Third Eye Blind lead singer Stephan Jenkins is replanting kelp forests off the California coast, and that is incredibly valuable to the ecosystem



“A thousand miles of kelp, a mile out, with gray whales spouting as far as the eye can see, that’s my dream. That’s possible right now.”

                                                                                                                                            Stephan Jenkins 



We must take care of the oceans to take care of our species and our planet. Some people realize this already. One of them is Stephan Jenkins, an eco-pioneer with a credible vision. He’s the lead singer of the Indie rock band, Third Eye Blind. Feel-good music, for me triggering memories of driving from Austin to LA in the late nineties, with my dog as co-pilot on the 10 freeway that goes on forever. Jenkins sings with a hopeful freedom. His music evokes nostalgia. Catchy tunes that get stuck in your head.


Now he wants something else to get stuck in people’s heads, seaweed! Especially kelp forests. And it’s urgent. And he’s serious.


Jenkins is supremely grateful and rather surprised at his long music career however he doesn’t want to talk about music these days, he wants to talk about kelp forests and saving the planet. Progressive thinking Jenkins has been interested in kelp forests since leaving school, where he was interested in marine biology. He’s a surfer and a keen diver, his first job out of school was planting kelp forests off the Santa Barbara coastline. Progressive, as that was about 40 years ago, people were only gently listening. Cut to now, he’s having to shout it from the rooftops.



Jenkins at his night job Eline Duijsens


I caught him in LA and San Francisco wrapping things up and rehearsing prior to leaving for Third Eye Blind’s US tour, starting March 10 at The Fillmore in New Orleans and covering 20 States. Look out for them. A portion of ticket sales goes toward rebuilding kelp forests off the coast of California!


Back in 2017, the band started using water coolers instead of the plastic bottles that usually came in on pallets, in one summer tour saving almost 17,000 single-use bottles. 


He’s proud of that and he should be. Soon afterward, hearing that Pearl Jam were offsetting their carbon, Stephan got a hold of ClimeCo, to see how the band could offset their entire tour. They also doubled down and offset their fan’s carbon footprint by giving the equivalent dollar amount to SeaTrees, whose co-founder Michael Stewart stated, “Thanks to the Third Eye Blind crew and everyone who came out to see them on their summer tour, we are able to restore another key section of California’s lost kelp forest ecosystem. These critical marine areas provide habitat for over 700 species and help stabilize our climate.”  


Jenkins is making waves and is passionate. Here’s what he told us.



Surf’s up! Jenkins all at sea… courtesy of Stephan Jenkins




I see it now as my life’s work, reforesting the California coastline. If I helped do that. I feel as if I could die holding my head up.


90% of the reefs have gone. They hold 2000 species of animals and invertebrates. The giant kelp and the bull kelp grow two feet a week. They’ll grow to 250 feet. The grey whales go and hide in there, the seals, all of it moves back into the ecosystem, because of the kelp. You have a biological system that can make an impact on climate change, you can see a change in a year.


Because I grew up on the California coast, because I’m a surfer and acually worked in the kelp forests as a diver, it just makes so much sense to me. Because of the biological mechanism that is kelp. You can have a fully functioning kelp forest in a year. This is something we’re doing right now, something we can manifest. We can see the change now.  


There are other groups besides SeaTrees doing actual reforestation projects, but I go back to when I was 16, and when you do a reef it’s better to take the entire rock space and clear it; get the holdfasts to attach at once and protect that reef all at once. If you do it in a section, other aspects will just come in and eat it. You have to do it all at once. That’s true of the whole coast of the whole State. That needs a lot of money, and motivation to do this all at once.


When I told Michael Stewart at SeaTrees that I wanted to give the climate footprint of our tour to a reef, I said ‘I want my own reef’, so ours is going to be the Palos Verdes Kelp Forest but our reef there, within the kelp forest, is called the Blind Reef. So what I’ve done is give naming rights to the reef. I asked Mark Pincus, the founder of Zynga, a friend and a surfer, why don’t you match what we give this summer? His organization is called Future Earth. He’s going to have the first reef on Santa Cruz Island. I went out there when I was 15. 




I’m with the band! No, literally, this is the band Danny Nolan



I want to have naming rights on the whole of the California coast so you could have The Google Reef or the Salesforce Reef or whatever-you-name-your-Football-Stadium Reef. They could compete with each other as to who has the largest one. 


I wouldn’t want it to be The Blind Reef forever, in a couple of years somebody else can name it, they can feel a sense of ownership, they can say that they’re part of the reforestation of California, so it makes them look good.


I mean, why doesn’t BP just underwrite the whole thing? Just give us 10 billion dollars to do California, and then you can do countless ads with orange garibaldi fish, and sea lions, and say, “see, look we’re nice…” That brings everyone together. 


I went on CBS Mornings, and I was telling Gayle King that we have this beautiful bright future. I want people to think about the climate solutions future with a sense of wonder, meaning excitement about possibility, as there’s a gargantuan carbon sequestration mechanism there, and it’s organic and it’s right in front of us. I call it the American Amazon, as it creates so much oxygen and pulls so much carbon and it creates so much life, and it’s massive, and it’s right here, right off the California coast, the Oregon coast, the Washington coast, the British Columbia coast and down into Baja.


All these companies could mitigate their carbon footprints by rebuilding this coastline and having this carbon credit, besides having carbon sequestration happening in real-time. It’s not off in the future. It’s not abstract. It’s real and right there. The returns are massive and the benefits instantaneous.



Forget zoom! This is the way to have a meeting about reforesting kelp Photo provided by Wonderlust




I want Republicans and Democrats competing for your climate vote and to come at it from different directions! Republicans won’t do anything unless there’s money in it, but with this when you have climate credit involved, there’s money in it, and there’s the tax relief.


I’d like to see the whole Appalachian Ridge reforested in chestnut trees — but this is something we can do right now. Bring back one of the biggest ecosystems in the world.




The band’s website has links to check your own carbon emissions calculator and how much it would take to offset it. It’s a valuable tool. Check it out (and check their tour dates)