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National Coastal Organizations Propose Policies to Address Unprecedented Coastal Threats

Posted on January 12, 2021

Coastal States Organization (CSO) and American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) have issued a call for policies, funding, and science to address the unprecedented challenges facing our nation’s coasts. In an era of rising sea, changing Great Lake levels, increasing storm intensity, coastal erosion and flooding, and lack of available coastal sediment, Congress and the Administration must take major steps to help coastal managers maintain critical resources. CSO and ASBPA call for action to improve sediment management, permitting of coastal projects, funding for project planning, design, and implementation, responsible coastal development, and critical science and research.

Read the full Joint Policy: 

“The proposed beach and inlet management policies build upon a foundation of nearly fifty years of successful state-federal partnerships for sound coastal management under the Coastal Zone Management Act and would ensure the ability of this partnership to adapt and respond to chronic and emerging coastal issues while supporting multiple uses of our coastal resources,” said Bradley Watson, Executive Director of CSO. CSO represents the  nation’s coastal states, territories, and commonwealths on ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resource and policy issues.

“The Biden Administration has committed to following science to address climate change and its impacts. Both scientific data and casual observation are clearly showing our coasts are threatened. With a record setting hurricane season in 2020 and accelerating sea level rise, the time for action is now – coastal adaptation must be a priority of the incoming administration,” added Derek Brockbank, Executive Director of ASBPA. ASBPA represents local coastal governments, coastal industry, and community stakeholders who want to preserve, protect, and enhance the beaches, shores, and coastal systems in the US.

The joint policies set forth key recommendations for how to balance the multiple uses and values of our coastal resources, while ensuring those values are maintained or improved for future generations:

  1. Better sediment management: Beaches and inlets are dynamic features that change based upon the flow of sediment through coastal systems. Properly valuing and managing sediment supports balanced coastal uses, which is essential to the ecosystem health, economic vitality, and resilience of coastal states and communities.
  2. Improved permitting: Beach and inlet management and restoration rely on strong environmental protections to maintain the health and ecological value of these systems. Optimizing the timeliness, efficiency, and effectiveness of regulatory review for projects occurring along beaches and inlets is critical to ensuring the functioning and restoration of multi-use coastlines.
  3. Regular and predictable funding: As beaches and inlets face greater physical changes in the coming century than in all of human history, coastal states and communities need dedicated and predictable funding for projects and effective management, guided by data-driven prioritization that considers future coastal conditions.
  4. Responsible development: Development along the coastlines needs to change. Coastal property and infrastructure are threatened by sea level rise, lake level change, and increasing coastal storm intensity, which also exacerbate on-going challenges of coastal erosion and inundation. Coastal states and communities need policies and procedures to ensure beaches and inlets can migrate and adapt to changing coastlines to support the range of uses in the coastal zone.
  5. Research: Beach and inlet management must be based on the best available science. Ensuring high quality coastal data acquisition, research, modeling, and mapping that is usable by coastal managers is essential for coastal states and communities to make timely and risk-informed decisions.

“Beach and inlet management are critical responsibilities for state coastal zone managers. These policies will ensure that state coastal managers have the tools and resources necessary to respond to emerging coastal hazards and to plan for the future of our nation’s coasts,” said Steve Couture, Administrator of the New Hampshire Coastal Program and Chair of CSO.

“Beaches are the leading tourist destination in the United States, and tourism is one of our nation’s largest industries. Beaches also help protect public and private infrastructure, large and small businesses, and state and local tax bases from coastal storm damage. Beaches and dunes provide coastal habitats for shorebirds, sea turtles and other wildlife. But beach managers need sensible federal policy, together with good science and funding to ensure these many values can be maintained,” said Tony Pratt, retired administrator of shoreline and waterway management for the state of Delaware, and president of ASBPA.

The full set of policy recommendations are available here:

Beach and Inlet Management Policy


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