Thursday, June 18, 2009

THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING: This ISD, celebrate and protect your favorite spot with

We can do it one day.This Saturday, as a matter of fact. Better known as International Surfing Day — and even better known as the summer solstice — it’s the date Surfrider, Surfing and their partners set aside to get the whole world to paddle out, make a difference and generally celebrate, display and fully fondle our saline-implanted lives. Well, here’s a way to make sure you can make all that fun count for decades to come: by taking the Surf-First survey before the sun sets.

Granted, with offshore drilling threatening almost every mainland wave at once, we’ve been neglecting some of the more local risks to America’s surf breaks. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there. In North Carolina alone, differing interests are pushing to allow sand-stealing jetties and block access across Hatteras Island, while in Wrightsville, there’s a fresh squabble between fisherman and surfers over Johnny Mercier’s Pier. (In Montauk, that squabble never went away.) Long Island and New Jersey are continuing to battle gas terminals. In Texas, a new law could allow private homeowners to rebuild their houses on your public beach. In Delaware, there’s a sewage outfall in the works. And in California, every single state park is in danger of being shut down including that precious Trestles we thought was saved.

That’s just a smattering of fights from this year. And, besides Trestles, not one has the benefit of concrete data of how these issues affect surfers — and vice versa. That’s why it’s never has been more important for our surfing existence and future generations to describe our individual surfing habits — where we surf, what we spend, how often we travel and where — so we can accurately depict just how important America’s unique surf spots are to our economies and way of life. But there’s a much more pressing reason to do it this Saturday than just ISD: because you don’t have much longer to take part.

“We’ve officially budgeted an intern to crunch numbers this fall,” says Surfrider Environmental Director and Surf-First co-founder Chad Nelsen. “So we need as many surveys filled out as possible this summer. We’ve got a good start — more than 2500 — but in order to make this thing as really solid we’d like to see 10,000 surveys or 400 per state. And we need them by Labor Day. Because no matter what, we’re going get the results live online by next Spring.”

That means by this time next year, the first comprehensive study of U.S. surfers —their favorite local spots and travel destinations, economic status and family traditions — will be ready and put into pure numbers for any surfer to access and use in any battle no matter how big or small. But there’s only one way to make sure your state, your town — your very break — reaps the benefits: by taking 20 minutes and taking the survey. And if we all do it on Saturday, by Sunday we could have all we need to forge a new weapon in our fight for surfers’ rights, making sure there are plenty of festive surf holidays to come. Every single day. And that’s something worth celebrating.

If you’ve already taken the survey, consider yours work done. But why not regift the idea: email your friends to tell them to take part. Remember: nobody’s gonna stand up for your break — but you.

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