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Ocean City Beach looking north and the Everglades

The NSMS was authorized by the Water Resources Development Act of 1999, and it received initial Congressional funding in Fiscal Year 2002.

Aerial photo of Assateague Island

Aerial Photo of Assateague Island.
Source: IAN Image Library

National Shoreline Management Study

About the Study

The National Shoreline Management Study (NSMS) describes physical coastal processes and current policies relating to shore restoration. It provides recommendations about shoreline management policies and the use of a systems approach to sediment management. These efforts are meant to enhance the stewardship of our shorelines, helping to keep them:

  • Safe places for people to live, work and play;
  • Healthy places where diverse ecosystems flourish; and
  • Productive places where economic activity benefits the entire Nation.

Study Activities

NSMS participants have collaborated on research efforts, interagency events, and products relating to coastal science, shore protection and coastal management. Study activities include:

  • Developing a National Assessment that describes the extent of, and the environmental and economic effects of, erosion and accretion on the shores of the United States.
  • Producing a report on the systematic movement of sand and other sediments.
  • Formulating recommendations on the use of a systems approach to shoreline management and roles for Federal and non-Federal agencies.
  • Developing a database of coastal project activities through the Coastal Systems Portfolio Initiative (CSPI).
  • Creating a coastal strategic process Rising Oceans on Changing Coasts (ROCC) to examine what we know about how winds, waves and water levels are changing in the Pacific Ocean.

Other documents and websites generated by the NSMS provide scientific, economic and historical information about the coastal zone and the Corps coastal mission. Some specific topics are:

  • The role of the Corps in shore protection and the coastal zone: "The Corps of Engineers and Shore Protection: History, Projects, Costs."
  • An introduction to U.S. coastal regions, coastal dynamics, resources and the Corps engineering work in the coastal zone: Tales of the Coast.
  • A review of the last nationwide coastal study: "An Assessment of the Nation's Shoreline Change: A Review of the 1971 National Shoreline Study."
  • The impacts of shoreline management approaches on sheltered shorelines: "Mitigating Shore Erosion along Sheltered Coasts," funded in part by the NSMS.
  • A historical case study of shoreline management efforts at a navigational inlet: "Dynamic Sustainability: Shoreline Management on Maryland's Atlantic Coast."

Collaborating in Coastal Stewardship

Through the NSMS, the Corps is connecting with other coastal scientists and stakeholders to develop adaptive, sustainable solutions for shoreline management. The complexity of the coastal zone—its environments, economic activity and risk of storm damage—requires integrated and flexible policies to guide agencies with coastal responsibilities.

To enhance coastal management strategies, NSMS researchers have taken part in many conferences, such as:

Continued coordination and collaboration among partner agencies and organizations will help advance the use of system approaches to shore management and related recommendations for future management, projects and activities. Collaboration ensures that all the U.S. coastal regions are taken into account, and environmental, economic and social factors are considered.