Volunteering for the Vancouver Island chapter of the Surfrider Foundation for the last five years has been a big part of my life. Receiving a degree in Environmental Studies from UVic and surfing weekly along the south coast of Vancouver Island made getting involved in Surfrider a no brainer. Surfrider provides me and other volunteers the opportunity to participate in campaigns that are focused at keeping Vancouver Island coastal places beautiful.
Surfrider is an international non-profit organization with chapters all around the world, focused at protecting and preserving the world’s oceans, waves and beaches. This goal translates into a variety of different campaigns and actions on the ground. For the Vancouver Island chapter, one of the main things that it focuses on and excel at are beach cleanups.
Surfrider Vancouver Island holds local monthly cleanups at different beaches along the south coast of island, as well as remote cleanup events in Clayoquot Sound. Beach cleanups are fun and successful events for a variety of reasons, but I believe they are most popular because of the fact that, no matter how hard volunteers work, they strongly feel that they are making a difference. The simple act of walking a stretch of shoreline and picking up all the litter and marine debris present leaves volunteers with a strong sense of accomplishment. Combine the work of a handful of volunteers together and there is a noticeable difference in the level of pollution present on the shore.
Many Surfrider beach cleanup events take place in provincial parks, such as French Beach, Flores Island, Vargas Island and Juan De Fuca (Sombrio Beach and China Beach). No matter where a cleanup occurs, volunteers are always happy to get involved. However, there is a special feeling amongst the volunteers when a cleanup happens in a provincial park. Volunteers understand that they are in a park and recognize the larger conservation principles that BC Parks represent.
For Surfrider volunteers, coastal provincial parks are where we go to catch waves and have fun. They are special places that allow us to connect with the natural environment on a regular basis and are integral to our lives. Pollution and marine debris are unfortunately a reality at all the parks we visit. However, having a beach cleanup is a great way of pitching in and helping to clean up the park, making it a better place to be, not just for us, but for all visitors.
Lucas Harris is the chairperson for the Vancouver Island chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.
To find out when the next Surfrider beach cleanup in a Provincial Park is, please visit the Surfrider Vancouver Island website: http://vancouverisland.surfrider.org/