Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other Non-Profit Organizations in California's Central Coast Region

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A organizational summary by the ENVS 560/L Watershed Systems class at CSUMB.


Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are citizen founded organizations that are independent of governments and international governmental organizations [1]. The term NGO is an informal phrase for organizations that are usually non-profit, or tax exempt, and can be organized at a local (city or county), state, national, or international level [2]. NGOs are supported by individual citizens, grants, businesses, educational institutions, and sometimes through government agencies [3]. They focus on advancing an objective related to social, political, or environmental issues such as human rights, education, health care, economic development, conflict resolution, and environmental protection [4].

The following table provides an alphabetical sample list of environmental NGOs located in the central coast of California. Some are locally focused while others strive for global action.

Organizataion Location and area of operation Scale Status Main Focus Year Founded Website
Anza Trail Foundation
Bike Santa Cruz County

(Formerly People Power)

Santa Cruz Santa Cruz County 501(c)(4) non-profit Promotes bicycling through advocacy, education and community building. 1991
California Native Plant Society Monterey and Santa Cruz chapters Statewide 501(c)(3) non-profit Conservation of California native plants through science, education, conservation, and gardening. Find solutions for invasive species such as Arudo donax. 1965
Carmel River Watershed Conservancy Carmel headquarters Carmel River Watershed 501(c)(3) non-profit Protect the Carmel River through outreach, advocacy, and education 2000
Clean Oceans International Santa Cruz headquarters Global 501(c)(3) non-profit Developing practical solutions to plastic pollution through innovation education, and direct action. 2008
Conservancy for the Range of the Condor
Coastal Watershed Council Santa Cruz headquarters Santa Cruz County 501(c)(3) non-profit Preserves and protect coastal watersheds through community stewardship, education and monitoring 1995
Communities for Sustainable Monterey County Monterey Monterey County 501(c)(3) non-profit Meet the challenge of declining resources and climate change by helping our communities transition to sustainable practices 2005
Community Association of Big Sur (CABS)
Ecology Action Santa Cruz headquarters Statewide 501(c)(3) non-profit Work with utilities, local and federal government, foundations, and communities to influence policy and create effective programs to reduce green house gas emissions. 1970
Farm Discovery Watsonville Santa Cruz County 501(c)(3) non-profit Transform personal and community health and improve our impact on earth by building and sustaining collaborative agricultural, ecological and social systems.
Landwatch Monterey County
MEarth Carmel-By-The-Sea Greater Carmel Community 501(c)(3) non-profit Building an interconnected community of engaged citizens and future leaders by promoting analytical thinking through experience-based learning at the Hilton Bialek Habitat 1995
Los Padres Forest Association
Monterey Audubon Society Monterey region National 501(c)(3) non-profit Dedicated to conserving and celebrating the birds and wildlife of the greater Monterey Bay region. Currently engage in an array of educational, citizen-science, and advocacy initiatives geared toward protecting the region's birds and its biological diversity. 1905
Mountain Parks Foundation Felton headquarters Santa Cruz County 501(c)(3) non-profit Supports the nature education and enrichment programs offered at Henry Cowell and Big Basin Redwoods State Parks. 1973
Monterey Coast Keepers Monterey chapter Global 501(c)(3) non-profit Fights for every community's right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water 1999
The Nature Conservancy Monterey United States 501(c)(3) non-profit Combining land protection with community-based conservation and a sustained effort to introduce good conservation principles into public policy and land-use planning. 1951
O'Neil Sea Odyssey Santa Cruz headquarters Central California 501(c)(3) non-profit Provide school programs to educate youth about ocean science and how human actions in a watershed impact the sea. 1996
Save Our Shores Santa Cruz headquarters Monterey Bay 501(c)(3) non-profit Keeping coastal areas clean by organizing beach clean-ups, monitoring and restoring coastal habitat, and combating Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia by encouraging community members to alter behaviors that can contribute to climate change. 1978
Save the Whales Seaside headquarters Local, state, national 501(c)(3) non-profit Preserve and protect the ocean and its inhabitants through educating the public and influencing policy. 1977
Sierra Club Ventana Chapter, Santa Cruz Chapter Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties 501(c)(4) non-profit To explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth;

To practice and promote the responsible use of the earth's ecosystems and resources; To educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.


Surfrider Foundation Monterey and Santa Cruz Chapters Global 501(c)(3) non-profit Project beaches and coastal surf through beach clean-ups, water testing, and education. Take action to prevent Coastal Erosion by eliminating Sand Mining. 1991

Trout Unlimited (Steinbeck Country Chapter) Monterey, San Jose, Central Coast to San Luis Obispo National 501(c)(3) non-profit Conserve, protect and restore North America's coldwater fisheries and their watersheds. 1959
Ventana Wilderness Alliance Santa Cruz/Ventana Wilderness Monterey County 501(c)(3) non-profit Protect, preserve, and restore the wilderness qualities and biodiversity of the public lands within California's northern Santa Lucia Mountains and Big Sur coast. Advocate for CEQA and NEPA related issues and incorporate Wildfire planning. 1998
Ventana Wildlife Society Monterey/Ventana Wilderness Monterey County 501(c)(3) non-profit Conserving native wildlife and their habitats through education, species recovery, ecological services, and research. Provide consulting services for Special Status Animals in the Central Coast Region. 1977
Wild Farm Alliance Watsonville headquarters Monterey and Santa Cruz counties 501(c)(3) non-profit Protect biological diversity by diversifying farms, food, and the wider landscapes by empowering farmers, connecting consumers, and protecting wild nature. 2000




  1. English Oxford Living Dictionaries - NGO definition.
  2. Encyclopaedia Britannica - Nongovernmental organization definition.
  3. Macmillian Dictionary - NGO definition.
  4. United States Institute of Peace - Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) description.


This page may contain student work completed as part of assigned coursework. It may not be accurate. It does not necessary reflect the opinion or policy of CSUMB, its staff, or students.