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Protecting Estuaries and Coastal Wetlands through State Coastal Zone Management Programs

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Abstract:

This article, one part of the National Coastal Zone Management Effectiveness Study, evaluates the effectiveness of state coastal management programs in protecting estuaries and coastal wetlands. State programs were evaluated in a four-step, indicatorbased process to estimate (1) the relative importance of the issue; (2) the potential effectiveness of programs based on the policies, processes, and tools used; (3) outcome effectiveness based on on-the-ground indicators; and (4) overall performance, where outcome effectiveness was compared to issue importance and potential effectiveness. State evaluations were synthesized to provide a national perspective on CZM contributions and effectiveness in estuary and wetland protection. Although on-the-ground outcome data were sparse, they were sufficient to determine at least probable levels of effectiveness for about one-third of the states. Of these states, 80% were performing at expected or higher levels, considering how important the issue was in their state, and the scope and strength of the policies, processes, and tools they had deployed. Monitoring and record keeping, freshwater wetland management, and the use of nonregulatory restoration in coastal management were common program weaknesses. The evaluation approach and indicators used here are recommended as a starting point for designing a national monitoring and performance evaluation system addressing this CZM objective.
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