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Newport Bay Conservancy

 PO BOX 10804
[P] (949) 923-2269
[F] --
[email protected]
Heather Cieslak
 Printable 1 Page Summary
 Printable Profile
Organization DBA Newport Bay Conservancy
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the community foundation in the past five years Yes
Employer Identification Number 33-0545786 00000


Mission StatementMORE »


Newport Bay Conservancy (NBC) bears a singular mission to protect and preserve the Upper Newport Bay and its watershed through education, restoration, research and advocacy. For 50 years NBC has relied on the steady effort and dedication of members and volunteers without whom none of our aspirations and accomplishments, indeed our entire vision for the well-being and sustainability of the Bay, would be possible. NBC continues to be the beneficiary of a strong tradition of volunteerism and a consistent history of community support.

Mission Statement


Newport Bay Conservancy (NBC) bears a singular mission to protect and preserve the Upper Newport Bay and its watershed through education, restoration, research and advocacy. For 50 years NBC has relied on the steady effort and dedication of members and volunteers without whom none of our aspirations and accomplishments, indeed our entire vision for the well-being and sustainability of the Bay, would be possible. NBC continues to be the beneficiary of a strong tradition of volunteerism and a consistent history of community support.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year 2018
Projected Expenses $250,000.00
Projected Revenue $250,000.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Restoration Programs
  • Educational Programs

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement


Newport Bay Conservancy (NBC) bears a singular mission to protect and preserve the Upper Newport Bay and its watershed through education, restoration, research and advocacy. For 50 years NBC has relied on the steady effort and dedication of members and volunteers without whom none of our aspirations and accomplishments, indeed our entire vision for the well-being and sustainability of the Bay, would be possible. NBC continues to be the beneficiary of a strong tradition of volunteerism and a consistent history of community support.

Background Statement

Newport Bay Conservancy (Newport Bay Naturalists and Friends) is a volunteer-driven organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of Upper Newport Bay (UNB). In the 1960s, local residents opposed plans to turn this wetland into marinas and private docks. The Friends of Newport Bay was formed to support the citizens’ campaign and subsequently evolved into the present-day Conservancy. In 1975, UNB was declared a State ecological reserve under the supervision of the California State Department of Fish and Wildlife. In 1989, the County of Orange declared the bluffs on the northwest side of UNB a nature preserve. Today, nearly 1,000 acres and surrounding uplands are preserved in perpetuity for all to enjoy. In 2010, the Newport Bay Naturalists and Friends became the Newport Bay Conservancy.

Over the years, NBC has contributed over 130k volunteer hours of service in programs supporting the Bay pertaining to education, restoration, research, and advocacy. Upper Newport Bay (UNB) Ecological Reserve and Nature Preserve as critical habitat as Southern California's coastal wetlands is of vital ecological, hydrological, and economic significance to the region.

UNB holds critical nesting, feeding and breeding grounds. Many of these species are endangered like the Ridgway Rail, Belding's Savannah Sparrow and California Least Tern. As no system of public access or signage exists to control access, visitors often make unauthorized trails and damage sensitive habitat. UNB’s waters are listed as impaired by both Federal and State standards. Getting citizens involved in water quality and clean-up days help to reverse this trend. Numerous federal, state and local agencies manage its resources. But prior to 2002, almost no restoration of damaged areas had occurred, and the results of decades of intensive urban growth have seriously degraded already sensitive habitats. By displacing native plants, the animals that depend upon them lack the food and shelter needed for survival. Through the help of volunteers and public education, we can help to protect sensitive sites and restore lands and protect habitats. Amid the Bay, wildlife seeks refuge while Californians take solace in nature. UNB provides important open space for a public to bike, jog, and kayak or walks and observe nature’s beauty. Tomorrow’s generations can only trust that we will continue to learn about and appreciate this jewel of an open space, so they might enjoy it as we have.

Impact Statement

Newport Bay Conservancy has been the leading nonprofit organization dedicated solely to protecting and preserving the Upper Newport Bay. In 2017 we continued serving our mission through the following milestones:

1) Forty-two volunteers completed one-day orientation/training along with CPR/First aid to become Associate Volunteers and sixteen volunteers completed a 12-week intensive “Naturalist Training” course to become the next generation of leaders in the Bay. Together, NBC's Board and volunteers dedicated over 12,000 hours of service connecting 52,000 people to the Bay and its wildlife.

2) Taught 2,671 elementary school children at the Muth Interpretive Center and 1,117 students in our high school and college field activities. 896 people participated in weekend kayak tours. Free walking tours reached another 509 members of the public. NBC Volunteers staffed the Welcome Desk at the Muth Interpretive Center which saw 6,297 visitors this past year.

3) NBC continues to be heavily involved with the restoration of Newport Valley with Project Grow, developing and managing the native plant nursery and assisting OC Parks Second Sunday Restoration activities.  Beyond those regularly scheduled events, NBC hosted 45 additional restoration events with our partners, connecting another 477 people to the Bay.

4) Completed Bayview Restoration Project (ongoing since Fall 2014) which included removing over 7,000 lbs of invasive plant material while planting and establishing over 2,700 native plants.
5)  Started a five-year project to eradicate invasive Algerian Sea Lavender from the Bay. Volunteers along with community groups spent over 1,000 hours hand pulling, solarizing or using herbicide to treat designated areas virtually every Wednesday morning.
6) Successfully applied and started work on the Big Canyon Restoration Project in partnership with the City of Newport Beach and CA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife with a $640,000 grant from the California Coastal Conservancy.

7) Hosted Annual World Wetlands Day Symposium in January with 100 people participating.

8) Connected 3,529 people to the Bay by hosting/assisting in events like Earth Day at the Bay, Plein Air Art Show and Coastal Cleanup Day.

Needs Statement

In order to reach our mission more effectively, here are the top 6 program areas that need financial support: 

1) Volunteer Mgmt Software ($5-10k): 200 volunteers lead/assist our programs and regularly contribute over 12,000 hours annually to carry out our mission. It is critical that our Volunteer Coordinator have the means to recruit, organize and engage our volunteers in an efficient manner.

2) Big Canyon Restoration ($6-7M): Restoring 50 acres of critical habitat through rebuilding streambed and addressing water quality issues with an overgrown pond.

3) Restoration Coordinator ($25-50k): Connecting over 5,000 students and members of the public each year with NBC lead or partner lead programs. Coordination is done in piecemeal, with other activities as there is no staff support. A consistent source of coordination is needed to make these programs are successful.

4) Student Program Support ($10-15k): Connecting over 3,000 students to the Bay each year with NBC lead or partner-led environmental programs, many of which are at-risk and in need of grants to cover costs of transportation, substitutes, supplies.

5) Signage Project ($50-60k): With support from the Orange County Board of Supervisors installed ten signs along the trails in the Nature Preserve and would like to install matching signage on the opposite side of the Bay along Back Bay Drive.

6) Publishing History of the Bay Book ($5-10k): A writer has been secured but additional funding can be used for the layout, editing and actual publishing of a book focused on the campaign to save the wetland led by Frank and Francis Robinson, how it was saved and how it led to the formation of what is now the Newport Bay Conservancy.

CEO Statement


Board Chair Statement

Newport Bay Conservancy: Getting Involved

NBC is assuming an expanding breadth and scale of activities. Our education programs are increasing in number, with more K through 12 participants than ever. Our walking and kayak tours continue to be popular and we are leading habitat restoration projects in the saltmarsh, on the bluffs, and in Big Canyon. Fortunately, our number of active, trained volunteers are also increasing, giving us the “boots on the ground” capacity to take on these responsibilities. Our efforts to improve community resources around the Bay require us to advocate proactively with our partner agencies. NBC raised the safety issues along Back Bay Drive which led to the resurfacing and restriping of the road with separate lanes for bikers and pedestrians. We are working with OC Parks to design and install new interpretive signs along the trails within the Nature Preserve. Also, we are working with the City to try to find a solution to the problem of trash in the Bay which receive a big boost in October 2018 when the Ocean Protection Council designated $1.7M to install a trash wheel upstream of the Bay.

All of this activity means we need more people who would like to get directly involved in helping us fulfill our mission to preserve and protect the Upper Newport Bay. We need talented, energetic individuals to serve on our Board of Directors or on Board committees such as marketing, fundraising, and advocacy. If you would like information about these opportunities to get involved in leading the Conservancy, please contact Tim Brown ([email protected]), Chair NBC Board Development Committee.

Randall English
Board President, Newport Bay Conservancy

Other Ways to Donate/Volunteer

Our vision is that we will inspire our community and visitors to workin harmony to enhance the natural beauty and ecological value of Upper NewportBay and provide for continued public enjoyment of this priceless resource. Financial, practical, technical and influential support is critical as we strive to do what is best for the Bay, the watershed, and the people for generations to come. Please help us to achieve our vision. There are many ways to support NBC: 1) Cash Donations: Money is always appreciated; checks can be mailed to PO Box 10804, Newport Beach, CA 92658. We are also able to receive donations via credit card on our website, 2) Legacy Donations: Support a Planned Giving Program; for donors to make a larger philanthropic impact than they may have otherwise thought possible. 3) Support While You Shop: Designate “Newport Bay Naturalists & Friends” as your nonprofit-of-choice on Amazon Smile or Ralphs Rewards. A portion of the proceeds will come back the Bay. 4) Shop at our Gift Shop: The Newport Bay Conservancy operates a gift show within the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center (2301 University Drive, Newport Beach). A portion of all sales comes back to the Bay. 5) Book a Kayak/Outrigger Tour: The Newport Bay Conservancy hosts guided kayak and outrigger canoe tours of the Upper Newport Bay. Public kayak tours are always held on Saturday and Sunday mornings from the Newport Aquatic Center. $25/person, ages 8+ and it includes the rental of the kayaks. Outrigger canoe tours can be scheduled any day of the week, in advance, for groups of over 10. Starting at $15/person. 6) Volunteer: Volunteers are the heart of our organization. Volunteers regularly contribute over 10,000 hours leading our programs and assisting our partner’s programs in and around the Upper Newport Bay. Others provide administrative assistance like marketing, public relations, database entry, grant writing, etc.

Geographic Area Served

Central Orange County
West Orange County
South Orange County
North Orange County

We serve schools and the public from all areas of Orange County. Our reach impacts some at-risk students of Los Angeles County as well. 

Organization Categories

  1. Environment - Water Resource, Wetlands Conservation & Management
  2. Education - Secondary & High Schools
  3. Science & Technology - Biological, Life Science Research



Restoration Programs

Restoration Programs: Newport Bay Conservancy staff and volunteers concentrate on environmental stewardship, develop grants to work on larger-scale restoration projects.

  • Big Canyon Creek Restoration and Estuary Adaptation Project: An ongoing effort to remove invasive Brazilian peppertrees and other invasive plants and re-establish riparian, alkaline marsh, and coastal sage scrub habitat.
  • Control of Invasive Algerian Sea Lavender in Upper Newport Bay: An ongoing effort to remove Algerian Sea Lavender, a dominant invasive weed, throughout the Upper Newport Bay.
  • Bayview Habitat Restoration Project: A restoration project to re-establish coastal sage scrub that is led and managed by NBC volunteers.
  • Second Sunday Restoration Program: Monthly restoration events led by OC Parks in collaboration with NBC.
  • ROOTS: Monthly restoration events led by Project Grow, a partnering organization of NBC.
  • Monthly Kayak Clean-ups led by NBC naturalists: Public volunteers help pick up trash in the water while riding on kayaks.
Budget  90,000
Category  Environment, General/Other Natural Resources Conservation & Protection
Population Served General/Unspecified
Program Short-Term Success 

Remove invasive species, monitor sensitive species, monitor restoration progress, re-establish native plants, increase volunteer involvement with students and neighbors of the Bay.

Program Long-Term Success 

Newport Bay Conservancy envisions creating a diverse, well-functioning native habitat that supports wildlife, especially sensitive species, and is resilient to disturbance and invasion by exotic species.

Program Success Monitored By 

Area covered by non-native plants, number of nesting birds, acreage of restored habitat, number of native plants planted, pounds of invasive plants pulled, number of volunteer hours, species richness.

Examples of Program Success 

At the Bayview Restoration site, almost 2,700 native plants were installed, 2,043 volunteer hours were reported between 2014-2017 and an estimated 7,280 lbs of invasive plants were removed in 2016 and 2017. In Big Canyon, 6 acres have been restored to riparian and coastal sage scrub habitat. The plan for restoration of an additional 9.6 acres is being finalized. The control of Algerian Sea Lavender has led to the removal of 13,880 lbs of the invasive weed with the help of volunteers contributing 1,771 field hours since 2016.

Educational Programs

• Guest Services: Muth Interpretive Center where volunteers staff the welcome desk 6 days/week providing 40,000 visitors with directions, information, and details about the plant and animal life of the Bay each year.

• Elementary School Programming: K-5th environmental programs that align with California State Science Content Standards.

• High School Programming: Four-part program which includes a Cleanup Day, a water tour day, a day at the Back Bay Science Center, and a student environmental fair. Offered at no charge to students from Title I schools.

• Nature Walks: Weekly walks led by NBC Naturalists at around the Bay to observe birds, plants, habitats, etc.

• Kayak/Outrigger Canoe Tours led by NBC Naturalists. Visitors learn about the Bay from a water.

• Quarterly Environmental Film Series is offered in partnership with the Newport Beach Film Festival to raise awareness of important issues affecting the environment and cover a wide array of “eco” and “green” topics.

Budget  $50,000.00
Category  Environment, General/Other Environmental Education
Population Served Families Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) At-Risk Populations
Program Short-Term Success  Encourage change in behavior, from conserving water to not littering and picking up other's trash. To understand the balance between humans and nature. To understand why we need to protect open spaces like the Upper Newport Bay as an ecological resource.
Program Long-Term Success  Creating an educated, diverse group of people willing to understand and protect our natural resources.
Program Success Monitored By 

Number of students and members of the public participate in these activities. Feedback from students and members of the public.

Examples of Program Success 

Over 5,000 people directly participated in programs. 40,000 people given some sort of information about the Bay. It is hard to determine the impact because the goals of the educational programs are very broad. We can assume we are making a positive impact from comments like this one from a guest on a kayak tour, "Funny, I bet most people think of Newport as being rich in land monetary values but my first thought was how 'rich' the Bay is in things that matter so much more. And what you all are doing to preserve it is phenomenally more important than focusing on material things because at the end of a life, no one dies thinking of the material goods they had/didn't but the relationships they had/didn't. The people, such as yourself, who have committed to having a relationship with this bay will reap the best reward."


CEO/Executive Director Heather Cieslak MPA
CEO Term Start Oct 2013
CEO Email [email protected]
CEO Experience
Heather Cieslak grew up in Illinois and moved to California after graduating from Northern Illinois University with a BA in Marketing. Previously, Heather was the Finance and Operations Manager with Amigos de los Rios, a nonprofit committed to protecting and restoring open space in urban environments, specifically in East LA County. Prior to that, Heather spent a number of years as Associate Director with National Assistance League, responsible for marketing, fundraising and administration to support their 125 chapters nationwide. Also while at NAL, she pursued her MPA in Nonprofit Organizational Management from California State University Northridge. As Operations Director, Heather ensures our programs and activities are part of an overall annual plan and supporting budget, that they are well-managed, and that we are actively marketing and communicating our mission and activities to our community.

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
-- -- --


Award Awarding Organization Year
-- -- --


Affiliation Year
-- --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --


Collaborate with Upper Newport Bay's land-owning agencies including the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, County of Orange Parks, City of Newport Beach.  Also partner with the California Coastal Commission, Newport Aquatic Center to run activities in the Upper Newport Bay.  Collaborate/outreach with local high schools, scout groups, companies, etc.

Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 2
Number of Part Time Staff 3
Number of Volunteers 200
Number of Contract Staff 5
Staff Retention Rate % 100%
Staff Professional Development Yes

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: --
Asian American/Pacific Islander: --
Caucasian: 4
Hispanic/Latino: 1
Native American/American Indian: --
Other: --
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 5
Male: --
Not Specified --

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers N/A
Management Succession Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures No
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No

Risk Management Provisions

Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes

Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency N/A N/A
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually

Government Licenses


CEO Comments


Foundation Comments



Board Chair Randall English
Board Chair Company Affiliation Schneider Electric
Board Chair Term Nov 2018 - Nov 2019
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Derrick Ankerstar Orange County Park Ranger Voting
Josie Bennett Restoration Mgr, Laguna Canyon Foundation Voting
Tim Brown Civic Leadership, Higher Education Voting
Peter Bryant PhD Teacher, Research, UCI NonVoting
Randall English IT Operations, Schneider Electric Voting
Julie Ferguson PhD UCI, Earth Systems Science Voting
Kimberly Leue-Bick JD Founder, Bick Law LLP Voting
Sherry Marger Self-employed, artist Voting
Taylor Sias MS Enviro Project Specialist, SoCal Gas Co Voting
Ian Swift Natural Resources Mgr, Irvine Ranch Water District Voting
Joana Tavares-Reager PhD Earth Systems Science program, UCI Voting
Angie Vazirian MA Exclusive Homes Realty Voting
David Waller MA Retired College Administrator Voting
Pam Winkler COO, Davis Partners Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Additional Board Members and Affiliations

Name Company Affiliations Status
Buck Johns Business Owner, Inland Energy NonVoting
Colleen Johns Homemaker NonVoting
Jean Watt Environmental Activist, Harbors, Beaches and Parks NonVoting
Ron Yeo Architect and Environmental Planner NonVoting

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 12
Hispanic/Latino: 1
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: --
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 7
Male: 6
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits 3
Board Meeting Attendance % --
Written Board Selection Criteria Under Development
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Board Orientation Yes

CEO Comments


Foundation Comments


Standing Committees

  • Board Development / Board Orientation
  • By-laws
  • Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
  • Finance
  • N/A


Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2018 to Dec 31, 2018
Projected Revenue $250,000.00
Projected Expenses $250,000.00
Form 990s

2017 990

2016 990

2015 990-EZ

2014 Form 990

2013 990

2012 990

Audit Documents --
IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Total Revenue $237,366 $204,700 $157,636
Total Expenses $233,572 $201,511 $258,949

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Revenue By Revenue Source
Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$62,637 $117,215 $111,362
Government Contributions $78,688 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified $78,688 -- --
Individual Contributions -- -- --
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue $48,542 $82,952 $37,394
Investment Income, Net of Losses $4,258 $562 $754
Membership Dues $33,000 -- --
Special Events $10,241 $3,971 $3,766
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other -- -- $4,360

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Expense By Type
Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Program Expense $204,097 $182,036 $1,630
Administration Expense $13,888 $2,503 $257,319
Fundraising Expense $15,587 $16,972 --
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.02 1.02 0.61
Program Expense/Total Expenses 87% 90% 1%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 10% 14% 0%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Total Assets $310,980 $304,482 $303,974
Current Assets $310,980 $304,482 $292,716
Long-Term Liabilities -- -- --
Current Liabilities $3,573 $869 $3,550
Total Net Assets $307,407 $303,613 $300,424

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 87.04 350.38 82.46

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%
Endowment Value --
Spending Policy Income Only
Percentage(If selected) --
Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? Yes

CEO Comments

Each year depends on funding for specific special projects whether they be education, restoration or research focused.

Foundation Comments

Summary financial data is per the Form 990s and consultation with the organization. Foundation/corporate and individual contributions are combined under Foundation and Corporation Contributions.


Other Documents

Annual Report (2018)

TRACKS magazine - Fall (2018)

TRACKS magazine - Spring (2018)

No Other Documents currently available.