An Examination of Children’s Environmental Attitudes as a Function of Participation in Environmental Education Programs



(Note: Everyone that uses water in any way should read this in its entirety, no matter where they live. It is positively rife with reinventing government on a global level, forsaking America’s Constitutional Republic and even incorporating socialist measures and saying so, in order to gain control of water. The report has the strangest page numbering ever seen.)


Undated, but believed to be sometime in 2005.


The National Sea Grant Library


University of Rhode Island-Bay Campus


Pell Library Building


Narragansett, Rhode Island 02882




Fax: 401-874-6160


Sea Grant Program Links (excerpted)

Wisconsin Sea Grant (WISCU)


Marnie Laing, University of Rhode Island




Environmental education is an important component of marine and coastal resource management for creating awareness of environmental issues.


Management of marine resources will continue to be unsuccessful if the public remains uneducated with little or no access to the issues and science behind the policies. Through environmental education, communities may become reinvigorated, therefore reinforcing the importance of a shared voice.


Environmental education ensures that those who depend on the resource recognize not only the economic value of the resource, but also become more aware of how their actions may influence the environment.


Environmental education may sustain the community’s interest of its environment and its resources, and promote responsible stewardship initiatives.


Lubchenco (1998) states that if society is to move toward the goal of greater sustainability, there is an urgent need to effectively communicate environmental knowledge to the public and to those operating in policy arenas. Interactive environmental education is a method of bringing an environmental awareness closer to the public where solutions may be put to constructive and continuous use.


A positive exposure to natural environments early in life may create a lifelong desire to interact with these settings. A common recommendation is that the tendency for a lack of awareness for stewardship over the environment may be avoided by intervening at an early age with positive, direct experiences of nature. Direct experience of nature may be a critical component for developmental human psychology and morality, and environmental awareness.


The purpose of this research is to evaluate the role of environmental education in enhancing children’s environmental awareness.


The goals of environmental education involve the achievement of environmental knowledge, awareness, responsibility (Athman and Monroe 2002), and motivation to take action (Kahn and Kellert 2002). Although the research will not assess the development of children’s action skills, it is an important consideration for future research. The research proposes to examine the influence of environmental education on children’s perceptions of the environment, and the degree to which they interact with their natural settings, specifically with a focus on children in the Cayman Islands.


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Experiencing Nature: Environmental Education and Children


Environmental education goes beyond the presentation of information to inspiring positive attitudes toward the environment, and to enhancing the capability for community action skills (Disinger and Monroe 1994; Palmberg et al. 2000). Environmental knowledge involves the attainment of a better understanding of the elements within the ecosystem and an appreciation of the dynamic workings of this system (Smyth 1995).


Environmental awareness involves the process of making people conscious of how they may affect their environment.


Environmental responsibility recognizes the ability of humans to evaluate alternatives in the way they behave toward the environment and in the way they influence and guide change.


Environmental education strives to encourage environmental values within society and to create a framework for environmental conservation and protection.


In January 2001, the “Marvelous Mangroves” program was introduced in the Cayman Islands at a teacher’s workshop in Grand Cayman. This resource guide was produced by Martin Keeley, the Mangrove Action Project Education Director, to enhance educators’ knowledge and ability to teach the significance of mangrove systems. Mr. Keeley conducts the environmental program based on Cayman Brac.


The program focuses on exploration of mangrove systems around the island, but also allows children to become more aware of the ecosystems around them.


As previously outlined, environmental education programs positively impacting children’s attitudes, beliefs, and values concerning nature can have a significant effect on the future of a nation’s natural resources.


Therefore, it is important to determine the extent to which the program in the Cayman Islands has a positive impact on the children involved.


The intention of this research paper is to evaluate the Mangrove program for its effectiveness in enhancing the children’s environmental awareness, knowledge and responsibility. The assessment of effects of the environmental education program involves comparisons of outputs (changes in children’s attitudes, beliefs, and values) with program objectives as well as a description of inputs (program content and methods).


As a means of assessing the effects of the environmental education, children in an experimental group (those who participated in the program) and a control group (those who did not participate) were requested to evaluate statements concerning environmental knowledge and potential human impacts on resources. The evaluation was conducted both before and after participation in the environmental education program.


The participants in the test group include 60 children in grade four who attended the program in September 2003, and the control group consisted of 23 children in a comparable group who did not attend the program (ages 8 to 10). These children were given a pre-test through a survey in the form of a written booklet in June 2003. They responded to the same survey after the program was completed in September.


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The research instrument includes a series of questions (written survey in a booklet format) for the children regarding current activities associated with the ocean environment, perceptions of natural coastal resources, significance of the health of the marine environment, personal information, and outdoor activities.


Questions were designed to measure achievement of stated program objectives as well as environmental attitudes, beliefs, and values. A section of the questionnaire also asked students to provide answers to open-ended questions and during the post-test evaluation of this project, the children were asked to express their beliefs and feelings about nature by commenting on photographs of landscapes. They were asked to rank these photographs regarding their perception of the most to the least attractive environment.


Impact on Knowledge and Awareness


This study is interested in both the knowledge acquired by the children and the change in the children’s affective relationship with the natural environment after participation in the Mangroves program. Results of the present study indicate that children in the test group achieved an increase in knowledge scores and a more positive awareness of human impacts on marine resources. A paired sample t-test was used to evaluate the change in knowledge of the individual child before and after participation in the Mangrove program. Results show that scores for the knowledge scale changed significantly more in the test group (p<0.001) than in the control group. The children in the test group also demonstrate a greater increase in the understanding of mangrove functions and values after participation in the environmental education program. Participation in the educational program affected girls and boys differently regarding their perceptions and knowledge. Correlation analysis also indicates that children who participate in a wide range of outdoor activities also have a better awareness of the importance of ecosystems.


The qualitative analysis concerning children’s actions skills and perception of the future of the environment suggests that there is a stronger feeling about the ability to positively impact the environment through choice and education after participation in the Mangrove program. Many children demonstrated a strong empathetic reaction to nature and ability to express feelings toward impacting the environment.




A strong community may be formed around mutual need, sharing, cooperation, and an established level of practical experience (Orr 2002:289). Relationships and identity of self may often be an extension from identity of community; “most people can relate the details of the spot and tell stories from their places that surprise even themselves with their remarkable clarity and nuance and the deep affection aroused” (Pyle 2002:306). This reverence for nature may flourish


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in good communities with supportive teachers and parents or adults -- good communities being places where bonds are created between people and the natural world and between people. This bond may then create patterns of responsibility, mutual need and respect, and interconnectedness.


These communities may encourage participation and experience in the natural setting that may allow a child’s awareness and concern for the environment to flourish and grow.


The integration of environmental education -- particularly in coastal and marine resource management -- may be viewed as a proactive approach to environmental issues.


By increasing the awareness of human impacts on the environment, problems may be prevented rather than continuing the reactive approach that is so prevalent for current environmental concerns.


This is especially relevant for children today, as for most issues they will need a strong understanding and sense of stewardship over the environment if they are to successfully overcome the consequences of the previous methods of environmental guardianship.


Environmental education is a tool for ensuring that community knowledge expands. If we combine these elements into a holistic conservation framework we may ensure that governance of marine ecosystems are better understood today and for future generations.




Athman, J.A., and Monroe, M.C., 2002. Elements of Effective Environmental Education Programs. School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida. Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. (March 14, 2003).


Disinger, J. and M. Monroe, 1994. Defining environmental education (EE): EE toolbox – workshop resource manual. Dubuque, IA: Kendall and Hunt Publishing.


Kahn P.H., Jr., and Stephen R. Kellert (Eds.), 2002. Children and Nature: Psychological, Sociocultural and Evolutionary Investigations. Cambridge: MIT Press.


Lubchenco, J., 1998. Entering the century of the environment: A new social contract for science: Science, v. 279, p. 491-497.


Orr, D.W., 2002. Political Economy and the Ecology of Childhood. In P.H.


Kahn Jr. and S. R. Kellert (Eds.), Children and Nature: Psychological, Sociocultural and Evolutionary Investigations, pp. 279-304. Cambridge: MIT Press.


Palmberg, Irmeli E. and Kuru, Jari, 2000. Outdoor activities as a basis for environmental responsibility. Journal of Environmental Education, 31(4), p. 32-37.


Pyle, Robert M., 2002. Eden in a Vacant Lot. In P. H. Kahn Jr. and S. R. Kellert (Eds.), Children and Nature: Psychological, Sociocultural and Evolutionary Investigations, pp. 305-327. Cambridge: MIT Press.


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Smyth, John C., 1995. Environment and education: A view of a changing scene. Environmental Education Research 1(1), p. 3-21.


Marnie A. Laing

Department of Marine Affairs

University of Rhode Island

Washburn Hall

Kingston, RI 02881-0817



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Development of a GIS-based Database of Coastal Bluff Erosion and Armor in California


Jennifer Dare, California Coastal Commission, Mark J. Johnsson, California Coastal Commission


Coastal bluffs back large portions of the California coastline and most of these bluffs are actively eroding. This erosion threatens existing development and creates a coastal management challenge in regulating the development of existing legal bluff top lots.


To facilitate informed management decision making, we are compiling all existing data on coastal bluff erosion rates and current coastal armoring into a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based coastal management tool. This tool will enable policy makers to approach erosion on a regional basis. The identification of historical long-term erosion rates allows for informed policies regarding future bluff top development.


Analysis of short-term erosion events and their distribution allows better analysis of threats to existing development. We are in the early development stage of this database and have selected GIS as the most useful way to organize existing data for coastal managers.


Erosion Rate Data


Erosion rate data sources include government studies, academic studies, peer-reviewed publications, and reports of private consultants. These disparate data sources vary in both collection methods and reliability. Data that have been collected to date consist of erosion rates estimated by means of anecdotal accounts, simple aerial photograph comparisons, photogrammetric comparisons, digital photogrammetry, airborne and ground-based laser scanning, and physical field data collection. We currently are developing criteria for weighing these data in terms of quality, time interval covered, and length of record.


From these data, the GIS tool will allow the evaluation of both short-and long-term erosion on a statewide basis. Some geographic locations have one or more data sources presenting multiple erosion rates over different time intervals. We plan to develop a filter with which the user can examine the erosion rates of a selected geographic area over various time intervals or to simply identify the time interval on which an erosion rate is based. Short-term erosion rates capture the nature of episodic erosion events. This type of data can be used to evaluate the potential threat to development during a maximum erosion event. Long-term erosion averages, on the other hand, do not capture individual erosion events, but rather erosion trends over time. Long-term averages can aid in determining site-specific development setbacks. The filter will also enable the user to examine erosion rates that were collected using a particular data collection method.


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A major challenge associated with the compilation of these bluff erosion rate data is visual representation in the GIS. To facilitate accurate analysis and data use, differences in erosion rate time intervals as well as data collection methods ought to be easily discernible by the user of this tool. In addition, erosion rates have been captured on varying spatial scales ranging from individual points to averages over long stretches of coastline. We have created a database in which the erosion rate is associated with a geographic reference attribute that can be represented in the GIS.


Coastal Armoring Data


Identification of shoreline armor structures on vertical photographs can be difficult due to the low resolution and the small horizontal footprint of many structures. On the other hand, oblique photographs, on which structures are more obvious, are difficult to place in coordinate space, as required for GIS applications. We will use both georectified aerial photographs and oblique aerial photographs in tandem to overcome these limitations. Existing coastal armor structures will be identified on high-resolution oblique aerial photographs that are available on the California Coastal Records Project website, an independently maintained website housing oblique imagery of the entire California coast. We are working to develop a computer-based interactive tool to capture the geographic location of existing armoring by enabling simultaneous viewing of an oblique aerial photograph with a corresponding georectified vertical aerial photograph. The oblique aerial photograph will allow easy identification of the armor structure, and the user will be able to determine the location, in coordinate space, of the structure by locating it on the georectified vertical aerial photograph. By using the mouse to click on the location on the georectified photo, the latitude and longitude of the structure will be captured electronically. In addition, the user will be able to input additional attributes such as structure type, material, and condition. We will capture these attributes, along with location information, in a text file that can be downloaded and transferred into the GIS.


Database Uses


In addition to coastal armoring and bluff erosion, complementary layers will be incorporated into the GIS allowing the user to locate and select an area of interest of differing geographic scales. When zoomed to a scale that is adequate for viewing, additional layers include county boundaries, mosaiced vertical aerial photography and U.S. Geological Survey Digital Ortho Quarter Quadrangles, roads, and parcel maps, when available. Statewide datasets such

as a geologic map of California and an attributed coastline will also be integrated, providing additional information. The geologic map provides locational information about major geologic units and faults. The coastline is divided into segments based on the type of shoreline, allowing the user to


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determine whether a selected portion of coast is sandy, rocky, an inlet, bay, or harbor, for example.


The GIS is being developed with the goal of compatibility with existing databases developed at the California Coastal Commission and elsewhere. In particular, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Joint Management Plan Review has served as an incentive to strive for such functional compatibility.  The coastal erosion and armoring database will be combined with databases developed by Sanctuary staff and contractors containing nearshore hard and soft bottom types and biological habitats. This will help Sanctuary staff assess the susceptibility of nearshore resources to erosion, resulting in prioritization of resource protection areas, an important part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Coastal Armor Action Plan.


Initially, the coastal armoring and bluff erosion GIS will be available internally to staff of the California Coastal Commission. When erosion rate layers are coupled with the layers describing existing coastal armor, Commission coastal planners can query the database to identify areas that may be susceptible to future armoring requests. By anticipating future requests before a crisis situation arises, more time is available to consider alternative methods of shoreline protection. It will also allow planners to take a regional rather than a case-by-case approach to permit review, including the consideration of cumulative impacts. It will allow for improvement of land use planning policies, especially during the periodic review of Local Coastal Programs, the implementation of the California Coastal Act at the local government level.  Technical staff of the Commission will also be able to evaluate erosion rate data submitted in support of permit applications.


Later, the GIS will be made available on the Internet by means of an Internet Map Server. The web-based interface will serve as a simplified GIS in which users with little or no GIS experience can query the data and create maps to address specific planning problems. This tool will be useful to local governments as land use planning entities and decision-makers can identify erosion hazards, informing the adoption of appropriate land use regulations and development setbacks, potentially reducing future armoring requirements.


Future Refinements


Eventually, additions to the GIS will increase functionality even further. We

anticipate linking the armoring data layer to the California Coastal Commission

statewide permit tracking database. This will serve as a tool to determine the

location of permitted and unpermitted armoring structures. We also foresee

adding links to the California Coastal Records Project website high-resolution

images, allowing the user to make a virtual site visit by clicking on a map in the



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Jennifer Dare

California Coastal Commission

Technical Services Unit

45 Fremont Street, Suite 2000

San Francisco, CA 94105


Fax: 415-904-5400


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Legislating Coastal Governance: Trends, Practices and Strategies in Coastal Law-making


Aldo Chircop, World Maritime University




Coastal law is a relatively new legal field straddling other areas of law, namely environmental, private (torts, property), public (constitutional, administrative, planning), natural resources (oil and gas, fisheries), maritime and international law (law of the sea). Since the 1980s numerous countries (including states or provinces in federal countries) have adopted dedicated statutes as framework and tools for national or local coastal management. These statutes frequently constitute attempts at integrated coastal law-making and deserve scrutiny as important tools for coastal management.


This paper is the result of a comparative law research project inventorying and analyzing coastal statutes and identifying trends in over forty countries. Statutes from different legal systems, including common law, civil law, socialist law and mixed legal systems are studied. The paper identifies trends in: (1) interpretation and implementation of integration; (2) application of the Rio principles of sustainable development; (3) the institutional framework for management, including lead roles and coordination; (4) degree of coordination with other statutes; (5) conflict management; (6) international issues, such as transboundary management matters with neighboring countries.


The paper concludes with opportunities, constraints and options for legal strategies in support of integrated coastal management.


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Case Studies of State-level Marine Managed Area (MMA) Systems


Braxton Davis, University of South Carolina, John Lopez, NOAA/National Ocean Service




Executive Order 13158 on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) was issued on May 26, 2000. The Executive Order called for the Departments of Commerce and Interior to develop a national system of MPAs. In February of 2002, the Coastal States Organization received a contract from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) newly established National Marine Protected Areas Center to develop a report characterizing state-level “Marine Managed Area (MMA)” policies and programs, and to formulate policy recommendations toward an improved, national system (see Davis et al., 2003).  One of the report’s central findings was that state-level Marine Managed Area systems exhibit a high level of complexity and diversity when compared with federal MMA policies and programs. For example, resource protections at the state level most often occur through single purpose, “marine overlay zones,” rather than through comprehensive planning areas. In addition, the types of protections afforded marine resources at the state level differ significantly from those found at the federal level. States often protect near shore marine resources by regulating coastal developments and alterations, such as dredging/filling operations, docks and marinas, and aquaculture facilities. This follow-up report more closely examines MMA systems under state jurisdiction, and documents the lessons learned by state managers involved with their development and implementation.


Study approach


Six Marine Managed Area systems were selected for this analysis based on geographic representation, uniformity among sites, availability/willingness of identified respondents, and general characteristics. It was important to examine different types of MMA systems to identify commonalities that exist regardless of the socioeconomic and ecological conditions and priorities that the MMAs are designed to address.


For this reason, the selected systems included Oregon’s Estuary Management Plans/Natural & Conservation Management Units, Washington’s Aquatic Reserves, North Carolina’s Primary and Secondary Nursery Areas, California’s Channel Islands Marine Protected Areas, Michigan’s Underwater Preserves, and Florida’s Aquatic Preserves.


An informal telephone interview was conducted with a state official identified as having had primary responsibility for, and/or first-hand knowledge and


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management experience with, each selected system.


Respondents were often recommended by other officials in their state.


Interviews averaged one and one-half hours in length. Following each interview, respondents agreed to review and approve this draft report.


Commonalities/shared management experiences


The six state-level MMA systems selected for this case study analysis reflect the diversity of area-based management approaches found at the state and local levels nationwide. Three of the systems were developed to restrict harmful coastal developments and alterations, one to protect cultural resources, and two to manage fisheries. These goals are reflected in the managing agencies, which included Oregon’s Land Conservation and Development Commission, Washington’s Department of Natural Resources, North Carolina’s Marine Fisheries Commission, California’s Department of Fish and Game, Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality, and Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection. Four of the systems were developed during the period between 1975 and 1982; California’s Channel Islands MPAs and Washington’s Aquatic Reserves were developed over the five years preceding this report.


Stakeholder participation


Stakeholder involvement was generally concentrated around the development stages of each state MMA system. In two cases, special public planning processes were developed specifically for the proposed system (California’s “Marine Reserves Working Group; Washington’s Aquatic Reserves). While public nominations of new sites are provided for in the enabling legislation of each system, only half of the systems developed specific, unique procedures for public site nominations. In the remaining cases, new sites are treated as rule changes and therefore trigger standard public notices, comment periods, and hearings. Permanent stakeholder advisory groups or committees were not established for five of the six systems. In California, a standing, regional working group with stakeholder representation, and a plan to establish a local oversight committee for the Channel Islands MPAs, are currently on hold due to funding and staff constraints. In Michigan and Florida, nonprofit citizen support organizations provide a foundation for ongoing stakeholder involvement.


A consistent “lesson learned” during the development of state MMA systems was the importance of involving stakeholders early on in the process. In particular, significant efforts were recently made in California to involve stakeholders during the planning phase of the Channel Islands Marine Protected Areas, and a number of additional lessons were learned. First, a consensus approach may not always be the best approach for controversial MMA systems.


Consensus was not achieved by the stakeholder advisory committee (“Marine Reserves Working Group”). It may have been preferable to discern and document stakeholder disagreements, and have the group develop a range of


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alternatives for consideration by the state.


Another lesson learned during this process was that numerous small meetings, where one or two state representatives work with fifteen to twenty stakeholders, can be far more effective than large, more anonymous public meetings when planning new MMA systems.


Goals and objectives


The general goals of each MMA system generally focus on the conservation of natural and cultural resources, including benthic habitats, biodiversity, and fisheries. More specific, intermediate objectives were not developed for any of the MMA systems; however, varying objectives may be developed within site specific management plans for Oregon’s estuarine management units and Washington’s Aquatic Reserves. Measurable objectives, with specified

benchmarks and indicators, had only been considered for the MMA systems in Oregon and California. In Oregon, this was in response to a statewide mandate for the development of performance measures for all programs and each of the statewide planning goals. Measurable objectives and performance measures were to be hierarchically linked with future budget requests. In California, fishers contended that measurable objectives and benchmarks were needed in order to reevaluate the success of the new MPA system, but some scientists

disagreed. Significant constraints were confronted in both cases, including: 1) limited data availability; 2) the complexity of benchmarks that would need to be set for a range of resources; 3) the variability of local environmental conditions; 4) inadequate funding and staff support; 5) unpredictable fluctuations in resource conditions; and 6) difficulties in demonstrating linkages between MPA related management activities and changes in resource conditions. In several of

the other case studies, respondents indicated that measurable objectives and benchmarks were not needed, because the general intent of the MMA system was self-evident, and stakeholder support had been more than adequate without quantitative proof of program success.


Role of science


Science played a key role in the development phases of four of the MMA systems. In these cases, comprehensive data were collected to support site designations and boundary decisions. These data proved extremely beneficial in reducing conflicts between stakeholders and disputes over the scientific merit of the projects, and led to stronger stakeholder support. However, in Florida, science was not the only rationale for site designations – some areas with high development potential were included in the system solely for the preservation of the natural environment and aesthetics.


Formal environmental monitoring programs exist for five of the six systems studied (volunteer monitoring of shipwrecks occurs in Michigan’s Underwater Preserves); however, there have been no attempts to use this monitoring data


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for program evaluations, plan updates, or regulatory amendments. To do so would require changes in current monitoring practices, since these programs were in place prior to the establishment of the MMA systems and are not presently designed to provide evidence of the spatial-temporal outcomes of protected area policies. In Washington, it is anticipated that future monitoring plans will be developed to complement site-specific management plans, and that the

monitoring data will eventually be linked to measurable objectives for periodic program evaluations and plan updates.


In California, several scientists have expressed interest in modifying their sampling designs to address the effects of the new MPA system. The California Department of Fish and Game is attempting to develop unique cooperative research arrangements with these scientists. For example, the department can offer staff and vessel support to scientists in exchange for consistent, summary data products that can be useful in evaluating ecological trends.


Also unique to the California MPA system was the establishment of a “Science Advisory Panel” (SAP) for the stakeholder-based “Marine Reserves Working Group.” The SAP proved to be highly beneficial in answering scientific questions that arose during the working group’s discussions, especially with respect to siting issues. However, the process generated controversy when the SAP was asked to generate a “percent-coverage” value for an effective MPA network. The Channel Islands MPAs are intended to provide an ecological network through larval transport and habitat representation, and this became a point of contention because potential “spillover” effects and larval transport mechanisms are presently difficult to demonstrate scientifically. Site “connectivity” is also a high priority for Washington’s Aquatic Reserves program, and will be factored into reviews of future site proposals.




In all cases boundaries are marked on paper maps that are available to the public. However, the boundaries generally do not follow suggested “best management practices” for marine boundaries (Stein, 2003). For example, half of the MMA systems use depth contours for boundaries, which are difficult to map, can fluctuate with shifting sediments, and are not as legally defensible.  However, boundaries have been digitized in four of the six cases for incorporation into Geographic Information Systems and made available online.  In addition, managers in California are working with industry partners to have marine reserve boundaries integrated with digital, nautical charts and Global Positioning System (GPS) units.




In Oregon, Washington, and Florida, the state MMA systems are designed primarily to restrict undesirable developments and alterations. These


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developments and alterations require local and state permits, and therefore illegal activities are treated in the same manner as other permit violations.


Citizens, state and local agencies, and nongovernmental organizations play a critical role in reporting violations and countering proposals. In some cases, no penalties for violations are specified by the legislature; rather, the managing agency can force a violator to cease and desist and/or remove a non-permitted development.


The MMA systems studied in California and North Carolina are aimed at fisheries management, but differ significantly in their enforcement programs. In North Carolina, the Primary and Secondary Nursery Areas are treated as any other fishery rule, and therefore the existing enforcement staff conducts patrols and issues citations. In California, an enforcement partnership is being developed between the state Department of Fish and Game and three federal agencies. In addition, the DFG uses a technologically advanced enforcement vessel and air surveillance for enforcement of the Channel Islands marine reserves. Enforcement is a key concern for this MPA system, where and individual’s compliance may rely heavily on the perception that sufficient enforcement exists to limit poaching by others [for a more detailed examination of MPA enforcement issues in the Channel Islands and nationwide, see Davis et al. (in prep.)].




All six MMA systems utilize the Internet to convey information to the public, and most respondents indicated that their websites appeared to be of significant value in educating stakeholders. The sites were considered most effective when digital maps of the site boundaries link directly to corresponding regulations. In addition, brochures and other printed materials were commonly distributed, but in some cases reprints and distribution were limited by a lack of funding.


Volunteer restoration, monitoring, and/or educational programs were also developed in four of the six systems to increase public awareness and support.


The “Living Waters – the Aquatic Preserves of Florida” educational campaign was probably the most inventive and far-reaching of the education/outreach activities, and involved a public television documentary, calendar, and music CD based on a partnership with a nationally-known artist.


Institutional arrangements


Coordination between local, state, and federal agencies is a critical aspect of the MMA systems studied for this report. Most of the programs have insufficient staff, funding, and jurisdiction over activities and/or resources to address all of the threats to designated sites. In some cases, coordination has been gained through the cross-designation of sites between environmental programs.


For example, a number of Aquatic Preserves in Florida are cross-designated as Outstanding Resource Waters and Gulf Ecological Management Sites (GEMS);


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Primary Nursery Areas in North Carolina are cross-designated as “High Quality Waters” and Essential Fish Habitat under regional fishery management plans.


In addition, a number of MMA systems rely heavily on volunteer participation to assist with program activities.




The state-level MMA systems examined in this report have all attained the strong support of stakeholders, which in turn has led to sufficient political support as well.


The high levels of support are attributed to two key factors: 1) the early, extensive, and inclusive nature of stakeholder participation in system planning; and 2) strong scientific data that support site selections and boundary demarcations.


Coordination between and among local, state, and federal agencies, often through new partnerships, was also considered essential to the success of these MMA systems. In particular, state agencies may find that they can leverage staff time and jurisdiction to gain the education/outreach, monitoring, and/or enforcement capacities of other agencies.


Finally, the concept of ecological networks of MMAs is gaining momentum. MMA systems that were established in the 1970s and 1980s were not as likely to consider this

concept, but could through site additions and/or standardized approaches with other area-based management systems. Newer MMA systems are encountering difficulties with the science needed to plan for and/or demonstrate site connectivity. Additional research is needed in this area.




Davis, B.C., J. Lopez, and A. Finch. 2003. State Policies and Programs related to Marine Managed Areas: Issues, Concerns, and Recommendations for a National System. Coastal States Organization/National Marine Protected Areas Center.


Davis, B.C. and G. Moretti. In prep. MPA Enforcement Synthesis: Draft Report.


Charleston, SC: Training and Technical Assistance Institute, National Marine Protected Areas Center.


Stein, D. 2003. Tips for developing marine boundaries. MPA News 4(7): 5.


Braxton Davis, Ph.D.

Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences

University of South Carolina

Columbia, SC 29208



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Implementing No Net Loss for Washington State Shoreline Management


Stacy Fawell, School of Marine Affairs, University of Washington




The concept of “no net loss” as an environmental protection policy is most well known in association with United States wetlands management but is also a goal in other environmental management arenas including fish and wildlife habitat and eelgrass bed protection. The application of the “no net loss” standard has grown as it presents a desirable ideal of preventing further loss of natural resources to human pressures, and at times striving for a net gain. One of its most recent applications is in the new shoreline management guidelines adopted by Washington State.


In December of 2002 the Washington State Department of Ecology submitted new draft shoreline management guidelines for formal rule making. These rules were adopted in December of 2003. The Department of Ecology is required by the Shoreline Management Act of 1971 (SMA) to provide the guidelines to assist local governments in writing their required Shoreline Master Programs (SMPs). These programs direct development along the shorelines of the state’s lakes, rivers, streams and coasts, with the broad goal of balancing economic development and environmental protection.


One of the most significant changes to the guidelines is the requirement for local (SMPs)to rely on a policy of “no net loss of shoreline ecological function” as the standard for environmental protection (DOE, 2003). The new guidelines direct local governments to ensure “no net loss” by including policies and regulations for mitigation of ecological functions impaired through development otherwise allowed by the Program (DOE, 2003). While the policy is now being written into the Master Programs, it has yet to be tested at the local level and there are still many details to be resolved.


The purpose of this paper is to examine the capability of state and local governments to successfully implement this policy. It is especially concerned with how no net loss can be achieved given the reliance on compensatory mitigation, the available scientific information on mitigation effectiveness and the restraints of the local level permitting process. The results of this study are scientifically informed recommendations for improving the likelihood of achieving no net loss.


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Policy Analytical Problem Diagnosis


The problem of shoreline management can be diagnosed using the traditional explanations for inefficient and inequitable allocations of goods. Because shorelines can be rivalrous in consumption, nonexcludable in ownership and use, and congestible, they may be classified as a public good. The allocation of such public goods is a basis for market failure and the cause of negative externalities (Weimer and Vining, 1999). In seeking benefits from public goods, individuals will act in their own best interest, tending to over-consume the nonmarket good and under-invest in it. Each impact to the shoreline made for individual benefit will make the public, as a whole, worse off by reducing their allocation of shoreline access or of environmental services provided by ecological function. The primary solutions for market failures, rules and regulations and non-market supply have been applied to Washington State shorelines through the adoption of the SMA which provides for management of the shorelines as a public good under the public trust doctrine. Non-market supply has also been applied through the provision of this management by the state and local governments.


This government intervention to correct market failure results in government failure because of decentralization in how the Act is administered (Weimer and Vining, 1999).


Decentralization is easily diagnosed in this case through the distribution of authority from the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) at the federal level, to the SMA at the state level, to the SMP at the local level. 


Although the SMA was actually adopted before the CZMA, it was networked with other existing state legislation to create Washington’s Coastal Zone Management Program and is therefore now part of this decentralization path.  The primary benefit of decentralization of allowing citizens to play a larger role in decision-making can also be the largest problem because this open access can hinder implementation.


In discussing implementation, Bardach (1977) points out that a policy will only be effective if the theory upon which it is based is correct and if the essential policy elements are available and reliable. He illustrates this principle by comparing policy implementation to the smooth operation of a machine: the assembled machine will only run properly and create the intended product if the plans it is built by are complete and all the parts are present and properly working.


In this paper, the implementation of the “no net loss of shoreline ecological function” policy is examined. To determine ways that implementation may be improved, both the theory the policy is based on and the necessary elements for its operation are explored. The viability of this concept is informed by the lessons learned from other “no net loss” attempts and the scientific literature on assessing function. The availability and functioning of two of the policy elements, the permitting process and compensatory mitigation, are also studied.


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The Concepts behind the Policy


Bardach (1977) argues that “it is impossible to implement well a policy or program that is defective in its basic theoretical conception.” Two approaches have been taken to examine the theory behind the “no net loss of shoreline ecological function” policy. The first is a study of the intended meaning of “no net loss” both in the shoreline context and in other arenas. The effectiveness of these other policies is also observed to search for lessons to apply to implementation of the shoreline policy. The second approach is a look at the scientific understanding of our ability to identify “ecological function.”


The proclamation of “no net loss” can be understood in two ways: either at face value as a strict objective that rigidly structures decision making, or as a conceptual goal that provides decision making guidance. Other regulations that incorporate “no net loss” terminology tend to treat it as the latter. Rylko (1991) presents the “no net loss” policy of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act as recognition that a goal of balance between economic development and environmental protection is not sufficient. Instead, the policy provides a measurable means of proving that balance is being achieved. Sweeney (1996) shows a similar interpretation of the “no net loss” policy used for eelgrass habitat in Washington State. “No net loss” is also a general goal in this case and it is used to inform policy decisions.


Preliminary results on the effectiveness of other “no net loss” policies show that the goal has not been achieved. Of the five “no net loss” policies researched (United States wetlands acreage and function, Washington State wetlands acreage and function, Washington state eelgrass habitat, Washington State fish and shellfish habitat, Canadian fish habitat) no studies were found that reported a complete curtailment of loss. However, reports do indicate a reduction in loss over recent decades, especially for wetlands (NRC, 2001).


The viability of the concept of the shoreline policy also rests on whether or not shoreline ecological functions can be identified, categorized and protected through permitting. The new shoreline management guidelines require local governments to identify ecological functions based on a list that includes hydrologic, vegetative, hyporheic and habitat functions. Again preliminary review of the literature raises doubts. Problems lie in the need to clearly define function (Goldstein, 1999; Ehrenfeld, 2000) and to recognize that “relationships among ecosystem functions are complex and not readily predictable or generalizable” (Ehrenfeld, 2000). Approaches such as the hydrogeomorphic method used for wetland functional assessment may translate for use with shorelines.


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Availability and Functioning of the Policy Elements


The permitting process and its use of compensatory mitigation are two existing policy elements from the implementation of the SMA that may influence the implementation of the new “no net loss” policy. Interviews with local level planners and permit offices will be used to better understand how permit applications are prepared and reviewed and what aspects of this process could interfere with the achievement of “no net loss.” Restrictions on funding and manpower may hinder local government’s capability to identify ecological function and protect it through permitting.


The sequence of mitigation measures is relied on as a tool for balancing economic development with environmental protection and is therefore a primary component of “no net loss” efforts. The fifth step of the sequence, compensatory mitigation, has received the most attention in the literature and is the most controversial because it depends on remuneration through replacement, enhancement or substitution. Preliminary results from the literature on wetland mitigation show a less than 50% compliance rate with permit requirements, a net loss of wetland acreage, and either failure to replace function or inconclusive results on the replacement of function. It is difficult to see how it will be successful for replacing shoreline function, because compensatory mitigation has had varied levels of success at replacing wetland functions. A continued reliance on mitigation will allow for a continued loss of function.




Returning to Bardach’s metaphor of successful policy implementation as a conceptually well-founded and structurally complete machine, this study finds that the “no net loss of shoreline ecological function” policy may not run smoothly without some adjustments. The concept it is based on may not be sound if ‘no net loss” has not been achieved in the management of other natural resources and if the target of ecological function is difficult for local governments to identify and categorize. Two of the fundamental components of the machine, local level permitting and compensatory mitigation, may also impede success because mitigation for function has not been successful for wetlands, and permitting may restrict decision-making. Suggestions for improvement will be presented and may include lessons learned through the experiences of other “no net loss” policies and recommendations for support to local governments for identification of functions and mitigation requirements.


The exact details of how to implement the policy will need to be “muddled through.” It is recognized that there are many questions yet to be answered in implementing this policy but that a stronger goal than just balance is needed to ensure environmental protection. Introducing such a goal that does not have clear implementation steps and is in need of refinement during application is more beneficial than remaining with the status quo.


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Bardach E. 1977. The Implementation Game: What Happens after a Bill Becomes a Law. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.


[DOE] Washington State Department of Ecology. 2003. Shoreline Master Program Guidelines: Summary Comparison of Invalidated and Proposed Replacement Guidelines WAC 173-26. Available from Accessed 2003 February 25.


Ehrenfeld JG. 2000. Defining the Limits of Restoration: the Need for Realistic Goals. Restoration Ecology 8(1):2-9.


Goldstein PZ. 1999. Functional Ecosystems and Biodiversity Buzzwords. Conservation Biology 13(2):247-255.


Lee K. 1993. Compass and Gyroscope: Integrating Science and Politics for the Environment. Washington DC: Island Press. 243 p.


[NRC] National Research Council. 2001. Compensating for wetland losses under the Clean Water Act. National Academy Press, Washington, DC.


Rylko M. 1991. Whither Compensation? Using No Net Loss of Wetlands as the Basis for Evaluating the Compensatory Mitigation Process Under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act: A Case Study of Washington State [thesis]. Seattle, WA: University of Washington. 65 p.


Sweeney, C. 1996. Eelgrass mitigation policy for overwater structures in Washington State [thesis]. Seattle, WA: University of Washington. 52p.


Thompson JD, Tuden A. 1959. Strategies, Structures, and Processes of Organization Decision. In Thompson JD, Hammond PB, Hawkes RW, Junker BH, Tuden A. eds. 1959. Comparative Studies in Administration. Pittsburgh PA: University of Pittsburgh Press. 224 p.


Weimer DL, Vining AR. 1999. Policy Analysis: Concepts and Practice. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc. 486 p.


Stacy A. Fawell

University of Washington

School of Marine Affairs

3707 Brooklyn Avenue NE

Seattle, WA 98105-6715


Fax: 206-543-1416


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Northeast Ocean Commissions Regional Breakout Session


Virginia Lee, University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center, Gib Chase, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service




Group discussion will focus on the need for integrated and ecosystem-based ocean planning and management, a primary recommendation of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission. Discussion will also address the establishment of a regional ocean ecosystem council for comprehensive and coordinated approach and new governance of our Northeast region, as recommended by the two commissions. The topics of importance would be a shared vision, coalition building, unified management plan, and shared management objectives to protect shared resources. Examples of regional initiatives will be presented and follow-up discussion will be facilitated.


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Economic and Demographic Dimensions of Coastal Zone Land Use Changes


Judith Tegger Kildow, California State University at Monterey Bay, Charles S. Colgan, University of Southern Maine




The coastal landscape is in transition. America’s traditional shoreside industries of ship building and fishing are in decline; cottage industries and quiet seaside cabins are being replaced by a booming tourist industry, replete with hotels, restaurants, strip malls and trophy homes.


As pavement replaces soils, and runoff, formerly absorbed into the land, flows to the sea as toxic soup, beach closings frustrate the growing number of tourists wanting to enjoy a sunny day at the shore.


What is driving these changes? How can we manage them?  These land use changes in the coastal zone are driven by important demographic and economic changes.


This presentation examines changes in the thirty coastal and Great Lakes states from 1990-2000 in three regions: the near shore, the coastal zone (as defined for the CZMA) and coastal watersheds.


Population and housing changes are examined in light of Census data and employment and output changes in each region are analyzed using new data derived from employment and gross state product data.


Both total change and change associated with ocean-related economic activity are examined and differing patterns of demographic and economic change in coastal states are identified. 


This analysis will show differing patterns of population and economic growth in the coastal zone with significant implications for land use patterns.


The presentation will also present how improved economic information can assist understanding of land use changes and their relationship to coastal resources.


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Implementation of the Broad Creek Management Plan: Local Government Can Make a Difference


Karen M. Cullen, Town of Hilton Head Island, S.C.


The Town of Hilton Head Island is a large barrier island in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of southeastern South Carolina. The island is bisected by Broad Creek, an eight-mile long tidal river that receives stormwater runoff from 54% of the island. Town staff spent two years researching and writing a management plan for Broad Creek to determine how we could best initiate changes in land use and development practices to improve the water quality of the creek and the environmental quality of the ecosystem.


Over 50 implementation strategies were identified that the town could accomplish alone or in partnership with other organizations or agencies. Since completion of the plan in 2001 we have begun nearly half of those. In the process, we have identified issues where local government can have a positive impact, issues where local government must work with others, and a few issues where the political reality of the moment prohibit us from implementing the recommendations.


The Town of Hilton Head Island staff are involved in important projects to the degree that we have been unable to devote adequate time to implementation of the recommendations in this plan or many of the other plans we have -- the comprehensive plan, open space and recreation plan, beach management plan, etc. Having been incorporated in 1983 and facing many significant challenges ever since, the lack of resources for implementation is inevitable -- Hilton Head Island has done an excellent job of planning for the future for a variety of issues, including disaster recovery and redevelopment. Within a year or so the town should be in the position to begin full-scale implementation of the recommendations made in our various adopted plans, many of which are closely interrelated.


To date, the greatest achievements in implementation of the Broad Creek Management Plan have come in the public education recommendations. Many of these initiatives have been completed, including the publication of seven brochures, two booklets, the design and installation of a public information kiosk at the public boat landing, and the creation of a web site which provides a summary of each chapter in the plan, an overview of the implementation strategies, and web based brochures. We have also made numerous presentations to the general public about the plan and the ecology of the creek, which have been well received.


As a result of those efforts, we have found that the public, in general, are more aware of the issues facing Broad Creek, and are more likely to modify their


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thinking or behavior in regards to the creek. The local media has assisted in this regard, publishing favorable articles and editorials on the local waterways and the Broad Creek Management Plan in particular. A volunteer based clean up event on the creek has received tremendous support, due in part to the efforts the town has put forth in educating the public.


Other public education efforts recommended in the plan include working with developers to encourage the use of community docks and to educate them on stormwater management techniques that improve water quality. We also plan to meet with the property owners’ associations of the developments along the creek, to discuss the ramifications of allowing larger and larger homes with less landscaping, particularly using native species. Additional education initiatives include creating other brochures, designing and installing more interpretative signage, producing a self running CD-ROM slide show, and conducting seminars on riparian buffers.


The encouragement of property owners to preserve native vegetation and buffers along the creek is also in the education realm. While it is unlikely that extensive change will be made quickly, small incremental improvements are a step in the right direction. As more property owners understand the ramifications of their suburban landscaping techniques and modify their own behavior, their neighbors may take notice and hopefully learn from them.


Many of the implementation techniques that can be accomplished by the town have been started but are not yet completed. One of these techniques involves writing new land development regulations to require increased removal of nutrients and pollutants from stormwater runoff prior to its discharge into the receiving water body. These regulations will have benefits island-wide and for all water bodies surrounding the island.


A map and database of the docks on Broad Creek was completed, and one of the management plan’s recommendations is to expand this to the other water bodies on Hilton Head Island. Due to unavailability of staff resources we have been unable to do this. We have, however, updated the dock database annually. This map is useful not only for efforts to improve the creek, but for public safety purposes as well and can be used for responding to on-the-water emergencies as well as water access for disaster recovery.


Other successful efforts deal with the development of town-owned property.


These include two major drainage projects, which incorporate extensive best management practices to improve the water quality of the stormwater. One, which has won several state and national awards, has been operational for several years. It includes created wetlands and a lake, which has reduced flooding and reduced discharge nutrients, but has increased fecal coliform due to an increase in wildlife usage. The second project is under construction in 2004;

it will discharge into the headwaters of Broad Creek and we expect to see


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improvements in water quality in that area as a result. Other enhancements made on town property include use of native vegetation for nearly all landscaping needs, and creating trails with interpretive signage to provide public access to the creek along with public education.


We have realized that a number of our recommendations are unlikely to be implemented soon, due to the political winds that are currently blowing in the town. No community is immune to this, and our approach is to simply keep those recommendations on the books for future consideration. While it may not be politically supportable to do something today, in five years it may be not only acceptable but also intolerable to ignore it.


One of these politically driven issues deals with the regulation of tidal wetland buffers on single family lots. The town has resisted regulating single family lots in any way, which stems from the development history of the island – 75% of the land is within planned unit developments (PUDs) where it was felt the PUD was doing an adequate job of regulating development on single family lots. All land within the town is subject to the town’s tidal wetland buffer requirements, but violations on single family lots (which have increased in recent years) are largely un-enforced. To address this, we have drafted amendments to the tidal wetland buffer regulations to permit the creation of view windows. This is an effort to provide a reasonable way for homeowners to get a view of the creek or marshes without the temptation to cut down the entire buffer.


For the same reason, another recommendation is unlikely to be implemented in the near future – the preservation of specimen trees on single family lots. This is not intended to render any lot unbuildable, but in cases where such trees (primarily the largest live oaks) could be saved by adjustments to house design or encroachment of side, front, or rear setbacks, such design modifications would be required to preserve the tree. We are seeing a loss of such trees along the shoreline of the creek as ever-larger homes are built. The loss of these trees is a loss of wildlife habitat – not only for birds, but also small mammals, reptiles, and where these trees provide shade over the water or marsh, aquatic species as well.


Many of the management plan’s recommendations require the town to work with other agencies or organizations. Among those is assisting the local public service districts (PSDs) in their efforts to provide public sewer service to the remaining areas of their districts, which are still dependent on septic systems.


Several neighborhoods along the shoreline of Broad Creek are in desperate need of an alternative to the existing septic systems. One neighborhood has septic densities up to 5.8 systems per acre, an unheard of amount of septic effluent even in the best of soils. Hilton Head’s soils, being marine in origin, are not well suited for septic disposal. The town is assisting the PSDs with master planning and grant research.


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We have also worked sporadically with the SC Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on oyster restoration efforts, helping with reef construction and securing a space for oyster shell collection for recycling. This site is currently used for a solid waste collection facility, but will be vacated in the summer of 2004. The site will initially be used for shell collection only, but if that effort is successful and is not a nuisance to nearby development, the site will be expanded to include drying and decontamination, bagging, and storage of the shells, so they will be ready for reef construction.


One project that the town started during work on the management plan has led us into a partnership with NOAA’s Coastal Services Center (CSC) and SC DNR. Field observation indicated that the number and extent of oyster beds we were observing was lower than what was depicted on DNR’s shellfish maps.  This was not surprising given the age of the maps (20 years) and the degree of development that had occurred during that 20 year period.


Staff felt it would be beneficial to obtain or create new shellfish maps, partly to reassess the resource and partly to determine if there are areas where we could correlate man’s activities (development and/or stormwater outfalls) with significant reduction in the resource.


Such information could help us determine what actions we could take to reduce those impacts, thus improving the conditions in these areas to allow for healthier shellfish beds in the future. In addition, accurate maps and correlation information will help us to identify potential restoration sites.


We began this mapping effort by doing our own on-the-ground mapping with a GPS unit, which included detailed information on the shellfish beds. While extremely accurate, this was a time consuming process and not a technique we could use on the entire creek. DNR had been working on this effort with us, and they and NOAA’s CSC invited us to participate in a project to analyze various remote sensing techniques to create new shellfish maps for the entire South Carolina coast. To date the appropriate imagery and analysis techniques to create the polygons have been identified, and collection of the imagery data has begun. It is expected that data collection will be completed in 2004, with processing and polygon creation scheduled for completion in 2005. It is anticipated that detailed data on the shellfish beds will be added by field reconnaissance only for specific areas where such information is necessary for management of the resource.


The town has been busy with redevelopment planning for several neighborhoods on the island. One of these is in the southern part of the island, and all of the stormwater from this area eventually discharges into Broad Creek. This particular area contains the oldest commercial development on the island, and has much higher levels of impervious surfaces and much higher densities than is permitted in the current zoning ordinance. In addition, the stormwater drainage

system throughout the area was designed and built years before water quality was a major concern, thus it did not include measures that are common today


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for reducing pollutants from the stormwater runoff. This, we believe, is contributing to higher pollutant loads than other areas of development create.


One of the major efforts in the redevelopment planning is to improve the quality of the stormwater runoff before it is discharged into Broad Creek. We believe this can be accomplished through a combination of using pervious materials for parking lots, sidewalks, and pathways; using a shared stormwater management system which incorporates numerous BMPs (best management practices, or specific stormwater facilities which are designed to treat stormwater); and increasing the amount of green space and native vegetation throughout the area.  While it will be many years before the redevelopment initiatives result in substantial change, we believe that the incremental changes that will take place will have a positive impact on the water quality of Broad Creek.


In summary, the creation of the Broad Creek Management Plan by the Town of Hilton Head Island will undoubtedly lead to improved conditions in, on, and along the creek. While the number of implementation strategies we have completed to date is low, the benefit is high. More importantly, the interconnectedness of this plan and other planning efforts in the town is crucial to creating better conditions which will eventually lead to improvements in Broad Creek.


All organizations are political to some degree, and local government is no exception. However, plans should not be designed to address only the concerns of the political establishment at the moment, but should include recommendations based on sound science. Eventually it may become evident that such recommendations are in the best interest of the community, and they will be implemented.


Any local government that has the resources to create a plan for the management of the coastal resources it impacts should strive to create that plan.  Such plans should not be heavily influenced by the politics of the time since unpopular recommendations of today may very well be the prevailing ideas of tomorrow. In addition, local governments should not expect regional, state, or federal plans to identify the same implementation strategies that they themselves can, nor should they expect such larger agencies to implement recommendations made on a local level. In short, local government has a responsibility to help protect the coastal environment, and implementation of a management plan such as the Broad Creek Management Plan can go a long way towards that end.


Karen M. Cullen, AICP

Comprehensive Planning Division

Town of Hilton Head Island

One Town Center Court

Hilton Head Island, SC 29928



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The Surfrider Foundation 2004 State of the Beach Report


Rick Wilson Chad Nelsen


In 1999 the Surfrider Foundation, an international coastal environmental organization, initiated its State of the Beach report to provide an annual update on the status of our nation’s beaches. The fifth State of the Beach report is being published this month and is available at


The State of the Beach report is intended to be a measuring stick by which local citizens, government officials, and coastal zone managers can judge the health of their beaches. States that have “model programs” are held up as examples to other states. The report now covers 22 states and territories and evaluates the amount of readily-available information and the status for nine “beach health indicators.” The indicators are: (1) Beach Access, (2) Surf Zone Water Quality, (3) Beach Erosion, (4) Beach Fill, (5) Shoreline Structures, (6) Erosion Response, (7) Beach Ecology, (8) Surfing Areas, and (9) Web Site.


To compile the information for the State of the Beach report, Surfrider developed survey questionnaires for each beach health indicator and distributed the surveys to state coastal zone managers. We also searched (“surfed”) each state’s coastal management web site. All states investigated had such a web site.  As there was a wide range in the amount of data available from the web sites and also varying degrees of response from each state, Surfrider contacted many of the state coastal management program offices via telephone and/or e-mail to ask for additional information.


Although the availability of beach health indicator information is increasing, Surfrider still finds relatively sparse information available on many Beach Health Indicators. Overall, the results of this study point to the need for more complete and more easily accessible information that can be used to measure the status of our coastal environment. Not only will this information help guide policy implementation, it will also provide the public with a picture of the status of the condition of the nation’s shorelines.


Following is a description of each of the beach health indicators developed and evaluated by Surfrider Foundation:


Beach Access is the public's ability to reach the ocean and includes the facilities that improve access (such as parking lots, stairways, and restrooms). Because the beach is a public resource and all people have a right to enjoy the beach, access to it should not be limited.


It is essential that beach access remains compatible with coastal conservation goals so that public access does not negatively


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impact the coastal environment. The public can improve their access to the beach through awareness of beach access locations and by fighting against any attempts to limit access.


Surf Zone Water Quality is the level of pollution in the ocean and its effect on recreational uses such as surfing or swimming.  Coastal outfalls, such as sewage pipelines and storm drains, carry land-based pollutants to the ocean. Although beach water quality monitoring efforts are underway in almost all coastal states, consistent monitoring along with information on outfall locations can improve the correlation between elevated pollutant levels and upstream sources of pollution.


Beach Erosion decreases the width of dry beach. Gradual sea level rise is causing beach erosion to occur naturally, however this erosion is typically not problematic unless it interferes with human development. In addition, many coastal development activities, such as damming rivers or constructing shoreline structures that restrict the flow of sand, often accelerate erosion processes. By having information on erosion rates for a coastline, local citizens and their government can avoid shortsighted development of erosion-prone coastal areas.


Beach Fill projects, often called “beach nourishment” dump sand on a beach to offset sand lost to erosion. Used as an alternative to shoreline structures, this “soft stabilization” method is often costly and is usually funded with taxpayer money at the federal, state, and local level.


Unfortunately, many times the “life expectancy” of a beach fill project is overestimated.

Shoreline Structures, also known as “armoring,” are attempts to protect homes and other development along the shoreline from beach erosion. Examples include groins, jetties, and seawalls.  These structures often provide only short-term solutions and frequently have an adverse effect on the beach by fixing the shoreward extent of the beach normal or accelerated erosion continues, eventually resulting in loss of the beach.


Erosion Response is a measure of how well state policies and procedures limit the extent of shoreline armoring. 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? This indicator intends to bring attention to the states that are taking a proactive role in minimizing beach destruction.


Beach Ecology recognizes that sandy beaches not only provide habitat for numerous species of plants and animals, they also serve as breeding grounds for many species that are not residential to the beach. Sandy beaches are diverse and productive systems that serve as a critical link between marine and terrestrial environments. Threats to healthy beach ecology include erosion of


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the beach, which can negatively impact beach ecology by removing habitat. Other threats to ecological systems at the beach include beach grooming and other beach maintenance activities.


Even our attempts at beach restoration may disrupt the ecological health of the beach by smothering natural habitat or influencing the reproductive habits of species that utilize sandy beaches for these functions. In the interest of promoting better monitoring of sandy

beach systems, the Surfrider Foundation would like to see the implementation of a standardized methodology for assessing beach ecological health.


Surfing Areas are a valuable recreational resource. Shoreline armoring, loss of access and degradation of water quality threaten surfing areas. By creating an inventory (not a guide) of surfing areas that documents their existence and use, the loss and degradation of surf breaks can be tracked and prevented. Impacts to surfing areas can be considered as part of environmental assessments and reports.




As the use of computers and the Internet expands; websites are increasingly becoming an excellent tool for the publication of and access to information. The Internet provides an enormous wealth of data and can also be a great educational resource for the general public. As long as one has access to a computer and the Internet, the public can “surf” the websites for information on beaches. Many state coastal management agencies are utilizing the Internet to provide important information on the health of our nation’s beaches as well as coastal zone management goals, policies, and programs. To evaluate the quality of state coastal management websites, the report uses the following criteria ease of use, content and current information.




Since the 2004 State of the Beach report is Surfrider Foundation’s 5th evaluation of the state of the nation’s beaches and the amount of information available to gauge our beaches’ health, we felt that it was appropriate to look back on our first report in 2000 and note the differences in the scope of the report and in our major findings.


The 2000 State of the Beach report covered 16 states where Surfrider Foundation had chapters.


The 2004 report covers 22 states and territories.


We originally evaluated six beach health indicators; we now report on nine indicators.


Our first report was 63 pages long, only available in print.


Our current report consists of an approximately 50-page printed “executive summary” and a much-expanded online version of the report that represents over 500 pages of detailed information on each beach health indicator for each state. The online report available at also


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includes expanded discussions on the report methodology and on each beach health indicator.


Online-only features include a “bad and rad” listing of facts representative of threats to our nation's beaches and programs that are working to protect our shores, a “perspectives” section that lets our chapter representatives “sound off” about local issues of concern, and a “for coastal zone managers” section that illustrates examples of model coastal programs for each indicator.


Continuing with our multi-media approach for the report, in 2003 we included post cards and stickers with our print report and “e-postcards” with our online report. This year we have included a poster illustrating our beach ecology theme.


One of our primary themes and recommendations in each report has been to increase the amount of information available on each beach health indicator.


This information must be available to coastal zone managers so they can develop effective programs and make informed decisions regarding protecting our coastal resources. Likewise, the public needs this information so that can participate in the process and make their own informed decisions.


The table below shows the percentage of states that earned a “red” (information doesn’t exist or is unavailable) score in our first report versus those that were rated a grade of 1, 2, or 3 (out of 10) in our latest report for information on each of the original beach health indicators.


Indicator 2000 2004


% red % red (1, 2 or 3)

Beach Access 25 0

Surf Zone Water Quality 31 9

Erosion 12.5 9

Beach Fill 37.5 18

Shoreline Structures 48 32

Surfing Areas 87.5 71


The biggest improvements have been for the beach access and surf zone water quality indicators. All surveyed states now have at least some statewide information on beach access.


Following passage of the “Beach Act” legislation in October 2000, all but one surveyed state now has a beach water-quality monitoring program and several states are expanding their programs. The indictors that still have a paucity of statewide information are shoreline structures and surfing areas.


Although information on indicators such as coastal access and beach water quality is becoming fairly widespread and obtainable through coastal web sites and other sources, Surfrider still found relatively sparse information for many of the other indicators covered by the State of the Beach report.


Surfrider encountered numerous data gaps, especially in the areas of the number and


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location of coastal outfalls, inventories of shoreline structures and recognition of beach ecology (new indicator). In many cases we were told the data does not exist. However, data gaps do not necessarily mean the information is entirely absent -- it simply may not be easily obtainable via the Internet or other recognized public information sources. Sparse beach health indicator information is a warning that without better information gathering or more stringent coastal policies, many of our coastal resources are at risk.


The results of this study point to the need for easily accessible information -- information that can be found with relative ease over the Internet or through state coastal management program offices. A more stringent monitoring of beach health indicators is needed to ensure long-term coastal management that provides healthy and accessible beaches. Through this research, Surfrider Foundation made the following conclusions on the state of the beach:


Beach Access





Beach access is the strongest area of almost every state’s coastal management program. All states had at least some statewide beach access information. Unfortunately, most access guides do not illustrate gains or losses in beach access to allow a tracking of progress.


Most states have published guides to beach access, with the California Coastal Access Guide an example of one of the most thorough and complete guides to state beach access. Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina, Michigan, Texas and Hawaii have

excellent coastal access information.




In general, beach access is plentiful on the West Coast. Along the East

Coast beach access is severely limited in several states. The States with the

highest level of accessibility (shortest average distance between access

points) are California and Rhode Island with average distances of 1.9 and

1.94 miles between access points, respectively. Lateral access, or the ability

to walk along the beach has been secured in most states; the notable

exceptions are Maine, Massachusetts, Delaware and Virginia where the

beach between high and low tide is considered private. Access issues in

Florida have prompted Surfrider chapters there to draft a “Florida Open

Beaches Act,” which they hope to have considered by the legislature.


Surf Zone Water Quality




In general, it is difficult to collect information on water quality monitoring results on a national basis. The Natural Resources Defense Council puts out


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a comprehensive report summarizing beach closures in their annual Testing the Waters report. With the passage and implementation of the BEACH bill, monitoring and reporting programs are become more standardized and monitoring program information and a current list of beaches with health warnings are becoming more commonly accessible via state and county websites.


EPA is requiring electronic reporting of monitoring and beach closure information beginning Spring 2004, which should facilitate evaluation of the data by Surfrider Foundation and others.


There is still little information available at the state level on the location or number of storm drains or sewage outfalls. In most cases, this information exists at the local level. Although this may be appropriate for civil works projects, it is not optimal for solving statewide water quality problems.




As noted above, beach water quality monitoring standards, testing, and public notification are becoming more consistent among coastal states. However, there has been an overall trend toward more frequent beach closures and health advisories during the past few years. This may indicate an increase in water quality monitoring, changes in standards for closures, increased storm events or an actual increase in polluted waters. As monitoring programs become more standardized, it should be possible to ascertain the reasons for trends in closures and advisories and to develop strategies to lessen the frequency of these events.


Attention is shifting from point sources of pollution to non-point sources throughout the watersheds that drain to the coast. This is drawing coastal residents and business owners into fray as education and behavior change become more important elements in improving coastal water quality.


Shoreline Structures





Little information is available on the location and number of structures built on the beach. Although many states may have this information through their permitting process, it appears that few states have inventoried their shoreline structures.




Although many states have heavily armored coastlines, most states are moving away from the use of hardened structures as the standard response to eroding shorelines. At the very least, states are becoming more aware of the long-term consequences of coastal armoring. Structures (such as seawalls or groins) can protect homes and businesses, but have adverse effects on the surrounding beach. By banning them or severely restricting their use, North Carolina and South Carolina have led the charge against the use of these potentially beach-damaging structures. Of course, exceptions are still made under emergency clauses.


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In addition, there is evidence that homeowners often put structures in place without permits under emergency conditions.


Surfing Areas




Only two states (California and Hawaii) have documented surfing areas in published beach access guides. A comprehensive list of well-known surf spots for many coastal states is available through Surfer Magazine’s Surf Report. Numerous private company websites exists in several states that document and give information about surfing areas.




Along the West Coast of the United States, conditions of surfing areas range from good to fair and there is a fair recognition of the value of surfing areas. California, through permit conditions, has stated that surfing areas are important recreation resources that deserve protection. The main threat affecting surfing areas is water quality. On the East Coast, surfing areas are in good to fair condition as well, but beach access and beach fill (which can alter beach and profiles and therefore alter surfing conditions) are major concerns.


Beach Erosion




Most states have numerous studies on shoreline change and erosion. Much of this wealth of information is not readily accessible to the public. Even when the information is available, the reports are often so obscured by technical language and length (some up to 1,000 pages) that only a select few individuals outside the target audience can glean meaningful information from them. Without this important information, poor coastal development and planning will continue along the coastline. It is essential that the general public understand the dynamic and eroding nature of the coastline so that beaches are not sacrificed to protect the “front row” of homes along the coast.


A few states have created “user-friendly” methods of distributing available erosion data. Florida, for example, has an excellent web site where areas that are designated as critically eroding are graphically represented on a map of the state. A few other state coastal management programs, such as Massachusetts, have long-term shoreline change/erosion rate maps available to the public. Useful erosion information is also available in Maine, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Michigan.


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Beach Fill Projects




In response to shoreline erosion, beach fill, often called “ beach nourishment” has become the compromise between hardened structures and outright retreat from the coastline for many states. In places like Virginia Beach and Miami Beach, beach fill is a regular occurrence. In these specific cases, the economic value of tourism far outweighs the costs associated with fill. Unfortunately, there are often ecological impacts associated with beach fill that are just being understood.


Delaware, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, Michigan, North Carolina and South Carolina provide relatively complete information on beach fill projects. The reports include location, cost to the state, and date projects are completed. Florida fill project information is available through the Florida State University web site. Often the information is available through U.S. Army Corps of Engineers web sites.


Erosion Response




North Carolina, South Carolina, Michigan and Rhode Island have some of the most progressive programs on erosion response. Typical elements of these programs include statewide oceanfront construction setbacks used to site new development; prohibiting reconstruction or providing incentives for relocation when existing development is damaged during a storm; and requiring that there is demonstrated need for shoreline stabilization via geo-technical reports, that alternatives to armoring are fully explored, and that potential adverse impacts and cumulative effects are taken into account before permitting shoreline stabilization.


Beach Ecology




There was very little readily obtainable information on this topic, or even recognition of what the term meant in many states. Washington, Oregon and Michigan are some of the states that seem to be ahead of the curve in recognizing the importance of beach ecology and moving to protect beaches for their value as habitat.






North Carolina, Florida, Texas, Oregon and Washington have excellent websites for their coastal zone management programs. Rhode Island and Puerto Rico have established coastal web sites since the first State of the Beach report and

Rhode Island’s has improved dramatically.


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There was a wide range in rankings for our indicators between state coastal programs, partially due to differences in federal funding. Under the Coastal Zone Management Act, state programs receive funds based on various factors, including population and length of coastline. However, it is important for all coastal states to recognize the important aesthetic and economic value of their beaches and set priorities to guarantee the long-term health of their coastal zone.


Without proper monitoring of beach indicators, it is impossible to evaluate the effectiveness of current coastal zone management policies.


Within each state program different priorities are set for different coastal issues.


Therefore, these recommendations may not apply to all states. However, states can learn a great deal from the successes and shortcomings of other state coastal management programs.

Beach Access


States should make efforts to provide information on beach access to everyone. Whether this is through a web site (North Carolina) or through a published guidebook (California), the information should include not only access locations but also recreational opportunities and facilities at each location, especially public transportation, parking and restrooms. These

guides could be used as a tool to track changes in the quantity and quality of beach access.


To the extent allowed by law, states with limited beach access should make attempts to open beaches to everyone and provide information to the public on regions where access is available or unavailable.


Beach access may be improved through collaborative efforts with local volunteer groups.


Surf Zone Water Quality


At minimum states should adopt the water quality monitoring requirements of the federal B.E.A.C.H. bill, which include standards, regular testing and public notification of pollution as minimum standards. In areas where known water quality problems exist states should also consider taking the next step and testing for toxins, heavy metals, and viruses.


In order to improve water quality in the surf zone, the source(s) of pollution must be determined. Obtaining information on the locations of storm drains and sewage outfalls is useful to local and state water quality officials, enabling them to make a more thorough analysis of water quality

monitoring results.


Addressing “non-point sources” of pollution will require involvement by all sectors of society, from government to


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businesses to individual citizens and will require watershed-wide evaluations.


Beach Erosion


The public dissemination of erosion information can be markedly improved in many states. Most states have erosion studies, often conducted by federal entities such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or the US Geological Survey, but the end product is usually a report geared towards engineers or scientists, not the local citizen. Transforming this information into a format that the general public can understand and utilize would help the public and their representatives make informed decisions on land use issues and appropriate responses to erosion. Interactive erosion maps on web sites (Florida) or long-term erosion rate maps on paper (Massachusetts, North

Carolina) are useful tools for concerned citizens.


Beach Fill


It would be beneficial to have information on beach fill projects readily available to the public. The majority of funding for these projects comes from tax revenue (federal, state, and local). It is therefore the taxpayer’s right to have access to information about these expenditures, especially since, in some locations, all taxpayers are paying for projects that only benefit certain coastal residents.


Good formats for providing beach fill information are the ones used by New Jersey and South Carolina. These states provide detailed data on location, cost, and completion date of each project. Another successful template is Florida’s FACT study, which includes a geographic

component to the beach fill data by creating a map of beach fill project locations. Other state programs would benefit from gathering and providing similar information.


Shoreline Structures


States should consider following the lead of North Carolina and South Carolina to create a forward-thinking, stringent policy against the hardening of the shoreline. A growing body of evidence points to the detrimental nature of these structures and illustrates their disruption of natural shoreline processes.


Shoreline armoring information for the entire coast should be made available to all citizens. Knowing the extent of shoreline armoring is beneficial to local citizens and states by providing information necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of coastal policies and to assess the cumulative impacts of structures.


Erosion Response


Statewide oceanfront construction setbacks based on historical erosion data should be used to site new development. When existing coastal development is damaged during a storm, states should have strict criteria


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that must be met before reconstruction is allowed.


Incentives for relocation in these instances may be appropriate. Managed retreat from the coast

should be evaluated as an erosion response alternative to armoring or continual beach fill.


Beach Ecology


In the interest of promoting better monitoring of sandy beach systems, the Surfrider Foundation would like to see the implementation of a standardized methodology for assessing beach ecological health. Metrics can be developed to provide a revealing picture of the status of beach systems and provide a standardized and systematic procedure for assessing ecological health to meet the goals of ecosystem-based management. The state of Washington has a progressive program which exhibits many of these characteristics.


Surfing Areas


An inventory of surfing areas should be maintained by each state to prevent future loss of these recreational resources. Documentation of their existence will enable local activists to protect threatened surf spots. Currently, only California and Hawaii maintain a clear inventory of surfing areas and explicitly recognize waves as a valuable recreational resource. Other important coastal recreational areas should also be documented.


Web Site


State coastal program web sites should provide easy and complete access to information on all of Surfrider Foundation beach health indicators. The background information and indicator status information may be available through the main CZM agency website or through links to other agency or educational institutions web sites.


The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world's oceans, waves and beaches through conservation, activism, research and education. We are a grassroots organization with 60 chapters around the nation. The Surfrider Foundation's core competency is community-based education and activism in coastal communities.


To strengthen and build on our grassroots educational focus, the organization disseminates science-based information at the community level. The Surfrider Foundation accomplishes this most effectively through the development of programs, such as Beachscape, Blue Water Task Force and Respect the Beach, for chapter implementation. Surfrider Foundation's programs work because they are used at the community level. The programs and the data they generate

educate students, the public and coastal management agencies about local, regional, national and even global environmental issues and problems, while giving them lessons, data and tools they can apply in their own "backyards."


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Rick Wilson

P.O. Box 6010

San Clemente, CA 92674-6010


Fax: 949-492-8142


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Using GIS to Evaluate Permit Compliance Along Minnesota’s Lake Superior Shoreline


Dave Easter, Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program, Clinton Little, Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program


Development Pressures along Lake Superior


Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior has experienced increases in the conversion of undeveloped forested lands to residential housing, resulting in greater land disturbances that can degrade water quality in streams and lakes.  Residential development often requires expanding the infrastructure supporting communities, leading to road and highway improvements, greater commercial development, and intensified use of local resources such as parks, lakes, and rivers.


Compounding the impacts of residential development upon North Shore streams and rivers is the region’s small watersheds, steep topography, and clay soils over bedrock. These characteristics result in streams and rivers that are short in length with quick and intense runoffs, magnifying the impacts of land disturbances on water quality. In addition, there is a preponderance of wetlands in the region, leading to a high percentage of wetland impacts by development.  Lakes are also susceptible to direct development pressures. Lake Superior’s shoreline is the site of seawalls, riprap, and other erosion control structures, and many of the smaller inland lakes are ringed with homes and docks. The job of regulating this development is shared by various local and state agencies, among them the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and their Public Waters Works permitting program.


DNR Responsibilities


The DNR has jurisdiction over all activities that occur below the Ordinary High Water Line (OHWL) of all public waters. The DNR exercises its authority by requiring that a permit be obtained for any project constructed below the OHWL, “which alter the course, current, or cross section of public waters or public waters wetlands.” This requirement covers a wide range of activities, including culvert and bridge repair, shore protection, and the construction of docks and piers.


It is the responsibility of the DNR hydrologist to determine whether a proposed project can be authorized under applicable water law, and that it can be done in a manner that avoids significant environmental impacts. This decision is made after a review process during which the hydrologist will frequently work with the applicant to ensure that the project is consistent with state laws and policies.


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Each permit has a list of general and site-specific provisions that the applicant must meet during and after construction.


Monitoring projects for compliance with permit conditions, however, has been problematic. Like many state agencies throughout the nation, the DNR has undergone budget cuts and staff reductions, leaving hydrologists responsible for regulating activities over large geographic areas. Adding to this problem is an inefficient system for managing permit data. The existing permit database is both limited in its access and difficult to use, leading the hydrologists to rely on hardcopy files. This makes keeping track of past projects a difficult and time-consuming process and results in fewer project site visits for compliance monitoring.


In an effort to address this problem, the DNR initiated a project to evaluate compliance with permit conditions and to assess the effectiveness of the permitting process. A key component of this project was to create a new permit database for use within a Geographic Information System (GIS) to provide the hydrologists with a useful tool for tracking permits, as well as form the foundation for a permit compliance study. To meet this end, there was a conscious effort to use existing software, available to the widest range of DNR staff.


Database Design


The new database, called “Permit Tracker”, was created using Microsoft Access software. Permit Tracker was designed as a streamlined version of the existing database, one that is easy to use and accessible for both hydrologists and DNR support staff. Permit Tracker differs from the old permit database in several important ways: it eliminates needless information, fields are labeled intuitively (i.e., not with abbreviations), it provides links to other files, and it contains more accurate spatial information allowing, the data to be linked to a GIS.


When consulting with hydrologists about what to include in the database, there was concern that too much information can be overwhelming. Permit Tracker contains fewer tables and less information than the old database, but tailors this information towards the hydrologists needs. This allows Permit Tracker to avoid techniques aimed at reducing file size, such as the reliance on codes, enabling it to be more intuitive to use and enhancing its attractiveness as a tool.


As part of the development of a new permit database, the hardcopy permit files were scanned into PDF format using Adobe Acrobat software. A field was added to Permit Tracker that contains the location of each scanned permit file.


This creates a link that can be used in both Access and ArcView 3.3 to open the PDF file, providing immediate access to permit information.


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The most significant improvement in Permit Tracker is its emphasis on increasing the precision of its spatial data. Past permit databases relied on Public Land Survey (PLS) descriptions to list project locations, a level of precision that, at best, could narrow a project to within the quarter-quarter of a section, an area equal to 40 acres, limiting its application in a GIS. Permit Tracker provides UTM coordinates for each project [, which are] collected using GPS units during site visits or with aerial photography in GIS. Positional accuracy varies depending on which method is used, but in most instances it is estimated to be within 200 feet. The use of UTM coordinates allows permit information to be linked to GIS for viewing and analysis.


Integrating Permit Tracker with ArcView


By integrating Permit Tracker with ArcView, the hydrologist can now view and query past permit data in tabular and spatial form. All entry and editing of permit data is done in Access using forms designed for ease of use. Permit Tracker’s tables are uploaded into ArcView through an SQL link, and are viewed by creating an event theme, allowing recent edits to be displayed quickly and easily.


With the permit data in ArcView, the hydrologist can view and manipulate this information in conjunction with an extensive array of GIS layers, including aerial photographs, hydrologic data, road information, and scanned maps. As an analysis tool, this can provide a quick, preliminary assessment from the office of any potential problems associated with pending projects.


The scanned permit files are accessible in ArcView using the “hot link” tool.  This feature is particularly useful in obtaining detailed information on specific permits without having to leave ArcView. Hydrologists are encouraged to take digital photos of permit sites for inserting into the PDF, providing additional information available for permit review.


With the recent increases in power and memory available in laptop computers, it is now practical to have ArcView and Permit Tracker mobile, bringing all the benefits of these systems into the field. By connecting ArcView with a GPS, project sites can be located quickly and additional spatial information collected on site, can be downloaded immediately.


The most direct advantage of developing this system is the increased efficiency in managing permit data, benefiting work both in and outside the office.  Questions about permits may be answered quickly, not just by the reviewing hydrologist, but by other staff as well. Site visits can be planned more efficiently, and staff not directly involved in issuing the permit can undertake initial compliance monitoring, increasing the ability of the agency to review permit compliance despite staff constraints.


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A future indirect benefit may be enhanced interagency cooperation in reviewing and monitoring projects. There is often overlap in the regulatory jurisdiction for different state and local agencies, and many projects are required to apply for multiple permits. Creating digital copies of permit files may facilitate and encourage the sharing of information between the different permitting authorities.


Applying GIS to the Problem of Compliance


Developing a permit tracking system that uses Access and ArcView software is an important first step in understanding the problem of monitoring levels of compliance with permit conditions. The question is not if the laws are adequate, but whether they are effective. In order to begin to answer this question, it is necessary to have easy access to the permit data. Permit Tracker is designed to provide that access, and when paired with ArcView, increase the ability of DNR staff to conduct spatial analyses. It enables DNR staff to increase compliance monitoring and will provide both a foundation for a compliance monitoring study that will evaluate the permit process and begin to assess cumulative effects from development along the North Shore, information that will be used to guide future policy decisions.


David Easter

MN's Lake Superior Coastal Program

NOAA Coastal Management Fellow

1568 Highway 2

Two Harbors, MN 55616


Fax: 218-834-6639


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Science Translation for Non-point Source Pollution Control – A Cultural Models Approach with Municipal Officials


Christine Feurt, Wells NERR and Antioch New England




Environmental research that identifies and documents the scope, causes and consequences of degradation of coastal and estuarine resources must be translated to decision makers, resource management agencies and the public in ways that are understandable and useful. The practical application of scientific information can be hindered by lack of understanding by users unfamiliar with scientific information and complex technologies. The Coastal Training Program (CTP) of the National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) system has been developed to provide science based information and training to decision makers in ways that promote wise stewardship of coastal resources.


Water quality, pollution and storm water management are key training themes identified through a needs assessment of coastal decision makers served by the Wells NERR CTP. Municipal officials have been identified as the priority audience for this training. This paper presents the results of research designed to assess the ecological knowledge, beliefs and values of municipal officials in southern Maine about water pollution; the connections between land use and water quality, and the role of science in decision-making. Ethnographic and social science methods are used to determine the cultural models of municipal officials relevant to non-point source pollution and to compare lay knowledge with an expert model of non-point source pollution. Knowledge of the resultant cultural models will be used to design and evaluate water quality related training and outreach materials to coastal decision makers. The applicability of this method to enhance the effectiveness of CTP across the NERR system will be assessed.


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Coastal Storms Initiative – Risk and Vulnerability Assessment Tool


Russell Jackson, NOAA Coastal Services Center


The Coastal Storms Initiative (CSI) is a nationwide effort led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to lessen impacts to coastal communities from storms. As part of the CSI, the NOAA Coastal Services Center developed a tool for conducting risk and vulnerability assessments. The Risk and Vulnerability Assessment Tool (RVAT), one of nine CSI projects piloted in the St. Johns River Watershed in Florida, involved the development of an on-line spatial analysis tool for conducting these assessments in Brevard and Volusia Counties. Communities need to be able to identify their risks and vulnerabilities to coastal storms to create effective hazard mitigation strategies and reduce storm impacts.


RVAT is an extension of the methodology in the Community Vulnerability

Assessment Tool CD-ROM and that involve the examination of physical, social, economic, and environmental vulnerability at the community level to enhance objectivity in developing proactive hazard mitigation, emergency response, and disaster recovery strategies. The Community Vulnerability Assessment Tool demonstrates a community risk and vulnerability assessment methodology, based on the H. John Heinz III Center Panel on Risk, Vulnerability, and the True Cost of Hazards findings, as reported in the Hidden Costs of Coastal Hazards (The H. John Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment 2000).  The Community Vulnerability Assessment Tool includes a tutorial and a case study on a community-level assessment that was conducted in New Hanover County, North Carolina, to guide the user through a seven-step risk and vulnerability assessment process. Although the Community Vulnerability Assessment Tool was piloted in a coastal county, it can be applied to any type of hazard in any geographic location, both at macro and micro levels. The Community Vulnerability Assessment Tool is a highly flexible tool, from which results can be obtained in a geographic information system (GIS) or through the use of static maps and handwritten data overlays. However, GIS provides a richer environment for analysis and data modification. Results from the Community Vulnerability Assessment Tool analysis provide a baseline from which to prioritize the mitigation measures to employ, and to evaluate the effectiveness of those measures over time. Mapping allows the community to spatially analyze hazards and vulnerabilities and make informed decisions about risk reduction (Flax 2002).


The NOAA Coastal Storms Initiative was initiated in the St. Johns River Watershed through a series of workshops designed to help identify the coastal


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storms related needs within the watershed. The workshops helped to ascertain the need for expanded access to the data and information, especially spatial data, utilized to conduct risk and vulnerability assessments and to develop hazard mitigation plans. Each of the counties had previously developed comprehensive hazard mitigation plans based on a risk and vulnerability assessment; however access to the data and information was limited to a few hard copy reports housed at the emergency management office in each county.


In addition, many of the smaller communities within the counties, without in-house GIS capability, identified the need for access to spatial analysis tools. Based on the needs of the

local emergency managers, coastal zone managers, planners, floodplain managers, etc., the Center decided to create an Internet mapping application, the RVAT, to increase access and utility of the risk and vulnerability assessment data and information within the community. On-line access to the Internet mapping application enables the local decision makers to utilize the hazards risk data on a daily basis when making land use decisions and permitting new developments.


RVAT, contains an interactive Internet mapping application that allows anyone with a Web browser and Internet access to utilize powerful spatial analysis tools. RVAT contains tutorials that ensure usability by even novice computer users.


The tool also contains textual Web pages with information about how and why risk and vulnerability assessments are conducted, a data dictionary describing the reliability and source for all spatial data, and links to other resources.


In addition to serving as a planning and decision-support tool for emergency and coastal zone managers, the tool will also educate residents, businesses, and tourists about potential coastal storm impacts within their area. Through the tool’s interactive map, a homeowner, for instance, is able to find out the vulnerability of his or her property to coastal storm-related hazards, such as hurricane storm surge, inland flooding, coastal erosion, and hurricane winds.


The tool will also provide the public with more detailed information about the potential impacts associated with each hazard, including a 3-D model simulation of hurricane storm surge for several locations within each county. The tool also incorporates access to real-time hazard forecast and observation data, such as flood forecast information from the National Weather Service Southeast River Forecast Center.


By engaging community officials in the development of RVAT, NOAA is striving to ensure that communities are equipped with the right information in the right format to prepare for coastal storms. To help accomplish this goal, RVAT is accessible on the Internet and affords spatial analysis functionality (without requiring users to have geographic information system software.  Enhanced access to risk and vulnerability assessment data will enable an informed citizenry to work with local planners and officials to make improved decisions related to coastal storms.


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The on-line Risk and Vulnerability Assessment Tool was completed in September 2003 and can be accessed at the following URL:




The H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment (2000). The Hidden Costs of Coastal Hazards: Implications for Risk Assessment and Mitigation. Island, Washington, DC, (xv-xvi, 16-19, 154).


Flax, Lisa, Russell W. Jackson, and David Stein. “Community Vulnerability Assessment Tool Methodology,” Natural Hazards Review. Volume 3, Number 4. November 2002. (pp. 163-176).


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coastal Services Center (2003). “Risk and Vulnerability Assessment Tool” (On-line), available:


Russell Jackson

NOAA Coastal Services Center

2234 South Hobson Avenue

Charleston, SC 29405-2413


Fax: 843-740-1315


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Developing the Carolinas Coastal Ocean Observing and Prediction System (CARO-COOPS)


Braxton Davis, Baruch Institute/University of South Carolina, Madilyn Fletcher, USC/Baruch Institute, Len Pietrafesa, North Carolina State University, Marvin Moss, University of North Carolina/Wilmington, Earle Buckley, North Carolina State University




The coastal ocean of North and South Carolina is one of the nation’s most ecologically diverse and economically important systems. A need exists for real-time data and comprehensive information products on marine and coastal conditions in the region, but the present observational network of routine in situ data is inadequate for most applications. In addition, an improved understanding of how the coastal ocean has behaved in the past, and is likely to behave in the future, is essential to managing the region’s ocean and coastal resources. 


The “Carolinas Coastal Ocean Observing and Prediction System” (Caro-COOPS) was recently deployed through a partnership between the University of South Carolina, North Carolina State University, and University of North Carolina at Wilmington. This new observational array currently comprises three shore-based stations and nine offshore buoys, which provide a new foundation for integrated observations, data communications, management, and modeling of the Carolinas’ coastal ocean. Caro-COOPS will continually strive to meet the information needs of a broad user-base that includes federal, state, and local coastal and ocean managers, industries, and stakeholders.


An initial demonstration of the real-time interdisciplinary forecasting capacity of Caro-COOPS is focusing on real-time predictions and analyses of storm surge and flooding before and during landfall of coastal storms. This product will provide local and state officials with information needed to improve mitigation, preparedness, and prevention measures. Caro-COOPS data will also be of use for future applications related to water quality and the transport of pollutants, sediment transport and shoreline stability, and fisheries management.


Braxton Davis

Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences

University of South Carolina

Columbia, SC 29208



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Using GIS to Measure Performance Indicators for Coastal Hazards in Wisconsin


David Hart, University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute, Alberto Vargas, Wisconsin Coastal Management Program




Geographic information systems provide a useful tool for measuring the performance of coastal management programs. Over the past nine years, a great deal of effort has been expended to build an integrated GIS for the Great Lakes coast in Wisconsin. As a result, there is a rich store of local, regional, and state government spatial data that can be utilized to support decision-making about coastal management. This presentation examines the development of coastal performance indicators in Wisconsin and the use of the Great Lakes GIS to assess progress in coastal management related to coastal hazards, including identification of recession rates and counting structures in erosion hazard areas.


The presentation will also discuss the impact of public meetings in Bayfield and Ozaukee Counties to present information on the nature and extent of coastal hazards. The authors also discuss a collaborative project between the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and UW Sea Grant Institute to develop a coastal performance measurement system for Wisconsin within the context of the current NOAA initiative to build a national coastal performance measurement system.


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Technical Advancements in Regional Ocean Governance


Kimberly Cohen, NOAA Coastal Services Center




Ocean governance and management regimes in the U.S. are fragmented, complex, and often poorly understood.


As a result, many within the management community recognize the need for ocean management information systems that can interpret these and other offshore jurisdictional complexities. 


The Ocean Planning Information System (OPIS), developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coastal Services Center, has served as a model for regional ocean governance since September 1999, providing the coastal management community of the southeastern U.S. with access to regional, georeferenced regulatory and environmental spatial data.  By integrating environmental data with spatially referenced legal, political, and jurisdictional frameworks, OPIS provides a holistic representation of the management structure and can draw attention to gaps, overlaps, or inconsistencies. The ability to visualize the spatial extent of laws or management structures in conjunction with associated natural resources or ocean uses, for example, provides a powerful mechanism not only to highlight potential use conflicts or policy inconsistencies, but also to educate the public on a variety of issues. While the data and information contained within OPIS are specific to the Southeast region of the U.S., the principles and methodologies on which the system is based are applicable nationwide and have since spurred similar projects in other regions.


Over the years, governance-related issues have received particular attention as questions arose regarding inconsistent marine boundary descriptions at both the state and federal levels. Interagency working groups were established to address these issues at the federal level, formulate consistent methodologies, and assemble a best practices document that communicates this expertise to both legal and technical staff at all levels of government to reduce the likelihood that such discrepancies will persist in the future. Participation in these and other activities that support and promote a better understanding of ocean governance at the state, regional, and national scales continues to be a priority for the Center.


Responding to Ocean Governance Recommendations


The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy has generated a renewed interest in, and focus on, ocean policy and governance issues nationwide. Established by the Oceans Act of 2000, the commission is mandated to provide recommendations


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to the president and Congress for a coordinated and comprehensive national ocean policy. This increased awareness in the U.S. provided a unique opportunity to revisit the utility of the OPIS site and restructure its content to incorporate additional data and information on laws and regulations, observational or monitoring systems, marine protected areas, and other elements that provide context for complex governance questions.


Much of the commission’s governance-related guidance to date has focused on the need for regional, coordinated approaches to management that limit the potential for contradiction and duplicative efforts. In addition, the commission has stressed the need to address any inconsistencies or inaccuracies associated with marine boundaries. Although the OPIS product has served in this capacity for many years, the NOAA Coastal Services Center recognizes the need to respond to these recommendations with the incorporation of additional guidance and legislative information about existing and emerging offshore issues (e.g., mariculture and wind farms).


Many regions struggling with offshore regulatory issues could benefit from a compilation of data and information applicable to these topic areas. Coastal ocean observing systems, for example, provide near real-time access to a wealth of monitoring data but are typically underutilized in the area of coastal management. Draft recommendations from the Oceans Commission emphasize the importance of these systems as a management tool; therefore, the OPIS Web site will now incorporate an explanation of some of these monitoring systems, ongoing initiatives, and pilot projects, as well as on-line access to observational data within its mapping application.


Coastal observations are only one of many topics to have received increased attention in the past few years. Marine protected areas (MPA) have also been the focus of increased interest as agencies work to implement the goals outlined in MPA Executive Order 13158, signed by former President Clinton in 2000.  OPIS will include additional data, information, and resources to support these and other ocean planning and management issues.


Promoting Best Practices


Although OPIS provided the impetus for much of the Center’s involvement in governance-related projects and partnerships, it is not the only means by which staff members work to investigate and address technical issues related to management and jurisdictional authorities.


The Center co-chairs the Federal Geographic Data Committee’s (FGDC) Marine Boundary Working Group (MBWG), an interagency committee formed to address issues pertaining to the

legal and technical aspects of marine or maritime boundaries. The MBWG includes representation from each of the various agencies responsible for the creation of U.S marine boundaries and seeks to address the many challenges and inconsistencies in boundary descriptions and protocols. Because these data may


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have been difficult to access in the past and because geographic information system (GIS) users have the capacity to create these data themselves, boundary data were generated by a number of groups with varying levels of accuracy. To reduce confusion and to promote the use of high-quality data, the MBWG completed a Web site and data portal1 to provide access to the most accurate boundary information and geographic data, as developed by the agency that maintains jurisdiction.


Also, given the combined expertise of all members of the MBWG and the lessons learned through years of collaboration, the group is developing a best practices handbook for the creation of marine and coastal boundaries. The handbook will provide guidance from both the legal perspective (i.e., the formulation of textual descriptions) and the technical perspective (i.e., the creation of a legally defensible digital boundary based on a textual or coordinate-based description). The publicly available handbook is coauthored by NOAA, the U.S. Minerals Management Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is expected to be finalized in fall 2004.


Technological Advancements


The incorporation of newer geospatial and Internet technologies has greatly expanded the types of data and mapping functionality that can be served within the OPIS on-line mapping application. Dramatic increases in computing speeds and bandwidth, for example, have significantly increased the capacity to provide large data sets over the Internet. In 1999, when OPIS became publicly available, the amount of time required to load and view aerial photography, nautical charts, or other raster data on a regional scale precluded its incorporation into the product. For much the same reason, it was difficult to present very precise, high-resolution vector data (e.g., shoreline or bathymetry) over such a large geographic region, given the very large file sizes. Still, these data types are useful not only for visualization purposes but also to provide very detailed information that can be used to support both regional and more localized management decisions. The OPIS development team capitalized on this opportunity to incorporate raster-based data that provide reference and context for a number of issues. Available for viewing within the enhanced OPIS on-line mapping application are coastal change analysis data, digital orthophotography, bathymetric data, and NOAA nautical charts for the southeast U.S.


Other technological advancements that have influenced the OPIS on-line mapping application were the improved options for remote access to and manipulation of data over the Internet. When OPIS was originally created, it was not possible to transfer data to a remote user over the Internet; therefore, the


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mapping application responded to a data request by returning only a static image of the map. Because no actual data were returned to the user, the ability to further examine or analyze the information was quite limited. With the use of more current technologies, however, the functionality has greatly expanded. While earlier versions of mapping software required a significant amount of customization to provide even a basic level of functionality, software packages are now available that provide a broad suite of functions “out of the box” to allow the user to view, manipulate, download, and print maps of the data. These software enhancements allowed the OPIS team to incorporate a wider array of visualization and manipulation tools in the map display; however, a minimal level of customization was required to maintain the specialized functionality (e.g., legislative and agency jurisdictional queries) that is such an integral part of

the OPIS product.


1 FGDC Marine Boundary Working Group Data Portal is accessible at


Opportunities for Regional Collaboration


Coordinating bodies, both formal and informal, exist within every region of the country to discuss not only ocean governance issues but a number of others as well. While regional or transboundary management structures may still be difficult to implement given political constraints, managers recognize the need to share data and information and to learn from the successes and challenges of adjacent states or partner agencies. Funding constraints persist within many agencies, thus highlighting the importance of collaboration and the need to eliminate duplicative efforts. On-line regional information tools such as OPIS provide an excellent forum for these types of activities, allowing participants to view data and discuss a variety of management-related issues without having to travel to a common location.


Regional information systems can be just as useful to engage the public as they are to support interagency or regional collaboration. Because the data are presented within an interactive map display, these types of regional information systems can be a very useful and efficient means to demonstrate and display potential areas of concern for the public. Interactive map displays provide a powerful mechanism for communication and collaboration, allowing the public to ask questions of the data and become more comfortable with the results and analyses on which decisions are based. In addition, certain ocean and coastal issues are more easily explained using a spatial reference. For example, concerns related to the proximity of sensitive resources to harmful activities or incompatible uses become readily apparent in a map format. As a result, on-line mapping applications have the potential to enhance the participatory aspects of many zoning and regulatory processes by providing stakeholders and decision makers with a mechanism to communicate and evaluate a suite of potential policy options.


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Technology tools, particularly GIS-based tools, provide a valuable and practical mechanism to investigate ocean governance-related issues. Although the connection between geospatial technologies and legislative or jurisdictional information may not be readily apparent, the ability to visualize the area of applicability for certain laws or agency jurisdictions, in reference to other environmental, natural resource, or ocean use data presents decision makers with a more holistic and comprehensive approach to ocean planning.  The ability to serve and visualize these data over the Internet presents an added benefit. Multiple collaborators are able to view the information concurrently within their Web browsers (i.e., without the need for additional software), which encourages active participation and discussion within the group. This combination of geospatial and Internet technologies provides an exciting opportunity to support ocean governance-related activities in the future, as agencies and organizations continue to struggle with spatial complexities, overlapping jurisdictions, and emerging policy concerns.


Kimberly Cohen

NOAA Coastal Services Center

2234 S. Hobson Ave.

Charleston, SC 29405


Fax: 843-740-1315


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Building a Science-based Decision Support Tool for Dock Management: Results from a Science Workshop


Ruth Kelty, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Centers for Coastal

Ocean Science


Statement of Problem


The permit most frequently sought from coastal manages is for dock construction, and the number of permits issued each year is increasing.


There is a perceived “right” to have a dock – 90% of South Carolina coastal residents surveyed in 2001 want a dock, 86% felt docks increased their property value, and 73% thought they should be allowed to build one (Felts et al. 2001).


Many people consider private residential docks to be a normal and characteristic part of the coastal landscape, and cannot understand why they must undergo an often long and arduous permit review process. Others consider docks a threat to public values and the environment, and question why they are allowed at all. As coastal areas are developed and the number of permit requests increases, coastal managers are looking for a rational, science-based decision-making tool to guide their permitting decisions.


Like other coastal activities, the construction and use of private residential docks can create a range of impacts depending on both site-specific factors and the perspective of the observer.  While it is clear that docks create shade, alter flow, introduce chemicals into the marine environment, and impact public access and navigation, literature quantifying these individual and cumulative effects is limited.


In response to a request by the Southeast Regional Coastal Program managers, supported by an interest in many other states, NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science hosted a workshop to review the available scientific knowledge about the impacts of small, recreational docks. Twenty-two scientists and eight managers representing the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Great Lakes, and Pacific discussed what is known (and not known) about how docks and associated boating activities individually and collectively impact vegetation, sediments and sedimentation, contamination, navigation and public trust rights, and aesthetics/quality of life.


The workshop focused on small, recreational docks designed for residential use. These generally consist of a pile-supported walkway leading from the shore into the water and often have a float at the water end of the structure. Floats may be bottom anchored or held in place by piles. The structures may be used for boat landings, fishing, or similar uses.


Purposes of the Workshop


To synthesize existing scientific information on direct, cumulative, and secondary effects of small docks on the coastal environments and their users,


To identify gaps in research results related to the impacts of small docks, and


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To assess susceptibility of regions to the negative impacts associated with docks.


Workshop Findings


Impacts to Vegetation


Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) and marsh grasses provide critical habitat, filter nutrients and sediments, provide nursery habitat for fish and shellfish, stabilize bottom sediments, and form the basis of the marine food web. Impacts to plant productivity generally occur in two ways: short-term construction impacts and chronic impacts from shading (see Recommendations section for mitigation of construction impacts). Irradiance under docks falls well below the requirements for minimum maintenance (~3 M d-1) and full growth (= 5 M d-1). This results in reduced shoot density, biomass, growth, and increased height (due to etiolation), increased erosion, undercutting of vegetation (Burdick and Short 1999).


Susceptibility varied by species - Spartina patens was most robust followed by Distichlis spicata, then S. alterniflora (Kearney et al. 1983).


The significance of these shading impacts to the coastal ecosystem as a whole varies by region. In South Carolina, docks existing in 1999 reduced S. alterniflora cover by 0.03-0.72%. Projected to a total possible build-out of similarly sized docks in these creeks, the decrease in marsh grass density was 0.18 – 5.45% (Sanger and Holland 2002).


In New England and Florida, where coastal vegetation is already severely impacted and reduced, the existing and potential loss of vegetation associated with dock shading is greater.


Impacts from Contaminants


The most common contaminant-related concern related to docks is leaching from preservatives applied to pilings or floats in locations that come into regular contact with water. Most states have banned the use of creosote or pentachlorophenol in aquatic settings (they leach readily and have demonstrated toxic effects); and wood pressure-treated with a chromated copper arsenate (CCA) is the most commonly used material for pilings and decking for small docks. CCA also leaches in saline waters (Weis et al. 1991, 1992). The degree of toxicity depends on the chemical form as it reaches the target organism and changes over time and in response to sediment types, amounts of organic material present, oxygen levels and water movement (Luoma and Carter 1991). 99% of the leaching occurs within the first 90 days (Cooper 1990, Brooks 1990).


In areas of low water flow, elevated concentrations Cr, Cu, and As can be found in organisms living on and around treated pilings, in fine sediments adjacent to bulkheads constructed of CCA-treated wood, and in sediment feeders (Wendt et al. 1996, Weis and Weis 1996, Weis et al. 1998). Dilution mitigates these impacts; the bioaccumulation of dock lechates by marine biota did not impact survival of mummichogs, juvenile red drum, white shrimp, or mud snails in South Carolina’s estuaries which are characterized by higher flow rates (Sanger and Holland 2002). However, a tidal flushing threshold for contaminant impacts has not been identified, and data does not exist to evaluate the importance of dilution in high flow areas with different benthic community composition.


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Boating Impacts


Most small docks are associated with boating traffic. Issues of concern include: impacts to submerged aquatic vegetation; contamination from fuel discharges; erosion of shoreline & flats; resuspension of bottom sediments and turbidity; noise; and disturbance of wildlife (Crawford et al. 1998, Kennish 2002). However, these impacts are difficult to quantify.


Based on the limited quantitative data available, scientists agreed that, “motor boat traffic is far from a benign influence on the aquatic and marine environments,” and identified quantification of boating impacts as a research need.


Impacts to Aesthetics and Quality of Life


From a manager’s perspective, oftentimes the publicly-held concerns related to small docks are not really related to the environment. They may be aesthetic in nature, a sense of over-development of the shore, or simply change. It is not uncommon for managers to hear very vocal outcries from one segment of the population, while the rest remain quiet.


In an attempt to get a better sense of public sentiment regarding docks in South Carolina, Felts et al. conducted telephone surveys of the opinions of residents of coastal counties in the state (2001, n=384) and of dock owners (2002, n= 423).


75% of the residents of coastal counties felt that property owners should be able to construct a dock.


66% of the dock owners and 50% of residents felt that docks should be regulated.


75% of the dock owners felt that the length of docks should be restricted; nearly 80% felt that the size should be restricted. In contrast, only 50% of the general public felt length should be restricted.


<25% of dock owners and the general public felt that docks are harmful to the aquatic environment or detracted from the view of the water body and shoreline.


~75% of dock owners and the general public feel that there are not too many docks.


It is not clear whether these findings are transferable to other states or regions within those states.


Visual Impact Assessment


While the aesthetic appeal of docks is an individual assessment, techniques have evolved that appear to provide a reproducible or predictive assessment of the aesthetic values of an area and how those might change with development. Visual impact assessments (VIAs) considering 1) landscape compatibility, 2) scale contrast, and 3) spatial dominance were developed by Smardon (1986, 1988).


In contrast to the social survey method discussed above, in which respondents are asked to express their perception of an abstract issue over the phone, VIAs present respondents with a concrete image that shows how the visual landscape would be affected by a proposed change.

With computer technology, these doctored images are realistic and easy to make. VIAs indicate that, when shown two images of a shoreline, the vast majority of people select the


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same image as being aesthetically preferable, and results from these assessments are reliable and repeatable.


In general, aesthetic preferences were for historic or generic coastal development, water-elated development, open/distance water views, enhanced water access, and diverse, well-maintained vegetation. People disliked development in undeveloped coastal landscapes and tourist-like commercial development (Banerjee 1987, Knutson et al 1993, Shannon et al. 1990, Smardon 1987, Steinitz 1990).


Aesthetic or visual impacts have been used as a basis for denying permit applications in Maine and New York. Maine’s Natural Resources Protection Act (Title 38 §§ 480-A through Z), Standard 1, specifically requires an applicant to demonstrate that a proposed activity will not unreasonably interfere with existing scenic and aesthetic uses. Chapter 315: specifies State regulatory concerns; defines visual impacts; establishes a procedure for evaluating visual impacts; establishes when a visual assessment may be necessary; explains the components of a visual assessment; and describes avoidance, mitigation and offset measures that may eliminate or reduce adverse impacts to existing scenic and aesthetic uses.




Licensing decisions on docks and piers should be based on impacts to habitats, water quality, and existing uses, which include navigation, recreation, and scenic and aesthetic.


Use should be water appropriate or water reliant.


Minimize shading impacts by limiting the


height – 4ft min


width – 4ft max


orientation – N-S may minimize shading impacts


length – access to mean low water


Consider CCA alternatives in low flow areas.


Grating can minimize shading impacts in high latitudes.


Light tunnels, reflective bottoms are available and can increase light penetration under docks.


Float, rather than walk/drag materials in.


Use low-pressure installation – sharpen piling tips, install with drop hammer.


Docks should provide access to mean low water for a suitably sized boat.


You have the right to access, not to a huge boat.


Structures should not extend >25% in the water way


Structures should not impeded Federal Navigation Projects or traditional navigation paths.


Aesthetics should be considered in the permitting process.


Visual Impact Assessments are a reliable way to predict impacts.


Surveys are good for values, but not good for aesthetic valuations.


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Research Needs


Cumulative impacts


Boating impacts


Effects associated with altered flow


Regional variation, differences


Next Steps


Quickly distribute proceedings


Publish peer-reviewed synthesis


Build searchable database of available literature


Develop a checklist of parameters managers should consider


Find opportunities to pursue research needs


-Grants for new research


-Meetings to present, review existing research


Host workshop to synthesize and discuss design, construction, and management tools.


Host science synthesis session at CZ03.


Maintain dock listserve.


To receive a notice when the proceedings are available for download, contact


Literature Cited


Brooks, K.M. 1996. “Evaluating the environmental risks associated with the use of chromated copper arsenate-treated wood products in aquatic environments.” Estuaries 19(2A):296-305.


Burdick, D.M. and F.T. Short. 1999. “The Effects of Boat Docks on Eelgrass Beds in Coastal Waters of Massachusetts.” Environmental Management, 23 (2): 231–240.


Cooper, P.A. 1990. “Leaching of CCA from Treated Wood.” Proc. Canadian Wood Preservation Association II: 144–169.


Crawford, R. N. Stolpe and M. Moore, Eds. 1998. “The Environmental Impacts of Boating: Proceedings of a workshop held at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA December 7–9 1994.” Technical Report WHOI-98-03


Felts, Arthur A, and Marijana Radic. 2002. “Survey of Coastal Dock Owners’ Perceptions of Docks”. Joseph P. Riley Institute for Urban Affairs and Policy Studies, College of Charleston, SC. Prepared for the South Carolina Department of HEC.


Kennish, Michael J., (Editor). 2002. “Impacts of Motorized Watercraft on Shallow Estuarine and Coastal Marine Environments.” Journal of Coastal Research Special Issue 37.


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Kearney, V., Y. Segal and M.W. Lefor. 1983. “The Effects of Docks on Salt Marsh Vegetation”. The Connecticut State Department of Environmental Protection, Water Resources Unit, Hartford, CT. 06106. 22p.


Luoma, S.N. and Carter, J.L. 1991. “Effects of trace metals on aquatic benthos.”. in Newman, M.C. and McIntosh, A.W., Eds., “Metal Ecotoxicology: Concepts and Applications”, Chelsea, MI., Lewis Publishers, p. 261–300.


Nightengale, B. and C. A. Simenstad. Overwater Structures: Marine Issues. White paper. WA-RD 508.1. May 2001.


Sanger, DM and AF Holland. 2002. “Evaluation of the Impacts of Dock Structures on South Carolina Estuarine Environments.” SC Department of Natural Resources, Marine Resources Division Technical Report Number 99. Charleston, SC.


Smardon, R.C., J. F. Palmer and J. P. Felleman. 1986. “Foundations for Visual Project Analysis.” John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY


Smardon, R. C. 1988. “Visual impact assessment for island and coastal environments.” Impact Assessment Bulletin 6(1): 5–24.


Weis, P., J.S. Weis, and L.M. Coohill. 1991. “Toxicity to Estuarine Organisms of Leachates from Chromated Copper Arsenate Treated Wood.” Archives of. Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. 20: 118–124.


Weis, P., J.S. Weis, A. Greenberg, and T.J. Nosker. 1992 “Toxicity of Construction Materials in the Marine Environment: A Comparison of Chromated-Copper-arsenate-Treated Wood and Recycled Plastic.” Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. 22: 99–106.


Weis, J.S. and P. Weis. 1996. “The effects of using wood treated with chromated copper arsenate in shallow water environments: a review.” Estuaries 19:306–310.


Weis, J.S. and P. Weis. 1998. “Effects of CCA Wood Docks and Resulting Boats on Bioaccumulation of Contaminants in Shellfish Resources: Final Report to DEP.” A report to the NJ DEP.


Wendt, P.H., R.F. Van Dolah, M.Y. Bobo, T.D. Mathews, and M.V. Levisen. 1996. “Wood Preservative Leachates from Docks in an Estuarine Environment.” Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 31:71–79.


Ruth Kelty. Ph.D.

National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

1305 East-West Highway, SSMC 4, rm. 8215

Silver Spring, MD 20910

Office phone: 301-713-3020 x133

Fax: 301-713-4353


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Management Tools to Minimize the Impacts of Residential Docks and Piers


Allison Castellan, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management




To comprehensively manage docks, coastal managers must have both the latest science to support their decisions and the laws and policies in place to implement new management techniques. This past November NOAA hosted a workshop to engage resource management professionals in promoting better dock and pier management tools.


The workshop compiled and evaluated various regulatory, planning, design, and construction techniques that can be used to minimize the environmental impacts from small docks and piers. This talk presents the results of this workshop, describing the range of existing regulations and showcasing programs incorporating progressive and innovative management tools. As follow-up from the workshop, NOAA is developing a searchable, web-enabled database to house information on state regulatory and planning programs used to manage docks. The database will help managers improve and justify their regulations and permitting processes by providing examples of how other states handle similar circumstances. Information in the database can also be used to develop new standard operating procedures, support permit denials when the impacts of a proposed project are unreasonable, and develop dock management plans. The session will conclude with a discussion on regional outreach efforts to promote the information learned during the national workshop to a wider audience.


This is one of three related talks on Integrating Science, Policy, and Management of Docks and Piers. Also see Assessing Environmental and Aesthetic Impacts of Docks and Piers (R. Kelty) and Visual Impact Assessment of Docks and Piers—Theory and Practice (S.  Bliven) also included in these proceedings.




Few issues confronting coastal managers are as divisive or difficult to manage as regulating the construction of private recreational docks and piers. The number of dock permit requests has increased significantly over the last few decades and dock authorizations are now the single most frequently sought permit from coastal managers. For example, the number of dock permit requests received each year in South Carolina increased ten fold over the past two decades from 80 to over 800.


Many coastal managers and citizens are concerned about this proliferation of docks and the potential impacts numerous private docks may have on the environment, navigation, and the ability of the public to access the waterfront. Therefore, coastal managers have requested additional information


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on the suite of management techniques -- both regulatory and non-regulatory -- that they can employ to better manage dock and pier growth.


National Management Tools Workshop


To provide coastal managers with the tools they need to improve dock and pier management, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM), National Centers for Coastal and Ocean Science (NCCOS), and the Coastal Services Center (CSC), hosted a workshop, Residential Docks and Piers, Phase II: Management Tools, November 18-19, 2003 in Durham, NH. This workshop was built upon an earlier workshop, Developing a Science-based Decision Support Tool for Small Dock Management, Phase I: Status of the Science, which NCCOS sponsored the previous winter (see R. Kelty, Assessing Environmental and Aesthetic Impacts of Docks and Piers, also included in these proceedings).


The purpose of this management workshop was to: (1) compile and evaluate available tools (planning, regulatory, design and construction techniques) for dock and pier management; and (2) initiate planning for regional meetings to inform a larger audience of coastal managers, planners, and local decision makers about what was learned during the first two national workshops.


Fifty participants from coastal states across the country (ME, NH, MA, RI, CT, NJ, NY, MD, NC, SC, GA, FL, AL, MS, WI and WA) attended the two-day workshop.


Participants included a mix of coastal regulatory, planning and policy staff as well as outreach staff from the National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERRs) and Sea Grant Programs, several engineers, and an environmental lawyer.


The following is a summary of the presentations and small group discussions that occurred at the management tools workshop and a discussion of several follow-up projects that have stemmed from the two national workshops: a searchable database on dock management tools and regional outreach efforts.


Regulatory Techniques


Currently, regulatory techniques are the most common method states use for controlling dock placement and design. At the state level, they rely on three primary legal bases for their regulatory programs: (1) police powers (the state’s authority to regulate for public health, safety and welfare); (2) public trust (the state’s authority and obligation to protect important public resources including coastal land, tidal land, submerged land, and coastal waters); and (3) ownership (the state’s proprietary interest in property and property rights through real property, fee interest, easements, eminent domain, leases and licenses). While not as widely used, states can also use authorities they have through tax law (e.g.  the ability to levee real estate taxes) and contract law (e.g. the ability to craft deeds, easements, covenants, and siting agreements) to regulate docks and piers.


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At the local level, municipalities also have the ability to regulate dock placement and design through a variety of regulatory techniques such as zoning overlays, subdivision controls, building codes, ordinances, harbormaster control, and dock registration programs (McGregor 2003).


In addition to these commonly used regulatory techniques upon which many states and municipalities rely, there are several new or emerging regulatory tools can be used to address dock management from a slightly different angle. To encourage docks to adhere to set standards or to promote community docks instead of individual docks, states and local governments could offer incentive programs such as subsidies, tax reductions, or a streamlined permitting process.  Conversely, state and local governments could use disincentives such as assessing a displacement or occupancy fee for use of submerged land to deter dock permits. Dock permit applications could also undergo more stringent scrutiny such as with an environmental impact statement (EIS) or an Area of Environmental Concern. The regulatory body could also require the applicant to demonstrate a need for a dock. Developers often install deepwater docks to increase the property value regardless of whether or not the future homeowner will own a boat that requires deepwater access. Likewise, unless a homeowner owns three boats, it is not necessary to permit them a dock that can berth three vessels. States and municipalities can protect sensitive habitats or areas of historical significance by placing density or timing restrictions on docks through the use of zoning ordinances or seasonal restrictions for dock construction.  Finally, states should ensure that the dock permits issued are consistent with existing management plans such as the state’s coastal zone management plan, municipal harbor or coastal plans, and local master plans (McGregor 2003).


Planning and Zoning Techniques


The last two regulatory techniques (zoning and plan consistency) discussed in the above section are going to be critically important in the future of dock and pier management. The environmental, social and aesthetic problems associated with docks are not caused but just one or a handful of docks. These problems only arise with the increasing “sprawl” of many docks. Therefore, it is critical that states consider the cumulative impacts of docks if a full build out were to occur. After all, the first dock permitted opens the door for many more docks.


It is very difficult for the state to deny the tenth dock permit if they have already approved dock permits for nine of its neighbors. However, the current case-by-case permit review process that each individual dock application undergoes does not address the sprawl or cumulative impacts issue (Bliven 2003).


Thus, the only way to address the cumulative impacts of docks is for states to employ a more comprehensive management scheme with a strong foundation in planning and zoning. For planning and zoning efforts to be successful, they first must have a well-defined and limited boundary (O’Beirne 2003). The larger an


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area encompassed in a plan, the more difficult it will be to develop and implement a successful program. In addition, management plans and zoning overlays must be based on community values; this is critical for public acceptance and legal support (Bliven 2003).


Finally, plans should also be fluid and updated or renewed regularly.


Docks and piers can be addressed through a variety of management plans including local coastal zone management plans, harbor management plans, regional plans, and special area management plans (SAMPs). For example, Pleasant Bay, Massachusetts and Ashley River, South Carolina both have SAMPs that address concerns over dock proliferation in these areas (O’Beirne 2003).


Regardless of the type of management plan chosen, the plan developed should designate areas that are suitable for dock growth and areas that should be protected.


This may entail establishing limits for the maximum number of docks allowed in an area or prohibiting docks all together in a specific area. To limit “sprawl,” plans should also encourage the use of communal or community docks as opposed to individual docks.


For example, it may be best to have one or two community docks for a new waterfront subdivision instead of allowing each parcel to have their own private dock.


Similarly, plans may choose to promote marinas as an alternative to individual docks. States may also want to consider managing groups of docks as marinas (Ross 2003). Clusters of docks often have similar environmental impacts as a marina, but marinas are subject to more stringent regulations.


Management Tools Database


Figure 1. Overview Tab from the prototype Dock and Pier Management Database.


See page 327 at originating URL for this figure.


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One of the best outcomes of the management workshop was that it enabled states to talk with one another and learn what other states are doing for dock and pier management. Therefore, participants thought it would be helpful to compile the information into a searchable, web-enabled database that could be the “resource” for dock and pier management. Although participation in the database would be voluntary, all workshop participants said they were willing to enter in the necessary information for their state.


In addition, relevant information the NOAA Coastal Services Center collected for four southeastern states in their Residential Docks and Piers: Inventory of Laws, Regulations, and Policies for the Southeastern United States will be transferred to the new database so as to avoid duplication of this information.


The database organizes the information for each state into nine different tabs: (1)            Overview; (2) Regulatory Programs; (3) Planning and Zoning; (4) Leasing; (5) Acquisition; (6) Siting Criteria; (7) Design Criteria; (8) Construction Criteria; and (9) Miscellaneous. The “Overview” tab will contain general contact information for the point person and/or agency(ies) within each state that handle dock and pier management as well as convey general background information for each state such as the number of docks permitted per year, the number or shoreline miles within the state and how the state defines a dock (Figure 1). The general background section will also contain a brief one or two paragraph description of how the state manages docks and piers to allow the user to quickly obtain a summary of the state’s overall program without reading through the more detailed information.


The Regulatory, Planning and Zoning, Leasing, and Acquisition tabs provide space for each state to describe several programs or authorities they use to manage docks (Figure 2). There will be an opportunity to link directly to the applicable authority or management plan if one is available on line. The database will also provide information about court cases that may have

challenged the program. For specific regulatory or planning and zoning programs, the state will be able to check a series of yes/no check boxes to indicate if the program can be used to address specific issues related to dock management such as siting, design, or construction aspects or impacts the dock may have on habitat, navigation, public access, or aesthetics (Figure 2). The information contained in the check boxes can then be used in conjunction with

the search tool to perform specific queries. For example, a user could easily obtain a list of all the techniques states use to address dock siting or limit impacts to habitat.


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Figure 2. Planning and Zoning Tab from the prototype Dock and Pier Management Database.


See page 115 at originating URL for this figure.


The Siting, Design and Construction Criteria tabs are designed to allow each state to briefly describe specific standards or regulations they have to direct dock siting, design and construction. For example, does the state have specific requirements of siting a dock near shellfish beds, mooring areas, or historical features? Has the state established maximum lengths or widths for docks? Does the dock have to be a specific height above vegetation? Are there specific construction practices that must be followed such as using preferred or required

building materials or meeting temporal or seasonal constraints for construction activities? These are just a few examples of the types of information that will be collected under these “criteria” tabs.


Finally, the “Miscellaneous” tab collects information on whether or not the state has created a checklist or standard operating procedures for evaluating dock permit applications or has education and outreach materials available to dock and pier management issues, etc.


Regional Workshops


The management tools workshop and earlier science workshop compiled much useful information on dock and pier management. However, only a handful of people could attend each workshop. Therefore, we propose holding several regional workshops throughout the country in order to share the information learned during the national workshops with a wider audience. The regional workshops will also set the stage for improved communication on dock and pier issues within each region and give the regions an opportunity to cater the general national information to meet their specific needs. Since NOAA sponsored the first two workshops we hope state coastal management programs and other organizations and groups will be willing to co-sponsor the regional


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Regional workshops should be designed to target a wide audience wherever possible by including coastal managers, the Army Corps of Engineers, nongovernment organizations, contractors, consultants, local decision makers and the general public. However, to meet their specific needs, the region may decide to hold several mini-workshops to target different groups.


There are many different groups that focus on education and outreach that could assist with the Regional Workshops such as the National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERR), Sea Grant Programs, National Estuary Programs and state coastal management programs. Several representatives from NERRs and Sea Grant programs attended the national management tools workshop and are interested in assisting with regional outreach efforts.


Because each region will likely be presenting on the same core information, NOAA has committed to developing model PowerPoint presentations to help with the regional outreach efforts and to prevent the regions from having to duplicate efforts. Presentation topics will most likely include: Environmental and Aesthetic Impacts of Residential Docks and Piers; Visual Impact Assessments: Theory and Practice; BMPs for Minimizing the Impacts of Your Residential Docks and Piers; and Management Techniques for Docks and Piers.  The model presentations can be modified at the regional level to meet the specific needs of the region.


Literature Cited


Bliven, Steve. 2003. Small Dock Management: Non-Regulatory Techniques. Presented at Residential Docks and Piers, Phase II: Management Tools, November 18-19, 2003, Durham, NH.


McGregor, Greggor. 2003. Legal Authorities and Management Options for Regulating Docks and Piers. Presented at Residential Docks and Piers, Phase II: Management Tools, November 18-19, 2003, Durham, NH.


O’Beirne, Bill. 2003. Management of Residential Docks and Piers Using Special Area Management Planning. Presented at Residential Docks and Piers, Phase II: Management Tools, November 18-19, 2003, Durham, NH.


Ross, Neil. 2003. Residential Docks: Design, Environmental, Social Impacts and Mitigation. Presented at Residential Docks and Piers, Phase II: Management Tools, November 18-19, 2003, Durham, NH.


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Allison Castellan

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

National Ocean Service, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management

1305 East-West Highway, SSMC4 N/ORM3

Silver Spring, MD 20910

Office: 301-713-3155 x 225

Fax: 301-713-4367


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