The Surfing Cowboy, Ellis Pickett

Cowboys and surfers have more in common than meets the eye

On this episode of the American Shoreline Podcast, Peter Ravella and Tyler Buckingham meet up with Ellis Pickett, the Founding Chairman of the Surfrider Foundation in Texas and current Chairman of the Texas Upper Coast Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. Catching him between meetings at the Statehouse - Texas is in the midst of its 86th Legislative Session - Ellis joins for a great conversation about the unusually progressive public beach laws in Texas and how the future of the Texas coast is shaping up in the face of climate change, the Coastal Spine project, and more.

Ellis's involvement in beach advocacy was ignited by a set of projects proposed in response to erosion caused by Tropical Storm Francis: an 18-mile breakwater off Galveston and a one-mile breakwater off Surfside Beach.  With no experience as an activist or lobbyist, his interest in stewardship and conservation led him to organize and advocate protecting what he loved. Ellis’s work has evolved and resulted in some of the most important legislative actions protecting beach access and shorelines in Texas.  

Peter Ravella & Tyler Buckingham

Peter and Tyler joined forces in 2015 and from the first meeting began discussing a project that would become Coastal News Today and the American Shoreline Podcast Network. At the time, Peter and Tyler were coastal consultants for Pete’s firm, PAR Consulting, LLC. In that role, they worked with coastal communities in Texas, Florida, and North Carolina, engaged in grant writing, coastal project development, shoreline erosion and land use planning, permitting, and financial planning for communities undertaking big beach restoration projects. Between and among their consulting tasks, they kept talking and kept building the idea of CNT & ASPN. In almost every arena they worked, public engagement played a central role. They spent thousands of hours talking with coastal stakeholders, like business owners, hotel operators, condo managers, watermen, property owners, enviros, surfers, and fishermen. They dived deep into the value, meaning, and responsibility for the American shoreline, segment-by-segment. Common threads emerged, themes were revealed, differences uncovered. There was a big conversation going on along the American shoreline! But, no place to have it. That's where CNT and ASPN were born.