The Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA)

By Sheril Kirshenbaum

The Coastal Zone Management Act is meant to “preserve, protect, develop, and where possible, to restore or enhance the resources of the nation’s coastal zone.”

In 1972, Congress passed the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) recognizing the importance of “meeting the challenge of continued growth in the coastal zone”. The CZMA provides for management of the nation’s coastal resources, including the Great Lakes, and balances economic development with environmental conservation. It is administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM).  The overall program objectives of CZMA are to “preserve, protect, develop, and where possible, to restore or enhance the resources of the nation’s coastal zone.”

Two programs are outlined by the Coastal Zone Management Act: The National Coastal Zone Management Program works to balance competing land and water issues in the coastal zone through 34 coastal programs.  The National Estuarine Research Reserve System aims to provide a greater understanding of estuaries and how humans impact them.

In the last two years, OCRM in partnership with the Coastal States Organization has worked with coastal managers, stakeholders, and federal agency partners engaged to determine what improvements are necessary in future coastal management.  Together, they came up with core principles and options toward drafting a reauthorization of the CZMA.  There are three phases:

1) A discussion paper to identify current issues, constraints and opportunities for coastal management

2) The determination state coastal manager perspectives to define issues and priorities

3) Engagement of the broader coastal community to identify options for improved coastal management
Stakeholder meetings were held in Waltham, MA, Chicago, IL, Atlanta, GA, Honolulu, HI, and San Francisco, CA during the summer of 2007.   Discussions were  also held with key federal agency partners on strategies for better collaboration and coordination.

0n February 14, 2008, Representative Madeline Bordallo introduced H.R. 5451 to reauthorize the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, and for other purposes. On June 4, 2008, the bill was forwarded by subcommittee to full committee by voice vote.  The reauthorization includes amendments regarding the value of appropriations and updated dates through 2011.  House Natural Resources Chairman Nick Rahall halted the bill before the committee could vote on it June 11, after House Republicans added 180 pages of amendments to expand offshore oil and gas leasing the evening before markup.


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