Coastal Development

August 21, 1998 • Volume 8, Issue 31
Does it put precious lands at risk?
By Adriel Bettelheim

Introduction

Hurricane Opal sheared off a dune in 1995, leaving this beachfront house in Florida perilously close to the water. (Photo Credit: Bill Kaczor, Associated Press)
Hurricane Opal sheared off a dune in 1995, leaving this beachfront house in Florida perilously close to the water. (Photo Credit: Bill Kaczor, Associated Press)

By early in the next century, 75 percent of all Americans will live within 80 miles of an ocean or the Great Lakes. The lure of living close to water has spurred explosive growth in resorts from Ocean City, Md., to North Carolina's Outer Banks. But most of the building is on fragile spits of land prone to washing away in major storms. That increases the chance of a catastrophic loss of life and a multibillion-dollar disaster bailout if a hurricane or huge storm strikes. Many critics are questioning whether federal shoreline-protection policies are encouraging irresponsible growth and leading to other problems like pollution and depletion of fisheries. The Clinton administration is trying to trim some shoreline subsidies but is encountering fierce resistance from coastal state lawmakers in Congress.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Coastlines
Feb. 22, 2013  Coastal Development
Aug. 21, 1998  Coastal Development
Feb. 07, 1992  Threatened Coastlines
Nov. 02, 1984  America's Threatened Coastlines
Nov. 26, 1976  Coastal Zone Management
Feb. 25, 1970  Coastal Conservation
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Natural Disasters
Regional Planning and Urbanization
Wetlands, Everglades, and Coastal Areas