Date of Award

1980

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Community Planning

First Advisor

Dennis C. Muniak

Abstract

The coastline of the United States is a vast natural resource. It plays host to a wide variety of activities; from wildlife preserves and stretches of unspoiled beach to fishing communities and public recreation sites to major urban systems, oil refineries and nuclear power plants. This relatively thin stretch where land and ocean meet is a complex and diverse place, a string of rocky shores, cliffs, beaches, estuaries, bays, harbors, islands and marshes. It is a fertile yet fragile breeding ground for countless species of fish and wildlife. It is a great economic resource, providing us with shipping access to the rest of the world. It is a source of endless fascination, invention and wonder. We marvel at the power and relentlessness of the sea, the regularity of its tides, and the savage unpredictability of its storms.

Perhaps no other natural resource exerts such powerful economic and aesthetic attractions over us as does the coast. Industry, homeowners, vacationers, retirees, and developers all make conflicting demands on this great resource. But the resource is a limited one. As years pass, we see relentless environmental degradation; beaches polluted, water unswimmable, shellfish inedible, wildlife imperiled. In the process, unique aesthetic features can be lost forever.

Coastal development endangers not only the rich and diverse natural systems found there, but also those people who, through choice or circumstance, live there. The coast forms our nation's first defense against ocean storms and accepts the brunt of their awesome strength. It is a fluid, moving system of shifting sands, undergoing continuous change from the ocean that eats away from the coast in come areas, building up the coast somewhere else. It does so in unpredictable fashion; sometimes slowly nibbling and depositing, sometimes totally rearranging the coast in the master stroke of a major storm.

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