Q: Why and when did you get involved with the Surfrider Foundation?
I became involved with Surfrider after a highly publicized beach access fight in Deal, New Jersey in October 2015. The Borough attempted to restrict access at the beaches where I grew up via parking restrictions. After circulating an online petition which gained over 3,000 signatures, researching legal arguments for hours and attending highly charged public meetings, the ordinance was ultimately withdrawn and our access was left intact. After that first battle, I started attending monthly meetings until I was asked to serve as Co-Chair in January 2017.
Q: What are some local issues that are affecting your ocean, waves and beaches?
The Jersey Shore has been undergoing federal beach replenishment and restoration to help protect from future storms. The addition of sand destroys marine habitat and surf breaks. It is a complex issue with no single solution. However, our chapter has been planting dune grass to help educate the public and local government that there are alternatives to dumping sand.
Another major issue that comes along with these federal projects is that shore towns and homeowners attempt to restrict beach access or privatize the newly created beaches entirely. We have been trying to combat their efforts on a case by case basis.
Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?
Since the first victory in Deal, NJ back in October 2015, the Borough has attempted to introduce two more restrictive and discriminatory ordinances (June 2016 and April 2017). I lead the fight against these ordinances which would have limited parking on the streets where surfers, anglers and the general public park for beach access. Each time, the Borough’s plans were defeated by overwhelming public outcry and arguments based on New Jersey’s Public Trust Doctrine.
I also helped to organize an “Earth Day Rally” at a local bar where we raised over $3,300 to purchase beach badges for families that can’t afford the beach here in New Jersey. The event contributed to our mission of keeping beaches open and accessible to all on equal terms.
Q: What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience (i.e., campaign, program, victory)?
Each campaign victory is a highlight. In May 2017, we made the New York Times for fighting the discriminatory parking proposals in Deal. I am hoping that the publicity will reach all shore towns and cause them to think twice before trying to block our access to the beach. They should know that we are watching them.
Q: What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider?
If you care about the ocean, beaches and waves then you have to get out there and fight. Don’t rely on others to fight for you.
Q: Why are you a Surfrider coastal defender (or why is being a Surfrider coastal defender important to you)?
I’ve been fishing, diving and enjoying the beach my entire life. I’m a Surfrider coastal defender because I fight to protect the things I love.