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Congratulations to our December Volunteer of the Month, Alexis Clarkson of the Suncoast Chapter!
John Kurz, Suncoast Chapter Chair, writes, “Alexis joined the Suncoast Chapter two years ago and her energy and enthusiasm immediately became apparent. When she departed on a world tour last year with a one way ticket to everywhere we weren’t sure if we’d see her again.
Much to our delight and relief she returned and jumped back in with all of her previous enthusiasm intact. In the past two months she has multi-tasked as Volunteer Coordinator and Secretary and stepped up to help the Chapter with whatever was needed. She has repeatedly volunteered her time to organize, sponsor and table countless Suncoast Chapter events. We can’t believe its true, but its rumored she even has a job and sleeps at night. Thank you Alexis and congratulations on your well deserved nomination as Volunteer of the Month!”
Congratulations to Sallie Lopez, our November Volunteer of the Month!
Sallie serves as Secretary of the Cocoa Beach Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. As Secretary, she handles all chapter emails, social media, e-newsletters, meeting minutes, and volunteer requests. She’s also the unofficial photographer and caterer for lots of local SF events!
Sallie has organized tabling in Cocoa Beach once a month for the National Nights Out. She also organizes beach cleanups, solicits donations, recruits new members, and serves as a stakeholder in Cape Canaveral. “Sallie’s leadership and volunteerism are representative of why the Cocoa Beach Chapter is so strong. As Secretary of our Chapter, she is a tireless administrator that always strives to improve our activism, events, and volunteerism.”
Thank you, Sallie, for all that you do to support our healthy beaches!
Regular Joe Surf Contest Wrap-Up!
By: Eric Schwarze, Vice Chairman Sebastian Inlet Chapter.
The Sebastian Inlet Chapter of Surfrider Foundation debuted it’s entry into hosting a surf contest and by all accounts it appears to have been a rewarding experience. The location of the event was the north side of Sebastian Inlet and it’s famous First Peak. The two day event was held on September 20 & 21 and was greeted by a nice swell courtesy of Hurricane Humberto. The format of the competition allowed for plenty of uncrowded time in the water as contestants were judged on a total point basis with no eliminations. Another highlight was the Surfer Stomp party on Friday night that featured the band the Shrednecks who filled the dance floor. The party was hosted by Sebastian Inlet Surf & Sport whose owners are chapter members and went above and beyond in providing valuable assistance to ensure a successful event. The chapter was able to present the Melbourne High School Surf Team with a check for $300.00 to help with travel expenses to California to compete in NSSA Nationals. This year they placed third out of all high schools entered and hope to improve on that result this coming year. Also we raised funds for our chapter to foster the campaigns and initiatives we’re presently working on as well as spreading the Surfrider message to the general public in a fun based contest. Check out the contest website- regularjoesurffestival.com – for more coverage, and planning is already underway to make next years event bigger and better.
Congratulations to our October Volunteer of the month, Robert “Kap” Kaplinger! Kap is a member of the Central Florida Chapter. As an all star volunteer, he single-handedly organized a cleanup of Playalinda Beach that featured an after-party at Cracker Jacks in Titusville. Kap also organized a fundraising raffle and scored the chapter premium event tabling space at Earthday Birthday- even bringing one of the featured bands to hang out at the table to sell raffle tickets and promote beach cleanups. In this role, Kap created all the marketing materials and secured multiple raffle prizes from various vendors including a custom shaped board with the clean up flyer glassed into the deck. Thanks to Kap’s work, the Central Florida Chapter raised over $500! Chapter Chair Tim Orrange commented, “The event’s success was all Kap’s doing, we just provided support. He continues to be one of our most active core members and is constantly coming up with ideas and support.” Thank you for all that you do for the Central Florida Chapter and the Surfrider Foundation!
September Volunteer of the Month!
Congratulations to our September Volunteer of the Month, Steve Vincenti! Steve’s primary role is Dune Restoration Coordinator for the Miami Chapter. As part of their mission to protect our coastlines, Surfrider Miami is playing an active role in restoring a critical and very fragile habitat in South Florida – their coastal dunes. The dunes serve as a buffer against hurricane activity and provide critical habitat for several native plant and animal species. Much of the dune habitat in South Florida has been either altered or decimated by development and an influx of invasive species. In partnership with city officials, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and plant biologists, Surfrider Miami is working to restore their dunes by removing invasive and exotic plant species, and replacing them with native species that are better adapted to the environment and help attract a diversity of wildlife. Together, the Chapter has restored over 7 acres of precious dune habitat! As Dune Restoration Coordinator Steve oversees the coordination, logistics, and organization of all restoration events.
Miami Chapter Chair Scott Stripling noted, “Although we had initially planned to cut back this year to 5 or 6 of our own restoration events, thanks to Steve we have already done at least 7 to date, with 3 more planned for the near future. Steve is also representing us at monthly city meetings and reporting back to the board with valuable insight on current issues. Miami Beach is currently suffering through a modest sewage line break that is circulating through the Miami Beach waterways, and Steve has been the point man on providing daily email updates. As our dedicated dune coordinator, Steve has made our restoration program one of the most successful in our Chapter.” Thank you for your many contributions, Steve!
Save the date for the Florida Chapter Conference November 8-10th in Jacksonville Beach. We’ll have great workshops, discussions, socials and of course, lots of opportunities to connect with fellow activists from across the state. Don’t miss this important opportunity to get the latest and greatest news and training from HQ.
This summer Florida has experienced unusually high numbers of manatee, dolphin, and pelican deaths. In Banana River, over 280 manatees have died in the last year- that’s seven times higher than average. Meanwhile, the St. Lucie is experiencing such substantial Microcystis aeruginosa algae blooms, that much of the St. Lucie Canal and Inlet have to be avoided by humans and pets. Contact with the algae can lead to nausea, vomiting, and rashes. Much of the algae outbreak is attributed to U.S. Army Corps’ nutrient saturated fresh water releases from Lake Okeechobee.
Mark Perry, Executive Director of Florida Oceanographic Society noted, “We are getting over 33,000 pounds of nitrogen a day. We are getting over 9,000 pounds of phosphorous a day and the nitrogen in our system, like fertilizer, creates the algae blooms, so we are now starting to see those green algae blooms.” WPTV, a local news source in Martin County, found that so much dirty fresh water was being released from Lake O, that they had to travel nearly nine miles offshore to find clean saltwater. As toxic algae blooms continue, experts are predicting increases in dead zones and fish kills.
The debacle has citizens in the Treasure Coast up in arms. Last weekend, a crowd of more than 3,000 concerned citizens gathered to voice their support for the St. Lucie River and Estuary. This Sunday, they’ll be back and are expecting many thousands to support their efforts. Join the Treasure Coast Chapter at the Tiger Shores Beach Acces (1337 NE Ocean Blvd , Stuart, FL) at 10am on August 11th, to participate in the rally. Click here for more event details!
Congratulations to our first ever volunteer of the month, Jennifer Bevan! Jennifer serves as Media Chair and Ocean Friendly Gardens Program Chair for the Palm Beach County Chapter. Jennifer is responsible for organizing, planning and coordinating the chapter’s first Ocean Friendly Garden. Groundbreaking and planting will occurred on July 6th at the Palm Beach Zoo. Jennifer’s upbeat attitude and tremendous work ethic make her a essential member of the Palm Beach County Chapter Executive Committee. Chapter Chair Todd Remmel had lots of great things to say about Jennifer,
“Jennifer, our Ocean Friendly Gardens Program Chair, and Media Chair, is quite an asset to our Surfrider Foundation chapter. Her enthusiasm and follow-through with the OFG program has been top notch. She helped identify our first garden location immediately after initiating the program. After several meetings with city officials, emails and site visits the prospects of our first garden fell into a flurry of politics and
unfortunately dissolved. Considering it a learning experience, Jennifer used the momentum to quickly identify our next OFG location. I remember the chapter board meeting clearly when Jennifer, without hesitation, presented a site plan for our new Ocean Friendly Garden at the Palm Beach Zoo complete with photos of plant species,
garden layout, etc. The look on the faces of fellow board members was priceless, nothing but smiles of interest and motivation. Jennifer also helped recruit a program co-chair, D.D. Halpern, a green-thumb whose time has also been valuable and an asset to the chapter. We recently planted our first OFG at the Palm Beach Zoo with an overflowing amount of help from new-found volunteers with green thumbs and their families. With a healthy new OFG Program now underway here in Palm Beach County, our mission and outreach has been increased two-fold thanks to the volunteer efforts of Jennifer. Thanks Jennifer and on behalf of the chapter we wish you a safe and healthy delivery of your baby boy in the coming weeks!”
This May, the Surfrider Foundation in Florida had two major victories- one in public access and another in coastal preservation.
Public Access Victory
In April, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection opened their Beach Management Funding Assistance Program for review and updating. This rule dictates how local governments receive funds for their beach nourishment projects. The proposed changes cut the public access criteria by 50%. Previously, in order to qualify for funding, projects were eligible if they had 100 public parking spaces. The new rule would allow projects to qualify with only 50 public parking spaces. After participating in three public meetings and submitting numerous comment letters, the Department of Environmental Protection has reversed their original changes and returned the original 100 parking space minimum.
Coastal Preservation Victory
This legislative session, we worked as a member of the Stronger Safer Coalition, which advocated for reform of Citizens Insurance and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund (CAT Fund). Reforming Citizens would help reduce subsidies for coastal development in high risk areas, like barrier islands. On May 29th, Governor Rick Scott signed SB 1770 into law. The new law ends state subsided insurance for new construction or substantial improvements seaward of the Coastal Construction Control Line or within the Coastal Barrier Resource System. Governor Scott commented, “This legislation will bring much needed reforms to better protect the taxpayers who support Citizens Property Insurance…. Additionally, this law helps protect the environment by removing subsidies for new construction in environmentally sensitive coastal areas.”
Great work, Florida Chapters!