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Surfrider Launches Recreational Survey for Washington State

May 20 2014 | Ocean Ecosystems, Marine Spatial Planning,
by Pete Stauffer

The Surfrider Foundation has launched an online survey to document the recreational use of Washington's Pacific coast. Members of the public can take the survey by visiting this link: http://surfrider.org/washington-survey/

The survey is collecting data on numerous non-consumptive uses by the public including diving, kayaking, surfing, birding, and camping. Clamming is also included in the survey as it’s a signature use on Washington beaches. 

Developed in collaboration with Point 97, the survey allows recreational users to map coastal and ocean areas they have visited in the past 12 months. 

Randy Kline, Environmental Program Manager for Washington State Parks is looking forward to using this information. “The Washington State Parks staff are excited about the opportunity for additional data to help us understand the public's use of the coast,” says Randy. “We will use this data to provide better recreation experiences for park-goers.”

The survey will document the growing importance of tourism to the Washington coastal economy and increasing opportunities for non-consumptive recreation. “The Washington coast is an extraordinary place that offers significant recreational and economic opportunities,” says Casey Dennehy, Washington Coastal Program Manager for the Surfrider Foundation. “While there is data regarding traditional industries on the Washington coast, there is very little about the recreation economy.” 

A similar study by the Surfrider Foundation in Oregon found that four million permanent residents take 27 million individual trips to the coast annually and spend about $2.4 billion on the Oregon coast (http://www.surfrider.org/images/uploads/publications/OR_rec_study.pdf).

The survey, funded by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and private foundations, is part of a larger coastal planning effort called Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) that will inform policy, decision making, and management of our ocean resources.  The survey is one of  several other projects supported by the state under MSP, many of which have already gathered data on physical oceanography, marine life, shipping, fishing, ecological resources, and economics.  This information has been incorporated into a data viewer that is available to the public at msp.wa.gov.

According to Jennifer Hennessey, Ocean Policy Lead at the Washington Department of Ecology, “This survey will provide much better data on which areas of our coast are most important for different users and how those uses influence the local economy. This new data will help us understand and address recreational interests in developing a marine spatial plan for Washington’s coast.”

Last year Surfrider created a short film about coastal planning in Washington which includes interviews with local surfers and business owners.  In the film, Surfrider’s Environmental Director Chad Nelsen says, “If surfers love their special places up here, which are magical, this is the best opportunity they will have to get ahead of all the problems and be able to share them with future generations.” The film is available on vimeo at: http://vimeo.com/72716247

Contact: Casey Dennehy at cdennehy@surfrider.org

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