Annual Report Evaluates the Health of U.S. Beaches

What state is your beach in? The answer may be alarming to many of the 150 million Americans expected to visit the beach this summer. That’s the news from the Surfrider Foundation, which released its annual State of the Beach Report on May 22, 2003.

This unique report analyzes the status of beach health across the United States based on several indicators — including water quality, coastline erosion and access to beach and surfing areas. The report covers twenty-one coastal states where the Surfrider Foundation has chapters, and is by far the most comprehensive single collection of coastal zone information in the nation.

This year, the Surfrider Foundation’s State of the Beach report is focusing on a growing issue along America’s coastal areas; the loss of public beach access. The report spotlights four U.S. beaches where access is threatened, including Malibu’s Latigo Canyon Beach, New York City’s Rockaway Beach, Texas’ Galveston Beach and Ponte Vedra Beach in Florida.

"Privatization is absolutely the number one threat to beach access," says Chad Nelsen, Surfrider Foundation’s Environmental Director. "In many areas of the country over 75% of the beaches are privately owned and not open to the public."

However beach access is only part of the problem.

"Most people simply take for granted that our beaches are healthy, and unfortunately this is not the case," continues Nelsen. "While our ocean waters make look safe to swim or recreate in, they’re not. And although our waves and beaches may appear to be plentiful, they are constantly at risk of being lost due to the construction of seawalls and other armoring projects, erosion and coastal development. The State of the Beach report is one of the few resources available for people to access and learn about critical issues threatening our oceans, waves and beaches." While the printed version Surfrider Foundation’s 2003 State of the Beach Report functions primarily as an executive summary, the full 500+ page version of the report can be found online at www.surfrider.org/stateofthebeach.

The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains over 37,000 members and 60 chapters across the United States and Puerto Rico, with international affiliates in Australia, Europe, Japan and Brazil.