State of the Beach/State Reports/NY/Beach Description

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New York Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access64
Water Quality54
Beach Erosion6-
Erosion Response-5
Beach Fill5-
Shoreline Structures5 4
Beach Ecology2-
Surfing Areas27
Coastal Development{{{19}}}{{{20}}}
Sea Level Rise{{{21}}}{{{22}}}


Long Island's south shore is composed of three different geologic settings. In the Town of East Hampton, from Montauk Point to Ditch Plains, there are headlands with bluffs and pocket beaches. From Ditch Plains to Southhampton, mainland beaches (on the mainland of Long Island) are backed by dunes. The mainland beaches are occasionally broken by coastal ponds fronted by baymouth barrier spits. From Southhampton west is a barrier island system that is in a state of migration landward.

The islands in the western portion of this area (Coney Island, Rockaway and Long Beach) were stabilized by large fill and groin and jetty construction projects beginning early in the 20th century. Historically, these areas consisted of migratory sand bodies and ephemeral inlets with low maximum elevations on the order of 5 to 10 feet above sea level. There is uncertainty surrounding the stability of the coastal barriers, particularly with regard to the potential impacts of climate change and sea level rise.

The coastal and inland waterway area extends over 5,000 miles along the north, Peconic, and south shorelines of Long Island; New York City; the Hudson, St. Lawrence, and Niagara Rivers; lakes Erie and Ontario; and major inland waterways, including the Finger Lakes, Lake Champlain, and the Barge Canal System. While the CMP has a programmatic role over inland water bodies, they are technically not part of the federal coastal area. Designated inland water bodies are part of the state CMP, but they are not subject to federal consistency.

According to the NOAA publication “The Coastline of the United States,” New York has 2,625 miles of coast (based on “tidal shoreline”). More than 70% of the state’s population inhabits the coastal area. The state contains a diversity of marine and freshwater areas that can be categorized into four distinct regions: Long Island and Long Island Sound; New York City; the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence and Niagara Rivers; and the Hudson River, extending over 150 miles from its mouth to the dam at Troy. The coastal boundary is generally 1,000 feet from the shoreline. When necessary this boundary extends inland to include all identified areas of particular concern. In urbanized areas and other developed locations along the coastline, the boundary is defined by an existing cultural feature that is approximately 500 feet from the shoreline.

Contact Info for the Lead Coastal Zone Management Agency

Albany Office:
New York State Dept. of State
Office of Coastal, Local Government and Community Sustainability
99 Washington Ave., 10th Floor
Albany, NY 12231-0001
Phone: (518) 474-6000
FAX: (518) 473-2464

New York City Office:
NYS Department of State
Office of Coastal, Local Government and Community Sustainability
123 William Street
New York, NY 10038-3804
Telephone Number: 212-417-5800
Fax Number: 212-417-5805

South Shore Estuary Reserve Office:
SSER Office
300 Woodcleft Avenue
Freeport, NY 11520
Telephone Number: 516-470-BAYS

Lake George Watershed Conference Office:
Lake George Watershed Conference
c/o Lake George Village
26 Old Post Road
Lake George, NY 12845
Telephone Number: 518-461-2200

Coastal Zone Management Program

In 1981, the New York State Legislature enacted Article 42 of the Executive Law, the Waterfront Revitalization of Coastal Areas and Inland Waterways Act (WRCRA). In 1982, the New York State Coastal Management Program (NYSCMP or simply CMP) was created to establish the boundaries of the Coastal Area within which the Coastal Management Program applies, describe the organizational structure to implement the CMP, and provide a set of statewide policies enforceable on all State and Federal agencies which manage resources and coordinate actions along the State's coastline. Article 42 also offers local governments the opportunity to participate in the State's Coastal Management Program on a voluntary basis. Localities are encouraged to prepare and adopt local waterfront revitalization programs (LWRP) which in turn, would provide more detailed implementation of the State's Program through use of existing broad powers such as those covering zoning and site plan review.

The Department of State (DOS), through the Office of Communities and Waterfronts, is the lead agency responsible for administration of the CMP. The Waterfront Revitalization and Coastal Resources Act (WRCRA) provides DOS with the authority to establish a coastal program, develop coastal policies, define the coastal boundaries, establish state consistency requirements, and provide a coordination mechanism. The WRCRA also links responsible state agencies under the umbrella of the CMP and ensures that actions directly undertaken by state agencies within the coastal area shall be consistent, where applicable, with the coastal area policies.

The CMP contains 44 coastal policies that are implemented through regulatory and management authorities assigned to a number of state agencies. Twenty-seven of these policies are contained in the WRCRA. In addition, there are 13 Long Island Sound policies. The Department of Environmental Conservation has regulatory authority over many development and land use activities in the coastal area through a number of resource protection statutes that focus on wetlands (Tidal Wetlands Act; Freshwater Wetlands Act), erosion and flooding hazards (Coastal Erosion Hazard Areas Act), water and air quality, and disposal of hazardous and toxic wastes. The Office of General Services has jurisdiction over most of the state’s underwater lands, whereby the use of these lands may be conveyed to the general public through the issuance of grants, easements, or leases.

The WRCRA also provides local governments with the option to establish local waterfront revitalization programs (LWRP), which address local needs and plans in accordance with the CMP policies. When a LWRP has received approval by the Department of State, state consistency provisions automatically apply. The State Environmental Quality Review Act provides the mechanism to ensure that the actions and programs of other state agencies give adequate consideration to the policies of the CMP. Upon NOAA approval and a state public notice of that approval, a LWRP becomes incorporated into the CMP, at which time federal consistency provisions of the program also apply to the local program.

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


  1. 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.
  2. New York State Department of State, Division of Coastal Resources.
  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.

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