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03 • 12 • 2021

Surfrider hosts one of the largest ever D.C. Hill Days to protect ocean and coastal recreation!

By Katie Day

Over 160 Surfrider Foundation members and recreation industry leaders participated in a virtual Washington D.C. “fly in” on March 10 – 11th to meet with federal leaders about ways to protect our ocean, waves, and beaches. Participants visited with a record-breaking 163 Senate and House offices in support of ocean climate solutions, stopping offshore drilling, funding clean water programs, and reducing plastic pollution.

Surfrider and recreation industry leaders also met with the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to discuss the impacts of climate change on our nation’s coastal environment and the solutions that must be implemented. This included key actions the Biden administration must take to advance coastal resilience, protect marine habitats, and end offshore oil and gas drilling in U.S. waters.

Surfrider’s South Orange County and San Diego delegation meet with Congressman Scott Peters.

Volunteers from 78 Surfrider chapters and student clubs, as well as pro surfing ambassadors and industry partners, separated into 36 delegations to meet with representatives and senators from 25 coastal states and territories. While it was unfortunate to not be able to walk through the halls of Congress this year, hosting the event virtually allowed for our highest ever amount of participation, especially from chapter volunteers and student clubs, as it made attendance more accessible and affordable. We were also honored to elevate the empowering voice of 20 incredible Surfrider student club leaders, demanding action to protect the planet they will inevitably inherit.

Isabella Jaramillo, founder and president of Surfrider’s Florida State University Student Club, sharing her experience with federal advocacy and the importance of youth engagement and leadership on these issues during Tuesday’s training event.

The event kicked off with our Seas Are Rising Welcome Reception, where nearly 500 supporters and partners registered to hear from ocean champion Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (Oregon's 1st district), surf industry leaders and pro surfers, and Surfrider’s CEO Dr. Chad Nelsen about the importance of grassroots and industry engagement to advance federal action on climate change. If you missed this event, see the recording below!

Surfrider’s 2021 Coastal Recreation Hill Day Welcome Reception from Surfrider Foundation on Vimeo.

The following day Surfrider hosted an in depth Advocacy Training and Federal Priorities Review to dive into key federal legislation and funding goals, provide education and training to our attendees, and build confidence and skills that can be applied to virtual and advocacy meetings across the board. Equipped with months of training and coordination with their Hill Day captains, a thorough Hill Day toolkit and last minute tips and best practices, our delegations were ready to hit the Hill.

Surfrider’s Connecticut delegation about to meet with nearly every single Connecticut federal representative in the House and Senate.

In addition to action on the climate crisis through the use of Ocean Climate Solutions, Surfrider Hill Day attendees asked our federal leaders to protect clean water. Increased funding to EPA programs, including the BEACH Act to support testing and public notification, and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to stop sewage spills at the source, were priority focus areas. Additionally, our chapter volunteers experience firsthand the impact of severe plastic pollution on our coasts. Members spoke with representatives about the importance of co-sponsoring the upcoming Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act to address plastic pollution from the cradle to grave, while putting responsibility back on the producers to capture, reuse and recycle their product’s waste.

Learn more about these federal priorities and why they are essential for the protection of our coasts and ocean, at go.surfrider.org/coastalhillday. You can also take action directly from your house to support these initiatives! See the action alerts option at the bottom of our Hill Day page, or simply click here.

Southern California Manager and Hill Day Captain Bill Hickman, taking action right from the comfort of his home, and his boardshorts.

Surfrider wants to thank all of the amazing speakers, volunteers and industry leaders for making this event such a remarkable success. In particular, we’d like to thank:

  • Mike Jensen, REEF President

  • Paul Naude, Vissla Owner

  • Cathey Curtis, Boardriders Sustainability Chair

  • Sean Smith, SIMA President

  • Liam Barret, Dragon Alliance Sales and Marketing Manager

  • Roberto Serralles, Don Q Rum Vice President, Business Development

  • Marc Berejka, REI Foundation President

  • Rob Machado, professional surfer

  • Dr. Cliff Kapono, professional surfer and Surfrider Board of Directors

  • Leah Dawson, professional surfer

  • Greg Long, professional surfer

  • Otto Flores, professional surfer

  • Surfrider’s incredible network of dedicated volunteers and student club leaders

  • All of Surfrider’s 500,000 members and supporters. Not one yet? Let’s change that!