Activist Spotlight, Blue Water Task Force
March 01 2016

Iconic Oregon Coastal Defender

by Nancy Eiring

Paul Klarin is one of our founding members of the Surfrider Oregon chapter network, who has helped bring water quality testing and beach access to many beautiful recreational spots along the Oregon coast.

Q: When and why did you get involved with the Surfrider Foundation?

I first got involved with Surfrider after the first attempt to set up a local chapter lost steam after scoring a victory to preserve free access to the south jetty in Florence back in 1990.  Along with Steve Shipsey, John Marra, Steve Williams and others, we organized and established the formal structure for Oregon Surfrider, and got recognized by the organization.   I immediately got Blue Water Task Force campaign funds to start doing our own water quality testing, since there was none being conducted by the agencies.  That effort led to the state obtaining federal funds, supplied under the Surfrider-backed Beach Bill in 2000, to set up the water quality testing program for Oregon's beaches.  We also ensured continued beach access at several locations where both the federal government and private property owners were going to cut it off.  

Q: What issues are you most passionate about in your community?  

The issue I'm most passionate about now is raising awareness about what climate change is doing to transform our coastal ocean environment.  Ocean acidification, hypoxia, algae blooms, species decline, coastal inundation and the increase in extreme weather events are upon us.  There's no reversing this trend, or even mitigating its impacts at this point.  The carbon is already in the atmosphere and ocean, and we're going to reap the results.   

Q: What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience (i.e., campaign, program, victory)?

I'm fond of the campaign Surfrider mounted to get the state to buy Frankport and make it part of the state park system.  That was a long-play effort that required strategy, organization and a little finesse.  I also enjoy the fact that Surfrider is now a real and respected player in the state and federal public policy processes that deal with coastal and ocean issues.  I'm proud that Surfrider is perceived as a knowledgeable and responsible organization that brings professionalism, expertise and resources to the table.  I credit the skills and persistence of the Surfrider staff and its members for making it so.

Q: What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider?

Surfrider works for you, whether you're a member or not and whether you know it or not.  But it relies on members to create the leverage it needs to succeed.  I believe surfers need to commit to the well-being of the coastal resources they depend on the same way they commit to taking off on a wave.  Go for it or nothing good happens.  

Q: Where is your favorite beach and why?  

Any beach where I feel welcomed and the others in the line-up will let me in on a few set waves.