In Oregon, we work on a range of core issues that are related to our mission. These core issues typically include a local or statewide campaign that is focused around a specific targeted outcome by a decision making body. Here is a list of the issues that we have worked on previously, or are working on currently:
Beach Access– Surfrider Foundation promotes the right of low-impact, free and open access to the world’s waves and beaches for all people. Beaches are one of the most popular public resources, check out our policy on Beach Access. In Oregon, we are very fortunate to have had visionary leaders such as Governor Oswald West who declared Oregon’s beaches a public highway in 1913, and Governor Tom McCall who further clarified the State’s ownership of the wet sand up to the vegetation line through the Oregon Beach Bill in 1967. Because of these visionaries, Oregon is considered to have some of the best beach access in the nation. There are often opportunities to enhance and improve access points at important recreation areas such as Agate Beach in Newport, which has been one of the campaigns the Newport Chapter has been working on over the past few years.
Protecting Special Places– Over the past 10 years, Oregon has been working towards establishing a limited system of marine reserves and marine protected areas (MPA’s) within our Territorial Sea (0-3 nautical miles) with the goal of conserving marine habitats and biodiversity, providing a framework for scientific research and effectiveness monitoring, and avoiding adverse social and economic impacts on ocean users and coastal communities. Check out Surfrider Foundation’s position statement on MPA’s. In 2009, the Oregon Legislature passed HB 3013 establishing a marine reserve and MPA at Redfish Rocks, a marine reserve at Otter Rock, as well as establishing a community based process for further evaluating additional areas. In 2012, the Oregon Legislature passed SB 1510 establishing additional marine reserves and MPA’s at Cape Perpetua, Cascade Head, and Cape Falcon. Our work is currently focused on implementation of the newly established reserves and MPA’s at the community level by supporting management plan development, engaging volunteers in citizen science, and building long term support for the sites.
Water Quality– Clean water is important for ocean users as well as the health of the nearshore ecosystem. Our work in this area is primarily focused on protecting water quality in coastal watersheds and in the near-shore marine environment. One of our longest running campaigns in Oregon is aimed at strengthening the permit for the Georgia Pacific Pulp Mill which discharges approximately 11 million gallons of treated effluent offshore of Newport’s Nye Beach on a daily basis. Other campaigns on water quality often arise out of repeated high bacteria readings identified through our Blue Water Task Force Monitoring, one of the active areas is the Cannon Beach Water Quality Protection campaign where Surfrider is working with the City of Cannon Beach on potential solutions to a consistent problem area.
Coastal Preservation– Surfrider Foundation’s efforts on this issue are focused on protecting beaches, which are unique coastal environments with ecological, recreational and economic value. Beaches are a public resource and should be held in the public trust. As human activities and development in coastal areas increase, the need for preservation of beaches becomes ever more apparent. “Hazards” occur when naturally dynamic coastal processes encounter static human development, and when humans interfere with marine and littoral systems. Check out Surfrider Foundation’s policy on beach preservation. A recent campaign was to Save Arcadia State Beach from potential development which would have significantly degraded this important recreational area. Our on-going work on this issue is promoting environmentally friendly alternatives to shoreline hardening, commenting on individual shoreline alteration permits, and working with State Agencies and community leaders on a more comprehensive approach rather than the degrading band aid of shoreline hardening structures.
Marine Debris and Plastics– Oregon takes pride in having clean beaches, we were the first state to initiate statewide beach cleanups way back in the early ’80’s. Unfortunately, regular beach goers have noticed an increase of trash accumulating on our beaches from sources near and far. Following the Japanese Tsunami in 2001, there is increasing interest in keeping our beaches clean. With as much as 80% of marine debris coming from land based sources, it’s important that we take active steps towards reducing the amount of trash flowing out of our watersheds that is directly tied to our consumer habits. Our goal is to reduce the impacts of plastics in the marine environment by raising awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution and by advocating for a reduction of single-use plastics and the recycling of all plastics. In 2011, Portland became the first city in the State of Oregon to pass an ordinance aimed at reducing the amount of single use plastic shopping bags being distributed from stores. Since then, Corvallis and Eugene have both passed plastic bag bans in their communities, and Portland recently passed a Better Bag Ban which further reduced the amount of plastic bags being distributed from all retail outlets. The Newport Chapter and the City of Newport is currently working on a plastic bag ban. Additional work in this area involves our participation on the Oregon Marine Debris Team, as well as serving on the Governor’s Japanese Tsunami Debris Task Force.
Renewable Ocean Energy– Oregon has attracted worldwide attention for the potential to develop renewable energy off it’s wave rich coastline. Oregon Chapters and activists have been very interested and active on this issue since conversations began which led to the creation of our policy on renewable ocean energy. Back in 2007 when there was a “gold rush” by energy development prospectors, little attention was given to concerns expressed by ocean users and coastal communities over impacts to recreation, nearshore ecology, aesthetics, and other existing uses. One area where this occurred was in Florence on a project proposed by Oceanlinx, leading the Siuslaw Chapter to file a motion of intervention to raise concerns with the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC). Since then, our focus has been to take a more comprehensive approach thru our participation in the Territorial Sea Planning process to determine where suitable locations might be found which would minimize impacts to the environment and existing uses. A major contribution for this planning effort was our Non-Consumptive Recreational Ocean Use Study which identified spatial use of various recreational activities along Oregon’s coast and their economic contributions to the State. The recently amended Territorial Sea Plan for renewable energy was completed in early 2013 providing significant protections for important recreational areas, sensitive ecological hot spots, and productive fishing grounds. Our current efforts are now focused on monitoring individual projects for adaptive management as they are developed and assisting our members in participating in on-going stakeholder processes at the local level as projects are proposed.