Ocean Minded's Gary Ward Drops In On Sacramento

"We stand for what we stand on." – Edward Abbey

On Monday, June 12th, A coalition of environmental groups, surf industry representatives and concerned citizens traveled to Sacramento to kick off the latest efforts in the campaign to defeat a proposed toll road through San Onofre State Park, and preserve Trestles from destruction.

Representatives from the Surfrider Foundation (Laguna Beach, San Clemente and San Diego Chapters), Sierra Club and WildCoast, along with Ocean Minded President Gary Ward and other concerned citizens gathered in Sacramento to meet with state representatives. Their Mission: request additional protection for San Onofre State Park, the San Mateo Creek watershed and the surf breaks downstream, (including Trestles).

Amid a quiver of surfboards, the group gathered for a press conference on the steps of the Capitol with longtime coastal advocate and tribal elder Mark Massara leading the charge. Massara introduced Assemblyman Pablo Nava (D-Santa Barbara), who had pushed to take away the Transportation Corridor Agency's authority. Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) spoke on the importance of having an effective, foresighted transportation plan that protects public resources, including San Onofre State Park.

At issue is the notion of using California State Parks as dispensable pathways for infrastructure. The TCA and other large development projects look to increasingly limited open space as the easiest locations for their projects. But with a swelling population and ever-increasing demand for recreational land in Southern California, park space is at a premium.

As a representative for the surf industry Gary Ward maintained, "Trestles is an economic engine for the area." Brian Woodward, with the San Diego County Chapter of Surfrider Foundation, reminded the crowd, "This is not just an Orange County issue. Surfers from Santa Barbara to San Diego regularly surf Trestles. This is a regional issue." Ben McCue of WildCoast spoke of environmental justice, pointing out that "[m]any lower-income families use this area because it is the only affordable camping area with waves like this in Southern California."

Orange County officials have approved the project but it must also be cleared by state and federal agencies; entities whose ultimate decisions on the project are unknown. The TCA has lobbyists working around the clock attempting to sway the vote in their favor, but support is growing to stop the toll road due to the Save Trestles campaign.

Members of the Save Trestles campaign met with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005 during a similar trip to build support for fighting the toll road. During that exchange, a surfboard was presented to the Governor, and he shared stories of his surfing experiences with Gerry Lopez. The Governor has also sponsored the annual Governor's Cup surfing competition at Trestles. The 2006 trip resulted in a productive meeting with Ruth Coleman, the Governor's Director of California State Parks.

The coalition vowed to continue its efforts, citing the immediate danger of losing San Onofre State Park. Sierra Club's Brittany McKee spoke for all the organizations when she said, "We'll be back, and we're not going to stop fighting. Toll roads do not belong in our state parks."

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KPBS’s Podcast of “These Days” including a story on the Surfrider Sacramento trip Click here