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. In coordination with the bi-annual Blue Vision Summit, there was a wave of ocean advocates in D.C. advocating for adequate resources for our oceans and coastlines.
The Blue Vision Summit (BVS) is a gathering of some of the heavy hitters in the ocean policy and environmental fields. Bringing together approximately 300 people from a variety of locations around the country, BVS provides a space to learn from a collection of forums and to network with those you may have always wanted to make that face to face contact with. The Summit was kicked-off by a forum on oceans issues and how to operate and work for our oceans in today’s political climate which included Surfrider CEO Chad Nelsen on the panel. Chad addressed why Surfrider’s model of local citizens rallying for causes and working on water issues in their community makes the organization so powerful and adaptable in the face of political change.
A key component to the conference is the “Hill Day” where conference participants team up by region and meet with their elected officials and staff. In Washington, Surfrider had WA Field Manger Brice Boland, Olympic Peninsula Chapter Secretary Katie Wrubel, Northwest Straits Chapter Chair Eleanor Hines, and the former Chair of the South Sound Chapter Ken Campbell worked together visiting seven different offices of the Washington delegation.
The key subjects that the Washington team discussed were continued funding for the BEACH and Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) which were recently zeroed out in the President’s proposed budget. The team was pleased to learn from the conversations that all seven elected officials were in support of funding the BEACH Act and CZMA and that there was high interest in future legislation that looks to reduce the amount of plastic getting in to our oceans.
Potentially the biggest takeaway from the BVS, and associated visit to the Washington delegation offices, was that any action to protect what we love starts on the ground and with the voice of concerned citizens. If Surfrider, other NGOs, businesses, and individual’s of all walks of life do not speak up for their oceans and coasts and the important role they play in their daily lives, then they risk potential impacts that will threaten the quality of life that the ocean provides for so many. For more information on this trip or to help advocate in support of BEACH Act or CZMA funding please contact WA Field Manager Brice Boland.