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Providing Public Access to the Shore: The Role of Coastal Zone Management Programs

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In many coastal states and territories, coastal zone management (CZM) programs have been the prime catalyst in leveraging public access initiatives among state and federal agencies, public organizations, and the private sector. A wide range of tools are used, including acquisition, regulations, technical assistance, and public education. The diversity of approaches is illustrated through a variety of case examples. Although hard numbers for measuring outcomes were not uniformly available, between 1985 and 1988, when federal and state CZM funding dedicated to public access was tracked, $141.5 million (unadjusted 1988 dollars) were spent on 455 public access-related projects. A policy shift occurred in the 1990s away from reliance on acquisition and regulation as the most effective means of providing access and toward technical assistance and public outreach-a response to the overall decrease in funds available for access. CZM programs have been able to balance the contradictory goals of the federal Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (CZMA), such as protecting coastal resources while providing for increased public access to those resources. It is recommended that CZM programs conduct assessments to determine the kind of access needed in the future and where it should be located. And, due to the creativity and innovation that states and territory coastal programs use to achieve access, it is recommended that a national clearinghouse be established for documenting and sharing information on innovative tools and programs.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1999-04-01

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