Part of being a grassroots environmental organization is learning how to juggle a lot of campaigns. At any given time the Surfrider Foundation’s chapter network fights over 80 different battles to protect our coastal environment and the public’s ability to access it. From opposing seawalls, to improving water quality, to restoring beach access, each campaign provides an opportunity to protect the coastal environment we love to inhabit. And they all benefit from the passion of local chapters and volunteers who lead Surfrider’s advocacy efforts on the ground.
But each year, a handful of campaigns invariably rise to the top as priorities for Surfrider. Propelled by either the threat – or in some cases the opportunity – for coastal stewardship, they unite our network across the country in seminal battles to preserve our ocean, waves, and beaches.
In 2016, Surfrider is focusing on the “Super 6” – our top six priorities for the year. And these are all campaigns that could use more involvement from the surf community.
Protect the Atlantic from Oil Drilling
The Surfrider Foundation is opposing government plans for new oil drilling off the Mid- and South Atlantic coast (see map: yellow area). New drilling would harm marine life and water quality and put the Atlantic coast at risk of a catastrophic oil spill. Surfrider’s chapter network is fighting back, mobilizing turnout at hearings, educating the public about the threat, and passing local government resolutions. Next month Surfrider will present a signed surfboard to the White House with leaders of the recreation industry asking the administration to cancel plans for Atlantic offshore drilling. A final decision will be made later this year, so it’s not too late to ask your representatives to protect the Atlantic coast.
Clean Water: Defend the BEACH Act
Clean water is a matter of public health for millions of beach goers and surfers in the United States. Unfortunately, Congress may eliminate all funding for water quality testing at recreational beaches provided under the BEACH Act. This crucial legislation, which Surfrider helped pass in 2000, supports state and local beach water quality monitoring and public notification programs at beaches across the country. Such testing is essential to protect public health for people who visit our nation’s beaches every year and the multi-billion dollar coastal economies that they support. We succeeded last year in convincing congress to save the EPA BEACH Grants program. Now, we need your support in 2016! Take Action.
Save California’s Plastic Bag Ban
Surfrider Foundation’s California chapters and members worked for six years to usher a statewide bag ban bill through the California legislature. In September 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed the bag ban bill into law. Unfortunately, that law was put on hold through an effort by the plastic bag industry, which paid signature gatherers to put the issue on the November 2016 ballot. The voting public in the nation’s most populous state will now have a chance to affirm the bag ban law in 2016. Surfrider is working to educate California citizens on the value of reducing plastics so we can help protect this important law and address a major source of plastic ocean pollution.
Protect Special Coastal Places
Regional ocean planning provides an opportunity to protect our special coastal places before they’re threatened by development. In New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and Washington, Surfrider is helping to develop ocean plans that will protect the marine ecosystem on behalf of recreational users. To support these planning efforts, Surfrider completed recreational mapping studies that document the economic and social value of coastal recreation. To learn more, please check out our short film The Next Wave on how we’re taking a proactive approach to protecting important coastal places.
Open Martin’s Beach
What makes billionaire Vinod Khosla think that he can close access to a popular beach that’s been used by the community and visitors for generations? For the last five years, Surfrider fought to restore public access to Martin’s Beach in San Mateo County, California. When Surfrider’s strategies of local activism and community outreach did not solve the problem, we turned to litigation. Surfrider also helped pass a state bill to require the State Lands Commission to address the beach access problem. This is truly a David v. Goliath story that the local community has rallied behind, turning it into an issue of nationwide significance. Surfrider will remain engaged until the public’s right to access Martin’s Beach is properly restored.
Climate Change Adaptation
Climate change is already causing impacts to our coasts and ocean. Sea level rise, beach erosion, and ocean acidification are among the threats we must plan for to protect our natural shorelines and communities. Through our coastal preservation initiative, we are working to influence policy at the national and local levels to improve how coastal areas are managed and developed. We advocate for beaches to remain naturally intact without excessive shoreline development that leads to armoring (seawalls etc.). We also support the global movement to reduce carbon and other greenhouse gas-causing emissions that are root causes of these impacts. While climate change is a daunting issue, we can advance adaptation measures that will make an enormous difference down the road. Government agencies and citizens can both be part of the solution. To learn more about the issue and what you can do, please visit Surfrider’s Beachapedia page.