Student and local nonprofit groups are making waves as they bid for the latest round of Shoreline Protection Fund grants for environmental research and local restoration projects.

SPF funds student projects aimed at keeping the local ocean and beaches clean, healthy and safe. Groups and individuals are invited to submit applications for grant money toward a variety of projects that will improve the quality of the beaches.

Created at UCSB in 1999 by a campuswide lock-in vote, SPF has about $96,000 remaining for projects this year. The organization has received $38,000 worth of requests for Winter Quarter already and will continue to fund many projects begun last quarter.

Scott Bull, the grant manager for SPF, said at the beginning of every quarter, SPF receives applications for funding projects of over $500, but also accepts applications for projects of less than $500 throughout the year.

A seven-member student board reviews the applications and awards money to those projects it considers most worthwhile and cost-effective.

Bull said SPF spent $45,000 on 15 projects last quarter including funding for an on-campus water testing program, a shoreline preservation research and writing course, and several beach restoration internships.

One of SPF’s latest and most popular programs, Beachsweep, invites local nonprofit groups to gather at least 25 members and devote several hours to picking up trash along the beach on Del Playa. In return, the groups receive $250 toward their cause.

“Students can participate in keeping their beaches clean and raise money for their organization,” Bull said.

Bull said with 22 groups already lined up to do beach sweeps in the next two months, it is clear the program is motivating students to work to improve the community.

“This quarter alone we’ve had the highest number of groups wanting to get involved ever,” Bull said.

Many organizations have already participated in the program, including the UCSB scuba club, which collected underwater trash and brought it to shore last quarter.

Matt Stadler, a graduate student in the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, participated in a group cleanup of Del Playa in January. He said he was especially concerned about the amount of cigarette butts he found on the ground.

“There were millions of them everywhere,” he said. “Those things go straight down the [storm] drains and right onto the beach.”

His group managed to fill 15 large black garbage bags with remnants of weekend Del Playa partying.

“It really opens your eyes,” he said.

The 25 students who worked as a part of his team plan to use their $250 to buy California pollution credits so that polluting companies wanting to purchase them in order to increase their pollution rights will not be able to do so.

SPF also granted $14,000 to form the environmental sciences and biology shoreline preservation research and writing class. The class is taught by Miriam Polne-Fuller and brings in local experts to discuss coastal issues and projects relevant to the community.

Bull said that SPF also funds internships that are open to UCSB students, including several that focus on the restoration of local beaches.

“[The students] remove nonnative, invasive plants and plant local species,” Bull said.

In April, SPF plans to hold a concert in Isla Vista. Environmental groups and speakers will be invited to speak about more ways that students can get involved with the environmental maintenance of their community.

Paul Colbert, chair of the Isla Vista Surfrider Foundation, said the Blue Water Task Force Ocean Water testing program was awarded $6,493 last quarter to purchase equipment for a new on-campus laboratory.

He said student volunteers sample beach water from Campus Point to Sands Beach in order to look for certain types of bacteria and verify that the water is meeting current health and safety standards. They hope their results will be published on the Surfrider website, in local newspapers and on television screens in the UCen.

“We want to get the word out about the water quality,” Colbert said.