Hawaii earns C+ in beach maintenance survey
Hawaii received a C-plus in the Surfrider Foundation’s annual State of the Beach Report Card, which grades 30 U.S. states and the territory of Puerto Rico on policies that address climate change, shoreline erosion and extreme weather.
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Hawaii received a C-plus in the Surfrider Foundation’s annual State of the Beach
Report Card, which grades 30 U.S. states and the territory of Puerto Rico on policies that address climate change, shoreline erosion and extreme weather.
The C-plus grade is lower than the B the state received last year when the foundation released its first report card.
Still, Hawaii fared better than nearly half the states, primarily in the Southeast and Gulf of Mexico, which collectively received a D or lower. Hawaii did not do as well as many Northeast and West Coast states, which earned a B average.
The poorest-performing states were in regions impacted by extreme weather events, according to the foundation, while higher-scoring states had strong policies on coastal building setbacks, prohibitions against coastal armoring
and rebuilding in coastal hazard areas, and support for incorporating sea level rise into planning documents.
Surfrider’s Coastal Preservation manager, Stefanie
Sekich-Quinn, said in a news release that poor coastal management, along with
the impacts of climate change, including extreme weather and sea level rise, are significantly shrinking the nation’s beaches.
An estimated 40 percent of the U.S. population resides along America’s coastlines, according to Surfrider. Coastal erosion causes an estimated $500 million in property loss annually in
“The Surfrider Foundation’s State of the Beach Report Card aims to raise awareness about coastal threats, empower citizens to work with decision-makers, and provide recommendations to improve local responses to coastal erosion and sea level rise,” said
Sekich-Quinn. “As the report reveals, many states hit hardest by extreme weather and climate change are
the least prepared and it
is vital that states take
action now to protect our
nation’s coastal resources for the future.”
Hawaii, according to
Surfrider, received the average grade because state and counties have been lackadaisical about enforcing coastal armoring laws over the past few years.
“In fact, local homeowners on Oahu’s North Shore are constructing illegal seawalls, and authorities have yet to correct the situation but
often grant after-the-fact
exemptions,” the foundation said in the release. “Fortunately, the state has been
seriously increasing its
work on sea level rise mapping and analyzing adaptation measures for vulnerable areas.”
Surfrider cited the new study by the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources that found Hawaii will be twice as vulnerable to sea level rise than previously predicted.
The state, however, does have many strong coastal preservation policies in place. The city and state have established entities dedicated to climate change. After voters approved an amendment to the city charter in 2016, Honolulu created an Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency. The state also launched a Climate Commission and online portal at climate.hawaii.gov as part of its participation in the Paris Agreement.
Surfrider’s State of the Beach Report Card uses criteria across four major categories, including sediment management, development, coastal armoring and sea level rise. The results of the report card indicate most states need to make improvements, Surfrider said, and need continued funding from federal programs to protect coastlines for the