05 • 03 • 2018

Meet Jesse Jones: North Coast BWTF Coordinator in Oregon

By Mara Dias


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

I first learned of Surfrider in 2011, while I was working as the coordinator for Ecola Creek Watershed Council. Surfrider Foundation had introduced a Recommended Action Plan to the City of Cannon Beach to address high levels of enterococcus bacteria from an outfall that spilled onto the beach. In 2015, Surfrider’s communications with different State agencies resulted in a new septic system at Oswald West State Park. I really liked Surfrider’s approach to solving problems and their mission resonated deeply with me. As someone who had worked upstream for so many years restoring salmon habitat, I knew well the critical link between rivers and the ocean. In May of 2015, I started coordinating the North Coast Blue Water Task Force, seeking and training new volunteers to collect water at five beaches and process them in a lab. 

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

Some of our well-loved beaches here on the north coast of Oregon experience high levels of enterococcus bacteria in the summer. Marine debris is a year-round problem with primary and secondary microplastic showing up in the tideline of every beach I collect water from, and in the stomachs of seabirds like a recent Northern Fulmar found near Cannon Beach. Derelict fishing gear (DFG) is a constant source of pollution on our beaches and has dire consequences for wildlife. Due to a massive population increase in the Pacific Northwest in the last decade, our beaches are inundated more than ever and our beach facilities, infrastructure and staff are often at capacity.

Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?

In addition to coordinating the North Coast BWTF, I succeeded in gaining signatures from prominent businesses on the north coast in support of the Oregon Beach Fund in 2017. I’ve represented Surfrider and the BWTF at numerous events and conferences and in 2017 set up a new lab in Seaside High School to process beach water quality samples. This location has enabled us to add new testing locations and engage student weekly in collecting and processing. I provide water quality trainings six times a year to groups, individuals and students and I’m currently working on a Ban the Bag Campaign in Astoria. 

Q: What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience? 

The best part of my Surfrider experience is working with high school students in the Blue Water Task Force program. I love watching them become interested and excited about the water in their communities and what role they can play in getting water quality data to the public by uploading test results to the BWTF website.

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

Surfrider works proactively with states and cities to provide resources and smart solutions to protect our oceans and beaches. Their consistent victories around the nation are truly awesome! 

Q: Why are you a Surfrider coastal defender? 

Knowing that Surfrider’s BWTF is the only organization testing year-round for bacteria at state beaches and popular surfing locations, it’s impossible for me not to be involved.