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State Coastal Program Effectiveness in Protecting Natural Beaches, Dunes, Bluffs, and Rocky Shores

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This article reports on state coastal zone management (CZM) effectiveness in meeting the national goal of protecting natural shoreline resources. The research focuses on efforts to protect beaches, dunes, bluffs, and rocky shores. This study concludes that state CZM programs are effective overall in addressing the protection objective of the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (CZMA). This conclusion recognizes that the CZMA requires states to balance competing needs and demands such as protection of natural resources from hazards and overdevelopment, promotion of recreational use, and respect for private property rights. Determination of CZM program effectiveness is based on process indicators and case examples. Outcome indicators were too sparse to allow an outcome effectiveness determination. All coastal states and territories use a wide variety of tools and processes to achieve resource protection, including regulatory, planning, state land management, acquisition, nonregulatory, and research tools. Regulatory tools are the most significant tools employed nationwide, because the majority of the oceanfront shoreline is in private ownership and is subject to significant shoreline change and development pressures. Over 60 significant upgrades to coastal management programs have been implemented over the years to protect natural shoreline resources. "Process indicators" of effectiveness show increased resource protection from CZM efforts. Of the 29 coastal states and territories studied, most (23) employ setbacks from the shoreline to provide a natural buffer between development and the water. All (27) but a few regulate shoreline activities to protect critical habitat and minimize adverse impacts on resources. All (28) but one regulate shoreline stabilizations to minimize adverse impacts on beach systems. Most (23) restrict pedestrian and vehicular access to channel human encroachment along boardwalks or dune crossovers, minimizing dune destabilization and impacts on fragile resources. All (28) but one use planning tools to designate and protect specific shoreline resources. Within state coastal parks, most (25) have designated natural protection areas and guided accessways. Many (21) have acquired additional coastal land holdings. Almost half use boardwalks or dune crossovers to protect dune vegetation and minimize adverse impacts on natural resources, and sand fencing and dune creation to restore the natural function of damaged dune systems. Over half (17) use beach nourishment to recreate eroding recreational beaches. Greater attention is needed to document on-theground results of CZM resource protection efforts through in-depth case studies and long-term monitoring of resource indicators of program success.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 April 1999

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