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Chapter Spotlight: Ventura County

The Surfrider Foundation Ventura County Chapter was founded in 1991. Much of the focus for the chapter’s early years was around the City of Ventura and protecting Surfers’ Point. While Surfers’ Point is still a top priority, the chapter has expanded to have more of a presence in Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Ormond Beach, and along the Rincon Parkway.

Chapter History

In 1992, Surfrider Ventura established one of the first, if not the first, Blue Water Task Force water quality testing programs in the Surfrider chapter network. People were getting sick from surfing and swimming in the ocean at times while there were no warnings or acknowledgment of the issue from public health agencies. Delia Gorey started the water testing program with an incubator in her garage and help from volunteers, who would collect ocean water samples from local beaches.


In 1998 this evolved into a major victory for the chapter. After years of continuous pressure from Surfrider, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors approved funding for the Environmental Health department to take weekly ocean water samples from local beaches and post advisories when bacteria levels are high in accordance with AB 411. In 2017, the Blue Water Task Force program was revived in Ventura and continues now to help supplement water testing from November through March when the County of Ventura scales back their weekly testing.

In the 1990’s Surfrider Ventura was already identifying erosion issues with the Surfers’ Point bike path that was built too close to the ocean in the 1980’s. Surfrider Ventura was successful in working with multiple agencies to convince everyone that the bike path needed to be relocated inland with a nature-based solution instead of armoring the coast, which would make the beach disappear along with other negative impacts. We are forever grateful to Paul Jenkin for leading this project. Phase One was completed in 2011 and construction for Phase Two is expected to begin in September 2024.


In 1999, Paul Jenkin and Surfrider Ventura formed the Matilija Coalition in order to focus energy on the Matilija Dam issue. This is an alliance of community groups, businesses, and individuals committed to the environmental restoration of the Ventura River watershed starting with the removal of Matilija Dam. This alliance includes local, state, and national environmental groups with an interest in rivers, fisheries, and coastal resources. We are cautiously optimistic the Matilija Dam will be ready for removal by 2030, restoring the Ventura River and the natural migration of sand and cobble to Surfers’ Point and beaches down the coast.


Surfrider Ventura has been addressing plastic pollution ever since a 1992 nurdle spill from a freight train along the Rincon Parkway at Seacliff. In 2020, after years of pressure from Surfrider, the Ventura City Council passed the first expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam (aka Styrofoam) ban for restaurants and retailers in the county. Surfrider Ventura’s ‘Plastic Free Ventura’ program has also convinced Oxnard and Port Hueneme city councils to pass plastic reduction ordinances.


Other Coastal Victories for Surfrider Ventura include defeating a massive new development at the Ventura Fairgrounds, updating the regional ag waiver to monitor more farm discharges into waterways, and restoring public access at Fruitstands near the Santa Clara River. There have also been a few victories within the Ocean Friendly Gardens program, including a City of Ventura Green Streets policy, that led to a great partnership with the City of Ventura.

Current Executive Committee Members

Every Surfrider chapter is led by an Executive Committee composed of passionate volunteers helping to protect and enjoy the ocean, waves, and beaches. Current Surfrider Ventura Executive Committee members include Alexandra Wall (Chair), Zach Williams (Secretary), Deby Tygell (Treasurer), Fritz Jacobs (Volunteer Coordinator), Leah Ostermann (Outreach Coordinator), Marie Martin (C Street Cleanups Lead), Brita Appoldt (Newsletter Coordinator), and Dave Turnbull (At-Large)

Past Chapter Chairs

Each Surfrider chapter Executive Committee is a collaborative effort led by a volunteer Chapter Chair. The list of past Chairs for Surfrider Ventura includes Larry Manson, Rex Thomas, Brian Brennan, Bruce MacDonald, Paul Jenkin, John Wingate, Vince Kinsch, Sean Toren, Dan Glaser, Sadie Iverson, Laura Oergel, and Andy Dosev. Brian Brennan later served on the Ventura City Council, as Mayor of Ventura, and continues to be a coastal champion through his tireless involvement in various local agencies.

Current Programs and Campaigns

Beach Cleanups - usually three per month at different locations on Saturday mornings.

Blue Water Task Force - volunteer water quality monitoring program that provides critical info to protect public health at the beach.

Hold On To Your Butt - over 150 Surfrider outdoor ashcans have been installed throughout Ventura County to help collect cigarette butts before they become litter.

Ocean Friendly Restaurants - recognizing restaurants that are committed to making sustainable choices for our ocean.

Plastic Free Ventura County - stopping pollution at its source is the key to protecting our environment.

Respect the Rincon Parkway - dedicated to preserving the 14-mile wildlife corridor, known as Rincon Parkway on Highway 1.

Get Involved because the future of the ocean, waves, and beaches for all people is dependent on people coming together to help protect the coast. Surfrider is you.

Attend one of our events! Chapter meetings are open to the public and are on the second Tuesday of most months. There are usually three beach cleanups per month, and other volunteer opportunities: