Kevin Nelson – Environmental Activist

Working to Conserve Nature’s Magic


Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Environmental activist Kevin Nelson supports the causes he’s passionate about, such as keeping the 401-acre Banning Ranch in Newport Beach, California as a protected area for endangered wildlife, including the Burrowing Owl, California Gnatcatcher and Cactus Wren.


This led him to found the non-profit Nature Commission in 2014, an organization focused on “sustainability, local habitat conservation, and wilderness preservation.”


kn-4The commission has been working to protect fragile ecosystems throughout California in Orange County, Riverside, San Diego and San Luis Obispo. Nelson knows these places well.

Many times he slips away from the confines of the city to get close to the natural landscapes he loves… Sometimes he just goes where his feet take him.

Recently he was drawn to the desert and “simply picked remote pieces of land to explore and photograph. To me there is no better pastime. Not even close.”


dsc06630-3abSurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel know that Nelson isn’t one to sit by when there’s a job to be done. Like protecting the habitat of this little burrowing owl.

kn-1Nelson, who grew up in Newport Beach, says, “As a life-long surfer and wanderer of lesser-known corners of the west, I founded the Nature Commission as a way to pay back for the many inspiring moments wilderness has given me.”

He notes that “many of those priceless experiences are due to the wisdom and work of individuals in government and the private sector who acted with immense vision to conserve large swaths of nature’s magic.”


The Nature Commission is “working towards greater preservation of nature for its own sake, as well as the rights of future generations to their fair share of the planet.”

Banning Ranch (a former oil field where migratory birds stop now) and the San Mateo Creek wilderness area bordering Orange and San Diego County are just two of the sites that Nelson is trying to save from bulldozers and developers.



Economists since the 19th Century have talked about the value of land in terms of its financial use and economic productivity. But, what about the natural and esthetic values of land?


Growing up near the ocean in Orange County, Nelson appreciates the region’s raw, undisturbed coastal landscapes. Calling them “magnificent,” he’s worried about the damage “a few more decades of development like the last few will yield.”


In a Los Angeles Times Daily Pilot article Nelson writes, “The relentless pressure for more development has been allowed to rule while other priorities and values are left to struggle.” He knows the Internet can bring people together and is “interested in using this platform to host issues, citizen activism, personal insights, great stories and big ideas” in support of the environment.

Ultimately, Nelson hopes we all become “Nature Commissioners” – people who care about protecting the environment – and help turn the tide against the drive to pave over the world’s wilderness locales.


In 1865, when the West was mostly a vast, uncharted region, New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley wrote these famous words: “Go West, young man, Go west and grow up with the country.”


Now that the West has grown up we need to ensure that some of those open spaces where a man or woman can have room to dream and plants and animals can thrive are protected.

Kevin Nelson is just the one to fight for that!


Thanks to the Nature Commission and other contributors for photos

Surf’n Beach Scene Magazine

SurfWriter Girls

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