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State Facts

Miles of Coast: 3,190

Coastal Population (2000): 3,861,557

Lead Coastal Management Agency: Department of Natural Resources

Approval Date: 1978

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Ocean and Coastal Management in Maryland

Maryland's Coastal Program

Maryland’s Coastal Program was established through an Executive Order and approved by NOAA in 1978. The Coastal Program is a networked program and is comprised of several state planning and regulatory programs, as well as the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays Critical Areas Protection Program. The Department of Natural Resources is the lead agency. Maryland's coastal boundary follows the inland boundary of the counties (and Baltimore City) bordering the Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake Bay, and the Potomac River (as far as the municipal limits of Washington, D.C.).

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Habitat and living resource protection is one component of Maryland's Coastal Program.

The Coastal Program is currently focusing its efforts in three high-impact strategic themes, which include protecting and managing coastal habitats, improving coastal water quality, and supporting resilient communities. The Coastal Program supports growth management and climate change adaptation planning at the local level through the Coastal Smart Communities Initiative, which helps local jurisdictions identify and change codes and ordinances in ways that provide for smart and safe growth. An additional tool to help prevent and mitigate coastal hazards, Maryland Shorelines Online helps property owners, municipal officials, educators, and marine contractors understand shoreline management processes, assistance opportunities and practices appropriate for maintaining the rich cultural and natural resources associated with Maryland's coastal and shoreline areas.

Maryland’s National Estuarine Research Reserve

The Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve covers 4,820 acres and is part of the largest estuary in the United States and is one of the most productive bodies of water in the world. The Reserve encompasses a diversity of ecosystem habitats, including salt marsh, freshwater marsh, and a tidal and riverine system.

The Reserve's research efforts have improved the science of restoring tidal, freshwater species of submerged aquatic vegetation. Research activities include investigating planting methods and the use of fences to protect young plants and the associated affects upon wildlife. Volunteers play an important role in the Reserve. Their contributions include field monitoring, restoring wild rice stands, trail maintenance, editing the quarterly newsletter, and manning the visitors center. The Reserve also focuses on disseminating the results of their research through the Coastal Training Program and teaching the public about the value of estuaries and what they can do to help protect Chesapeake Bay.

Program Achievements

Maryland's Onsite Sewage Disposal Systems (OSDS) Management Efforts

Maryland Promotes Vegetated or "Soft Structural" Shoreline Erosion Control

Maryland Launches Best Management Practices (BMPs) Tracking Website


Maryland Coastal Program — The website provides information on the program’s activities including the Non-point Source Management Program, public access projects, and shore erosion control.

Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve — The website provides information on research, education, and stewardship activities within the Reserve.

Marine Protected Areas — Search for marine protected areas in Maryland.

Cooperative Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology — This program brief describes investments in technology development and research projects for the state of Maryland.

Maryland Coastal Nonpoint Conditional and Full Approval Documents — The Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program encourages better coordination between state and coastal zone managers and water quality experts to reduce polluted runoff in the coastal zone. The state received full approval in 1999.

Maryland Coastal Program Evaluation (2008) — The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management conducts periodic performance reviews of federally approved state coastal management programs.

Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Evaluation (2012) — The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management conducts periodic performance reviews of estuarine research reserves.

Maryland Coastal Zone Enhancement Program Assessment and Strategy (2011-2016) — Every five years, the Coastal Zone Management Act encourages states and territories to conduct self-evaluations of their coastal management programs to assess significant changes in the state’s coastal resources and management practices, identify critical needs, and prioritize areas for enhancement under the Coastal Zone Enhancement Program.

Contact Information for Maryland’s Programs

Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Coastal Zone Management Program
Tawes State Office Bldg., E-2
580 Taylor Avenue
Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 260-8730

Chesapeake Bay-MD Reserve:
Tawes State Office
580 Taylor Avenue, E-2
Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 260-8730