About the National Coastal Zone Management Program

Our nation’s coastal zone is vital to the well-being of our country. It is home to roughly half of the nation’s population and supports ecologically important habitats and natural resources. The National Coastal Zone Management Program works with coastal states and territories to address some of today’s most pressing coastal issues, including climate change, ocean planning, and planning for energy facilities and development.

The program is a voluntary partnership between the federal government and U.S. coastal and Great Lakes states and territories authorized by the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) of 1972 to address national coastal issues. The program is administered by NOAA.

The act provides the basis for protecting, restoring, and responsibly developing our nation’s diverse coastal communities and resources. To meet the goals of the CZMA, the national program takes a comprehensive approach to coastal resource management—balancing the often competing and occasionally conflicting demands of coastal resource use, economic development, and conservation. The program includes key elements:

  • Protecting natural resources,
  • Managing development in high hazard areas,
  • Giving development priority to coastal-dependent uses,
  • Providing public access for recreation,
  • Prioritizing water-dependent uses, and
  • Coordinating state and federal actions.

While the legislation includes basic requirements for state partners, it also allows the flexibility needed to design programs that best address local challenges and work within state and local laws and regulations. By using both federal and state funds, the program strengthens the capabilities of each partner to address coastal issues.

A wide range of issues are addressed through the program, including coastal development, water quality, public access, habitat protection, energy facility siting, ocean governance and planning, coastal hazards, and climate change.

The primary components of the national program include the following:

  • The federal consistency component ensures that federal actions with reasonably foreseeable effects on coastal uses and resources must be consistent with the enforceable policies of a state’s approved coastal management program. This also applies to federally authorized and funded nonfederal actions.
  • The Coastal Zone Enhancement Program provides incentives to states to enhance their state programs within nine key areas: wetlands, coastal hazards, public access, marine debris, cumulative and secondary impacts, special area management planning, ocean and Great Lakes resources, energy and government facility siting, and aquaculture.
  • The Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program ensures that participating states have the necessary tools to prevent and control polluted runoff.

Note: The Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation program, which protected and purchased more than 110,000 acres of threatened coastal and estuarine lands, is not currently funded, but you can learn more about the program here.

For more information, read the program's strategic plan or contact us.