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Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management

Louisiana Coastal Management Program

Celebrating 40 Years of the Coastal Zone Management Act

Expanded Louisiana Coastal Zone Boundary Approved

Oct. 1, 2012
Aerial image of Louisiana coast

Louisiana has lost more over 4,921 square kilometers of land since the 1930s. The Louisiana Coastal Management Program manages activities that impact wetlands and other coastal resources to ensure the reasonable use of the state’s coastal wetlands, and requires mitigation for activities that result in any loss of wetlands.

The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management recently approved a new inland boundary for the Louisiana Coastal Management Program after the state legislature revised the boundary based on the results of a two-year study. The new coastal zone boundary incorporates a net increase of 4,887 additional square kilometers , about a 12.6 percent increase.

The state was concerned that the original boundary, established in 1978, did not include all wetlands under coastal influence. State officials were also concerned that water quality in the coastal zone could be significantly affected by activities occurring outside the coastal zone and that the coastline has changed significantly since the boundary was established. Today, officials have access to better data collection and analysis capabilities to determine coastal influence (versus in 1978). Louisiana used these tools to determine the new boundary and helped contribute to a better understanding of the vulnerability of the Louisiana coastal zone to sea level rise, land subsidence, storm surge, and other flood hazard issues.

The boundary change enhances state management of coastal resources in areas with a high level of coastal influence and reduces impacts of coastal hazards and wetland alteration through review of development proposals. In addition, the boundary change will simplify review of federal activities—within the newly added areas of the coastal zone—through the state’s federal consistency authority under the Coastal Zone Management Act.

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The Louisiana Coastal Management Program was approved by NOAA in 1980, and is administered by the Department of Natural Resources through the Office of Coastal Management. The primary authority for the coastal management program is the State and Local Coastal Resources Management Act of 1978, which required the state to develop Coastal Use Guidelines, a set of comprehensive coastal policies governing various activities. The Louisiana coastal zone, which varies from 25.7 to 51.5 kilometers inland from the Gulf coast, is a 10 million-acre area that includes 40 percent of the nation’s coastal wetlands.

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