Greetings Washington Chapter Members! My name is Gus Gates and I recently joined the great Washington staff to fill the Policy Manager position. Some of you may recognize my name, I previously served as the Oregon Policy Manager with Surfrider Foundation over the past 6 years. I’m looking forward to working with all of you on our statewide campaigns, and hearing what issues get you fired up to protect your local stretch of coast! Below is a little bit about me…
Back in the wild college days…
I was born on the Siuslaw River (Central Oregon Coast) near the head of tide and grew up on my families small organic farm on the lower river. I first got my feet wet in watershed restoration efforts with the Forest Service as a junior in high school, inspiring an interest to study fisheries science at Oregon State University. While at OSU, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to study abroad in New Zealand at Lincoln University during my Junior year, spent a term at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, OR as well as a term studying secondary forest growth in the jungles of Costa Rica during my Senior year. After graduating in 2003 with a bachelors in Fisheries and Wildlife Science and a specialty option in ecological restoration, I moved to the Southern Oregon coast to explore the mighty Rogue and Chetco Rivers, as well as taking a position with Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife in marine fisheries. Additional professional positions include stints doing snorkel surveys, shellfish aquaculture, tropical ecology field work, serving as the watershed conservationist with the Siuslaw Soil and Water Conservation District, community organizing on marine reserves, and recently as the Oregon Policy Manager with the Surfrider Foundation.
I first learned of the Surfrider Foundation during my senior year of high school, when they supported a surfer who had been fined for not paying the user fee charged by the US Forest Service to access the Army Corp of Engineers owned Jetty. The case was ultimately dismissed, and the user fee was ruled an illegal toll fee in what was probably the biggest victory for Surfrider in the State of Oregon at the time.
Fast-forward 10 years to 2007 when the Oregon Coast and the community of Florence were facing a gold rush by the emerging wave energy industry to install a nascent technology into Oregon’s near-shore waters. A few of us got together over cold beers on a warm summer evening on my back porch, and discussed the concerns about potential impacts to ecosystem health and an important recreation area. It was then that we decided to plant a seed forming the Siuslaw Chapter of Surfrider Foundation. Simultaneously, with the help of some great activists & staff in Oregon we developed a policy statement on Alternative Energy in the Ocean, helping us chart our course on this new issue. Since then, we’ve engaged on a number of proposed wave energy projects, secured a seat at the table representing recreational ocean users through Oregon’s Territorial Sea Planning process, and established meaningful protections to help ensure continued recreational enjoyment of Oregon’s special places.
In my free time, I enjoy kayak fishing, surfing, snowboarding, mountain biking, diving, hiking, camping, agate hunting, gardening, and volunteering. As someone who catches and consumes the bounty that we are blessed with here in the Pacific Northwest – I am a firm believer that it is our responsibility to be good stewards of these precious natural resources to ensure that future generations can partake in the same or even enhanced opportunities, and continue to enjoy this great quality of life. This is a really exciting time to be joining the existing great Washington staff and chapters, and to help lead our efforts to represent coastal and ocean recreation thru the states Marine Spatial Planning process and protect special places along the Washington Coast. I’m constantly in awe of the beauty of Washington State, and the passion for coastal activism from you as members!
Looking forward to catching up with you soon…