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Paul Relis Will be the Guest Speaker at the Upcoming Wyland Foundation Annual Gala in Laguna Beach

September 20, 2023

Paul Relis, a figure deeply connected to a seminal moment in environmental history – the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill – will be the guest speaker at the upcoming Wyland Foundation Annual Gala on Nov. 12 in Laguna Beach.

This devastating incident not only reshaped California’s scenic coastline but also ignited a new movement for environmental protection, leading to the birth of pivotal institutions like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the observance of Earth Day.

A young student and surfer at UC Santa Barbara at the time, Relis was inspired to dedicate his life to environmental sustainability.

As the first executive director of the Community Environmental Council, Relis championed groundbreaking initiatives in recycling, urban farming, and sustainable building – ventures that foreshadowed today’s sustainable practices.

Relis’ journey continued with the California Environmental Protection Agency where he pioneered early recycling programs that have since become an integral aspect of life across California. In the private sector, he advanced technologies to transform municipal waste into renewable natural gas, further pushing the boundaries of sustainable innovation.

Relis’ trajectory, from witnessing the Santa Barbara catastrophe to actively sculpting California’s green future, embodies the essence of resilience and forward-thinking the Wyland Foundation champions. His lifelong commitment serves as a beacon for all who care about our oceans, rivers, and wetlands. His memoir, “Out of the Wasteland: Stories from the Environmental Frontier,” is currently available on Amazon. Paul’s story underscores the ripple effect of individual action, reminding us of the profound impact one person can have in steering the course of environmental history.

For more information on the Wyland Gala click here.