Coastal Erosion and Sea Level Rise

The Maine Coastal Program works in partnership with the Maine Geological Survey, the Department of Environmental Protection, coastal towns, property owners and other stakeholders to develop common ground on land use and development in hazardous coastal erosion areas and areas subject to inundation from rising sea-level. Our work includes policy development, pilot projects with coastal towns, outreach, and support for mapping.

  • Protecting Maine’s Beaches for the Future, 2006: This document is a strategy for management of Maine’s sand beaches–those areas most vulnerable to erosion and rising seas–and was developed by a multi-stakeholder group.   
  • Coastal Hazard Resiliency Tools Project (CHRT) - Saco Bay Sea Level Adaption Working Group (SLAWG): Documents the work of the Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission, the Maine Geological Survey, the Maine Coastal Program and the municipalities of Saco, Biddeford, Scarborough and Old Orchard Beach to adapt their built and natural environments to the potential impacts of storms and sea level rise.
  • Education and Outreach: The Coastal Program is partnering with the University of Maine Sea Grant program to develop new outreach programs about climate change for municipal officials, coastal landowners and the public. Surveys and focus groups were conducted in 2008 to understand the needs of the above audiences. The project provides people with information that will help them take action in their towns and on their properties to plan for the effects of climate change. For more information, contact Kathleen Leyden or Kristen Grant.
  • Municipal Planning: DACF Municipal Planning and Assistance Program's Planning for Climate Variability

The Maine Coastal Program directly supports the work of the Maine Geological Survey to document and propose solutions to erosion and the threat of sea level rise in Maine’s coastal zone. 

  • Anticipating Rising Seas, Maine Coastline newsletter Winter 2007
  • Maine Geological Survey Erosion Webpage: overview of erosion threat, includes maps, data, and related information.
  • Beach Scoring System: utilizes historic change data, in addition to various physical beach characteristics, to develop a scoring system that identifies the need for beach management, and helps determine subsequent applicable beach management actions.
  • Bluff Maps: show the shoreline type and relative stability of bluffs along the Maine coast. MGS’ bluff maps were instrumental in a recent revision to Maine’s model shoreland zoning ordinance to require setbacks for new principal structures to be measured from the top of unstable and highly unstable coastal bluffs. This requirement will afford protection from mass movement of bluffs and prevent pre-mature bluff movement or failure due to development near the edge of the bluff. Towns have until July 1, 2009 to update their shoreland zoning ordinances.
  • Coastal Sand Dune Geology Maps: provide detailed information about Maine's largest beaches and dune systems.
  • Maine Property Owner's Guide to Managing Flooding, Erosion & Other Coastal Hazards: developed in conjunction with Maine Sea Grant.

Other Resources

Anticipatory Planning for Sea Level Rise Along the Coast of Maine 1995 -- Full Report (PDF 20M); Executive Summary (PDF 487K)