As we reach the end of 2013, I think it’s important to reflect on the impact we’ve had in carrying out our mission, to protect our oceans, waves, and beaches here in San Diego County. It’s been one of the most successful years in our Chapter’s 22 year history, and the impact and influence we’ve had in protecting our coastline has been nothing short of impressive. The victories and accomplishments we’ve experienced in 2013 are a team effort; our two staff members, leaders, core volunteers, activists, members, supporters, partners, and our community at large, are all part of the success equation.
As a nonprofit organization that engages in local, grassroots initiatives, we are largely dependent on the financial contributions of our members and supporters, in order to protect the 70 miles of coastline in San Diego County. We are an assembly of united and dedicated community activists, working together and volunteering our time to protect and enjoy our precious coastal resources, for everyone to enjoy. As such, when making year-end donations, I ask for your continued support of our mission by making a donation to our chapter.
Our chapter is currently engaged in seven programs aimed to protect our oceans, waves and beaches. The heart and soul of our organization are our volunteers and activists actively championing our mission. In 2013, we empowered and trained more volunteers and activists than ever before. A total of 159 volunteers attended our Core Volunteer Orientations, 42 activists attended our Advocacy 101 Trainings, and we had approximately 30 activists attend our Coastal Act Training.
Our Beach Cleanup Program, in partnership with San Diego Coastkeeper, organized 42 public beach cleanups and 20 private cleanups this year. During these cleanups, 6,489 volunteers removed 9,544 lbs of trash including 58,236 cigarette butts, 16,158 pieces of styrofoam and 4,418 plastic bags from San Diego County beaches and surrounding areas.
Our Rise Above Plastics Program hosted four free screenings of the award-winning documentary “Bag It”, co-hosted two screenings of the documentary “Plastic Paradise” and distributed 600 free reusable bags during Rise Above Plastics Day. They were also key in initiating the City of San Diego bag ordinance process, expected to go to full city council for a vote in 2014.
Our Hold On To Your Butt committee installed 23 ashcans throughout the communities of Barrio Logan, Downtown, North Park, Oceanside, Mission Hills and Ocean Beach. This brings the total to approximately 200 ashcans installed throughout San Diego County to keep cigarette butts off our beaches.
In collaboration with our partners, our No Border Sewage Program, organized the 4th Annual Tijuana River Action Month, which drew 2,723 volunteers who collected 51,575 lbs of trash and 185 tires, created 2,800 eco-bricks from re-used solids taken from the river, installed 120 native plants and restored 11 acres of the Tijuana River Watershed.
We kicked of 2013 with the completion of the third and final component of our Ocean Friendly Garden (OFG) Series, which teaches homeowners how to reduce their water use and stop polluted runoff from leaving their landscapes and polluting our ocean. In January, approximately 30 volunteers joined us for our Garden Assistance Party to transform a homeowner’s landscape. OFG also won a number of awards, including an OBie award for being green and the Award Winning Landscaping Feature at San Diego’s Home Garden Show.
Our Know Your H2O Program impacted our ocean water quality in 2013. We played a key roll in a very successful Regional Water Quality Control Board hearing regarding the MS4 (stormwater) permit. Surfider had a great presence at the hearing and more than 25 activists gave public comment. The new MS4 permit, which impacts stormwater runoff, is a major victory as it’s the most aggressive to date, and will significantly impact our ocean water quality for years to come. And not to be overlooked, our organization’s efforts since 2009 in moving the City of San Diego toward Indirect Potable Reuse (IPR) resulted in a unanimous decision by the City Council in 2013 to pursue key next steps which will move towards implementation. Our goal is to reduce the outflow from our Pt Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant to our ocean by almost 60%, and produce a safe, reliable, local water supply much like has been done in Orange County.
We saw great success in our Beach Preservation Program in 2013, where after nearly 15 years of activism, the Solana Beach Land Use Plan (LUP) was finally adopted by the City Council, a huge victory for us years in the making! Click here for more. And not to overlook the protection of our waves, we experienced an enormous victory with the Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE) beach nourishment project for Encinitas and Solana Beach. Our efforts resulted in a reduction the originally proposed sand, reducing the projects impacts on important surfing reef and beach breaks.
Along with the support of Surfrider Headquarters and our partners, approximately 300 activists attended the June Regional Water Quality Control Board meeting to Save Trestles and combat the latest version of the 241-toll-road proposal. The TCA was attempting to build the first 5-mile segment, but after hours of public testimony, the Regional Board denied the proposal.
So why are you a Surfrider? It’s likely that you are a Surfrider because you have some special connection to our oceans, waves and beaches, and want to protect these precious resources. At the San Diego County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, we all have that connection and drive. Thank you to everyone who contributes to our success, for your time, support and dedication. And thank you for your donation to help support us in 2014. Congratulations to all of us for an extremely successful 2013 and I look forward to standing by your side and continuing to protect our oceans, waves and beaches.
For our Oceans, Waves and Beaches,
San Diego County