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December 22, 2017

2017 Annual Recap: Solid Victories, Leadership Development, and Campaign & Program Advancement

2017 was a banner year for Surfrider Foundation in Washington thanks to the dedication of our chapter leaders. Together, we achieved 5 coastal victories in Washington that resulted in improved access, water quality, and protection of our coastal quality of living. We also saw great progress in some of our long running campaigns and programs, including the Surfrider Leadership Academy on the Washington Coast. Check out some of the highlights, and get fired up for more action in 2018!

Victory! Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Expansion: The Northwest Straits Chapter in Bellingham wasted no time in kicking off the year right, celebrating the decision from then Washington Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark and the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on the decision to expand the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve to help preserve this special place, it’s ecology and public access for the future. Protect and Enjoy…

Washington Coast Marine Spatial Plan Nearly Finalized: This fall, the Washington Department of Ecology released the draft Marine Spatial Plan for the outer coast after several years of hard work. The draft plan provides information on ocean uses and resources and a framework for evaluating proposed new ocean uses from Cape Flattery to Cape Disappointment. This effort was an inclusive process with numerous stakeholder representatives convened on the Washington Coastal Marine Advisory Council, including recreational representation by Surfrider Washington Coast Program Manager Casey Dennehy, as well as the incorporation of the best available science. Long live the Washington Coast…

Save NOAA Budget & Federal Engagement: Chapter members from the Northwest Straits, Olympic Peninsula, and South Sound chapters took part in a day on the Hill discussing key environmental policies and programs with the Washington congressional delegation. Additionally, over the past year we took a deeper dive and ramped up our engagement in the Federal budget process to stand up for the importance of NOAA programs and their benefit to Washington’s communities and quality of life. The More You NOAA…

Victory! Care for the Cove: Not too long ago “The Cove” (or Half Moon Bay as it’s also called) would break fairly consistently and provided another location in the Westport area. However, in recent years that break has not worked near as well as it did in the past impacting recreation while also losing a critical sediment barrier protecting downtown Westport. The Capitol Chapter and Surfrider staff were succesful in working with the US Army Corps of Engineers in achieving (as required in an original settlement agreement) renewed sand replenishment in the near-shore cell and begining a monitoring program to assess its effects to the beach profile and bathymetry. Do you even Care for the Cove, bro?

Surfrider Leadership Academy: Washington Coast: Intentional leadership development and the establishment of the Washington Surfrider Leadership Academy has been a core program of our work on the outer coast over the past 3 years. The 2017 class recently gathered for their final retreat in Port Angeles. This year’s class demonstrated impressive development of their skills and ability to engage their community in the short period of time they were together, culminating in a really interesting group project that is teaming with potential. Got Pride for the Washington Coast?

Phasing Out Atlantic Salmon Net Pens: The proposed relocation and massive expansion of the Port Angeles facility to Green Point got the attention of our Olympic Peninsula Chapter and they chimed in with their concerns back in July. While that notion seems to be on the back burner, at least for now…there has never been greater awareness of the threats that Atlantic Salmon pose to our Salish Sea, watersheds, and local coastal communities following the fiasco that occurred when hundreds of thousands of non-native salmon escaped after the net pens collapsed off Cypress Island in August. Washington Chapters recently signed on in support of the “Our Sound, Our Salmon” coalition led by the Wild Fish Conservancy to bring our voice as recreational ocean users, and the concerns we have about the impacts to water quality and recreational areas to the conversation. If you haven’t done so already, a really easy way to show your support is to sign the petition today asking Governor Jay Inslee to put an end to this polluting practice in Washington.

The Cooke Aquaculture net pen facility located within the Port Angeles Harbor. Photo credit: Gus Gates, flight provided by LightHawk

Victory! Improved Water Quality at Larabee State Park: There are plenty of stories from Surfrider’s 20-plus year history of running a volunteer water testing program of chapters asking for signs to be posted at the beach to warn the bathing public when new pollution issues are discovered. It’s not so common, however, for a chapter to be able to achieve an end result and be able to successfully report that the local sources of pollution have been identified, fixed, and water quality conditions improved. The Whatcom County Department of Health has removed the permanent swim advisory sign that was posted at Wild Cat Cove Beach in Larrabee State Park after bacteria test results over the last three years have remained low. This would not have been accomplished without the dedication and perseverance of the Northwest Straits Blue Water Task Force volunteers (pictured below) who were unwilling to accept the sign and high bacteria counts as a permanent status quo, but instead acted as a catalyst to bring together local stakeholders, government agencies and members of the public, to work together to find and fix the sources of pollution and restore healthy water quality to this popular campground and beach. Area residents and visitors alike are able to enjoy this beautiful recreation spot without concerns of water bacteria, thanks to over a decade worth of effort by the Northwest Straits Chapter’s Blue Water Task Force program and their state and local partners. Swim On..

Pacific & Grays Harbor County Shoreline Master Plan Updates: Perhaps you’ve heard someone talk about Shoreline Master Plans, or the Shoreline Master Program (SMPs). And you’ve probably thought that shoreline planning sounds like a good idea, but what is it? In Washington State, any county or city that has a shoreline is required by state law to develop a plan to manage those shorelines in order to preserve ecological functions, offer public access, and ensure businesses that require water access aren’t squeezed out. The last couple of years Surfrider has supported and been an active participant in the process to update the SMPs in Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties. Both counties were 20 or more years removed from their last update, so it was long overdue. Learn more about this important work…

16th Annual Clean Water Classic Goes Off!: The 2017 Clean Water Classic delivered. It was a total package of fun ranging from the obvious gorgeous weather, to the setting and live bands Saturday night at Loge Camp, and the obvious festivities at the beach with DJ Joshua James spinning for hours on end. With almost 130 contestants and even more volunteers, spectators, and sponsors at the jetty it was a weekend all seemed to enjoy. Thank you to all of our contestants, volunteers, MC Steve Murray and DJ Joshua James, and sponsors for making this contest one of the best CWCs on record. Special shout-out to 10 Barrel Brewing for being our title sponsor and providing food and beverages Saturday night and to Loge Camps Inn at the Sands for hosting registration and the bash. Last but not least, a well deserved thank you to Jean Olson and Eleanor Hines. Jean committed countless hours over the years running the contest and passed the main organizer baton onto Surfrider Northwest Straits chapter chair Eleanor Hines who ran the show amazingly. Relive the magic via the rad clip from NorthFork Industries…

Victory! Protecting Grays Harbor from Massive Oil Terminals: As a state with 5 refineries within the estuarine waters of the Salish Sea, Washington is continually under threat from a catastrophic oil spill along our coastlines and in our watersheds. With the recent lifting of the ban on export of domestically produced oil, big oil has been licking their chops to develop huge export terminals in Washington given that this is the closest rail distance to deep water ports with the ability to access Asian markets. Grays Harbor had 3 oil export proposals for expansion and development over the past few years. After many years of persistence and advocacy, Surfrider Washington Chapters, along with our partners in the Stand Up To Oil Coalition, finally declared victory in our campaign to prevent crude oil terminals from being developed in Grays Harbor! Get the full story…

Protecting the Columbia River from the largest Oil Terminal in North America: Tesoro Savage proposed to develop the largest oil terminal in North America on the banks of the Columbia River in Vancouver. If allowed to be built, this facility would handle 360,000 barrels of crude oil per day, arriving via 5 fully loaded trains (each train over 1 mile long) per day, and leaving via one large tanker vessel per day down the Columbia and onto the Pacific Ocean. This massive volume of oil puts the ecologically important & recreationally significant corners of SW Washington and NW Oregon in jeopardy. The Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) met recently and made a unanimous decision to recommend denying the project from being built to Governor Jay Inslee who will have 60 days to make the final decision. Protect the Columbia River…

West Coast Chapter Leadership Summit: The Surfrider West Coast Conference was the first in five years to bring chapters together from the seven different western states and provinces where Surfrider operates and featured close to 140 volunteers and staff. All five Washington chapters were represented at the Surfrider West Coast Leadership Conference which took place September 29th to October 1st in Marin County, CA. With a contingent of some of our strongest and most active chapter leaders gaining new knowledge and tools to advance our mission, the Surfrider WA network will be even more adept to tackle ocean and beach issues in our state. Got Leadership?

Advancing Citizen Science and Turning Knowledge to Action on Ocean Acidification: In 2017, the Northwest Straits, South Sound, and Capitol Chapters launched a partnership with the Aquatic Assessment & Monitoring Team (AAMT) at the Washington Department of Natural Resources to serve as Site Guardians for ocean acidification monitoring stations. This collaborative effort is a hands on way for citizen scientists to get actively involved in some of the research happening within their local waters. Washington is at the forefront in taking action on ocean acidification. In the five years since Washington’s Blue Ribbon Panel’s 2012 recommendations, there have been significant scientific advances. The Marine Resources Advisory Council (which includes Surfrider WA Policy Manger Gus Gates and Global Surfrider Board member Senator Kevin Ranker) saw a need to re-evaluate the 2012 strategy, resulting in this 2017 Addendum to the Blue Ribbon Panel’s 2012 report. We understand that increased global carbon emissions are the root cause of ocean acidification. However, the latest research shows that local, land-based pollution and natural processes, such as stormwater and other types of polluted runoff, also play a role in the increasing acidity of our waters. There are local actions and policies that can help species and vulnerable communities adapt and become more resilient in the face of changing ocean conditions. However, our local efforts will only make a difference if we address the root cause of ocean acidification – global carbon emissions. Check out the full report at

Victory! Tacoma Tideflats: As the battle over fossil fuels in WA continued to win and stop proposals, Tacoma organizations and residents came together to form a coalition to protect this community. Instead of playing defense, the group went on the offensive. The Protect Tacoma Tideflats Coalition that represented conservation groups like Citizens for a Healthy Bay, Surfrider, Audubon and others, was joined by union groups, business entities, and interested community members. The threat for new fossil fuel development in Tacoma was apparent due to it’s deepwater port and history. The coalition determined that the best course of action was to get a Tacoma City Council moratorium on fossil fuel developments through interim regulations during a sub-area use plan. This plan generally takes 3-5 years to develop and ideally will include the interim regulations essentially etching them in stone. The South Sound chapter gave public testimony, submitted written comments, and had a recreation-focused letter to the editor published supporting the interim regulations. As the marine recreation side of the coalition, the chapter was adept at bringing paddlers, beach walkers, scuba divers, and other local recreators out to support proactive fossil fuel policy. All of this paid off on November 21st, 2017 when the City Council of Tacoma passed interim regulations preventing any new fossil fuel facilities in the Tacoma Tideflats and thus began the process of the sub-area use plan to ensure even stronger future regulations. A high arching success for a community not too long ago simply viewed as “Grit City” and a message to all who come proposing new and dangerous projects to the area that Tacoma will not let anything slide. Keep Tacoma Feared…

Please Continue to Support Our Work Join or Renew You Membership Today:
Surfrider can tackle any challenge facing our ocean, waves and beaches. That’s because we’re the only grassroots organization ready to stand up and defend our coastlines at a moment’s notice. Your year-end gift today is so important to help lay the groundwork in 2018 to support our activists while we continue to win victory after victory for our coasts, in a time when we need them most. Please consider joining Surfrider as a member or give a membership as a gift to friends and family this holiday season. Thank you and we’re ready to continue to advocate and achieve victories for our oceans, waves, and beaches here in Washington and around the country in 2018.

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