Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy New Year from Surfrider Washington!

Happy New Year from Surfrider Washington. One of our goals in 2014 is to streamline our communications and to that end we will now be posting all policy-related updates at

This will be the last post on this site. We will move some of the content over to the new site for your reading enjoyment.

Looking forward to a wave-filled 2014, please join us on the new site and consider meeting up with one of our six statewide chapters.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Washington Marine Spatial Planning Video

The Surfrider Foundation is busy working on Washington State's Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) process to represent recreational interests on the Pacific Coast and Puget Sound. Convened by the State of Washington based on recent legislation, Surfrider is a supporter and participant in the process and you can be to!

To kick off MSP in WA, and to get folks from all around the Pacific Coast, Straits of Juan de Fuca, and Puget Sound involved, we have developed a short video that explains what MSP is really all about, why it is important, and how you can get involved. Enjoy.

To learn more and get involved visit:

And more resources about Surfrider Washington can be found here:

Monday, October 7, 2013

To Protect and Surf Washington

Sometimes, change takes a really long time.

Other times, a shift can occur in an instant.

Aloha Washington surfers, recreational users, and coastal residents. My name is Joel Carben and this is my first post as Washington Policy Manager for Surfrider Foundation. I would like to give special thanks to Jody Kennedy for all the amazing work she did for our marine ecosystems during her tenure. We have a great team here at Surfrider WA and some world class natural resources in our backyard.

This blog will normally be a place to post Washington Policy updates but I hope to also weave in some stories from my experiences traveling to coasts around the globe and some geeky updates on science and technology. But for my first post, I would like to share a piece of my past...

Eastern Long Island, New York - Fishing for waves

I recently returned from a trip to Long Island, New York, the place where both my wife and I grew up, her in Sag Harbor and I on the LI Sound in Centerport.

The trip was significant for two reasons. First it was the initial time many of our family and friends, including both our parents, would meet their new 6-month year old grand-daughter. There is something amazing about grandparents meeting their grandchildren that is magical, the uniting of multiple generations through a common thread and family history.

But just as important was the fact that this was our first trip since Hurricane Sandy destroyed many of our friend's homes.

Rockaway Beach, NYC - Post-Sandy boardwalk

Nearly a year ago a massive hurricane surged landward into most of the Mid-Atlantic coast from Washington, D.C., to Maine, bringing waves, flooding (both on the coast and inland), storm surge, heavy rains and wind, and most of all, unparalleled destruction to the entire coast. Wastewater treatment systems dumped raw sewage into the harbor and bays for weeks and electricity did not return to some for 6-8 weeks.

The hardest hit areas of the Rockaways, Long Beach, Staten Island and northern New Jersey, all suffered unbelievable damage. Basic essentials such as water and electricity were nowhere to be found. The entire subway system crossing Jamaica Bay was out of commission.

And then, within a few days, a shift occurred. Residents and relief workers leapt into action, as if pulled by the vacuum left behind by Sandy. Whatever the force, a group led by five surfers, took action to provide relief through the installation of solar panels at community center. Within a week, Power Rockaways Resilience, had one community center fully outfitted with power generating panels. Within two weeks, the group had 4 community centers up and running, charging everything from lanterns to cell phones to work center lights so workers could work in the evening.
Powering Rockaways Reslience - Community center

Within one month, the entire coastal community of Rockaway would have access to these solar powered resiliency centers. Within one month, a community with no power had implemented an entire new system for providing electrical resources during times of emergency (these centers run to this day).

Further up the New York Harbor, a project that was also hit hard by Sandy but was designed to absorb  bigger waves, higher tides, and increase the resilience of the inner harbor, was nearly ten years in the making. Around 2000, Brooklyn Bridge Park, gained momentum to become a Central Park for Brooklyn's Waterfront. Many groups started the long-process of planning, fundraising, and designing this massive project.

Brooklyn Bridge Park - Public access and resilient buffer 
Fast forward to 2013, Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP) is now a reality, is one of my favorite professional experiences to date. For several years we worked out of an three-hundred year old building with nothing but old derelict shipping piers around us. But a dedicated group of community members worked together to create an amazing resource for millions to enjoy. Today BBP is still under construction but the vision is quickly going from long-term planning to short-term programming, including playgrounds, piers with public space, and restored habitat.

Much of the vision for BBP was to support public access. But as we learned in Sandy, building a resilient coast with natural buffers can provide immediate relief during large-storms and higher than normal tides. The overall impact of the park, while a long winding journey, was to accomplish both.

My work over the next year will be to assist Washington surfers, recreational users, and residents to engage in similar, once in a lifetime process, Marine Spatial Planning. Much like the progress made at BBP, this will at times be a lengthy process that requires a long-term investment. But if the cases of Hurricane Sandy and Brooklyn Bridge Park tell us anything, it's that change can be quick (especially if unanticipated), but real long-term positive change takes hard work, dedication, and a really good team (which I know we have here in WA).

Sometimes, change takes a really long time.

Long Island - Enjoying the beach
To Protect and Surf,

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Why is Marine Spatial Planning Important for Surfrider?

All this talk about Marine Spatial Planning can be a bit confusing. The truth is that the entire process of Marine Spatial Planning is really based upon the people, first and foremost.  Understanding how Marine Spatial Planning relates specifically to you and your recreational enjoyment is vital to the process. 

Access to Recreational Areas
With a coastline of over 3,000 miles Washington has a variety of coastal recreation areas.  Despite its apparent abundance, continued development of the coast has limited public access to our coastal areas and beaches. This is one reason to take part in Marine Spatial Planning-to help keep industry out of our important recreational areas.  Various industry activities like oil drilling, coal transport, or energy exploration pose threats to the ecosystems valued for their recreational opportunities.  Decreasing the influx of industry in areas with high recreational value is vital. 

Health of Recreational Areas
Keeping our recreational areas healthy is an important part of our experience outdoors.  After all, we cannot let our children play in polluted water.  Nor would we enjoy taking in a view of water inundated by shredded plastics.  We value the areas that we recreate in, and part of that means taking care of them properly and making sure that their value is properly accounted for in the Marine Spatial Planning process. 

Enjoyment for All
The ocean is one of the largest natural resources, and provides a myriad of benefits for humans and animals alike.  This is why we need to ensure that recreationalists are not priced out of areas and the oceans and beaches can continue to be enjoyed by everyone.  Surfrider was born from an innate love of the water, and part of our mission is to protect that resource for the enjoyment of all.  Just because the coast has high economic value, does not mean that only a subset of the population should enjoy it: the waves are for everyone.

Help with the Marine Spatial Planning process by understanding how it relates to you, and make sure to participate in the public commenting period.  Remember-this process aims to bring multiple stakeholders together to create solutions that work for us all.  So help out the process and make sure that you are heard! For more information or how to make a public comment please contact Casey Dennehy, Pacific Coast Coordinator in Washington at

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

VICTORY! Marine Spatial Planning, Ocean Acidification funded by the Washington State Legislature. WCMAC Established under Governor’s Office

Marine Spatial Planning (MSP)
After a long and trying session, Washington lawmakers approved $3.7 million for coastal and marine spatial planning on Washington's Pacific Coast in their final budget on June 27th.

Marine spatial planning will help protect priority ecological and recreational areas on Washington's coast through a process that brings together stakeholders and managers and captures vital information on ocean uses and resources in order to minimize user conflicts.

Ocean Acidification and the WCMAC
On May 21, 2013, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation to create the Washington Coastal Marine Advisory Council (WCMAC) under the executive office of the governor. This council convenes stakeholders and managers to address issues facing marine waters and shorelines along Washington’s Pacific coast and will be a lead advisor to the State on marine spatial planning. Surfrider Foundation’s Casey Dennehy serves on this body as the representative for ocean and coastal recreational users. The bill also established a new Washington marine resources advisory body to pursue actions on Ocean Acidification in partnership with the University of Washington.

Huge thanks to ocean champions in the legislature and to Washington chapters who campaigned for this critical funding to provide long-term protection of our coast during this legislative session.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Future of Marine Spatial Planning undecided as legislature takes a break

In order for Marine Spatial Planning to move forward for Washington's Pacific Coast, the State Legislature needs to secure several million dollars in the state's budget. Yesterday, April 28th, state law makers allowed the last day of regular session to pass by without agreeing on a final budget. As a result, funding for Marine Spatial Planning is uncertain.

Marine Spatial Planning kicked off on Washington's coast with seed money from the State in 2012. Just last week, stakeholders and managers met in Aberdeen to discuss the goals for this process that would help shape the future of human uses on our coast. Casey Dennehy, Surfrider's Washington Coast Project Coordinator, attended these meetings and spoke in favor of protecting special places for recreation and healthy ecosystems.

The State Legislature will reconvene on May 13th and try to reach a compromise on numerous budget items, including Marine Spatial Planning. Hopefully they will do the right thing for our ocean and coast and continue the great work that has been started to map existing uses and consider how to balance new uses while protecting human enjoyment and a healthy ocean.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Japanese dock to be removed

A Japanese dock will soon be removed from a rugged and remote section of the Washington coast.

Set lose during the Japanese tsunami, the dock washed ashore within the boundaries of the Olympic National Park and the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary last December. According to a NOAA press release, the cost for removing the dock is over $620,000 and will be covered mostly by the government of Japan with some help from the National Park and the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

The dock weighs approximately 185 tons and is 65 feet long, 20 feet wide and 7.5 feet tall. Removing it from the remote section of coast will require first dismantling it on the beach and then hauling away the debris with a helicopter.

Most of the dock is made of a Styrofoam-type material encased in steel-reinforced concrete.

Photo: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife