Coastal Issues | Public Involvement | Activities

What Is OCRM Doing to Encourage Public Involvement?

The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) encourages public involvement in a number of ways:

Public Comment

Volunteers with the Florida Keys Greensweep Initiative

Volunteers with the Florida Keys Greensweep Initiative remove non-native plants from West Summerland Key. The Florida Coastal Management Program partnered with The Nature Conservancy to support the Greensweep Initiative to protect the unique habitat of the Florida Keys. West Summerland Key is now 99 percent free of non-native plant species.


OCRM provides opportunities for the public to comment on and participate in coastal management decisions. Public comments are sought in the program approval process or designation of all state coastal management and estuarine research reserves programs. OCRM also solicits public concerns and priorities on coastal issues through environmental impact assessments, meetings, workshops, and federal register notices for public comment periods.


The National Coastal Zone Management Program also incorporates mechanisms to ensure continued public participation in program decisions, including program enhancements, changes, and evaluations, and program functions, such as federal consistency and environmental protection. Many of the 34 state and territory coastal programs also provide for ongoing public involvement through formal public advisory groups that represent the coastal zone's many interests.

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Advisory Groups

OCRM also establishes advisory groups to involve the public. The Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Federal Advisory Committee is very a successful example of public involvement. The MPA Federal Advisory Committee is made up of people of diverse backgrounds and experience. Committee members represent a range of stakeholders

interested in MPAs as a management tool, including scientists, academics, commercial fishermen, anglers, divers, state and tribal resource managers, energy and tourism industries, and environmentalists. The committee provides expert advice and recommendations to the Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior on implementing the National System of MPAs. Additional information, including copies of the committee’s recommendations and meeting minutes, are on the MPA Center’s web site.

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Education and Outreach

For the public to be involved in coastal decision-making, they need information on coastal management issues and a general understanding of the governing laws and policies. OCRM and our state partners offer public education and outreach programs and volunteer opportunities. With state partners, OCRM also provides technical assistance to other coastal decision-makers. For example, the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) supports local governments through the Coastal Training Program. NERRS sites also provide active K-12 educational programs and other educational programs, including support for National Estuaries Day.

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Coordination

By working with local governments and involving the public, OCRM can better identify local needs, connect local priorities to national goals, and coordinate agency actions to support local management of coastal resources. For example, through the Coral Reef Conservation Program, OCRM successfully coordinated with local governments to develop local action strategies to address threats to coral reefs.

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Measuring Success

As part of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) Performance Management System, OCRM has worked with state partners to develop performance indicators to evaluate effectiveness of state coastal management and NERRS programs in meeting the goals of the CZMA. Public involvement and support for local governments are tracked by state coastal programs through several measures in the category of Government Coordination and Decision-Making. NERRS also measure public involvement activities with indicators for the Coastal Training Program.