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State Facts

Miles of Coast: 312

Coastal Population (2000): 2,659,770

Lead Coastal Management Agency: Department of Natural Resources

Approval Date: 1997

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Ocean and Coastal Managment in Ohio

Ohio's Coastal Management Program

The Ohio Coastal Management Program is designed to integrate management of Ohio's Lake Erie coast in order to preserve, protect, develop, restore, and enhance Ohio's valuable and sometimes vulnerable coastal resources. NOAA approved Ohio's Coastal Program in 1997. The Coastal Program is a networked program and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources serves as the lead agency.

Photo of Ohio coast

Visitors to the Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve can enjoy exploring the Lake Erie coastline.

Ohio's coastal boundary is quite varied and runs through the nine counties bordering Lake Erie and its tributaries. The boundary width ranges from about an eigth-of-a-mile to 15 miles depending on features, such as coastal wetlands and bluffs.

The Coastal Program policies address nine management areas: coastal erosion and flooding; water quality; ecologically sensitive areas; ports and shoreline development; recreation and cultural resources; fish and wildlife management; environmental quality; energy and mineral resources; and water quantity. The Coastal Program works to promote the wise management of land and water uses that have direct and significant impacts on the Lake Erie coastal area.

The Coastal Program also works closely with local governments. The Coastal Program has developed the Coastal Management Assistance Grant program to assist local communities with priority management issues such as comprehensive community planning, improving public access to Lake Erie, watershed planning to address coastal nonpoint pollution, and conducting coastal research and education.

Ohio's National Estuarine Research Reserve

The Old Woman Creek Reserve is located on the south-central shore of Lake Erie in Erie County, three miles east of Huron. Old Woman Creek is the smallest Reserve in the National Estuarine Research System. It is also the only Great Lakes, freshwater estuary in the system. The Reserve features freshwater marshes, swamp forests, a barrier beach, upland forest, estuarine waters, and streams.

The Reserve provides educational programs for teachers, schools, universities, and the general public. The Visitor Center contains exhibits, a freshwater aquarium, and weather station. Exhibits illustrate topics as diverse as glacial geology, land use change, real time electronic water quality monitoring, and green building materials. Researchers at the Reserve are studying methods to control nonpoint pollution, the best methods to control invasive species, and best management practices for ballast water.

Program Achievements

Ohio's Coastal Atlas

Ohio Addresses Coastal NPS through Local Watershed Organizations in the Lake Erie Watershed


Ohio Coastal Management Program — The website provides information on the Program including laws and regulations, its coastal grants program, and GIS/mapping efforts, among other programs and projects.

Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program Plan for the State of Ohio (2010) — Ohio has developed a Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Plan that provides an assessment of priority conservation needs and guidance for nominating and selecting land conservation projects to OCRM's Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program competition.

Old Woman Creek Research Reserve — The Reserve provides information on research, education, and stewardship activities.

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

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

Ohio Coastal Nonpoint Program Conditional Approval Document — The Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program encourages better coordination between state coastal zone managers and water quality experts to reduce polluted runoff in the coastal zone.

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

Old Woman Creek National Research Reserve Evaluation (2010) — The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management conducts periodic performance reviews of federally approved state coastal management programs.

Ohio 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.

Ohio Clean Marina Program — The Ohio Clean Marinas Program is a proactive partnership designed to encourage marinas and boaters to use simple, innovative solutions to keep Ohio's coastal and inland waterway resources clean.

Contact Information for Ohio's Programs

Office of Coastal Management Department of Natural Resources
105 West Shoreline Drive
Sandusky, OH 44870
(419) 626-7980 or 1 888-OhioCMP (1-888-644-6267)

Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve
2514 Cleveland Road, East
Huron, OH 44839
(419) 433-4601