Americans rely on the coast as a place to live, work, and relax. Coastal management plans must consider storm protection and the maintenance of economic and social activities, such as fishing and recreation. As coastal population increases, so does the importance of maintaining coastal areas for human uses.
In the early 17th century, the first American colonists settled along the James River near the Chesapeake Bay in what is now the state of Virginia. The original colonies owed their prosperity largely to the availability of good natural harbors, rich nearby fishing grounds, and active trade with the Caribbean and Europe. The many ways that people use coastal areas has resulted in prosperity as well as pressure on the resources and environments present on the coast.