By Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia VP of Public Engagement
When the oil hit our pristine Santa Barbara beaches in 1969, I remember feeling shocked. We walked the beaches in a kind of haze, scraping up tar without HAZMAT suits or even gloves. The devastation was enormous and we were heartbroken.
Forty-five years later, Californians have made progress in protecting our coastline from further degradation at the hands of oil and gas extraction. The 1969 spill sparked the modern environmental movement, spurring major pieces of environmental legislation in the early 1970s and resulting in a lot of good work on this coast by local activists to fight off ecological threats.
Above: Trained workers clean up oil-stained debris from the beach after a recent spill in Santa Barbara County, California. Photo: Linda Krop/Environmental Defense Center