As we prepare to close out 2015 and ring in the new year, I want to brag a little about all the accomplishments of our Florida Surfrider Foundation Chapters:
- The Miami Chapter helped ban EPS foam in Miami Beach (the biggest EPS ban in the state!), helped local schools ditch foam trays, launched a major, all inclusive RAP effort, hosted their first ever event at Art Basel and so much more!
- The Broward County Chapter has come back from a long absence- they have a new EC, are hosting regular chapter meetings, cleanups, and more! 2016 has big things in store for this chapter, so lookout!
- The Palm Beach County Chapter has launched Florida’s only Blue Water Task Force water quality monitoring program! That is of course in addition to holding meetings with legislators, commenting on coastal projects and signing on to a lawsuit against FDEP for armoring on Singer Island.
- The Sebastian Inlet Chapter launched the hugely successful Melbourne Beach Bag Reduction Program and now have other local communities asking to be next! Their annual Ocean Reef Beach Festival reached over 7,000 people! They’ve also bolstered their OFG program and started a new school club, to name just a few of their many accomplishments!
- This year the Cocoa Beach Chapter joined forces with Operation Surf to get soldiers and veterans out on the water. One participant had lost his legs above the knee and endured over 100 surgeries- this was the first time he’d seen the ocean, but at the end of the week, “he was surfing like a pro!” Cocoa Beach also reminds the Florida Chapters to save the date for the Annual Waterman’s Challenge June 3rd-5th!
- The Volusia-Flagler Chapter has been working hard to build a strong activist and member base with fun events like the annual Black Tie & Baggies and Kids Eco-Surf Clinic. The Chapter brought out over fifty participants to Hands Across the Sand to say no to seismic testing and offshore drilling in the Atlantic!
- In 2015, the First Coast Chapter conducted eight beach cleanups, fought seismic testing by pursuing resolutions of support from local governments across their region, and developed a major Ocean Friendly Garden project at Mayport Elementary School. They used their annual Black Tie & Baggies to support outreach and education by the Saltwater Cowgirls to get a new generation of young women into surfing.
- The Emerald Coast Chapter is now the only entity conducting any sort of organized beach monitoring post-Deepwater Horizon. The Chapter created and launched a volunteer training program to help concerned citizens identify and report tarballs, tarmats, oiled debris and more. The Chapter is also working with Surfrider’s legal team on several beach access issues in the Destin area.
- The Suncoast Chapter is getting very close to a plastic straw ban on Treasure Island (stay tuned in early 2016!), partnered with Barefoot Wine & Bubbly to bring over 100+ volunteers to a beach cleanup, launched a major new RAP committee, partnered with local artists to create a plastic awareness public art installation, and so much more!
- This year the Central Florida Chapter launched the No Foam Zone campaign to ban EPS foam in Orlando! Fingers crossed Orlando will pass their ordinance in early 2016- stay tuned! Central Florida also hosted numerous waterway cleanups and outreach events to share the Surfrider Foundation’s mission to protect and enjoy!
Thank you for all that you do, thank you for all of your hard work, and thank you for ensuring that our future generations will get to know and love the oceans, waves and beaches you work to protect. I can’t wait to see what we accomplish in 2016!!
Florida Regional Manager