Surfrider’s 5th Annual State of the Beach Report Reveals the Majority of Coastal States Are Not Prepared for Climate Change Impacts
Results Indicate that 67% of Coastal States Assessed Are Doing a ‘Mediocre to Poor’ Job of Protecting the Nation’s Coasts.
San Clemente, Calif., November 9, 2021 - The Surfrider Foundation, a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches, today announced the release of its fifth annual State of the Beach Report. The report reveals that while nine states improved their grades in 2021, 67% of coastal and Great Lakes states, in addition to the territory of Puerto Rico, earned ‘C, D, or F’ grades and are therefore doing a ‘mediocre to poor’ job of protecting the nation’s coasts. The assessment highlights states that are the most heavily impacted by extreme weather events and rising seas lack comprehensive policies and are the least prepared to handle climate change impacts.
Out of 30 states and the territory of Puerto Rico, only 11 states earned a grade of either an ‘A’ or ‘B.’ The remaining coastal states are performing at a ‘C’ level or less, including the majority of areas that have been impacted the most significantly by extreme weather events. While the Northeast and West Coast states earned a ‘B’ average, the Southeast, Island and Mid-Atlantic states collectively earned a ‘C’ grade overall and the Great Lakes and Gulf of Mexico states scored a ‘D’ average.
“After another year of devastating hurricanes, heat waves, fires and flooding, the climate crisis continues to rapidly grow,” said the Surfrider Foundation’s Coastal Preservation Manager, Stefanie Sekich-Quinn. “Stakes are high and elected officials must take bold actions to protect our ocean and coasts from the unbridled impacts of climate change. While our 2021 report found an increase in grades, states continue to build new development every year in coastal hazard areas, which is extremely shortsighted and problematic — especially with the uptick in extreme weather and sea level rise. We hope our report recommendations improve coastal management and empower citizens to work with decision-makers to safeguard coastal communities.”
Compared to previous years, Surfrider’s fifth annual State of the Beach Report also includes the most signfiicant improvements across the nation as nine states increased their grades in 2021. While California was the only state to previously receive an ‘A’ grade, Maine and Maryland have also achieved the highest score this year. In addition, Delaware, Texas, Connecticut, New Jersey, Hawai’i, North Carolina, Georgia, Maine and Maryland have all elevated their grade average. This increase in grades means more states are prepared to better manage coastlines and adapt to sea level rise, which is essential as 40% of Americans live within the coastal zone and are vulnerable to climate change impacts.
Surfrider’s State of the Beach Report evaluates the performance of 30 U.S. coastal and Great Lakes states, and the territory of Puerto Rico, against criteria for sediment management, development, coastal armoring and sea level rise. States were evaluated on their current laws and policies, implementation of regulations, communication with coastal zone management agencies and on-the-ground monitoring through Surfrider’s network.
Since Surfrider released its inaugural report in 2017, 11 states have made improvements to coastal policies, with advancements in sea level rise planning and coastal resiliency in light of climate change.
About the Surfrider Foundation
The Surfrider Foundation is a nonprofit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s ocean, waves and beaches, for all people, through a powerful activist network. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains over one million supporters, activists and members, with more than 190 volunteer-led chapters and student clubs in the U.S., and more than 700 victories protecting our coasts. Learn more at surfrider.org.