State of the Beach/Methodology/Erosion Response

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Erosion response is a measure of how well a state's policies and procedures limit the extent of shoreline armoring. This indicator serves as a means of bringing attention to the states that are taking proactive roles in beach preservation. For example, are statewide oceanfront construction setbacks used to site new development? When existing development is damaged during a storm does a state prohibit reconstruction or provide incentives for relocation? Before permitting shoreline stabilization does a state require that there is demonstrated need via geo-technical reports with content standards; that alternatives to armoring are fully explored; and that potential adverse impacts and cumulative effects are taken into account? Does a state have stringent 'emergency' provisions in this regard? If a state can answer 'yes' to most of these questions then its rank is high and if the answers are mostly 'no' then its rank is low. Ideally the rank in this indicator area will correlate with that of shoreline armoring: a state with a high rank in erosion response will typically have a high rank in (preventing) shoreline armoring.

Surfrider also considers the extent to which states have attempted to address climate change impacts to their coast through climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation. States that are the most proactive in adapting to climate change have erosion rate-based setback regulations and/or utilize rolling easements, they have implemented or are planning to implement managed retreat, they have completed sea level rise vulnerability assessments and adaptation plans, and they gather and communicate adaptation tools, case studies, maps, guidance documents, and outreach materials to planners, managers, and the general public.

Possible quantitative measures include the number of new structures located within setback areas, number of damaged structures reconstructed in identified erosion zones, number of instances where alternatives to 'hard' shore protection were employed, the number of shoreline structures permitted under 'emergency' provisions, and the number of permits for shoreline structures reviewed, approved or denied. We have found that such information is rarely available.

Threshold criteria for the erosion response indicator are:

7 to 10 -­ State policies and management practices for coastal preservation are comprehensive and scientifically sound, accounting for changing coastal conditions including climate change adaptation. Policies are effective in maintaining important existing coastal functions (economic, recreational, ecological) and are readily implemented at the local level.
4 to 6 ­- States have some policies and management practices that account for changing coastal conditions exist but are not fully comprehensive. Policies are moderately effective in maintaining important existing coastal functions and/or are not consistently implemented at the local level.
1 to 3 ­- States have few or no measures for preserving the coast in response to erosion and climate change. Existing policies and management practices do not adequately account for changing coastal conditions. Policies are ineffective in maintaining crucial coastal functions and/or are difficult to implement at the local level.