State of the Beach/Beach Indicators/Beach Fill

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Coastal states are encouraged to manage coastal sediment and upland sediment sources to ensure habitat for wildlife and healthy beaches for recreation, tourism and economic opportunity. Adequate sediment management includes protecting and restoring the natural flow of sediment to the coast and along the beach. When necessary, it also includes strategically planning for "beach replenishment" by establishing clear monitoring requirements before and after sediment projects, and a permitting process to ensure proposed projects meet regional requirements.

Many coastal experts believe the terms "beach nourishment" and "beach replenishment" are misleading and that these projects should be called "beach dredge and fill projects" to reveal their true impact on the beach. Surfrider has decided to use the term "beach fill" in order to be consistent with commonly used terminology. Interestingly, in the wake of coastal storms which caused severe damage to many areas on the East Coast, some legislators and lobbyists have begun using the term coastal storm damage reduction project because they believe that term is more likely to win approval for their beach fill projects, especially from inland legislators.

State coastal managers often use fill programs as a "soft" alternative to shoreline structures in combating coastal erosion on developed stretches of coastline. Funding for these projects may come from the federal, state, or local level with varying amounts of participation. Unfortunately, many fill projects run over budget and the lifespan of the project is underestimated.[1]

Some beach fill projects have resulted in negative impacts to fishing resources, surfing areas and swimmer safety. There is also an increasing awareness of the short term and long term ecological consequences of beach fill projects. Short-term impacts may include such things as interrupting sea turtle nesting activities. Repeated beach fill projects may have cumulative biological impacts that are rarely included in environmental assessments.[2] Studies and monitoring programs on fill projects are important and are included where found. An excellent summary of the widespread lack of monitoring for these projects can be found here.

In this report, we present findings on the state's ability to meet the following checklist:

1. State encourages regional sediment and inlet management plans.
2. State avoids beach fill projects by promoting and protecting natural sediment flow.
3. State has sand replenishment policies that thoroughly analyze impacts to coastal resources and efficacy of replenishment.
4. State requires permits for replenishment, dredge & fill projects.

For those states with available information, we provide fill locations and the cost of these projects. This will enable local citizens to be aware of fill projects on their beaches and how much it is costing them.

State Beach Fill Reports

Select a state from the list below to view the Beach Fill indicator page for that state:


  1. Pilkey, Orrin H. and Kathrine L. Dixon, The Corps and the Shore. Island Press. 1996.
  2. Peterson, Charles H. and Melanie J. Bishop, Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Beach Nourishment. BioScience. Vol. 55, No. 10. October 2005.