Beach Preservation Policy

Ratified by Surfrider Foundation Board of Directors, April 17, 1999


The Surfrider Foundation recognizes that beaches are unique coastal environments with ecological, recreational and economic value. The Surfrider Foundation further recognizes that beaches are a public resource and should be held in the public trust. As human activities and development in coastal areas increase, the need for preservation of beaches becomes ever more apparent.
"Hazards" occur when naturally dynamic coastal processes encounter static human development, and when humans interfere with marine and littoral systems. The Surfrider Foundation is working proactively to promote conservation and responsible coastal management that avoid creation of coastal hazards or erosion problems. The Surfrider Foundation supports coastal research and science-based management of coastal resources to promote sustainable, long term planning and preservation of beach environments.
This policy is general in nature; the Surfrider Foundation recognizes that every specific case must be evaluated in the context of its local setting.


Beaches are often perceived as separate habitats, but in reality are small parts of much larger coastal ecosystems. These systems include watersheds, wetlands, and nearshore marine environments.
Beaches are dynamic in nature and change on multiple temporal and spatial scales. These changes are therefore difficult to predict with certainty.


The Surfrider Foundation hereby advocates actions to promote long term beach preservation for the benefit of the public.
Coastal areas that are free of development should be protected via proactive means that do not interrupt coastal processes. These include:

  • Placement of beaches and beachfront lands in public trust
  • Establishment of beach setbacks based on current and historical erosional trends
  • Restoration of natural sediment transport processes in coastal watersheds 

In areas where erosion threatens existing coastal development, the Surfrider Foundation advocates appropriate long-term solutions that maximize public benefit. These include:

  • Landward retreat of structures from dynamic shorelines

Where landward retreat is not feasible, beach nourishment** projects may be considered, on a case by case basis, as viable alternatives for short-term beach preservation.

Under no circumstances does the Surfrider Foundation support the installation of stabilization or sand retention structures along the coastline. Such structures can protect existing coastline development but have no place in beach preservation.

** For the purposes of this policy, 'beach nourishment' is defined as: the placement of clean sand of the appropriate composition and grain size on the beach or within the littoral environment. Under no circumstances is the incorporation of sand retention devices of any form to be construed as included within this definition.