NOAA works closely with states and territories to support effective management practices to protect our coastlines and provide greater public access to waterways for recreation and outdoor activities, like this beach in Cape Cod, Mass.
In 2013, more than 60 coastal communities reduced their risk to coastal hazards through the efforts of the National Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program. Projects from this past year include revised policies and ordinances to factor in sea level rise, updated shoreline erosion rates, and an assessment of the vulnerability of coastal infrastructure to significant weather events and sea level changes.
The CZM Program is also responsible for providing increased public access to coastal resources with the addition of more than 125 new public access sites and over 420 existing sites improved. These sites, which include dune walkovers, water trails, scenic overlooks, and waterfront promenades, enhance and further promote coastal tourism opportunities as well as provide substantial economic benefit to coastal communities.
Puerto Rico CELCP coastal land acquisition. (Image credit: Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources)
In 2013, approximately 2,770 acres of threatened coastal resources in eight states and territories were protected through funding provided by the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) and the Environmental Protection Agency under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. An additional 274 acres of critical habitat were preserved by leveraging matching CELCP funds with those from other agencies and private donors.
CELCP projects help safeguard our nation's coastal resources by reducing the loss and fragmentation of coastal habitats. Keeping these areas safe improves not only the health of the nation's coastal lands and waters, but also supports local economies through commercial and recreational fishing and coastal tourism.
Coastal lands protected in fiscal year 2013 with CELCP funding include:
The Tijuana River Estuarine Research Reserve is part of a network of 28 protected areas located in the United States and territories established for long-term research, education and stewardship (Image credit: Tijuana River NERR).
The nation’s 28 National Estuarine Research Reserves are experiencing the negative effects of human and climate-related stressors according to results from a new national study, Climate Sensitivity of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System.
Researchers collaborating on the study determined the extent of relative climate sensitivity in the reserves by looking at five factors: social, biophysical, ecological sensitivity, and exposure to temperature change and sea level rise.
This was the first study of both the social and biophysical impacts of climate change to the nation's estuarine research reserves. The data collected is important to helping coastal managers and local community leaders make informed decisions about the best ways for coastal communities to adapt to climate change and become more resilient.
The study, funded by the Climate Program Office, was conducted by a collaborative, interdisciplinary team of investigators from the University of Wisconsin, the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, and the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management working with staff across the National Estuarine Research Reserve System.
Kayaking in Marin County, Calif.
A new online toolkit was developed to provide coastal decision makers and planners with the information needed to make their working waterfront areas more sustainable. The Sustainable Working Waterfront Toolkit includes a history of working waterfronts, an evaluation of ocean-related economic activities, a database of funding sources, legal and policy resources, and a collection of 21 case studies. The toolkit was developed by a team including NOAA Sea Grant programs and the Island Institute of Rockland, Maine. Staff from the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) participated in the development of the case studies, which highlight successful tools and transferable approaches from around the country. OCRM worked with the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration and partners to release the toolkit.
Diver and Gorgonian (coral) in Puerto Rico.
The estimated total economic value of coral reefs for the United States is 3.4 billion dollars, based on data included in the Coral Reef Conservation Program's literature review and meta-analysis report titled, The Total Economic Value of U.S. Coral Reefs: A Review of the Literature, which summarized the economic valuation studies that were conducted over a 10-year period for all U.S. coral reef jurisdictions. The report produced an aggregate total economic value for U.S. coral reefs from American Samoa, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Commonwealth of the North Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The objectives of the report were to provide an overview of the value of U.S. coral reefs; assess their value in terms of ecosystem services such as tourism, fisheries, and coastal protection; and identify data gaps.