California Whale Tail License Plate | The State’s Most Successful Environmental Program

The Californian whale tail license is presently the state’s most successful environmental program. The specialized license plate has an image of a whale’s tail. It was introduced in the state two decades ago to help raise money, which is then used for the cleanup of rivers, beaches, and creeks. It is also used to fund anti-pollution education programs that target school-age children.

The license plate is presently celebrating its 20th anniversary. It continues to be popular not only among the state’s coast dwellers but also among inland Southern California motorists as well. Since its inception in 1997, over 243,000 plates have been sold, raising over $95 million as per figures released by the California Coastal Commission (CCC). The CCC receives money from the state’s Environmental License Plate fund.

According to CCC’s public education manager Chris Parry, ZIP code data in the state shows that motorists from San Bernardino, Riverside, and San Gabriel Valley counties are among the top buyers of the specialized plates. Parry added that San Gabriel Valley is a very lucrative market for the plates since its motorists share a strong connection with the coast because they frequent it. Many residents like traveling down to the coast during summer.

According to geographic data collected in 2009, the county of Los Angeles led the other states with 26,577 plates. Orange County came second with 16,770, then San Diego with 14,135, and Ventura County 4,593. Inland counties with the highest number of whale tail license plates are Riverside with 6,018 and San Bernardino with 4,362.

California Coastal Cleanup Day

The expansion of the California Coastal Cleanup Day held annually also helps increase the number of whale tail license plates sold in the state. Perry explained that although the day was designated for cleaning the beach and picking up trash, it has evolved to include cleanup of the Santa Ana, Los Angeles, and San Gabriel rivers, which empty into the ocean often carrying pollutants. Heal The Bay runs the cleanup program as well as another called ‘Nothing But Sand.’

The program’s success is attributed to California residents who are willing to support the state’s environmental cleanup initiatives. Nicole Muldoon, aged 53, has kept her whale tail plate for eight years.

The California Coastal Commission also gives grants to support other state programs like Aquarium of the Pacific, a nonprofit that received $12,000. Other recipients include the University of Redlands, the Newport Bay Conservancy, El Monte Union High School District, as well as individual schools in the state.