Allee: Congress Must Prioritize Protecting California’s Coast

Encouraging people to enjoy our coasts is central to Almond Surfboard’s mission. But we can’t do that unless our leaders do what needs to be done to preserve precious places for people to enjoy. That’s why I’m joining the many business owners and coastal advocates across the U.S. who are calling on Congress to fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

LWCF is one of our nation’s most important conservation tools, born 50 years ago out of a simple yet brilliant idea. Oil companies that extract our natural resources have to pay royalties into the program, and that money goes toward protecting land, water, and recreation areas for all Americans. Not a single dollar of taxpayer funds goes toward the program.

The program has protected and established dozens of coastal areas and amazing surf breaks over the last 50 years, and I was thrilled when our lawmakers reauthorized and secured near-term funding for it. But America’s most amazing surf spots won’t be truly protected until Congress funds it, fully and forever. We’re not yet over the finish line — but our leaders have the ability to take it there.

A bill was recently reintroduced in Congress to provide LWCF with full and permanent funding, and it was championed by local lawmakers who have the Orange County coast front of mind. Our local Reps. Mike Levin and Harley Rouda are key co-sponsors of this legislation; and like us, they love our beaches and understand how essential they are to the experience of living here. They know that LWCF is an invaluable resource when it comes to protecting our California coastline, and they’re working with other leaders in Congress to protect the benefits they afford our quality of life.

If you’re a surfer in Orange County, it’s very likely that your favorite spots are protected by LWCF. The program has funded and supported public access to the unparalleled surf breaks of San Onofre State Beach, as well as to Doheny and Bolsa Chica State Beaches. It’s provided millions over the years to keep Huntington Beach the ultimate “Surf City” — one that captivates the world’s top surfers who come here every year for the biggest competition in the sport. Without LWCF, this wouldn’t be possible – the California coast just wouldn’t be the gold standard in surf destinations without the resources LWCF provides.

And while I could talk about the impact on surfing all day, I’m also not a stranger to the other opportunities LWCF affords our coast and local communities. Whether you go to our beaches to surf, lounge, barbecue or play, all of these activities support an ocean recreation and tourism economy that helps our region thrive. Supporting LWCF is an investment in a critical economic engine — in fact, residents in Rouda and Levin’s Congressional Districts alone (CA-48 & 49) spend an incredible $3.3 billion on outdoor recreation every year.

LWCF has been there to preserve and improve local gems of all kinds, in ways you might’ve taken for granted. It’s the reason folks have a pier to fish off of at Aliso Beach. It’s why Laguna Beach was named one of the cleanest beaches in America — because long stretches of this beautiful coastline are protected by LWCF. It’s the reason you have a place to park your car when you head to Sunset Beach to catch showstopping views of the sun sinking into the Pacific.

These experiences are essential to Orange County living; and the truth is, communities across the country have their own defining local experiences made possible by LWCF. I hope lovers of the California coast will join me in calling for these experiences to be made permanent — for us, and for folks across the U.S. who have their own parks and public lands to cherish.

You can make your voice heard by contacting your Member of Congress and asking them to help drive the LWCF funding bill to the House floor for a vote. The future of our public lands and waters shouldn’t be up for discussion year after year. It’s time to set these protections in stone by fully and permanently funding LWCF.

Dave Allee, Founder/ Owner, Surf Company, Almond Surfboards

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please contact Voice of OC Involvement Editor Theresa Sears at TSears@voiceofoc.org