The Surfrider Foundation released their annual State of the Beach report for 2018 in mid-December, and the results are disappointing, to say the least.
The State of the Beach report grades 30 U.S. States, as well as Puerto Rico, on “their policies to protect our nation’s beaches from coastal erosion, irresponsible beach fill, sea level rise, and poorly planned coastal development.”
“The results reveal that 23 out of 31 states and territories assessed are performing at adequate to poor levels, with most of the lowest grades located in regions that are heavily impacted by extreme weather events,” Surfrider wrote. “Surfrider’s report card clearly indicates that not only do the majority of states need to make improvements, but they also require continued support at the federal level for the Coastal Zone Management Act and funding for agencies such as NOAA, to protect our coastlines for the future.”
According to the report, only eight states are doing a decent job: Washington, Oregon, California, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Those states received grades of either an A or a B. Ohio, Indiana, New Jersey, and Georgia fell on the other side of the scale, receiving Fs. Hawaii earned a C+.
While it’s easy to attribute those failing grades to federal or state negligence, it’s often a variety of factors, some of which are out of the hands of administrators.
“Nearly half the states assessed scored a D or F, including areas that have fared the worst in recent hurricanes and extreme weather disasters,” reads Surfrider’s press release. “While the Northeast and West Coast states earned a B average, the Southeast and Gulf of Mexico states collectively scored a D or below average. In the last three years, hurricanes, including Florence, Maria, Harvey, and Irma, have devastated communities located in the lowest-graded areas.”
It’s a multi-faceted subject, one full of hot-button issues, such as climate change.
“Poor coastal management and climate change impacts, such as extreme weather and sea level rise, are significantly shrinking our nations’ beaches,” said Surfrider’s Coastal Preservation Manager, Stefanie Sekich-Quinn. “The Surfrider Foundation’s State of the Beach Report Card aims to raise awareness about coastal threats, empower citizens to work with decision-makers, and provide recommendations to improve local responses to coastal erosion and sea level rise. As the report reveals, many states hit hardest by extreme weather and climate change are the least prepared and it is vital that states take action now to protect our nation’s coastal resources for the future.”