Associate Director, WILDCOAST
Zach Plopper is WILDCOAST's Associate Director and oversees WILDCOAST's international conservation programs and operations. Based in San Diego, he joined the team in 2008 as the organization's Wildlands Conservation Program Manager, helping to conserve hundreds of miles of wilderness coastline on the Baja California Peninsula. Working with local landowners, Mexico’s National Commission for Protected Areas, and international funders, this effort included the creation of the Valle de los Cirios Pacific Coast protected area, one of the largest private protectorates of coastal land in North America. In 2012, Zach became WILDCOAST's Coastal and Marine Director and helped develop the management framework for California's marine protected area network. He worked with state legislatures, tribes, and fishing communities to pass two state bills, AB 298 and AB 2369, that strengthen enforcement across the state’s MPAs. In 2015, his role expanded as the team's Conservation Director to support the growth and management of WILDCOAST's conservation work in the U.S. and Mexico. Zach has consulted with NOAA and USAID to support coastal and marine spatial planning in the Philippines and Ecuador, was co-chair of the San Diego County MPA Collaborative from 2012 to 2019, and serves as one of five global members of World Surfing Reserve’s Executive Committee. In 2014, Zach led efforts to establish the Bahia de Todos Santos World Surfing Reserve in Ensenada, Mexico, the world’s 6th WSR. He was also a board member of the United Athletes of the Pacific Ocean, a non-profit dedicated to promoting cross cultural surfing experiences among youth. Prior to working with WILDCOAST, Zach worked as an ocean lifeguard, teacher, and a professional surfer. Zach was the 2003 National Scholastic Surfing Association's collegiate state champion and surfed at the professional level on the World Surf League's World Qualifying Series. He has written for a variety of news, surf, travel, and lifestyle publications including the San Diego Union-Tribune, Transworld, Slide, and The Surfer's Path. Zach holds a B.A. in Urban Studies and Planning from UC San Diego, and an M.A. in Urban Planning from UCLA.