Emerald Coast ChapterWe are the beach people. The surfers, paddle boarders, kayakers, fishermen, swimmers, beach runners, and walkers. We are activists who want to protect the ocean environment, and our access to it! The ocean and beaches are our playground! More Details
The Emerald Coast Chapter is working hard on many proposals for the oil disaster NRDA. One of the proposals includes building the first public skate park in Walton County. The park would provide needed alternative recreation and also serve as a lasting reminder of the importance of protecting our Gulf of Mexico. The project would be funded through multiple sources of matching grants, donations, and compensation from BP. This project also represents a re-birth of a movement initiated years ago by locals wanting a safe place for kids to play. Contact Surfrider if you would like to join (or re-join) the leadership of this effort.
Here is a link to the two page summary of the proposed Surfrider “Gulf Memorial Skate Park”:
Good news today! After nearly 6 months absence, the FL Department of Environmental Protection has resumed testing the water for oil and dispersants. Even better news is that their first rounds of sampling have turned up no significant levels of PAH’s or dispersant compounds. They have significantly improved the scope of the program and are making efforts to make the data more user friendly and accessible. You can see the current data on the DEP web page: :http://www.dep.state.fl.us/labs/cgi-bin/beach_health/index.asp
While Surfrider continues to address impacts of the oil and dispersant still found on our beaches, we are very thankful for this new action by the FL DEP and we are hopeful that it represents the start of a sincere effort to protect the people of Florida.
Pensacola Planning Committee Minutes
March, 9 2011
Amanda shared the minutes of the Emerald Coast Chapter meeting held March 8, 2011 (see the minutes of the EC Chapter for details). She supplied the group with the “Out of Sight Does Not Make it Right” brochures that included the observations and photos of the first round.
Upcoming events include:
Power Up Energy Conference Pensacola Beach April 10
Regional Conference St. Pete April 16 & 17
Turtle Fest Event in Gulfplace April 30
International Surfing Day is June 20th. Ideas for a local event will be considered in the next few months.
We will try to have a member attend the EC Chapter Meeting next month. It has been suggested we might want to explore setting up virtual meetings.
Concerns about communication were reviewed. Those in attendance were reminded to register. https://emeraldcoast.surfrider.org and to link to their Facebook page. Susan will follow up with Ericka on the current email list.
There was a discussion about the formal steps of forming a chapter and executive committee. To ensure that everyone interested is informed and able to contact the group about participation, it was decided to table a more thorough discussion and decision until the next meeting. Packets were distributed that included the description of the various positions.
Susan updated the group on turtle ordinances in the area. Gulf Shores, AL has an ordinance in place. The city of Orange Beach is currently drafting an ordinance to submit based on the Gulf Shores plan. Larry Ellis has been assigned the task of writing the draft and Susan will be following up with him and working with him on this effort.
The next meeting will be on April 12th, at 7:00 PM in the Boardroom at Ozone Pizza in Pensacola, FL.
On March 17, 2011, Mike Sturdivant, Chairperson of the Surfrider Foundation Emerald Coast Chapter presented the following material at the Natural Resource Damage Assessment meeting in Panama City. The NRDA determines the amount of injury to a resource. It then attempts to quantify the costs of restoring the resource or otherwise compensating for the loss. “Human Use” loss is one of many categories addressed. The Federal process takes years and likely will end up in court when BP refuses to comply, but it is the path to perhaps ever see some compensation for our lost beach use. The submitted proposals outlined below are only preliminary. If you have good ideas or really want to see one of these ideas happen, we need your help in creating the finished proposals!
The federal and state co-trustees working to ensure that the American public is fully compensated for damages resulting from the Deepwater BP oil spill continue to take steps toward the creation of a plan to restore resources injured by the spill. We currently are approaching a critical juncture in that process — the start of public restoration scoping meetings.
Pensacola, FL, on March 16: Bayview Community Center, 2001 Lloyd Street. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; formal meeting begins at 7:30 p.m.
Panama City, FL, on March 17: Bay County Government Center, 840 W. 11th Street. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; formal meeting begins at 7:30 p.m.
A newsletter (PDF) has been prepared to provide an outline of the public involvement process.
The public scoping meetings are part of a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) announced in a Federal Register notice on February 17, 2011, as part of the ongoing Natural Resource Damage Assessment. The purpose of the PEIS is to identify restoration types, analyze their potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts, and establish a programmatic framework and procedures that will enable the co-trustees to expedite the selection and implementation of restoration projects. The 90-day scoping comment period, highlighted by the upcoming public meetings, represents the first of several opportunities for citizens to become involved in restoration planning related to the spill.
The co-trustees have provided more details on the current and future opportunities for the public to engage in the restoration process at www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov. In addition to providing comments by mail or in person at scoping meetings, members of the public also can enter comments via this website.
Our national response to this unprecedented disaster will be strengthened immensely by robust public involvement in the restoration planning process. Please take the time to learn more about how you can help shape those plans.
We are literally working day and night to inspect beaches and develop methods to remove oil and dispersant from our beach. We report findings and meet with state and federal officials. While we are making significant contributions to public health and safety, the progress remains excruciatingly slow. Our officials remain reluctant to even publicly address health and safety precautions. The beaches remain far from oil free, but we have learned many things along the way that can help reduce your exposure. Here are a few simple tips:
If you go to the beach, wash any exposed skin as soon as possible. Toxic exposure is dose and time dependent. More contact over longer time causes more damage.
Avoid digging in the sand. There is oil and dispersant on the surface sand, however, more often the concentrated layers are 8-20 inches below the surface.
Infants, children, and people with skin and respiratory problems are all more susceptible to acute exposure. Watch out for their exposure and avoid the beach if they show symptoms.
Do not allow children to play unsupervised (no brainer right!) Children sometimes put sand and other things in their mouths.
Avoid the darker sand areas. The black sand is not always oil, but we are finding that dispersed oil is collecting on top of the dark sand areas. This is especially true if the sand is crusty and raised. Either the oil is being trapped in the rough surface as it blows by or there is some chemical attraction between the two, either way, it’s accumulating on the dark sand so avoid contact.
If the wind is high or waves are breaking, there is increased risk of aerosolization of the oil and dispersant. There is also increased risk of dermal exposure due to disturbance of submerged oil and tarmats. If you have respiratory symptoms or skin irritations, wash off and limit your exposure.
Share what you know with others. Don’t assume that other folks on the beach know what risks they are taking. If you see a child digging through bands of oil, or eating the sand or seaweed, calmly tell the parents that you care and that it may not be healthy. At the very least, recommend washing off as soon as they are done for the day!
Here is a brief video shot last night in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. The South Walton Beaches are still being impacted by oil.
Nearly a year into the disaster and our beaches have not even been mapped for tarmat removal. Crews are poorly equipped and only allowed to surface clean or break up the oil. No health notices are posted and no official from the state or county health department has even been present at any public meeting regarding the disaster. This is not acceptable.
Contact any public official and tell then you want the tarmats removed. Tell them you want the oil removed. Tell them you want a health official to advise people as to how to reduce their exposure.
We surveyed the beach again last night and found that many of the raised areas (of the darker sand minerals) were also accumulating dispersed oil. Knowing this could help people to avoid contact and also aid in remediation efforts. We continue to learn as we go and share our findings with the Unified Command in hopes that they will remove the contamination rather than simply cover it up or leave it.
Join us at the South Walton library conference room Tuesday at 6pm for our monthly chapter meeting. We will be discussing our budget, 2011 events and campaigns, as well as ongoing oil disaster efforts. We have so many opportunities for folks to help out, from social event planning to helping with the research. There’s something for everyone! Please join us!
You may have seen our recent video on the new oil detecting technology Surfrider is helping to develop. Real time identification of dispersed oil is big news! We no longer have to wait weeks to know what we are looking at on the beach.
The attached videos take it to the next level and demonstrate how this new technology can be used to make both detection and removal more efficient and more environmentally sensitive. Have a look: