Surfrider, Humboldt history


The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains over 50,000 members and 80 chapters worldwide.

One of Surfrider Foundation’s first and largest victories was a successful Clean Water Act lawsuit filed in 1989 and settled in 1991 against pulp mills in Humboldt County, California that were operated by Simpson Paper Company and Louisiana-Pacific Corporation. These pulp mills used chlorine in the “Kraft” bleaching process to turn brown wood pulp into white paper. In so doing, the mills discharged approximately 40 million gallons per day of untreated wastewater into the near-shore surf zone. This wastewater contained excessive concentrations of Biological Oxygen Demand and suspended solids, had a pH value outside of the permit limits, and contained dioxins and furans, extremely toxic chemicals created by the use of chlorine in the bleaching process. Surfers in the area of the discharge complained of skin rashes and nausea. The mills also produced hazardous, irritating air emissions.

The settlement won by Surfrider Foundation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (at the time, one of the largest penalties levied by the EPA under the Clean Water Act, and the largest in the Western U.S.) required the pulp mills to construct wastewater treatment facilities to eliminate toxic discharges to the ocean and extend their ocean outfall pipes. The mills also agreed to evaluate the elimination of the use of chlorine in the pulp bleaching process through substitution of chlorine dioxide and/or hydrogen peroxide in an Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) or Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) process. The Louisiana-Pacific (now owned by Evergreen Pulp, Inc.*) mill became the first TCF bleached Kraft pulp mill in the U.S. in 1993.

Humboldt Area Foundation Fund

When the pulp mill lawsuit was settled, a major victory for environmentalists and organizations such as The Sierra Club and Surfrider Foundation, a fund was established through the Humboldt Area Foundation in order to finance other projects to ensure that our waters would stay clean and unpolluted. This account, called the Humboldt Bay Recreation Enhancement and Water Quality Fund, has funded many great projects in our community.

Click here to see the chart that shows how much funding was granted to various local organizations and for what purpose. Surfrider is proud to be associated with the progress of many great environmental organizations working on healthy coasts and waters for us all.

Surfrider, the first 10 years

Click here to view/download a pdf file commemorating Surfrider’s first 10 years.


5 Responses

  1. I signed up to help with the 4th of July booth, but haven’t heard when I should be there.

  2. Dear Friend of the California Coast

    For the past 18 years, Mark Massara has represented the Sierra Club on issues before the California Coastal Commission. He is the only public interest conservationist who consistently appears before the Commission, and his contribution to coastal protection is legendary.
    Mark knows the Commissioners, knows how the Commission works, and lets Commissioners know how conservationists want them to vote. He is the “go-to guy” for the media when reporters are looking for the environmental perspective. Mark also tracks the Commissioners’ votes throughout the year and compiles the annual Coastal Commission voting chart. That voting chart was instrumental in convincing the Assembly Speaker and the Senate Pro Tem to make good Commission appointments this year.
    The Sierra Club is facing financial difficulties, and can no longer pay to fund Mark’s work. If we don’t have someone before the Commission on a regular basis, we can be absolutely sure that the quality of decisions from the Commission will deteriorate. While we have an improved commission as a result of some new appointments, we cannot walk away from it. We still need 7 votes and we need to lend support to the commissioners who wish to do the right thing. The California Coast is too important to us to leave to the developers’ lobbyists.
    This is a very difficult time to make this request, but organizations and individuals who care about the California Coast need to fill the gap.
    We can use the tax deductible Western Alliance for Nature (run by Larry Wan) to collect these funds. If we achieve our fundraising goal, we will determine which coastal organization should actually employ Mark and supervise his work. We will include representatives of the groups donating to this effort on the board of whatever organization is chosen.
    Please let me know how much your organization can provide for 2010 in order to keep Mark on the job, representing the environment and the public before this most important Commission. I know it is a lot to ask, but if the major organizations up and down the coast could each contribute $1000, we could make our goal. If you can do more, it would be terrific. If $1000 is too much, please let me know what amount would work for you. If you know of individuals who can help, please contact them.
    I’m pleased to say that the League for Coastal Protection and California Coastwalk have already pledged a total of $3000 for 2010 to help reach our goal. Please make out checks to the Western Alliance for Nature, a 501(C)(3) tax deductible organization, controlled by Larry Wan. Please mail checks to P.O. Box 1041
    Malibu, CA 90265. Please let me know how much you are sending, or if you are asking your group to contribute. If the project is not successful, funds will be returned in full to the donors.

    Thanks for considering this important request.

    Best regards,

    Jerry Meral, Vice Chair
    Environmental Action Committee of West Marin

  3. Fellow Chapter Members;
    For those of you who may not know Mark Massara, former Sierra Club Director of Coastal Programs, he was the first Chief Legal Counsel for Surfrider Foundation.
    Because of Mark’s efforts at Surfrider Foundation, we were successful in winning the largest Clean Water Act Citizen’s Suit ever brought; against a pulp mill plant owned by Louisiana-Pacific Corp. in Humbolt County CA.

    While at the Sierra Club, and as a member of the Environmental Stakeholder Community,
    Mark has appeared before the California Coastal Commission and also at other locations many times. He has always articulated our views in an effective and knowledgeable manner. Specific issues relating to our Huntington/Seal Beach Chapter include; prevention of expansion of the small boat marina in E. Seal Beach, the proposed Poseidon desalination plant at the AES power plant, possible violations of the Public Trust Doctrine by the State Lands Commission, protection of marine life destruction by off-shore Navy Sonar exercises, the proposed PXP oil drilling project in Santa Barbara, the extension of the 301(h) waiver in San Diego, and many other issues.

    Mark is very,very good at what he does best-presenting our case to the Coastal Commission. I would urge you to favorably consider the request from Dr. Meral below
    and make a donation from the chapter to retain Mark’s continued services.

    Thanks for your consideration of this request.
    Don Schulz
    Sr. member, Surfrider Foundation
    Blue Water Task Force

  4. hello. i really enjoyed reading your Surfrider, Humboldt History section , but was disappointed to see that it did not list more about how the actual Humboldt chapter came into existence. I am a US citizen living in the West Indies, the wife of a very well know surfer/lifeguard and we own and operate a surf rental/lesson business. I was hoping to read more on how one would create a chapter. There are a lot of bad things, as far as the ocean, is concerned on my island and I really wish somebody like Surfrider would get involved and do something about this most serious destruction of our sea.

    • Hi Amy. We’re actually working on updating that page, both with the way-back history of how efforts in Humboldt led to the establishment of Surfrider Foundation at the beginning, as well as how our chapter got going again after a sort of hiatus.

      You can, however, find info on international chapters here. You can also find out more about volunteering here. And I suggest contacting the main office through those links to find out how to start your own West Indies chapter. Good luck!

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