[IMAGE 2]SAN CLEMENTE, California: This summer, close to 150 million Americans are expected to visit the nation’s beaches. The question is, what will all those beach-goers find when they make their visit? Will the water be clean? Will the beach be accessible to the public? And in some cases — will there even be sand on the beach?
The answer to these questions can be found in Surfrider Foundation’s 2001 State of the Beach Report, which identifies the good, the bad, and the ugly of how America is managing its coastal resources. This unique report is designed to empower local citizens and governments with information necessary to monitor changes in their beaches.
Surfrider Foundation has approached this report from a unique perspective, that of a recreational user group that spends more time in the ocean than any other. For that reason Surfrider created a report that engages the general public as well as it does politicians and coastal management experts.
This may seem to be a pretty big challenge but judging from reviews of last year’s State of the Beach report, Surfrider Foundation has proven it is more than capable of meeting that challenge. Dr. Orrin Pilkey, Professor of Geology and Director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Duke University said, “What makes Surfrider’s State of the Beach Report so unique is its ability to communicate complex coastal issues in a manner that is easily digestible to the general public.” And Surfer Magazine called the 2000 State of the Beach Report “…the most important surf magazine released in America this year.”
The 2001 State of the Beach Report looks at two things: the information availability and the current status of six beach health indicators for the twenty coastal states where the Surfrider Foundation has chapters. Each indicator is evaluated as to the amount of information available and the status of the indicator. The beach health indicators are beach access, surf zone water quality, shoreline structures, beach erosion, beach nourishment and surfing areas. The report tracks the changes in the public availability of state level coastal information and the status of indicators of beach health since the 2000 State of the Beach Report.
While Surfrider did see a slight improvement in the information available to the public, they did encounter numerous data gaps. Sixty three percent of the time the information from the states was either not available or it was difficult to obtain or understand. Overall, the results of the study reiterate the need for more accessible and easy to understand information so the public can make more informed decisions.
“While we did see some improvement in the States’ ability to provide information on beaches, there is still a dire need for improvement,” said Chad Nelsen, Surfrider’s Environmental Director and the author of the report. “It is imperative for all coastal states to engage their citizenry in the protection of the aesthetic and economic value of their beaches by providing them with understandable information on the state of their beaches. As it stands the vast majority of the states are failing in this regard. Due to this failure, the long-term prospects of a healthy coastal zone are an unknown.”
Surfrider Foundation’s report recommends that the B.E.A.C.H. Bill be implemented quickly and funded fully by Congress to finally ensure that all states have the same water quality testing standards. The report also recommends that States should create a forward-thinking, stringent policy against hardening of the shoreline and improve the public dissemination of coastal erosion information.
Surfrider Foundation’s 2001 State of the Beach Report is available online. Beach.com International donated the web design component of the 2001 State of the Beach Report. Beach.com International is an Internet based beach content company supplying beach-related travel, shopping, & information services via the Web, PDA, and cell phone.
The Surfrider Foundation is a nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans, waves and beaches, for all people, through conservation, activism, research and education (C.A.R.E.). Surfrider Foundation currently has 50 grassroots chapters and 27,000 members in the U.S.