Surfers Passionate About Beach Preservation
FORT MYERS, FL - For anyone who enjoys it, surfing is more than a sport, it is an obsession. If you are a surfer, surfing is central to your identity. This makes it easy to understand how surfers can be so passionate about the preservation of America's beaches and their surfing habitats.
Many public policies exist that either threaten or enhance the recreational sport of surfing. "First of all, going surfing requires there is a place to surf," says Bob Battalio, a long-time surfer and coastal engineer based in California. "The surfing experience is very strongly affected by the geography of the shore."
The two primary areas of public policy impacting surfing are water quality and coastal zone management. The primary surfing connection to public policy is the human actions that affect surfing spots across America, especially those actions affecting how the surfing beaches are managed and how such actions affect the water quality at those beaches.
Surfers are concerned about water quality at America's beaches because they don't want to get sick as a result of surfing in dirty, polluted water that can exist near developed areas. "Rainfall runoff and other discharges by people affect the quality of the water and the surfing experience," Battalio said. "There are many regulations in place to protect water quality."
The second component, coastal zone management, can include the construction of any structures on or near the shoreline. "Anything that's constructed within the active shoreline can affect surfing conditions," Battalio explained. "For example, seawalls, harbors with breakwaters, jetties, roads and more can actually affect the way wave energy is dissipated and change the surfing conditions - for better or worse."
Coastal engineers recognize these structures can affect the way wave energy is dissipated, and many are now working more closely with surfers to manage projects in coastal zones in ways that can benefit the surfing experience (or at least not degrade it).
"Another issue we have to contend with as a country is sea level rise," Battalio said. "Right now, in most areas, the whole coastal zone is moving landward. We have major challenges ahead of us in this regard."
"The bottom line when it comes to public policy and surfing? It is important we understand the natural system and get as close to that as we can," he concluded.
For more information about surfing and coastal engineering, please visit www.asbpa.org.
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