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  Coastal Management
in the Great Lakes Region

Overview | Coastal News | General Resources | Coastal Calendar | Funding
Related Resources

Coastal Issues: Coastal Community Development | Shoreline Protection
Recreation/Public Access | Habitat/Wetlands | Coastal Hazards
State Coastal Programs: Illinois | Indiana | Michigan | Minnesota | New York | Ohio
Pennsylvania | Wisconsin

Click on map below to go directly to a state coastal program page Great Lakes Basin


Coastal management means achieving a balance between natural resources preservation and economic development along our Great Lakes coasts. The Great Lakes shoreline is equal to almost 44 percent of the circumference of the earth.

Coastal management in the Great Lakes is part of a nationwide federal-state partnership that was established under the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) of 1972, which established the national Coastal Zone Management Program. Administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the program provides financial and technical assistance to states to develop and implement their own coastal zone management programs.

The CZMA gives states broad flexibility in establishing their coastal programs, but all state programs must protect sensitive shoreline resources, improve public access to the coast, and identify coastal areas appropriate for development as well as designate areas that are at high risk for coastal hazards (and therefore not appropriate for development).

Each state defines its coastal zone differently. While some use specific "distance from the high water mark" to define their coastal zone, other states include the entire coastal watershed. Together the "coastal zone" of the 8 Great Lakes states is more than 14,000 square miles, larger than the surface area of Lake Erie. (see map)

A unique aspect of the CZMA is the "federal consistency" provision, which ensures that federal actions that are reasonably likely to affect any land or water use or natural resource of the coastal zone will be consistent with the enforceable policies of a coastal state's coastal zone management program.

Seven of the Great Lakes states have Coastal Management programs in place, and Illinois is anticipated to have a program adopted in 2008. All of the Great Lakes state coastal management programs are "networked" programs, which means that the programs integrate the array of array of state laws and policies that have some bearing on coastal resources into an overarching policy an regulatory framework, rather than establishing its own set of rules and regulations.

More specifically, state coastal programs bring together policies and programs to:

  • Protect natural resources
  • Manage development in high hazard areas
  • Manage development to achieve quality coastal waters
  • Give development priority to coastal-dependent uses
  • Have orderly processes for the siting of major facilities;
  • Locate new commercial and industrial development in, or adjacent to, existing developed areas;
  • Provide public access for recreation;
  • Redevelop urban waterfronts and ports; and
  • Preserve and restore historic, cultural, and aesthetic coastal features
  • Comprehensively plan for and manage living aquatic resources.

In sum, the coastal management is about sustainable development in our coastal zones.

Coastal Zone in the Great Lakes

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General Resources
Coastal States Organization
The Coastal States Organization represents the interests of the Governors from the thirty-five coastal States, Commonwealths and Territories bordering the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes on federal, legislative, administrative and policy issues relating to sound coastal, Great Lakes, and ocean management.

NOAA Coastal Services Center
The NOAA Coastal Services Center is an office within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration devoted to serving the nation's state and local coastal resource management programs.

Ocean and Coastal Resource Management
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management provides national leadership, strategic direction, and guidance to state and territory coastal programs and estuarine research reserves.

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Related Resources
GLIN: Agencies and Organizations, Coastal Zones
GLIN: Dredging in the Great Lakes Region
GLIN: Land Use in the Great Lakes Region
Great Lakes BeachCast (leave GLIN)

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Updated: December 18, 2017
Selected Photos: Copyright ©John and Ann Mahan
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