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By Nanette Barragan / Published December 23, 2014

According to Priceline.com, Los Angeles is one of the nation’s top holiday travel destinations. Millions of people flock to our region every winter to escape the cold and enjoy our sunny shores. The beach is perhaps Southern California’s most iconic attraction. It fuels our economy and our way of life here, and that is why it’s so vital that we take good care of the coast and ocean.

Stewarding these natural riches is good for business in cities like Hermosa Beach, where hotels, restaurants and retailers depend on year-round visitors. Statewide, the ocean supports half a million jobs. Three quarters of them are in tourism and recreation.

That is why California legislators are working to reduce pollution and increase conservation along the coast. It is also why the state created a network of underwater state parks, or marine protected areas. Completed in 2012, this new park system includes hot spots like Point Vicente, Point Dume, Bolsa Chica and La Jolla.

California has a proud history of forward-thinking ocean management. Our system of marine protected areas—connected by ocean currents, and accessed via public beaches and parks—was the nation’s first. We were also the first to pass a statewide plastic bag ban.

But now is not the time to rest on our laurels. With a growing population, constant development needs and a healthy demand for local seafood, we have to continue to make smart choices. At Hermosa Beach City Council, we’ll keep working to keep our coast beautiful. You can do your part by making sure you leave nothing but footprints when you visit the beach this holiday season.

Nanette Barragan is the Hermosa Beach Mayor Pro Tem. You can follow her on Twitter @MayorPTBarragan.

Read the full article: Latino Outdoors