Jul 30, 2014
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Santa Cruz Becomes World's Fourth Surfing Reserve

Local surfing ambassadors put Santa Cruz on the map for global protection.

Santa Cruz surf culture is so loved by locals that many became teary in yesterday's ceremony, which honored and pledged to protect it—on a global level.

Coastal organizations, local surf lovers and legends, and politicians met above the famous break at Steamers Lane yesterday, for Santa Cruz's WSR dedication, along with dozens of locals, old surf memorabilia and a fleet of "Woodies" glistening in the sun. 

The World Surfing Reserve was founded in 2009, by a group of international surfers, environmentalists and scientists, led by Save the Wave and NSR Aurstralia. Its mission is one of extreme foresight, aiming to protect the world's best breaks at all costs. Afterall, incubating and embracing surf culture aids the coastal regions environmentally as well as economically, a point that Santa Cruz city council member John Leopold made in a speech at Pleasure Point earlier in the day.

Santa Cruz is the fourth World Surfing Reserve on the globe, alongside:  Malibu, U.S.  Ericeira, Portugal; and  Manly Beach, Australia.

Superintendent of  Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Paul Michel, said that the WSR is "fantastic," and a great fit with the National Marine Sanctuary.

"Sanctuaries are about wise use, about protection, about recreation, about so many things, and this is one of the best surfing places in the world, so why not have it recognized as a World Surfing Reserve," Michel said. 

"I think we compliment eachother, really, it's a special place that needs to be managed specially, and to be revered specially too," he said.

Local surf legend Ken "Skindog" Collins was among the handful of "surf ambassadors" who signed a pledge to World Surfing Reserve, and also spoke about the sacred and unique breaks he grew up surfing.

"I've grown up here my whole life, and I've surfed these waves up and down these streets and I didn't realize how special they were until I travelled the whole entire world. There is no other place in the world like Santa Cruz, there truly isn't," said Collins.

Collins said he learned a lot at the ceremony, and was especially impacted by UCSC Professor Gary Grigg's speech which remembered a time when Santa Cruz waves were not such a pristine green:

"The water smelled like sewage. And it's because it was. Surfers at the time called it "Sewer's Peak" and that's where the East Cliff Capitola sewer outfall discharged. It was about two hundred feet off shore and about four feet of water," said Griggs about his days surfing in Pleasure Point as a young man.

There was also a slaughter house dumping waste into the water up the coast which turned the water blood red. (Listen to his speech on the Youtube Video included with the article.)

The city has come a long way since then, largely thanks to organizations like Save Our Shores, the Coastal Commission, and Save the Wave.

"Without a doubt it's positive, and making sure that it's not just pollution, it's about industries, and also coastal development, condos on the coast or what not, it's nice to have somebody make sure that this coast is as nice as possible for our future generations," said Collins. 

Earlier in the day, there was a as part of Santa Cruz's official WSR inception. 

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