Support us!
Comments Share

Surfrider’s top ten in 2013

December 18 2013 | Beach access, Policy, Victories, Events, Coastal development, Ads, Strategy, Water, Chapters, Beaches, Economics, Waves, Coastal armoring, Stories, Campaigns, Activism, Oil Pollution, Plastics, Water Quality, Surfing,

Here are 10 snapshots of what Surfrider has been up to in the United States this year.

Of course this exercise is like skipping stones over a lake, it only touches the surface and hints at the larger body of work below it.

All of this work is the result of tireless efforts from volunteers, club members, staff and our board of directors.

A heartfelt thank you to all who invested themselves in our mission and moved it forward in 2013.

Let's start by looking at an incoming wave of Surfrider activists. 

Our domestic grassroots network has traditionally been made up of only chapters, that has changed.

A few years ago we allowed students at grade schools, high schools and colleges to organize as Surfrider "Quad" clubs.

It’s been refreshing to see an entirely new layer of activism join the coastal conservation movement. We could not be more stoked to have the number of Surfrider Quad clubs hit 30 this year. Along with our network of 84 chapters the total number of organizing groups fighting for our mission in the United States is now 114.

When some people think of Surfrider they think of beach cleanups, when I think of us I think about the work we just completed in Oregon.

The statement "nothing worthwhile comes easy" comes to mind here.

That statement speaks to the work and results connected to this milestone win in the Pacific Northwest.

After almost five years of active participation, the Surfrider Foundation and Oregon chapters suceeded in gaining approval of a territorial sea plan that protects our special recreational and ecological places, including Oregon’s key surf spots, while creating opportunities for renewable ocean energy development. More detail on this here

And for those of you who haven't had the pleasure of seeing how stunning Oregon's beaches are, that photo is for you.

What are these special places worth? We've wondered the same thing...

Surfrider continues to lead the field as it relates to connecting the field of economics to the idea of coastal preservation.  

Over the past few years we have focused on areas like Oregon, you can learn more about that work here.

In 2013 we extended this work to the East Coast.

We collected over 6,000 first-of-their-kind data points on where people recreate in the Mid-Atlantic.

"Surfonomics" is the science of understanding the value of the coastal places we love, value and economically support. We could not be more excited to have yet one more arrow in our quiver to protect these special places. More on that here

We are engaged all over the U.S., let's take a moment to put some numbers and context around what that means. 

There are more than 600 coastal counties in the U.S. and over the past few decades more and more people have moved into these regions. With greater populations there is an ever-increasing strain on coastal resources. Thus it should come as no surprise that there are always dozens of live coastal campaigns as there is an ongoing battle to protect coastlines.

There is literally not a moment when we don't have a coastal campaign live.

Some of these are multi-year fights like the Oregon example above, some are multi-decade preservation campaigns... and others are organized, fought and won within a year.

Here is a quick infographic to illustrate how our current live fights break down.


As you can see, surf protection, is a major focus for us. This year we had two major surf protection wins and they were on either side of the United States.

The first took place in Rhode Island.

Perhaps a more accurate title would be "Ruggles is saved, for now" as one lesson that any Surfrider volunteer has learned is that the late Peter Douglas was right when he said "the environment is never saved, it's always being saved." 

Hurricane Sandy left it's fingerprints, or maybe boot marks, all over the eastern seaboard. Rhode Island wasn't spared.

The popular Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island was slated for large repairs which put New England's most popular surf break, Ruggles, at risk. The local surf community engaged, the larger global surf community engaged and after tireless organizing, work and public meetings a lower impact, surfer-friendly plan was embraced.  More info here.

Another surf protection fight took place in Hawaii at one of the most famous waves in the world.

Look at this wave... it's been featured in numerous photos and films over the decades and one can see why, it's a natural wonder.

A year after our Maui chapter's successful “Save Ma’alea Bay” campaign the world-famous surfing spot Honolua Bay became the focus.

It's a local treasure, a cultural icon and a marine reserve. Five years ago the campaign started, fending off the ever-encroaching hand of development. Working alongside other groups including the Save Honolua Coalition, Surfrider’s Maui Chapter joined other marine conservation and Native Hawaiian groups in successfully opposing the development.

This year Hawaii state lawmakers passed House Bill 1424, a bill authorizing the acquisition of 280 acres surrounding Lipoa Point.

One more treasure secured. 

Meanwhile just across the Pacific, south of San Francisco five surfers were arrested for paddling out. 

People don't even believe me when I talk about campaigns like this one in Northern California.

Yes, in 2013 it is still possible to get arrested for surfing.

If that statement isn't wild enough it becomes even more unbelivable when you think of the places this is happening, just outside of the sophisticated San Francisco and tech-center Silicon Valley.

This story straightforward, five San Mateo County surfers crossed land to access a public beach. When they left the water, they were met by the local Sheriff who issued citations. The surfers stated their right to access a public beach and they had done nothing wrong. Judge dismisses trespassing charges.

If you haven't seen this film, watch it now. It's a quintessential Surfrider story.

The film above offered a great outreach tool and we care about tools like these because we strive to make our mission accessible to all.

We further believe that it's a good idea to constantly add fresh ideas into the mix.

It's for these reasons that we've continued to focus resources on outreach tools like the ever-evolving world of social media. 


I'll offer some context to the figures above, the recent three month average for the number of people talking about Surfrider on Facebook was just over 900,000.

The 18% increase represents a subset of that number, an increase in one of the ways people engage with us on Facebook, "Likes." People can also share our content and comment.

On Twitter and Instagram the growth figures above represent increases in net followers from January of 2013 until now.

We don't think being liked, or even talked about, is success.

If someone likes a topic the coast is not saved. That said, if someone doesn't connect to a coastal threat then who's going to defend it?

At Surfrider our definition of success is when a formal governing body makes a positive decision about one of our campaigns... and preserves the coast in the process.

Let's talk about a specific area we've been fighting for a while... plastics.

We started counting our coastal wins in the beginning of 2006 and since that time our network has netted 68 wins connected to single-use plastics (and keeping them out of the ocean).

A complete list of those can be found here

While that is truely a notable number of fights (and wins) there is a tremendous amount to be done. 

Let's talk about something else that shouldn't be in the ocean. 

Remember the BP spill... 

The photo above tells the story, oil spills affect us all (the original Surfrider ad can be found here). 

While the nation was transfixed, watching BP spill 4.9 million barrels (210,000,000 U.S. gallons) of oil into the water a number of people were equally, perhaps more, concerned with the dispersants that were also being dumped into the Gulf of Mexico. 

Over 2 million gallons of toxic chemical dispersants were used during and after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The dispersants dumped into the Gulf include Corexit. It was applied in mass quantities, even though this is a toxic dispersant that was banned from use in places like the United Kingdom.

Surfrider fought, and won.

The Environmental Protection Agency must now test all dispersants, including Corexit, to determine toxicity and long-term impact to the environment. More on this here

A huge thank you to all who were directly or indirectly involved in making the above year possible. We could not be more excited about the results we enjoyed in 2013 and the Surfrider network, larger than ever, which is poised for a great 2014.

If you want to support these efforts please think of joining us, you can do that here. 

Comments Share