State of the Beach/State Reports/MA/Website

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Massachusetts Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access83
Water Quality75
Beach Erosion9-
Erosion Response-8
Beach Fill6-
Shoreline Structures9 3
Beach Ecology6-
Surfing Areas25
Coastal Development{{{19}}}{{{20}}}
Sea Level Rise{{{21}}}{{{22}}}


The Massachusetts CZM website was officially re-launched in the Mass.Gov portal format in late June 2013. It features new content, improved navigation/organization, and stronger links to other state agencies and departments, particularly those within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA). The site now offers a publication page for each program, new content for the seafloor mapping and coastal habitat programs, Coast Guide Online, and much more.

CZM’s new, interactive, online mapping tool, Coast Guide Online, can be used to find (and find out about) coastal areas that are open to the public. It includes hundreds of sites along the Massachusetts coast—from sandy beaches to secluded coves, rocky shores, and boat ramps—owned by government agencies and major nonprofits. These sites have been mapped in Google Earth, an easy-to-use and powerful online mapping tool, where each public location is tagged with a name, owner, web link, and picture (if available). Users may use additional Google Earth offerings, such as user photos, trails, and places of interest, to create a customized map. As of now, all federal, state, and county coastal public access sites have been mapped; town and land conservation organizations will be added as soon as possible.

The CZM Website provides good information on beach access and shoreline structures. There is adequate information on water quality, some information on beach fill, and good information on beach erosion and erosion response. You should probably look at the CZM Website in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, MassParks Website and perhaps the Department of Environmental Protection Website.

Yearly summaries of CZM activities can be found here.

CZM has a wide variety of fact sheets, brochures, guides, maps, and other publications available to the public. Although it is no longer published, previous issues of Coastlines, the CZM annual magazine, can be viewed online. The Summer 2002 issue included the following articles: "Beach Fill for Storm Protection", "2000 Erosion Report", "Rebuilding After the Storm", "Shoreline Change", "Coastal Construction Manual", "Public Access Rights Along the Coast", and even "Surf's Up!" The 2003 edition, which focused on the shipping industry in Massachusetts, included "CZScience: Stormwater, Runoff, and Pollution" and "Coastal Trails on the Web." Several of these articles have links to other more detailed sources of information. The 2004-2005 edition featured several articles on coastal habitats. The 2006 issue has a feature on Smart Growth. The 2007 issue's theme was coastal recreation, including surfing. For 2008, the theme was the Blue-Green connection.

Other informative coastal publications include Ebb & Flow from the Department of Fish and Game and Sound Waves from USGS.

CZM also publishes an excellent monthly e-newsletter, CZ-Mail. This is a comprehensive source of information for all things related to the coastal zone in Massachusetts. To receive CZ-Mail, email

There is a nice summary of CZM program policies.

The CZM website also lists statutory and regulatory authorities associated with these policies, and a complete set of Coastal Zone Management regulations.

The Federal Consistency Review process is explained.

CZM also maintains a digital and paper data library that contains a variety of materials that are available to coastal specialists and decision-makers, such as historic and contemporary aerial photographs, color orthophotos, historic shorelines, and eelgrass inventories. CZM has a link to the MassGIS Geo-image Library for the Massachusetts coast. This great website lets you view and download 1:10,000 orthophotos of the Massachusetts coast.

A highlight of the CZM Website is an update of the Historic Shoreline Change Project, which provides 1:10,000 scale shoreline change maps and accompanying data tables that show the relative positions of four or five historic shorelines and depict the long-term change rates at 40-meter intervals along the shore. The Massachusetts Geographic Information System (MassGIS) incorporated the maps and data tables into the Shoreline Change Browser.

CZM in cooperation with the United States Geological Survey, Woods Hole is mapping the seafloor in Massachusetts. Data are revealing the diversity of seafloor landscapes distributed throughout state waters.

In July 2008 CZM and the Massachusetts Office of Geographic and Environmental Information (MassGIS) launched MORIS, the Massachusetts Ocean Resource Information System. This online mapping tool can be used to search and display spatial data pertaining to the Massachusetts coastal zone. Users can interactively view various data layers (e.g., tide gauge stations, marine protected areas, access points, eelgrass beds, etc.) over a backdrop of aerial photographs, political boundaries, natural resources, human uses, bathymetry, or other data. Users can quickly create and share maps and download the actual data for use in a Geographic Information System (GIS). While designed for coastal management professionals, MORIS can be used by anyone interested in these data and maps.

Links to a variety of state, regional, and national organizations are available via the CZM Website.

The CZM Website is generally up-to-date.

Website Contact Info

General questions, comments, or CZ-Mail mailing list:

Questions or comments about the CZM Website:
Robin Lacey

State of the Beach Report: Massachusetts
Massachusetts Home Beach Description Beach Access Water Quality Beach Erosion Erosion Response Beach Fill Shoreline Structures Beach Ecology Surfing Areas Website
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