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The Effectiveness of Coastal Zone Management in the United States

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The Coastal Zone Management Effectiveness Study was undertaken between 1995 and 1997 to determine how well state coastal management programs in the United States were implementing five of the core objectives of the U.S. Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA). The five core objectives studied were: (1) protection of estuaries and coastal wetlands; (2) protection of beaches, dunes, bluffs and rocky shores; (3) provision of public access to the shore; (4) revitalization of urban waterfronts; and (5) accommodation of seaport development (as an illustration of the policy to give priority to coastal-dependent uses). Separate articles in this issue of Coastal Management report the findings of the five studies, each dealing with one of the core objectives. Each of the articles assesses issue importance, processes and tools used, and the limited outcome data available for that objective. This article provides an overview of the purposes of the study, the methodology used, the summary findings of each study, and overall conclusions and recommendations of the study team. State coastal programs are found to be effective in addressing the five CZMA objectives examined, but this conclusion is based on very limited information about program outcomes. A more definitive conclusion will require better outcome information. Coastal managers in the United States have not agreed upon indicators of success, which severely inhibits systematic and sustained collection of outcome information. A national outcome monitoring and performance evaluation system is recommended to address these deficiencies and allow better determinations of program effectiveness in the future.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: April 1, 1999

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