It all started in 1963, when a 14-year-old Jay Robinson rode his bike down to North Star Beach and found a newly erected “private property” sign. The bay was Jay’s playground. Kids in the neighborhood could bicycle along the high bluffs or hike the dirt paths down to the water. There they could play on the sandy beach and watch for jumping fish, crabs scuttling around on the shore, and birds dive-bombing into the water for a meal.
His parents, Frank and Frances Robinson, would join with their neighbors and concerned community members to fight in one of the most important ecological battles in California to save the bay from development. As a result of their collective efforts, the area became the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve. (Affectionately known to locals as Back Bay)
From this group of community activists sprang the Friends of Newport Bay who ran nature tours to promote the unique values of the area and its contribution to the community. This group would also run fundraising events called a “Back Bay Bash” to educate the community on the importance of protecting and preserving the bay and raise funds to support the educational and environmental needs of this diverse habitat.
During the recent COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting social restrictions, the bay invigorated local residents and visitors seeking a connection to the serenity and peace of nature during these unprecedented and uncertain times. Now, more than ever, families are looking to the bay as a refuge, an innovative place for learning and an inclusive place to hike and bike along the trails creating lasting memories of their own.