2016 was a banner year for Surfrider Foundation in Washington! With a number of significant coastal victories achieved throughout the state, and capacity built within our chapters for battles ahead, we are fired up to continue raising the bar as we ring in 2017!! With the new year, it’s a great time to become a member by joining Surfrider or renewing your membership. It’s also a great time to connect with your local Washington Chapters, and get involved in some of their on-going programs, campaigns and volunteer opportunities. Learn more about the issues that we focus on, and please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Washington support staff if you ever have a question or issue you’re concerned about.

Northwest Straits Chapter and Western WA University Club Annual Planning Retreat.

There is no doubt Surfrider is privlaged to have such a great amount of passionate volunteers running local programs and campaigns. 2016 did not disappoint with over 50 beach cleanups, critical campaigns tackled and victories achieved (see more below) and regular programs established, grown, and enhanced to ensure clean water and beach access around Washington waterways. Our chapter leaders, Executive Committee officers, and committed volunteers have been critical in applying Surfrider’s mission to our cause in Washington state to achieve campaign victories and to better their local communities waters and beaches.

There are far to many to list (apologizes if we missed you) but a special shout-out for supreme efforts goes to: Eleanor Hines, Sasha Medlen, Jean Olson, Darryl Wood, Barbie Clabots, Bruce Hoeft, Mike Webb, Johannes Ariens, Alex Duncan, Arnold Shouten, Rose Howe, McKenna Thompson, Ken Campbell, Todd Penke, Tip Wonhoff, Kendall Farley, Skylar McVaugh, Penny Grieller, MacKenna Newmarrch, Katie Wrubel, Peter Steelquist, Joe Johnson, Katrina Lassiter, Kara Cardinal, Sheri Foreman, Erin Dilworth, and many many more. All deserve a thanks next time you see them. Again, thank you all and we are stoked to continue to work with you in 2017. Please view this video of Surfrider volunteers from across the country expressing their gratitude for your work. Below are some highlights of victories achieved, and more information on programs and campaigns that we are working on heading into 2017.

Cherry Point Coal Denied

The country’s largest proposed coal export terminal near Bellingham met it’s end after a long, drawn out fight. The result brought a major victory for Surfrider and all those who made up the coalition opposing it. Surfrider was an active opponent from the start as the information slowly came together on the breadth and threat this proposal posed to the health of local waters and the world class recreation the Bellingham area provides. Read more->

Tacoma Rises Above Plastic

On Tuesday, July 12th, 2016 the Tacoma City Council held a vote and passed a bring your own bag ordinance. After almost four years of work, the South Sound chapter remained dedicated to seeing the policy through. The South Sound chapter would like to thank everyone for their commitment to this campaign, this is now the 15th local municipality in Washington State to take action to reduce the consumption of constant plague of plastic entering our waters. The chapter not only was successful in the end with the passage of the legislation, but also saw its numbers and notoriety in the community grow. With monthly beach cleanups, water quality testing, and new programs ready to take off it’s a perfect time to get involved with the crew in the Tacoma area. Read More->

Olympia Blue Water Task Force Program Established

Capitol Chapter BWTF Leader Sasha Medlen shows how it’s done.

In April, the Capitol-Olympia Chapter commented on the Department of Ecology’s Draft BEACH List and requested that Priest Point Park be added to the list of water-testing sites for 2016. In their comment letter, the chapter volunteered to help collect water samples from the park. The Department of Ecology was receptive to the chapter’s offer to help and met the chapter volunteers in the field to provide training in proper water sampling technique. Because of collaboration, this summer was the first time since 2004 that the Department of Ecology has sampled Priest Point Park as part of the BEACH program. Due to proximity to non-point pollution sources, Priest Point Park beach has a permanent swim advisory, and it is recommended that you rinse off after any contact with the water at this beach. Read More->

Arnold Schouten: Surfrider Coastal Impact Wavemaker Award

Photo: Debbie Schouten

Longtime Olympic Peninsula Chapter leader Arnold Schouten was presented the Surfrider Coastal Impact Wavemaker award for a culmination of his conservation actions and dedication over many years. In addition to playing a lead role with the Olympic Peninsula Chapter, Schouten has been a member of the Clallam County Marine Resources Committee for more than 10 years where he has also played a lead role in establishing a training program for oil spill responses and has been a strong advocate for emergency preparedness. Additionally, he volunteers his time with the North Olympic Land Trust and the Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society.

Read more in the recent issue of The Drop-> TheDrop_Arnold_Schouten_Spotlight.compressed

Beach Cleanups

Olmypic Peninsula Chapter Remote Beach Cleanup

Many Surfrider members get involved with the organization through a local cleanup in their community. Our chapters conducted more than 50 cleanups throughout the Puget Sound from the Bellingham area, to Tacoma, over to Port Angeles and on our stunning outer coast. Cleanups were sometimes local to the area or on the coast as part of the annual Earth Day Cleanup or the International Coastal Cleanup in Coordination as part of Washington CoastSavers. With five chapters and one campus club, our community strived to continue the tradition of beach cleanups, while educating newcomers on the breath of opportunities Surfrider provides for further citizen involvement regarding water quality in their communities.

Surfrider Leadership Academy

The 2017 Washington Coastal Leadership Academy participants

The Surfrider Leadership Academy began on the Washington coast as a few stand alone training sessions focusing on facilitation skills, collaboration, and public meeting requirements. These were primarily geared towards coastal Marine Resources Committee (MRC) members and offered at the annual MRC Summit. They were extremely well received, so Surfrider began exploring what a more formal leadership program might look like. We teamed up with The Nature Conservancy, the Packard Foundation, The Harder Foundation, the Northwest Fund for the Environment and Resource Media to develop a strategy for a program that could be offered to existing and emerging coastal conservation leaders. After researching similar programs and potential partners, we decided that Context Partners had the right expertise and experience to help us design and launch a leadership program. With their support, we designed a program based on input from the coastal community and launched a pilot program in 2015. The pilot was a great success by all accounts and we used the feedback and lessons learned to improve the program and offered the full Surfrider Leadership Academy this year. Read more about the Surfrider Leadership Academy->

Cascadia Conference

We can’t be more excited about what our volunteers did in 2016. A big thank you goes out to all of the chapter leaders in Washington state. The picture above is from the most recent Cascadia Leadership Conference where leaders came together from OR, WA, and BC chapters to share their knowledge, friendships, and strive to reach the goals they set to achieve in 2016 and beyond. It was the most well attended Cascadia conference on record and featured some of the best chapter driven presentations and dialogue we’ve seen. This conference really demonstrated the dynamic skill sets and dedication of our activists providing a bright future for 2017.

Marine Spatial Planning Progress

Progress continues in the development of Washington’s Marine Spatial Plan (MSP) for the outer coast, with expected completion by July 2017. In the next few months a draft plan will be released for public comment and review,  now is a great time to get involved in this important process to help protect special places before they’re threatened by development. A key cornerstone of our involvement of the MSP process was the completion of the Washington Coastal Recreational Use Study, highlighting spatial use and economic contributions of the recreational sector so that these areas can be protected from future adverse impacts of any new uses. Surfrider Members and recreational ocean users are fortunate to have Casey Dennehy (Surfrider WA Coastal Program Manger) representing our stakeholder interests with a seat at the table on WCMAC. Check out this cool little profile on Casey and some of the reason’s why he views this process as being very important.

Standing Up to Oil in Grays Harbor and Vancouver

It’s been a busy year in efforts to oppose the development of massive oil export terminals on the SW Washington Coast and Columbia River. From making our voice heard in Vancouver, our efforts to strengthen the Thin Green Line, and again raising our concerns with the unenlightened proposal in Grays Harbor. Sometimes it feels kinda like we’re playing “Whacka-Mole” with all of these projects, but it’s a fight that we believe in as this has been a long running campaign for Surfrider Chapters in Washington. The potential environmental impacts associated with an oil spill, explosion, or fire would have devastating impacts on the aquatic ecosystem and important recreational areas near the development sites. Read more in The Drop on this Sleeping Giant-> TheDrop_VancouverOil

Shoreline Master Plans on the Washington Coast

Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties have been busy this year updating their outdated Shoreline Master Plans (SMPs). These plans manage shoreline development on the coast, estuaries, lakes and streams. Surfrider has been participating in the update process in both counties for the last couple of years. It can be a long and tedious process but the end result is well worth the effort. Our focus has been to protect the shoreline environment from unenlightened development, maintain and improve recreational access, minimize expansion of high intensity shoreline activities, and ensure that Sea Level Rise planning is included in the permitting process. We have been largely successful realizing these goals and will continue to be involved with the SMP update process until the new plans are fully adopted. Both Grays Harbor and Pacific County are expected to have their plans approved by the Dept. of Ecology and their respective commissioners in the first half of 2017.

Clean Water Classic

2016 Clean Water Classic

While the Clean Water Classic kicked off with some unfavorable conditions, the Saturday night fiesta and following Sunday put this year’s contest in the books as all time. A lively Saturday night social gathering and Sunday’s tasty waves brought the event through the finish line with a weekend many will remember. Building off the 2016 success we are stoked for another year of the longest running surf contest in the PNW in 2017.

Coastal Marine Resources Committee Summit

Surfrider again took the lead in organizing the 7th annual Coastal Marine Resources Committee (MRC) Summit that convenes the 4 coastal MRCs. The event was held in October at The Breakers Hotel and the Cranberry Museum in Long Beach. Click here to see the full agenda and links to the presentations. A training on facilitation skills and meeting tools was led by Kelly Rupp Thursday afternoon and was followed by a social hour in the evening. On Friday, things kicked into high gear with a slew of great topics and presentations. Highlights included updates on the state’s Marine Spatial Planning process, updates from MRC coordinators, and a panel discussion regarding SMP updates from coastal counties. The Surfrider Leadership Academy also presented their group project to attendees and asked them for input on how to make their project more successful. A retired NASA scientist also presented on the dynamics melting ice and how it is contributing to Sea Level Rise. Lastly, a series of presentations touched on various aspects of coastal erosion and the impacts it is having on local communities.