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Ocean City Beach looking north and the Everglades

National Shoreline Management Study

Shoreline Change Assessments

Understanding how coasts are changing and why is critical to developing sustainable management strategies. Knowledge of erosion and accretion on the various U.S. coastlines helps the Corps and its partners to prioritize activities such as shore protection, environmental restoration and economic investment. An interagency team is therefore drafting a National Assessment that addresses erosion and accretion and their environmental and economic impacts. This assessment uses shoreline change data from specific coastal locations around the country, including shoreline change assessments developed by the U.S. Geological Survey. Regional assessments of the North Atlantic, South Atlantic, Gulf Coast and Great Lakes are presently included in the NSMS National Assessment, and Pacific coastal locations will be added in the future. Building upon the work of partner agencies, this National Assessment is a summary of shoreline change data.

The draft National Assessment features recommendations on the use of a systems approach to sediment management. A systems approach considers natural and man-made effects on shorelines and strives to balance the many uses of the coastal zone. The recommendations about this approach are continually being refined with stakeholder and interagency feedback. Collaboration on these recommendations is important to ensure that all levels of government and the public are working together to protect and enhance coastal regions.

Although some challenges are common to all coastal areas, the variety of U.S. shorelines means that different regions often face different issues. For example, sea level rise is a serious risk along the Gulf Coast, but in many parts of Alaska sea level is falling. The NSMS is developing detailed regional assessments to help coastal managers address the issues that are most important to the shorelines they work with. Currently, a detailed assessment of the North Atlantic coastal region is in the draft stage. This report provides highly specific data on the geology of North Atlantic coasts, as well as the extent and effects of shoreline change and local shoreline management practices. This type of region-specific information improves coastal management approaches by avoiding "one-size-fits-all" policies.