Alaska Coastal Management Program
The Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) of 1972 created the federal Coastal Zone Management Program (CZMP). The CZMP strives to protect, develop, and restore the natural and cultural resources of coastal areas by balancing competing uses of and impacts to these resources.
The federal Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) of 1972 created the federal Coastal Zone Management Program (CZMP). The CZMP strives to protect, develop, and restore the natural and cultural resources of coastal areas by balancing competing uses of and impacts to these resources. The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM), which is part of National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), implements the CZMP by providing approval, oversight and funding to state programs. One of the primary objectives of the OCRM is to use a comprehensive approach on an ecosystem scale to coastal zone management that works through key partnerships to address the complex management issues facing the U.S. coasts and oceans.
On June 4, 1977 the Alaska Legislature enacted the Alaska Coastal Management Act (ACMA), which established the Alaska Coastal Management Program (ACMP). The ACMP is composed of 33 coastal resource districts which develop and implement their own programs and enforceable policies for the roughly 44,500 miles of Alaska coastline, which has national and international significance for its healthy and diverse ecosystems. The intent of the ACMP is to provide stewardship for Alaska’s rich and diverse coastal resources to ensure a healthy and vibrant coast that efficiently sustains long-term economic and environmental productivity. It was also intended to provide a forum for local community involvement in the preservation and development of our coastal areas through the participation of the district programs.
Project proposals that trigger a review under the ACMP must be consistent with both the statewide standards of the ACMP, as set forth in 11 AAC 110, 112 and 114, and the enforceable policies of the coastal district where the project will occur. This requirement gives the state and coastal districts a powerful tool to: ensure conservation and protection of the habitats and wildlife populations of Alaska’s coastal environments; influence federal decision making; and affect the design and approval of projects and lands in the coastal zone. However, the power of this tool is dependent on the quality of our State standards and the ability of the districts to implement effective programs and enforceable policies.
On March 12, 2003, at the request of Governor Frank Murkowski, the Alaska State Legislature mandated the reform of the ACMP that included revising statutes, regulations, district coastal management plans, and other ACMP processes. The Murkowski-era language of the state standards, particularly the Habitat Standards found in 11 AAC 112.300, "revised" the standards to such an extent that no conservation or protection of wildlife habitats can occur, minimized local participation by marginalizing district programs, and eliminated the districts’ ability to draft enforceable policies and standards. This ultimately has resulted in the institutional and policy failure of the ACMP.
Periodically, the OCRM reviews state's coastal management programs, and in June of 2008, OCRM published it's findings regarding Alaska's Coastal Management Program.
On July 1st, 2008, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) initiated a "re-evaluation" of the ACMP laws. The DNR will prepare a statutory proposal for consideration during the 2009 Alaska Legislative Session and a subsequent regulatory package for implementing the changes. All Alaskans including conservationists, natives and other stakeholders have a chance to re-enter a partnership to address the complex management issues facing Alaska’s coastal zones.
The Northern Alaska Environmental Center got involved in the re-evaluation process to ensure that our values of ecosystem and cultural preservation were protected, and to push for meaningful local involvement by coastal communities.
It is unclear what is happening with this revision process at the present time. As of September 2009, it appears that DNR is continuing to move forward with revisions to 11 AAC 110 (the administration and implementation regulations) but is not actively working to revise 11 AAC 112, which includes resource and habitat standards. NAEC continues to look for ways to push for reform of these regulations.