The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) is the lead policy and planning agency on coastal and ocean issues within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA). A team of multi-disciplinary professionals working in a range of program areas implements CZM's mission—to balance the impact of human activities with the protection of coastal and marine resources through planning, public involvement, education, research, and sound resource management. As a networked program with a strong regional and local role, CZM emphasizes coordination, collaboration, and partnerships to address coastal issues.
The 2008 Oceans Act required EEA to develop a comprehensive ocean management plan, and CZM has led the planning process on behalf of EEA. On December 31, 2009, the Commonwealth’s first-ever final Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan was released. The Oceans Act further requires EEA to review and update the plan at least once every five years. On September 24, the 2014 draft ocean plan, which presents the first formal amendment of the 2009 ocean plan, was released for public review and comment. See EEA’s Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan website for details and updates, along with links to copies of the 2014 draft ocean plan, instructions for submitting comments by November 25, and information on the five public hearings to be held throughout October.
Established in 2014, the Coastal Erosion Commission is charged with investigating and documenting the levels and impacts of coastal erosion in the Commonwealth and developing strategies and recommendations to reduce, minimize, or eliminate the magnitude and frequency of coastal erosion and its adverse impacts on property, infrastructure, public safety, and beaches and dunes. Specifically, the commission was asked to evaluate erosion levels since 1978 and assess the resulting financial damage to property, infrastructure, and beach and dune resources—and to also estimate the likely cost of damages over the next 10 years under current conditions, regulations, and laws.
This national model developed by CZM is designed to help communities and homeowners address coastal erosion, storm damage, flooding, and related issues. The StormSmart Coasts website includes information on available grants, assessing the vulnerability of coastal properties to erosion and flooding, tools for local officials to improve coastal floodplain management, options for coastal property owners to effectively reduce erosion and storm damage while minimizing impacts to shoreline systems, information on landscaping options for controlling erosion and storm damage, interactive maps of erosion along the Massachusetts coast, and more.
The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) administers two National Estuary Programs (NEPs)—the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program and the Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program—which are funded by Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The primary goals of the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management's (CZM) Port and Harbor Planning Program are to help ensure that waterfront areas in the Commonwealth grow in a safe, environmentally sound, and economically prosperous manner and balance potentially competing uses within a port or harbor. The major components of the Port and Harbor Planning Program include Municipal Harbor Plans, Designated Port Areas, Dredged Material Management Plan Technical Reports, technical assistance, and a variety of publications.
Without clean water, the value of the Commonwealth's coast would be vastly diminished. Good water quality is necessary for swimming, boating, fishing, shellfishing, aquaculture, and most of the other activities that draw people to the coast, as well as for healthy coastal habitats. To help support efforts to keep the coastal and ocean waters of Massachusetts clean, the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Coastal Water Quality Program offers grants, technial assistance, project review, and a variety of publications.
The Massachusetts coastal zone encompasses dozens of habitats. From open water to salt marsh to sandy dune, these habitats provide coastal plants and animals with their requirements for life, including food, shelter, and the basic conditions for survival. These habitats also serve important functions for people, from providing recreational and economic resources to filtering pollutants and reducing storm damage on the coast. The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) strives to better understand coastal habitats and the complex interactions that sustain them and works to protect and restore these valuable resources.
Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are known by many names—nuisance species, exotic species, non-indigenous species, or just pests. These plants and animals, like purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) and the European green crab (Carcinus maenas) have forever changed the ecology and economy of Massachusetts. To address these threats, a variety of state and federal agencies and nonprofit organizations have formed the Massachusetts AIS Working Group. With leadership from the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), this group works to prevent new introductions and manage the impact of AIS already established in the Commonwealth.
From developing the state’s first comprehensive ocean plan to helping people get to and enjoy the coast, the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) requires sound data management and effective mapping to fulfill its mission of balancing the protection of natural resources while promoting wise coastal development. The primary goals of CZM’s Mapping and Data Management Program are to support CZM programs and policies with data creation, analysis, and map making; ensure that CZM data are properly developed, maintained, and archived; and share these data and maps with other Commonwealth agencies and the general public.
Each September and October, thousands of volunteers throughout Massachusetts turn out for COASTSWEEP—the statewide coastal cleanup sponsored by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM). COASTSWEEP is part of the International Coastal Cleanup organized by Ocean Conservancy in Washington, DC. Volunteers from all over the world collect marine debris—trash, fishing line, and any other human-made items—and record what they find. This information is then analyzed and used to identify sources of marine debris and develop education and policy initiatives to help reduce it.
Landscaping on the coast is no easy task. The wind, salt spray, occasional far-reaching storm waves, and shifting, parched, sandy soils can thwart even the most seasoned gardeners. But with the right plants, you can attain a flourishing coastal landscape and spend less time, money, and labor in the process. Other rewards include: enhanced visual appeal of your coastal property, preservation of the natural character of the coastal environment, habitat for wildlife, a filter for pollution, and natural protection from storm damage and erosion.
In response to the federal Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), the Commonwealth of Massachusetts developed its coastal zone management program, which was approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1978. This program is implemented by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM). The CZMA gives states the authority to review federal projects to ensure that they meet state standards articulated in their coastal zone management plans through a process called federal consistency review. Federal consistency review is required for most projects that: 1) are in or can reasonably be expected to affect a use or resource of the Massachusetts coastal zone, and/or 2) require federal licenses or permits, receive certain federal funds, are a direct action of a federal agency, or are part of outer continental shelf plans for exploration, development, and production.
With more than 1,500 miles of Massachusetts shoreline, there's so much to explore and enjoy. This web page gives 10 ways to find the best beaches, ensure a safe and fun visit, and protect and improve the environment along the way.