State of the Beach/State Reports/ME/Beach Description

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Maine Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access52
Water Quality74
Beach Erosion8-
Erosion Response-6
Beach Fill5-
Shoreline Structures3 2
Beach Ecology5-
Surfing Areas25
Coastal Development{{{19}}}{{{20}}}
Sea Level Rise{{{21}}}{{{22}}}


The MCP Website indicates that the length of the Maine shoreline is 5,300 miles, when all its bays, inlets, and other features are included, which makes Maine the third largest State in terms of tidally influenced shoreline. (Note: As GIS capabilities become more widespread, the calculation of coastline length becomes both easier and less determinate. Depending on the scale and level of detail used for the GIS, the length of coastline can vary considerably. The more the GIS zooms in on details, the more small undulations and inlets are counted, adding to the total coastline length.)

Most of Maine's coast is rocky ledge. Maine has about 75 miles of beaches, approximately half of which are sand beaches and half of which are rock and pebble beaches. Most of Maine's sandy beaches are on the southern Maine coast, from Kittery to Cape Elizabeth, south of Portland. A few miles of sandy beaches also occur in mid-coast Maine near the mouth of the Kennebec River. For a more detailed physical description of the Maine coast and other related geological and oceanographic information, visit the Maine Geological Survey's Web page at:

There are 144 coastal Maine towns, comprising 12% of the state's land area but 43% of its population. Coastal municipalities have an average density three times greater than the balance of the state (78 persons per square mile compared with 25 persons per square mile inland). Also included in the coastal zone are two Plantations, 10 unorganized townships, and one Indian Reservation. Thousands of islands (4,613 to be exact) are also in the coastal zone.

Contact Info for the Lead Coastal Zone Management Agency

Maine Coastal Program
93 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0038
Phone: 207-287-2801
FAX: 207-287-8040
E-mail: Maine Coastal Program

Coastal Zone Management Program

Maine's coastal managers contend with challenges of population growth, water quality, public access, and the impacts of development. The coastal management program manages activities in or on wetlands, flood plains, sand dunes, and coastal resources. Fishing and tourism are the state's major industries, making a healthy coast essential to the state economy.

Established in 1978, Maine's Coastal Program is now part of the Department of Conservation, Bureau of Geology, Natural Areas, and Coastal Resources. The Coastal Program is a partnership among local, regional, and state agencies. It also collaborates with many private organizations, such as local land trusts and economic development groups. Through this networked program, no one agency or department is responsible for the entire coast. Rather, all partners help ensure its proper management. The goal of this balanced approach is a healthier coast -- and a better future for communities.

NOAA's latest evaluation of Maine's Coastal Management Program can be found here.


  1. Maine State Planning Office, Coastal Program
  2. Bernd-Cohen, T. and M. Gordon. "State Coastal Program Effectiveness in Protecting Natural Beaches, Dunes, Bluffs, and Rock Shores." Coastal Management 27:187-217, 1999.
  3. Bernd-Cohen, T. and M. Gordon. "State Coastal Program Effectiveness in Protecting Natural Beaches, Dunes, Bluffs, and Rock Shores." Coastal Management 27:187-217. 1999.

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