The fight for clean beaches heads to the nation’s capital for high-level advocacy.
Clean water. Clean beaches. A healthy ocean. All of that takes work, and day in and day out, the San Clemente-based Surfrider Foundation fights the good fight for coastlines around the country.
And while beach cleanups, water testing and all the other amazing local activations they do make a huge impact, every year for the past seven years, a crew of Surfrider supporters heads to Washington, D.C. to spread their message to the decision makers in the nation’s capital.
Earlier this month, more than 150 Surfrider employees, members, and supporters from 23 states made the trip to Washington, D.C. for three days of high-level, high-stakes advocacy. With the youth leading the charge, 21 students from 14 clubs around the country made the trip.
“This experience showed me how powerful it is to use my voice to advocate for positive change,” said Lauren Londoño, an undergraduate student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. “As a result, I felt like I was heard and that my local representatives cared about what I had to say.”
With the group participating in 138 congressional, federal agency, and White House meetings in just 72 hours, it appears to have been a successful mission.
“There was widespread commitment among the legislators engaged during Hill Day to work for the highest investment ever in the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act, or BEACH Act, that will enable water quality monitoring and public notification of dirty water on more beaches,” Surfrider said in a statement.
“Those same champions also supported maintaining funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund that invests in upgrades to our aging wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and will reduce sewage spills on our coasts,” Surfrider added.
In terms of specific, actionable items, Surfrider continued to push the National Park system to accelerate its phasing out of single-use plastics in the parks. The department currently has 2032 as its target date for the shift.
In a concerted effort to reduce plastic usage, Surfrider representatives also met with the General Services Administration—the agency in charge of the federal government’s purchasing—to pursue more reusable and sustainable materials.
Surfrider sat down with John Armor, director of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as Deputy National Climate Advisor Mary Frances Repko.
“Our meeting with the Biden administration was inspiring, not only because we met with key leaders working on climate change, but also because we came with passion, knowledge, diversity, and determination,” said Stefanie Sekich, Surfrider’s Coasts and Climate Initiative senior manager.
It goes without saying that nothing happens overnight in Washington, D.C., but by showing up with such a large, dedicated, passionate group, and being so well-versed on such a wide array of issues, the Surfrider Foundation continues to be a critical voice in the fight for the coastal environment and protecting the beaches we all enjoy so much.
“In my experience, Surfrider Foundation’s annual Coastal Recreation Hill Day is the most inspiring and effective ocean and coastal recreation advocacy opportunity that I have had the privilege to attend,” said Cathey Curtis, general manager of Roxy. “Each year, I come away with an incredible amount of gratitude for the Surfrider crew and their advocacy work and a renewed commitment of support for the organization.”
Reflecting on the event, Luca Fasulo, founder of Surfrider’s new Corona del Mar High School Student Club in Southern California, said, “I feel empowered and inspired to continue relentlessly advocating for change in my city and county, as well as educating my peers on how we can contribute to creating a sustainable future for our oceans.”
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