In this month’s edition of our Mapping for Good series we’re covering an effort that started as a small favor and grew into a movement spanning ten latitudes and 840 miles.
The California Coastal Records Project (CCP) inadvertently began in 1997 when Kenneth and Gabrielle Adelman volunteered their helicopter for use by the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club was hoping to capture aerial photographs of San Simeon Point (located in Central California near the famed Hearst Castle) for use in a fight against the development of a huge resort and golf course by the Hearst Corporation. The effort to stop the development was successful and led to further volunteering of the helicopter in efforts to protect California’s coastline. Over time, the need for “before” images became apparent, and the idea of creating a database containing photos of the entire coastline arose.
With the entire coast photographed, the idea proposed, environmentalists would have an archive of photographic evidence to reference in any future fights against development. Thus the California Coastal Records Project formally began in 2002, vowing to take a photo of the coast every 500 feet from the Mexican border north all the way to Oregon. Since then, the project has been able to contribute its freely available archive to countless causes and the Adelman’s were awarded the 2004 Ansel Adams Award for Conservation from the Sierra Club for their efforts.
The entire length of the California coast is included (except for certain portions of Vandenberg Air Force Base). In most locations the coastline has been photographed multiple times, and the project’s web page has a function that allows users to compare photos over time. This feature has allowed environmental groups and citizens alike to identify illegal degradation and other environmentally harmful acts taking place on the state’s beaches, cliffs and coves.
The California Coastal Records Project came to notoriety when Barbra Streisand tried to sue the group for displaying photos of her Malibu home. The CCP then countersued under the California anti-SLAAP law and won. The lawsuit led to far more attention being directed towards both Streisand’s home and the archives project as well, ultimately leading to the creation of the term, “The Streisand Effect” – a phrase for when trying to suppress or censor information from the public only leads to further exposure and press.
The California Coast Records Project continues to photograph the California coastline and remains true to its promise of making their archive freely available to the public. If you would like to view photographs from the archive or learn more about the effort and how you can get involved, visit www.californiacoastline.org.