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Scrapbook: Activist Surfer Making Waves

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Sierra Club Scrapbook

October 11, 2007

Activist Surfer Making Waves

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Many of you may recall that this April, the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously to turn down a proposed liquified natural gas terminal off the Santa Barbara coast. Sierra Club California Coastal Program Director Mark Massara, above, was instrumental in that victory. Massara, who founded the Surfers' Environmental Alliance and the National Association of Surfing Attorneys, was back in the news in October when the San Francisco Chronicle featured him in a full-page profile in its Sunday magazine. The 47-year-old attorney cited the massive 200,000-gallon Union Oil spill in 1969 off Santa Barbara, where he grew up, as the event that jump-started his environmental activism. "If you think of the beach as your church," he told the Chronicle, "and there's oil and dead birds washing up, you realize how we fail to adequately appreciate the value of these resources until after they're damaged and gone." Below, Massara, standing behind California Assemblyman Pedro Nava, celebrates the Coastal Commission's April vote.

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Among Massara's notable accomplishments is a joint project with inventors Ken and Gabrielle Adelman, who flew the entire California coastline, photographed it, and built a Web site called californiacoastline.org. The Adelmans, pictured below, had previously volunteered the use of their helicopter to the Sierra Club, and after Massara asked them to document a particular stretch of coast to help the Club's campaign against a resort development, the couple decided to document the state's entire coastline in order to help preserve it. After the Web site was launched, Massara says, a notable celebrity "sued us and unwittingly unleashed the kind of publicity that you can only pray for."

Adelmans

Read more about the Sierra Club's Great Coastal Places Campaign.

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