State of the Beach

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The Surfrider Foundation State of the Beach report is our continually-updated assessment of the health of our nation’s beaches. It is intended to empower concerned citizens and coastal managers by giving them the information needed to take action. For over ten years we have been collecting information on beach access, surf zone water quality, beach erosion, erosion response, beach fill, shoreline structures, beach ecology and surfing areas to get an understanding of the condition of our nation’s beaches. Click on the links below or along the top border for state reports, more information about our beach health indicators, perspectives, and more.

Featured Indicator: Beach Ecology

Grunion, photo by Dan Harding

Beaches are alive. They are home to birds, grasses, crabs, clams, fish, tiny invertebrates, and more. Unfortunately, these habitats are experiencing an unprecedented level of human impact, encroached on the landward side by coastal development and on the ocean side by sea level rise and coastal erosion. Beach ecosystems are affected by many different types of human pressures, from recreation to pollution to coastal armoring. As a coastal ecosystem, the beach is underrepresented in science and largely unrecognized in management practices. The Coastal Zone Management Act calls for “The protection of natural resources, including…beaches, dunes, barrier islands…and fish and wildlife, and their habitat, within the coastal zone” (1972). Our findings in the State of The Beach Report revealed that despite this federal mandate, sandy beaches all around the nation are receiving little, if any, ecological protection. Therefore, coastal managers must make three key changes with respect to sandy beach ecology: there must be widespread recognition of the beach as a natural ecosystem, managers need to better incorporate existing science into beach management, and research in beach ecology must advance.

One of our summer interns in 2007, John Bain, wrote his Master's thesis at Duke University on An Assessment of the Effectiveness and Usage of the Surfrider Foundation Annual State of the Beach Report