Activist Spotlight
April 12 2017

Activist spotlight: Steve Williams, ‘surfing plant biologist’ with the West LA/ Malibu Chapter!

Q: Why and when did you get involved with the Surfrider Foundation?

I grew up in the LA beach area and became concerned about environmental degradation as a teenager. I spent some time in the Bay Area, and when I returned, I was pleased to find that LA had several newer environmental non-profits doing great work. I started surfing more when I moved back here, so Surfrider was a good fit for involvement. 

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

Coastal access & development, ocean desalination plant proposals, shoreline armoring, sea level rise, water pollution, plastics in the ocean, sediment impoundment behind dams, crowds - ha!

Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?

Ocean Friendly Gardens. I always tell people that I HAD to get involved with this program. I worked as a biologist in several National Parks; I was working with native plants and doing habitat restoration. I’m a surfing plant biologist, so there you go. I also monitor steelhead trout populations in local creeks… steelhead love point breaks. 

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

Ocean Friendly Gardens standards (aka, the watershed approach) are now required for turf removal rebates in LA.  It basically requires folks to take the next steps, beyond just climate appropriate and efficient irrigation technology, to build healthy soil and retain rainwater onsite. 

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

It’s really important work, run by some awesome people! Become a member and volunteer!  

Q: Why are you volunteering as a Surfrider coastal defender? 

I care about the health of our oceans and protection and accessibility of surf breaks. I like working with plants in the upper watershed and seeing how it has the ability to improve water quality downstream. I want my two year-old son to be able to still enjoy the ocean as an adult. 

Find out more about Surfrider's Ocean Friendly Gardens program, connect with your nearest Surfrider chapter, or support the protection of the ocean and coasts at