As the year is coming to a close it’s a good time to look back at what we have accomplished. 2016 was a great year for the Surfrider Foundation Ventura County Chapter as we celebrated our 25th Anniversary. Throughout the year we continued great programs and campaign such as our beach cleanups and efforts with Surfers’ Point and Matilija Dam. The chapter also started a new campaign aimed at eliminating cigarette butt litter and worked with the County Fair to reduce plastic pollution from their fireworks displays. Here’s a rundown of the top programs and campaigns:

Surfers’ Point is near and dear to the Chapter and all of Ventura. In 2016 the City of Ventura obtained an emergency permit to build a rock revetment on their property near where the public restrooms are located. Surfrider is working to make sure the final permit is obtained properly and that any more work has the least impact to the surf breaks.

An extension of the work at Surfers’ Point is the effort to bring down the Matilija Dam to help increase natural sediment flow that would help renourish the sand and cobble. In 2016 Paul Jenkin, founder of the Matilija Coalition, worked with Patagonia to devise a realistic plan to bring down the dam with a project that could be shovel ready by 2019.

In the summer of 2015 beach cleanup volunteers started noticing hundreds of plastic pieces washing up at our local beaches, mainly Surfers’ Point and down towards Pierpont. After some research it became apparent that the debris was from the County Fair fireworks show. Surfrider volunteers worked with the Fair Board and fireworks company to find a solution. In 2016 there were significantly fewer plastic pieces washing up while we are working for zero plasitc debris in 2017.

In 2016 beach cleanup volunteers also noticed we were collecting thousands of cigarette butts at our Surfers’ Point cleanups despite an outdoor smoking ban in Ventura. Armed with data, and butts from cleanups, volunteers established a Hold On To Your Butt cigarette litter abatement program. In addition to highlighting the issue and hosting cleanups, Surfrider volunteers are working with the City of Ventura to find solutions including outdoor ashcans and increased signage. The first outdoor ashcans were installed in December and are already helping!

Monthly beach cleanups have been the most popular activity for the chapter as we average over 100 volunteers every month. We have hosted cleanups at many local beaches but typically find the most litter at Surfers’ Point so we are now there every month, except for February in Ormond Beach for a special cleanup before the bird nesting season.

For many years Surfrider has been handing out free reusable bags and looking for solutions the plastic bag litter. Ojai passed a local plastic bag ban ban in 2011 while the State legislature and Governor Brown passed a statewide plastic bag ban in 2014 that was put on the ballot in 2016 through the referendum process as Proposition 67. Surfrider Ventura volunteers worked hard to educate the public at events to vote yes on the proposition, handed out hundreds more reusable bags and hosted phone banking events to help pass the first statewide plastic bag ban in the country.

The Ocean Friendly Gardens committee continues to do great things. In 2016, having worked closely with the City of Ventura, Surfrider helped to establish a curb cut permit.  Curb cuts were done at public and residential locations to help reduce urban runoff. The ‘OFG’ committee continued to help promote hands on education by having workdays that showed how to install an OFG with sites at the Ventura Government Center, residential locations and Juanamaria Elementary School. We continue to support, through maintenance and aftercare education, existing OFGs at Loma Vista, Juanamaria and Will Rogers elementary schools. We are currently working with Anacapa Middle School and The Ventura Hillsides Conservancy for possible OFG installations in 2017. We developed the “Lawn Patrol” which will help residents identify and certify their own installations as Ocean Friendly. Look for a garden tour coming up in  Spring 2017!

Thank you to our generous supporters who have helped make this magic happen! What will we accomplish in 2017? To do bigger and better things we need your support. The first step is to make sure that you are a Surfrider member then get involved! Come on out to our chapter meetings and pitch in at an event when you can.