The conference was kicked off by a field trip looking at the changing shorelines around Long Beach in Pacific County Washington. Local expert Tom Kollasch explained several local items of interest including the shifting sediment coming from the mouth of the Columbia and how that has spread whether naturally or through human activities around the Pacific County. Sediment changes identified how changes happening in the environment are shaping changes and industry in the area. With so many uses such as, fishing, recreation, and shellfish growing, working in an ever changing setting, the area needs proper planning for all current industries to stay sufficient which is what is happening now in terms of shoreline master plans and marine spatial planning.
The conference was set at the Adrfit Hotel in Long Beach and featured several presentations flowing from the macro state issues of marine reserves in Oregon and marine spatial planning in Washington, to localized chapter programs and campaigns. Many of the chapter presentations were about Surfrider programs and campaigns started elsewhere that the chapter learned about at a conference, applied to their community, and in some ways enhanced it. One example is Blue Water Task Force expanding from the Northwest Straits chapter to the South Sound and then the Olympic Peninsula chapter as a result of education from a conference.
The boss man/CEO of Surfrider Chad Nelsen also attended the conference discussing the current state of Surfrider and where he envisions the organization headed. It was an interesting presentation as activists were able to see on a broad scale items such as current demographics of the organization, current success, shortcomings, and how they fit-in with the overall mission and future goals as Surfrider continues to grow and develop.
There was also ample time for recreation. The Long Beach Peninsula and the town itself features plenty of local activities and also serves as a jumping off point to places like Astoria and northern Oregon. Chapter members hit the beach, caught some waves, rented bikes and cruised the boardwalk, and made it to the local brewery to celebrate new friends. While chapter conferences do provide plenty of new information and ideas for chapters to take back and expand their work, the friendships and strength of a chapter network and knowing you’re part of something bigger always registers as the greatest take away.
For more information or any questions related to chapter conferences please contact Brice or attend your local chapter meeting. The 2016 Cascadia conference will more than likely be in Oregon next year and we will be sure to make our WA presence felt.