Representatives from all 5 Washington Surfrider Foundation chapters joined forces with over 80 chapter leaders, industry partners, and staff from around the country to focus their advocacy around federal priorities as part of the Ocean Recreation Hill Days in Washington D.C.

Nearly 100 leaders from 32 Surfrider chapters and clubs, as well as rec industry leaders and environmental partners participated in 110 meetings with federal officials.

What happens when the country’s largest network of coastal advocates visits our nation’s capital? The answer: Ocean Recreation Hill Day! Read more via the Surfrider Coastal Blog

Pictured above from left to right: Erin Dilworth (Capitol/Olympia Chapter, Chair), Natalie Lord (Northwest Straits Chapter, Volunteer Coordinator), Johannes Ariens (Seattle Chapter, Chair), Joe Johnson (Olympic Peninsula Chapter, Past Chair), Gus Gates (Washington Policy Manager), Riley Haizlip (South Sound Chapter, Secretary), Ken Campbell (South Sound Chapter, Outreach Coordinator), and Micah Campbell (South Sound Chapter, volunteer).

The Washington chapter leaders had meetings with 7 of the offices and members from the Washington delegation, highlighting the economic value of ocean and coastal recreation, as well as opposition to offshore oil and gas drilling, funding for BEACH Act water quality monitoring, reducing plastic pollution, and strengthening ocean and coastal management.

Ocean and coastal recreation provides significant economic and social benefits to coastal communities and the state—these include direct expenditures, as well as social benefits such as citizen enjoyment. In 2014, Washington residents took an estimated 4.1 million trips to the coast, with nearly 60 percent indicating their primary purpose was recreation. That recreation included a variety of activities including beach going (67%), sightseeing (62%), photography (36%) hiking and biking (33%), surfing/kayaking/boating (7%) and wildlife viewing (40%). When at the coast, the average respondent spent $117.14 per trip, translating to an estimated $481 million dollars in total direct expenditures for coastal communities and the state, through hotel visits, shopping, dining and other trip-related expenditures. Read more from the 2014 Washington Coastal Recreational Use Study

Huge thanks to Ocean Champion, Senator Maria Cantwell for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with us!

For some, this was their first time on Capitol Hill advocating for the protection of our ocean and coastal resources, and the experience was humbling to say the least. While others had been there before and provided encouragement to shake off the early morning nervousness. The balance of the group was a great mix and everyone brought the perspective of their life experiences, as well as stories from various Surfrider chapter programs that helped to reiterate why some of the federal programs are so important to our quality of life in Washington state. At the end of the day, everyone returned home feeling inspired as coastal defenders and energized after participating in our democratic process.

The highlight of the day was when Congressman Dave Reichert graciously sat Micah in his chair and asked him to share his opinion on plans from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to open up the Washington Coast to offshore oil and gas drilling.