Surfrider Foundation’s Miami Chapter was formed in 1997 when Wyatt Porter-Brown and Tom Cook (TC) expressed their shock and horror at the trash on South Beach on a surfing blog. They met and thought the best way to get the community to support an anti-beach litter campaign was through the Surfrider Foundation. After the Miami Chapter was formed they conducted beach cleanups, registered South Beach with the State’s Adopt-A-Shore program, consulted with the City of Miami Beach on signage programs and how to combat the litter problem. As a strategic campaign, the Chapter developed a 3 prong attack using Education, Action and Enforcement.
Since then the Chapter has gone in to countless schools to educate students about the harmful effects of beach litter, attended Municipality/County workshops to give firsthand accounts on beach cleaning efforts, prompting channel 7 news to expose lax County cleanup efforts and leading to a greatly improved County clean up and sifting program.
Chapter Volunteers went into action and conducted over a hundred beach cleanups involving thousands of volunteers. One such cleanup recovered so many South Beach, club flyers they could not be counted but were weighed. Then the Chapter mailed pounds to the Miami Herald, City of Miami Beach and back to the Clubs issuing them. The Chapter Chair received phone threats from club owners, a letter of commendation from the Mayor of Miami Beach and the City Commission eventually enacted a City wide, Flyer Ban.
Last but not least, Chapter members kept pressure on the City to enforce Beach Litter Laws by speaking out at Commission Meetings, using web based media to expose the problem worldwide and worked with Commissioner Jerry Libben to convince the City that enforcement could be done in an effective manner without alienating beach goers and being a liability for the City. In 2010 City Code Enforcement Officers issued its first citations to people littering the beach. The effect was immediately noticeable and our community is now looked on as a model by municipalities Nationwide for Beach Ordinance enforcement tactics.
There are too many volunteers, organizations and City and County officials to credit for this success but without the Miami Chapter of Surfrider Foundation it never would have happened.