Our Mission and History


Mission Statement

The mission of the Northcoast Environmental Center is
to promote understanding of the relations between
people and the biosphere and to
conserve, protect, and celebrate terrestrial, aquatic,
and marine ecosystems of northern California and southern Oregon.


The Northcoast Environmental Center was founded in 1971, shortly after the original Earth Day. We are the oldest organization working on behalf of the environment behind the “redwood curtain.” We have been proudly providing quality environmental journalism for decades through our monthly publication of EcoNews, and our weekly EcoNews Report radio show.

NEC History Slideshow


Watch our OLLI presentation: A Journey Through Time with the NEC: Celebrating 50 Years of Environmental Advocacy on the North Coast


Since our beginning we have focused the combined efforts of local conservation groups and concerned people like you on environmental quality in northwestern California and southern Oregon. Half a century of effort and achievement has included:

  • Being an original litigant in lawsuits to save two keystone species of the Pacific Northwest: the Spotted Owl and Coho Salmon.
  • Allying with Indigenous tribes to stop the infamous G-O road, which would have desecrated sacred Indigenous high country.
  • Reforming aquaculture in Humboldt Bay to end the slaughter of bat rays and protect vital eelgrass habitat.
  • Spearheading a 48,000-acre expansion that more than doubled the size of Redwood National Park.
  • Adding 800,000 acres of wild forest land in the Klamath-Siskiyou mountains to the National Wilderness Preservation System.
  • Protecting six local rivers: the Smith, Klamath, Trinity, Salmon, Van Duzen, and Eel in the national Wild & Scenic Rivers System.
  • Launching the oldest rural recycling program in the United States.
  • Pioneering the international event, Coastal Cleanup Day, which attracts thousands of local volunteers annually.
  • Halting Federal Government plans to allow imports of foreign logs that may be infested with pests and disease.
  • Litigating to protect Klamath Basin Wildlife Refuges from being drained by irrigators.
  • Revegetating park areas in the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Being a key influencer in passing the City of Arcata ordinance reducing the use of single-use disposable foodware items and addressing plastic pollution in our community.
  • Taking litter cleanup efforts to the next level by prioritizing citizen science and litter data collection. We’re tracking what kind of trash is being picked up by our volunteers and where it was found, which allows us to find local waste patterns so we can advocate for waste reduction solutions in our community.
  • Tackling a wide array of tough issues from toxics and energy, to air and water pollution, to endangered species.


If you have bits of NEC history you’d like to contribute to this section, email them to nec@yournec.org.