MALIBU—The city of Malibu announced on its website on Monday, May 22, that Westward Beach is one of only two beaches in the continental United States to receive the Blue Flag Environmental Award for meeting more than 30 criteria in environmental education, environmental management, safety and services, social responsibility and environmentally responsible tourism.
As reported on the city of Malibu website, the award from the international environmental organization Blue Flag recognizes Westward Beach between the Zuma Lagoon and Birdview Avenue, and the Blue Flag will be in place from May 25 through September 30.
Residents are invited to attend a public flag-raising ceremony with Blue Flag representatives, officials from the city, Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors (LACDBH) and others on Thursday, May 25 at 2 p.m. on Westward Beach by the restroom building.
As part of the award program’s mission of sustainable development through environmental education, Westward Beach will provide environmental educational activities to the public. Details about the activities will be posted on an information board at Westward Beach.
“Our sites have worked hard for several months to implement and maintain more than 30 diverse criteria to achieve award status. Their staff and communities can raise their flags with pride for going above and beyond US standards to receive international recognition for sustainable management practices,” said Annie Mercer, program coordinator for the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA). As a National Operator for the international Blue Flag program, ASBPA administers the program in the continental United States, Alaska, and Hawaii, as well as supports sites in reaching criteria compliance.
The program was started in 2020 by staff from the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors as a beach management entity advising ASBPA on feasibility information, and officially entered the program as a pilot site in 2021 when the international jury reviewed their Gap Analysis.
“We’re thrilled and honored that the Westward Beach portion of world-famous Zuma Beach will fly one of the first Blue Flags in the United States. The Blue Flag will provide visitors with extra assurance that we are responsibly caring for our coast,” said Gary Jones, Director for the County of Los Angeles’s Department of Beaches and Harbors.
The Blue Flag handed out to over 5,000 beaches, marinas and tourism boats from 50 countries internationally. Sites in the Blue Flag USA program participate in four stages of engagement between the host location and the USA program: Interest, Candidate, Applicant, and Award. Interested beaches engage in Blue Flag presentations and conversations with staff.
Candidate sites submitted their Self-Assessment Questionnaire for staff review and are working to meet criteria through partnerships, educational webinars and toolkits, and one-on-one meetings with staff. Applicant sites meet all the criteria and are ready to submit a full application in the next award cycle. Applications for the Blue Flag USA program open in September and close in December. Awards are issued to sites by the International Jury each year and audited by staff.
For details about the Blue Flag program, visit blueflag.global and blueflag.us.