The Surfrider Foundation’s 4th annual State of the Beach Report once again found that most coastal and Great Lake states need to improve shoreline management practices and increase efforts to respond to climate change impacts.

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 assessed are performing at adequate to poor levels, most of the lowest grades are located in regions heavily impacted by extreme weather events.

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.

Fortunately, in 2020, eight states improved sea level rise planning efforts. While these new policy improvements are a step in the right direction, it will take a while to draft and actually implement the policies; and therefore, these new policy improvements do not count toward the states grade this year. For example, New Jersey’s Governor signed a new Executive Order that requires climate change impacts be analyzed during development, yet this policy will not be implemented until 2022.

As a result of the assessments and recommendations provided by Surfrider’s State of the Beach Report, it is our responsibility to work together to drive awareness of the increasing challenges facing our nation’s coasts. We must improve policies on erosion response and sea level rise to protect our ocean, waves and beaches for the future.

Read the full article about states' lackluster responses to climate change impacts by Stefanie Sekich-Quinn at Surfrider.