Institute for Water Resources

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Value to the Nation

Environment: Coasts

The fragile ecosystems in our nation's coastal areas are in peril from development and storms. The importance of protecting our nation's coasts grows each year as more and more Americans move to coastal areas. According to 2000 census data more than 54 percent of Americans live within 50 miles of a coast.

To help address this challenge the Corps has joined as a major partner in Coastal America, a coalition of 13 federal agencies and many state, local and private organizations that are working together to address environmental problems along the nation's coasts. The Corps has been the lead agency on many of the nearly 400 completed projects recognized by Coastal America.

The Corps also is involved in a number of other coastal protection and restoration projects aimed at:

  • preserving and restoring coastal wetlands and estuaries;
  • reducing shore erosion; and
  • restoring beach habitat and oyster beds.

For example, the Corps is proud to be a key partner in the Coastal Louisiana project. This monumental effort seeks to restore and protect Louisiana's coastal wetlands, which are being lost at a rate of 25 to 35 square miles per year. These wetlands provide valuable habitat for a wide variety of fish, birds and other wildlife and offer important commercial, recreational, cultural, and physical benefits.

Their loss threatens not only enormous ecological productivity, but also the billion-dollar Gulf of Mexico seafood industry; the city of New Orleans and many other urban, industrial, and agricultural areas that rely on the wetlands as natural protection from hurricanes and storm damage; winter habitat for 70 percent of the Nation's waterfowl; a multi–billion dollar a year oil and gas industry; and the Nation's largest port complex, which passes about 16 percent of our waterborne commerce. The ongoing investigation of this project was one of the Corps largest ecosystem restoration projects in 2010.

Learn more about other recent Corps environmental initiatives associated with coasts. Learn more about the Corps integrated approach to water resources management related to coasts.