Coastal Zone Management Act

50 Years of Progress

Since 1972, the nation’s Coastal Zone Management Act has provided states and territories with a robust framework to address the most pressing issues impacting their coastal communities and economies. From development pressure to wetland loss and sea level rise, this visionary legislation has stood the test of time for meeting the coastal challenges of yesterday, today, and also tomorrow.

The foundation of the Coastal Zone Management Act, or CZMA, is the voluntary partnership between the federal government and coastal and Great Lakes states and territories. Currently, 34 coastal states and territories participate in the National Coastal Management Program. These programs were designed to balance the protection and use of their valuable coastal resources in a way that supports the nation’s economic development. Thirty National Estuarine Research Reserves have been designated, which protect nearly 1.4 million acres of estuarine habitat and provide opportunities for long-term research and education.

This approach has worked.

Over the past 50 years, this novel federal-state partnership has increased public access to our coasts and estuaries, provided incredible opportunities for education and recreation, protected and restored coastal habitat, and supported local government actions that are designed to reduce both the current and future risks associated with coastal storms, sea level rise, and other natural hazards.

Guided by the CZMA’s comprehensive goals, and supported by NOAA, states and research reserves are able to evolve and innovate as they work to meet current and future challenges. We look forward to continuing this tradition of partnership and ensuring that our nation’s coasts are home to healthy and vibrant communities, economies, and ecosystems for the next 50 years and beyond.


Jeffrey L. Payne, Ph.D.
Director, NOAA Office for Coastal Management

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