This past year was an epic one for Surfrider Foundation Chapters in Washington! From major victories on several of our multi-year campaigns improving protection of our coast for generations to come, to significant advancements in several of the chapter programs, and to adding more wood to the fire to keep the stoke burning bright as we head into 2019. As we head towards the holidays, it’s a great time to reflect, celebrate our accomplishments, and get fired up for the battles ahead…

2018 Coastal Victories in Washington: Surfrider Foundation defines a coastal victory as a decision made in favor of the ocean and coastal environment that results in a positive conservation outcome, improves coastal access, or both. 

Pacific County Shoreline Master Plan

Pacific County recently finished updating their Shoreline Master Plan (SMP) and received the necessary approvals from the Department of Ecology, which is a big achievement culminating a nearly three-year effort. SMP’s are a very important tool that allows for smart and strategic development while protecting critical shoreline resources, providing policies and regulations for permitted activities and uses in streams, lakes and ocean areas under shoreline jurisdiction. Read more about this victory…

Vancouver Oil Terminal Denied, Protecting the Columbia River

After more than four years of environmental review and process, Washington Governor Jay Inslee rejected the largest oil shipping terminal proposed in North America as not in the best interests of the state and its people. The Tesoro Savage project (also known as Vancouver Energy) sought to ship over 131 million barrels of oil per year down the Columbia River. Governor Inslee cited the comprehensive review and recommendation of the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC), which found unavoidable catastrophic risks from earthquakes, oil spills in the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean, and the threat of fire or explosion at the facility. The project would also cause up to five, mile-and-a-half long oil trains to pass through Spokane, the Columbia River Gorge, and the City of Vancouver every day with additional harms to public health and safety and increased climate changing pollution. Read more about this important victory for oil spill prevention…

Washington Passes Legislation to Phase Out Atlantic Salmon Net Pens

On March 22nd, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed HB2957 into law, an act that will effectively ban the practice of open-water Atlantic salmon aquaculture in the state of Washington. The Governor’s signature came on the heels of the bill passing with bi-partisan support in the state legislature. Surfrider chapter leaders spoke with their state legislators, attended town hall meetings, and wrote letters in support of legislation to phase out this practice within our state waters. Read more on this important victory for clean water in Washington…

Washington Marine Spatial Plan Finalized

The Surfrider Foundation applauds the State of Washington and the state ocean caucus for their leadership and dedication to preserving and protecting the marine ecosystem and the various human uses off the Washington coast for future generations. The recently completed marine spatial plan sets out strong policies for protecting fisheries and sensitive resources that are critical to our coastal communities and ocean health. The plan also maximizes Washington’s ability to review and influence decisions in federal waters and sets a foundation for continued engagement and coordination with federal agencies, tribes, and coastal communities. This plan is the result of an inclusive process with numerous stakeholder representatives convened on the Washington Coastal Marine Advisory Council (WCMAC), including recreational representation by the Surfrider Foundation, as well as the incorporation of the best available science. Read more on the importance of this plan in protecting the Washington coast…

Significant Accomplishments: In addition to the coastal victories above, our chapters saw significant advancement in the development of our programs and campaigns to defend our coast from the threat of offshore oil and gas drilling. Below are a few highlights.

Marine Debris Action Plan Finalized

Anyone who visits the beach or plays in the water understands the problem with marine debris. Whether stepping on sharp plastic or glass, to the concerns about marine life entanglement from rope or other material. Surfrider has strived to be a leader in the reduction of Marine Debris by utilizing our chapter network to conduct beach cleanups  and advocate for waste reduction policies aimed at the source, generally human consumption. Surfrider staff and volunteers recently took part in the development of a Washingotn Marine Debris Action Plan (MDAP) in an effort to identify action items with others who share our concern so we can do a better job of getting human-sourced debris off our beaches and out of our oceans. Read more on this plan for healthy beaches in Washington…

Ocean Friendly Restaurant Program Growth

Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Restaurant (OFR) program continues to expand in Washington. The OFR program is made possible by restaurants who are taking the extra steps to do what’s right for the world’s oceans.  They’ve each worked hard to eliminate plastics in their supply chains, conserve energy, and reduce waste. In Washington, almost forty restaurants have registered to be an OFR with four chapters currently running programs. Chapters like the South SoundOlympia, Northwest Straits, and Olympic Peninsula have gone to the source of much of what we find during cleanups and have worked collaboratively with local businesses in their community to reduce plastic waste. Read more about OFR in Washington…

Improving Coastal Resiliency

Coastal resiliency is getting a lot of attention on the Washington coast these days. Last year the Ruckelshaus Center conducted a “Washington Coast Resilience Assessment” and published a report in May. Recently, the Washington Coastal Marine Advisory Council (WCMAC) began reviewing that report and is in the process of considering what recommendations they can take action on. For the past couple of years, researchers with the Pacific Northwest Climate Impacts Research Consortium (CIRC) and the Oregon State University have been using advanced computer modeling to estimate what the shorelines of Grays Harbor County may look like in the future. This project, aptly named “Grays Harbor County Coastal Futures,” used stakeholder input and a large data set to produce maps and other information that project the fate of the coastline. In late October, the four coastal Marine Resources Committees (MRCs) gathered in Ocean Shores for the 2018 MRC Summit. This marked the ninth year of the event and was hosted by the Grays Harbor County MRC. Those who attended the annual gathering learned about the most pressing marine issues on the Washington coast, discussed how the MRCs can be more effective at achieving their missions, shared lessons learned, and developed lasting relationships with their colleagues from different geographies. As is typical of MRC Summits, it began with a Thursday afternoon field trip highlighting a local issue. That issue was coastal erosion.

Defending the Washington Coast From Offshore Drilling

Following the surprise proposal by the Trump Administration in January to open 90% of our nations coastline to offshore oil and gas drilling- including our Washington coastal waters- local and tribal communities, ocean users, state agencies and elected officials have joined a loud and growing chorus in efforts to defend our coast from this un-necessary threat to our coastal quality of life. Surfrider, along with our partners, led public engagement and opposition to submit comments, and speak out against this proposal at the Peoples Hearing in Olympia this past March. Additionally, chapter leaders representing all 5 Washington Chapters took their concerns to Capital Hill to meet with the WA delegation and participate in the Surfrider led Ocean Recreation Hill Day in February. On the enjoyment side, our WA Policy Manager was able to join Attorney General Bob Ferguson and others on a “Save Our Coast” hike along the wilderness section of the Olympic Cost National Park. 

17th Annual Clean Water Classic

In September, the Clean Water Classic surf contest returned for it’s 17th year with wild weather Saturday followed by that wonderful sunshine that lights up the sandy beaches and dunes on the coast.  The contest, held in Westport, Washington, is an annual fundraiser for the Pacific Northwest chapters of the Surfrider Foundation that includes British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. Over the years, the CWC has raised tens of thousands of dollars to support local Surfrider led programs and campaigns. For a visual recap of the event, please read on and be sure to see the contest video for some stunning visuals recapping what was a fun, wet, and wild weekend!

Looking Ahead to 2019…

With several issues teed up to be priorities during the 2019 Washington Legislative session, Washington Surfrider Chapters are excited to help push the marine conservation agenda forward. Several of the issues have been a focus of our local campaigns for many years, and now is a great opportunity to scale up to have a larger impact at protecting our state from the threats of plastic pollution and oil spills. Read more on our upcoming priorities for 2019…

As we wind down a great year, we’d like to take a minute to say thank you to all of the volunteers and chapter leaders who dedicate their time to the protection and enjoyment of Washington’s ocean, waves and beaches!

It’s a great time to join Surfrider, renew your membership, or give a holiday donation. We hope to see you at an upcoming chapter meeting in 2019!