State of the Beach/Methodology/Overview

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To assess the availability of beach health indicator information we take the perspective of the concerned citizen and spend considerable time surfing the Web for readily-available information. We also examine information availability from the perspective of the coastal zone manager. A survey was developed in consultation with Coastal Zone Management staff in several states. This survey was sent to the coastal zone management agencies in the coastal states and territories covered by this report. We have also solicited input directly from state CZM staff by asking them to provide updates to our information as new programs, policies and data sources become available.

We examined the responses we did receive, reviewed existing literature, phoned coastal zone management agencies and, together with the results of our Web-based search for information, compiled the state reports. This report should be regarded as a "living document" since it is frequently updated as new information becomes available.

For the State of the Beach report each state was evaluated on the public availability of the information in the areas of beach access, surf zone water quality, beach erosion, beach fill projects, shoreline structures, beach ecology, surfing areas, and website. Each state was also evaluated on the status of beach access, surf zone water quality, the extent of shoreline armoring, erosion response, and surfing areas. For beach erosion each state was only evaluated on the public availability of information because erosion is partly the result of natural processes that cannot be controlled. Erosion response is a status indicator that is intended to be a measure of how well state policies and procedures limit the extent of shoreline armoring. It is a corollary to the extent of armoring, which is evaluated in the shoreline structures indicator. Beach ecology is an information indicator that is meant to focus attention on beaches as extremely important ecological niches as habitats, breeding grounds and transitional zones between marine and terrestrial animals.

Each state is given a 1 through 10 score for each indicator, with 1 through 3 representing poor information or status, 4 through 6 representing fair information or status, and 7 through 10 representing good to excellent information or status.

The state summary pages include a short overview discussion of some of the beach health indicators that received a high or low ranking in each state, examples of factors that influenced the indicator scores, and a listing of Surfrider Victories that relate to one or more of the Beach Health Indicators.