Thursday, July 17, 2014

Meet Arnold Schouten- surfer, conservationist, leader

Arnold. Photo credit: Debbie Schouten

Arnold is a member of the Clallam County Marine Resource Committee (MRC) and Olympic Peninsula Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. He has surfed the Olympic Peninsula since the early 1980’s and frequently uses local beaches for walks, birding, watching sunsets. His intimate knowledge of the Olympic Peninsula combined with his passion for clean waters and a healthy ecosystem has made him a vocal supporter of the Surfrider mission to protect oceans, waves, and beaches for our enjoyment. Additionally, through the Clallam MRC Arnold works to educate and inform the public and officials about eelgrass beds, ocean acidification, and bluff erosion. He has also been involved in oil spill prevention and has responded to three local oil spills.

One of the challenges that Arnold sees facing our coastal communities is the strained relationship that can occur between beach users and coastal property owners. Surfing has become so popular in Washington that "surfers come to the beaches in great numbers on the weekends and during summer vacation which puts more pressure on access points and can frustrate land owners...sometimes surfers can wear out their welcome, party too hard, or leave trash on the beach". These bad habits of some beach goers have led to land owners closing off access to beaches and breaks that were once publicly accessible.

Surfrider members like Arnold are hopeful that through empowerment and education we can change the behavior of all beach goers to be more socially and environmentally responsible. The Olympic Peninsula Chapter has been carrying out the Surfrider mission by taking action at several beach access points. The chapter provides sanicans at a few surf spots where sanitation was an issue and local residents were frustrated because there were no toilets. These sanicans enable the public to leave the beach clean when there is no access to a public restroom. Arnold believes, "As a chapter we do a good job of developing partnerships; we built a shower at the La Push campground with the support of the Quileute Nation and everyone that uses it appreciates it." Though not all surfers are Surfrider members, all still benefit from the public outreach that Surfrider chapters perform. Surf etiquette signs are set to be put in place at Westhaven State Park, one of our most popular breaks, to educate the many beginners who surf there, improve safety in the water, and reduce conflict between water users. These local actions promote responsible beach behavior and have resulted in a variety of partnerships with local and state parks, private land owners, and tribal nations.

Kalaloch Beach, Olympic Peninsula. Photo credit: B. Clabots

"We're fortunate to live in a pretty unique area here"- Arnold Schouten 

We agree, Arnold. Let's protect and conserve what we love. The Olympic Peninsula Chapter, as all Surfrider chapters, welcomes you to join the conversation and help solve our challenges by taking action at your local beach. You can see the Olympic Peninsula Chapter's website here; get involved by attending a monthly meeting or beach cleanup! Surfrider also invites all coastal recreational users to take a survey to provide information for coastal planning efforts- please go to our state website here to learn more and find the survey.

No comments:

Post a Comment