Santa Barbara Adventure Company Response to Refugio Oil Spill
The Refugio oil spill this week has already resulted in devastating effects on the beautiful and beloved marine and terrestrial environment of this pristine section of coastline. In addition, there are undoubtedly numerous repercussions yet to be unveiled, including economic impacts to the local tourism industry.
For Michael Cohen, CEO and founder of Santa Barbara Adventure Company, it’s hard to see Refugio State Beach covered in oil.
“My staff and I are deeply saddened by this incident. The Gaviota coast is a pristine marine environment with many threatened and endangered species and the value of clean and protected marine areas like this is immeasurable. We have been leading guided kayaking trips, beach days, and outdoor education programs at Refugio for over 17 years. In 2014, we took 1400 people kayaking, and 1000 of them were school groups on outdoor education programs. Refugio is a magical place”.
Santa Barbara Adventure Company supports our local environmental organizations such as the Environmental Defense Center, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper and the Community Environmental Council in their heroic efforts to monitor, contain, and clean the spill, as well as prevent future oil development along our coastline. We hope that those responsible will put forth efforts to mitigate the consequences of this environmental tragedy.
The economic impacts of this spill on our small business have been immediate and dramatic. With the busy summer season about to start we have cancelled dozens of kayaking tours booked for the next few weeks at Refugio State Beach. While these impacts are direct and measurable we are also seeing indirect economic impacts. We have received many calls from concerned visitors wanting to cancel their trips to Santa Barbara due to the media reports.
We’d like to point out that while this spill has devastated the marine environment around Refugio, the impact is currently limited to a 4 mile stretch of coastline located 23 miles north of Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara hotels and tour operators remain open for business and those with plans to visit Santa Barbara should not cancel their trips as there are many other beautiful unaffected beaches around Santa Barbara to enjoy. We continue to operate daily kayaking tours at the Santa Barbara Harbor and Channel Islands National Park as well as surfing, stand up paddle boarding, hiking, biking and wine tours at various locations around Santa Barbara.