Paddlers want to form Surfrider Foundation Cleveland chapter

The Surfrider Foundation, which began in California in 1984, aims to protect access to lakes and oceans and clean up beaches.

Cleveland surfers, paddlers and kayakers want to form a chapter of the international Surfrider Foundation, which works to keep beaches accessible and water clean.

Bill Cochrane, owner of Nalu Stand-up Paddle & Surf shop in Rocky River, posed a question about a chapter on Facebook last week. The comments were swift. Yes! Yes! Yes! Within hours had more than two dozen volunteers.

“The response was way bigger, way more than I anticipated,” said Cochrane.

Clevelanders tried to form a chapter about six years ago, but it quickly petered out, he said.

“We didn’t have that critical mass,” he said. “The big thing now with all the stand-up paddlers and kayakers getting out on the water and realizing how awesome it is. We’re getting people out there that five or six years ago would not have thought about going out of that water. The more they’re out there, the more they want to take care of it.”

The Surfrider Foundation began in Malibu, California, in 1984 when surfers felt their beloved waves were threatened by over development and pollution. Now the foundation is fighting 90 active campaigns around the world and has 84 chapters, including in Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois. It has helped ban plastic bags in California and thwarted developments planned on ocean shores.

Cochrane said a Cleveland chapter would focus on Lake Erie access, as well as beach clean-up.

Cochrane will work to organize at least 20 members, who will choose an executive board. Then they’ll have an open meeting, collect ideas and choose a focus.

Want to join? Call Nalu at 216-272-1504.

“We have what it takes to put together a chapter and hopefully have a fairly strong voice in some issues,” Cochrane said. “What’s impacting the majority of us that maybe we can work on and try to make a difference.”