Activist Spotlight
January 30 2015

Fighting for Florida’s Beaches

Mike Daniel
Journey began in 1996
Chapter: Sebastian Inlet Surfrider Chapter, Florida

Hi my name is Mike and I am Surfrider because… I love Florida's natural beaches, because I have been lucky enough to surf and fish on a couple of special stretches of them here in Brevard County for a long time, and because I want to see them preserved. 

Mike Daniel has been on the front lines in the battle against new offshore drilling in the South Atlantic. In late January, the Obama Administration announced its plans to expand oil and gas projects for much of the Mid- and South Atlantic as well as parts of the Arctic and Gulf of Mexico. Thanks in part to the Surfrider Florida chapter region’s work in helping to get several municipalities to pass resolutions - opposing offshore drilling exploration - Florida was spared through 2022. Read more.

Let’s learn a little more on the other Surfrider projects Mike has worked on.

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

In 1996, myself and a few other people saw the need for a chapter around here, so we started one. In the beginning, I helped out when needed but wasn't super-active. A few years ago it seemed like the time was right for me to take a turn leading, and I became the Chapter Chair.

The why is easy… I love our natural beaches and reefs and want protect them.

Q: What are some local issues that are affecting your ocean, waves and beaches?

Our biggest issue locally is the dredging that affects our reefs and the surf breaks that depend on those reefs. We have 40 miles of the 156 mile long Indian River Lagoon in our chapter's area and we have to be concerned about the crisis situation in that estuary. Coastal development and maintaining beach access always require diligence, too.

Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?

I represented the Surfrider Foundation at the formation conference for the Stronger Safer Florida coalition. The experience was both an honor and a crash course, where I found that my skill set was useful. I had enough background in all these diverse subject matters to contribute something such as getting meaningful insurance reform, which discourages irresponsible coastal development.

Another one of my favorite projects is the ongoing effort to enable purchases of additional beach conservation lands in the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, near Sebastian Inlet. Getting these lands into conservation before they are developed will preserve some beautiful natural beaches, and help ensure the survival of loggerhead and green sea turtle species. This area is by far the most important nesting habitat in the northern hemisphere, perhaps the world.

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

Seeing 4,000 to 5,000 people at the third annual Ocean-Reef-Beach Festival this past December. The event benefits Surfrider and offers educational programs, live music and all-around fun for the whole family. What was once just an idea I had with some friends is now a great event that teaches a lot of people a lot of things about our ocean, reef and beach. Turns out, celebrating the ocean lifestyle is a popular thing.

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

You can make a difference. We need numbers to be a strong organization. Your membership and involvement at any level in our chapter makes us all stronger.