State of the Beach/Beach Indicators/Shoreline Structures

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In efforts to stave off coastal erosion, Americans have built thousands of shoreline structures such as groins, jetties, and seawalls to armor the nation's coastline. We are learning that while these structures may protect coastal property, they also have a negative impact on our beaches. Shoreline structures displace sandy beach, limit both lateral and vertical access to the beach, and disrupt the natural flow of sand. Although these structures may temporarily protect some property, they often create more erosion elsewhere (such as at the downdrift side of a groin or increased erosion at the end of seawalls). To make matters worse, shoreline structures are often permitted under "emergency" conditions for temporary use and are never removed.

In this report, we describe each state's policy on the construction, placement, and maintenance of erosion response structures on the shoreline. As part of the requirements of Section 306 of the federal Coastal Zone Management Act to study and assess ways to "control and lessen" the effects of erosion, state coastal management programs made shoreline structures policy a part of their coastal management plan. By tallying the extent of the armored shoreline, Surfrider illustrates the cumulative effects of coastal structures and educates local and state coastal managers on the magnitude of this problem. In addition, local citizens are able to see the extent to which their beaches are armored.

It's important to realize that there are viable alternatives to shoreline armoring. Check out NOAA's great website that covers this topic.

State Shoreline Structures Reports

Select a state from the list below to view the Shoreline Structures indicator page for that state: