Joe Surf: 'Eco-Warrior' rides into battle again

James Pribram is at it again.

Laguna Beach's own "Eco-Warrior" soon will embark on another environmental rescue, this time in Bali, Indonesia.

Pribram sent me an email this week that read:

"I will be leaving Oct. 17 for Bali in an effort to help clean up 20 to 30 tons of raw waste that is being dumped in a ravine on the cliff top overlooking Uluwatu," he wrote. "This is happening due to a lack of water, proper bathrooms and sewage system. As you may know, Uluwatu is regarded as one of the best surfing waves in the world. However, many in the surfing world have no idea that this is happening. Sadly, it occurs in a lot of Third World countries that are lacking such resources.

"I will be documenting my trip and taking pictures to better illustrate the severity of this sensitive issue. After all, what good is the beach if we can't enjoy the ocean?"

Uluwatu, on Bali's Bukit Peninsula, started to become a world-renowned surf site in 1971 when Rusty Miller and Steve Cooney paddled out for the making of the film "Morning of the Earth."

Uluwatu has the combination of perfect reef formation, optimum swell direction, and seasonally predictable winds, but the growing threat of pollution has threatened its sustainability as one of the world's best surf spots.

Pribram was asked to team up with Eco Surf Rescue Uluwatu, which was initiated in June with a mission to plan, design, build and manage a waste infrastructure, facilities and associated waste management system to preserve and bring back to health the local ecosystems.

"They reached out to me to help them with their cause," Pribram said. "I'll meet with them and the local politicians and find out what's happening.

"It's my understanding water is scarce. It goes to the highest bidder, so that means it goes to the resorts, and that leaves little water for the town or the town's people. They don't have a good, functional sewer system. They're dumping raw sewage off a cliff into a ravine. It's getting into the water and getting worse and worse."

Pribram continues to show that one person can make a difference.

"One of the things about being involved in environmental issues is it's so important to go there and see if it's serious or not as serious as they're saying," Pribram said of his journeys. "You have to do some investigative reporting to find out if the claims are true before you can actually do something about it."

He will go directly from Bali to Thailand to investigate the growing problem of plastic pollution. Then after a couple days at home, he's off to Cabo to present a slideshow at a benefit to help save the sea turtles.

Why does he do it? What makes James, James? It probably has something to do with a gas leak near his home in Laguna when he was 9.

"There was a Texaco gas station near my parents' house at Pearl Street," he said. "One of the tanks leaked into the ground and under our house. It leaked out from the cliff top to the beach, and the beach was closed the whole summer. The gas fumes were horrible. For a time we even had to leave our home. So I know what's it's like to lose your beach. The beach, the ocean, it's been my playground my entire life."

You can donate the cause in Bali by going to


Join Bolsa Chica cleanup

You don't have to go to Bali to help keep the beaches clean. In case you didn't know, the Huntington Beach/Seal Beach chapter of the Surfrider Foundation puts on a beach cleanup a couple times a month throughout the year. The next one is from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at lifeguard tower 21 at Bolsa Chica and is sponsored by Inbloom Stickers.

Parking at Bolsa Chica is free if you get there before 10 a.m. For more information, go to


SUP event benefits cystic fibrosis research

Not into stand-up paddle boarding yet? Here's your chance to start.

Pipeline to a Cure and the Newport Aquatic Center will present the inaugural Back Bay Stand Up for Cystic Fibrosis this Sunday at the Newport Aquatic Center and Upper Newport Bay.

The event, which runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., will include stand-up paddle clinics, a leisurely paddle through the Back Bay, and numerous races with prizes for top placing men, women, boys and girls.

Tickets are $40 and registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with races and paddle clinics beginning at 9 a.m., including instruction from Mickey Munoz and Dave Kalama.

Sunday's event will serve as a kickoff for the new line of stand-up paddle attire being introduced by NEXT, one the largest swimwear makers in the country. On each of the SUP clothing items will be a hang tag explaining how a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Pipeline to a Cure campaign to find a cure for CF.

For more information or to buy tickets, call Drew Hoyer at (714) 938-1393.

JOE HAAKENSON is an Orange County-based sports writer and editor. He may be reached at

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