USA - Surfrider State of the Beach Report: States Hit Hardest by Extreme Weather and Climate Change Remain the Least Prepared
The Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world's ocean, waves and beaches, for all people, through a powerful activist network, has released their 2020 State of the Beach Report, revealing that the states most impacted by extreme weather events associated with climate change remain the least prepared because they lack solid coastal preservation and sea level rise policies.
The State of the Beach Report is intended to drive improvements in coastal management by empowering concerned citizens to advocate for stronger shoreline protection policies at the state and local levels. The report is also intended to provide a basis for decision makers and agencies to form proactive, long-term solutions for increased coastal protection for the future.
The 2020 State of the Beach Report grades 31 U.S. states, and the territory of Puerto Rico, on their policies to protect our nation's beaches from: coastal erosion, sea level rise, and poorly planned development. The results reveal 74% of coastal states are doing a mediocre to poor job of managing our nation's shorelines and preparing for future sea level rise. With 23 out of 31 states and territories performing at adequate to poor levels, most of the lowest grades are located in regions heavily impacted by extreme weather events. These states tend to have less stringent policies regarding development in hazardous coastal zones, sediment management, ineffective or nonexistent regulations on coastal armoring, and/or little in the way of policies that require the incorporation of sea level rise projections into coastal planning.
Surfrider's report finds that only eight states are doing a 'good or better' job (e.g., earned a grade of A or B based on relevant criteria) of protecting beaches. The higher scoring states had strong policies regarding coastal building setbacks, prohibitions against coastal armoring and rebuilding in coastal hazard areas, and support for incorporating sea level rise and coastal adaptation into planning documents.
"From unprecedented fires, to extreme hurricanes, and increasing sea level rise, local communities are presently experiencing climate change impacts," said Stefanie Sekich-Quinn, Coastal Preservation Manager at the Surfrider Foundation.