This year promises to be one of the most important in the Surfrider Foundation’s 32-year history. More than ever, our coasts are under threat from impacts such as pollution, development, energy projects, and climate change. Meanwhile, changes in our nation’s political leadership – including an incoming President who has pledged to roll back environmental protections – present direct challenges to both the health and access of our ocean, waves, and beaches.
– Pete Stauffer, Surfrider Foundation Environmental Director
While concerns about the forthcoming changes in the federal administration (check out Surfrider's "Trump Tracker") have folks rightly worried, California leaders continue to forge ahead with commitments to human and environmental rights. In fact, we're starting out the year on a high note as President Obama has officially expanded the California Coastal National Monument.
Along with ensuring protected areas stay that way, here's where California fits in to our national priorities:
Stop new offshore oil drilling off U.S. coastlines
While we often think of California as "safe" from offshore drilling, new threats loom off the coast of Santa Barbara. Related campaigns include a proposal to transport crude oil through San Luis Obispo.
Defend our nation's environmental laws that protect the coast
Our #SaveOurCoast campaign holds California's Coastal Commission accountable to the state's landmark Coastal Act. We also attend State Lands Commission meetings advocating for issues that come before that agency and work throughout the state with regional bodies to insist on the best coastal governance.
Keep plastic pollution out of the marine environment
The vote to uphold California's bag ban showed how much people care about reducing trash in the ocean and on our beaches. Expect to see more efforts to ban plastic straws, polystyrene and EPS foam as the movement grows.
Help our coasts adapt to the impacts of climate change
Up and down California's coast, beaches are being lost to erosion and the effects of a changing climate. We'll continue to fight against sea walls, rip rap and other artificial constructions that protect private property at the expense of the public's rights. Our San Francisco chapter has two long-standing battles: Save Sharp Park and Restore Sloat – expect to hear more about those in the coming year.
Promote beach access for all people
Ultimately all issues revolve around access, from clean water to making sure the beach continues to exist so everyone can exercise their right to visit it. We saw movement on one of our highest profile cases near the end of last year, when the State Lands Commission voted to consider using eminent domain at Martin's Beach.
Grow the coastal advocacy movement to meet the challenges of a new era
Our 20 California chapters work tirelessly for our coasts – but we'll need to continue building upon that with your programs and partnerships. We're excited to support these investments in the activists of the future!
Finally, in case you missed it, do take a moment to celebrate the successes of 2016 – and to all those who volunteered, wrote letters, made phone calls, showed up at meetings, thank you. We couldn't do it without you. Cheers!