FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 23, 2019
CONTACT: Bianca Garza
PHONE: (813) 892-3929
Ecology Center Closes Office, Plans Next Moves
Mount Shasta, CA – Longtime environmental activists and educators with the Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center (MSBEC) will work from their homes and elsewhere after September 30.
“We’re not stopping, let’s make that clear – we’re focusing on programs, more determined than ever”, said Program Director Jessica Matthews. “Giving up an office for a while – that’s the right thing to do. And it’s a chance to strengthen our ties with the local community and people everywhere. What we do together at this crossroads makes a crucial difference”.
MSBEC supports a small, part time staff through a combination of community funding, grants, and the generosity of a few larger donors. Fundraising for the nonprofit organization has been challenging, in an area continually left behind the rest of California economically; Siskiyou County ranks 57th of the state’s 58 counties in median family income.
“The mountain needs our protection”, explained board member Andy Fusso. “Resource extraction corporations spend huge amounts here on misinformation and intimidation – and the city of Weed couldn’t afford legal costs to protect its water rights. County government spent $2.4 million losing frivolous anti-environmental lawsuits – actually arguing it shouldn’t have to consider the public trust, when issuing well permits. When these things happen, it’s the citizens who suffer; the Ecology Center’s work helps both the environment and the economy”.
MSBEC founder Michelle Berditschevsky still actively works on a 22-year campaign opposing plans for geothermal fracking near Medicine Lake, and to secure longer-term protection for aquifers which provide pristine water downstream throughout California.
“It’s true we are strong advocates, guided by sound science and values. Yet it’s also important we can engage and educate in a positive way”, Fusso said. In the last two years, MSBEC has launched a new community fire program, efforts to enhance and restore pollinator habitat, and prepared educational presentations for schools and the general public.
Program Director Matthews continued, “I’d rather be creating positive experiences, for a thriving sustainable community and landscape, heading to the future. We really do accomplish a lot, and it’s time to do more. We have to engage younger people and families, plus everyone coming to Mount Shasta for recreation and inspiration. Everyone is invited to join us; if you feel inspired, then let’s connect!”.
MSBEC’s board sees the office closing as an interim step. “In the spring, with everyone’s support, we’ll open where we have more direct interaction with locals and visitors”, said board president Richard Lucas. For more information on how to donate and help, please see the website, mountshastaecology.org.