How to have better beaches and better surfing
October 13, 2010
Can surfing and beach restoration projects coexist? Yes, but it takes work by everyone involved in the project to ensure that surfers' concerns are incorporated at the beginning — not when changes can increase costs and lessen benefits.
That's the message in a new report issued by the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association, prepared in coordination with the Surfrider Foundation, Surfers Environmental Alliance, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The document, available online through the ASBPA website at www.asbpa.org, also describes the various phases of a federally funded beach project, as well as the steps it found may work best for surfing interests who want to be heard as part of a restoration project.
For some projects, restoring a wide sandy beach along the shoreline can have an unintended effect on surfing: Reshaping the nearshore topography can destroy historic surf breaks (places where waves will break in a way that create good conditions for surfing).
Similarly, the recreational benefits of surfing are often excluded from consideration during the project's startup phase, only coming to the fore when the project design has moved forward so that any changes may increase costs or decrease stablity of the new shoreline.
The crucial issue is for surfers to understand the various stages and phases of a project, and to get involved very early in the process when their concerns can be reflected in the project design and before any adjustments to maintain or create surf breaks can push up costs unacceptably. This is especially critical in beach projects with federal involvement — a partner whose role that can help with funding and permitting, but which can add years to the overall project process and make common-sense adjustments more difficult to incorporate.
Some of the report's recommendations as to how surfers can beneficially participate in beach projects:
1. Address surfing considerations clearly, and coordinate their inclusion early in the planning process.
2. Keep in touch with both the federal project manager and the projects's local sponsor on a continual and consistent basis.
3. Be proactive during the process, and understand other coastal users' concerns to avoid reactions that could result in conflicts. Also, define the key points that surfers need to make during public input for the project, to ensure your message is clear and consistent.
4. Be prepared for a long process, and conduct yourself in a professional manner.
The full ASBPA report is available online at www.asbpa.org/pdfs/2010-05-17SurfingPartnershipPlanningGuidance.pdf. For more information about beaches, go to www.asbpa.org.