A Collaborative Project of

The H. John Heinz III Center

for Science, Economics and the Environment

This report is also available at www.heinzcenter.org .   

April 2000

This independent report, Evaluation of Erosion Hazards, provides a much-needed and valuable assessment of coastal erosion and the resulting loss of property along our Nation's ocean and Great Lakes shorelines.

One of the report's most sobering findings is that within the next 60 years approximately 25 percent of homes located within 500 feet of the coast (excluding those located in most urban centers) will fall victim to the effects of erosion. Erosion-induced losses to property owners during this time are expected to be half a billion dollars annually, an amount nearly equal to the risk of loss from coastal flooding. If coastal development continues unabated or if sea levels rise as some scientists are predicting, damages may be even higher.

Continued coastal erosion has made both coastal structures and ecosystems vulnerable to storms. An increase in the number and intensity of hurricanes making landfall along some of our most erosionprone coastlines could dramatically affect those areas. Unfortunately, such an increase in storm activity is precisely what many leading experts are predicting over the next 20 years.

This report clearly lays out the hard choices facing the Congress and the Nation. It is now time –indeed it is past time – to renew the public dialogue about how we can lower the risks to life and property and reduce the costs to the Nation from the inevitable consequences of coastal erosion.

JAMES LEE WITT,  Director Federal Emergency Management Agency