Co. sponsors an annual Community Day for its global employees to spend a day away from the office volunteering in their local communities, including with San Francisco Baykeeper. Baykeeper and Levi Strauss & Co. employees have partnered on several successful cleanup and restoration efforts to improve the health of our San Francisco Bay shoreline. These local and global initiatives demonstrate Levi Strauss & Co.’s commitment to ecological stewardship, and directly result in water conservation, reducing waste in our local landfills and keeping pollution out of San Francisco Bay.
2015 Blue Rivet Award Recipients
Krist Jake is a founder of the San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival, which inspires people to appreciate and care for marine ecosystems by revealing their wonders through independent films. Read an interview with Krist about the founding of the festival here. Krist is a long-time member of the Dolphin Club and an avid open water swimmer in San Francisco Bay, where he has logged over 3,000 miles, so he strongly supports keeping the Bay clean and healthy.
The Dolphin Club
Founded in 1877, the Dolphin Club is a nonprofit, public-access athletic organization with a diverse membership of about 1,100 open water swimmers and rowers. Dolphin Club members swim San Francisco Bay in the waters of Aquatic Park, row in the Bay and on Lake Merced, work out in the club’s Bay-view weight room, and participate in the annual Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. Deeply committed to making the Bay safe and healthy for swimming, the Dolphin Club has been enthusiastic about protecting San Francisco Bay from pollution.
As the former Executive Director of Baykeeper, Deb Self was a leader in protecting the Bay from oil spills. Deb was appointed to the state's Oil Spill Technical Advisory Committee, where she served as Vice Chair, and served as a member of the San Francisco Harbor Safety Committee. For her role in evaluating the response to the 2007 Cosco Busan oil spill, she received a Public Service Commendation from the U.S. Coast Guard—the agency's highest civilian honor. As a current member of the Baykeeper Advisory Board, Deb continues to protect the Bay from the threat of oil spills.
2019 Blue Rivet Award photos by by Drew Bird Photo. 2018 Blue Rivet Award photos by Robb Most. 2017 Blue Rivet Award photos by Clay Schmitz; Roger Castillo photo by Gail Odom; Paul Johnson photo by David McGuire; Krist Jake and Deb Self photos by Drew Bird Photo; Dolphin Club Photo by Hudson Henry