BOX 1-2 LAKE ERIE COASTAL EROSION STUDY

Erosion of the Ohio shoreline of Lake Erie was recognized as a threat to private property and public infrastructure. The State of Ohio, mandating that coastal erosion areas be identified in development of Ohio's Coastal Management Program, discovered a pressing need for reliable information documenting ongoing erosion rates. Ohio law mandates that coastal erosion areas encompass those "areas anticipated to be lost over the next 30 years due to Lake Erie-related erosion if no additional coastal erosion control measures are emplaced." To meet this requirement a cooperative program was designed to improve estimates of ongoing erosion and to provide a regional understanding of the factors involved (Folger, 1996; Mackey, 1996).

The effort involved the USGS and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' and the Ohio Division of Geologic Survey (ODGS). ODGS provided both scientific expertise and regulatory oversight for assessing development and management in Ohio's coastal erosion areas. The USGS provided scientific expertise and technical capabilities for data collection and interpretation. The bulk of the USGS expertise came from the CMGP, which was also responsible for project oversight. Additional expertise was supplied by the USGS National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program.

As the agency responsible for erosion control and issuing development permits in the resulting coastal erosion areas, the ODGS was largely responsible for identifying the data and product needs for the specific regulatory requirements. The ODGS and the USGS cooperatively defined a data collection and analysis program to meet these immediate needs while enhancing understanding of the processes driving shoreline retreat. Efforts centered on documentation of recession rates and factors (bluff lithology, shoreline modification, sediment entrapment) contributing to shoreline retreat. A broad regional approach was cooperatively designed and implemented to address the role of restricted sand resources on the future evolution of the shoreline. A team of ODGS and USGS research and technical staff cooperatively implemented the program. The ODGS took responsibility for dissemination of results to the public and the ultimate development of policy. The USGS was responsible for ensuring the quality and defensibility of the scientific interpretation. Both agencies participated fully in the data collection and interpretation programs. The interaction between the two agencies was highly successful in the definition of program objectives that addressed both scientific and management needs.

The study resulted in the establishment and approval of a Coastal Management Program for Ohio. Designation of coastal erosion areas reflected the study findings that long-term shoreline retreat rates had been significantly impacted by fundamental changes in the nearshore system. A progressive, dramatic reduction in beach width and sediment supply since the early 1970s, due in large part to the emplacement of shore protection structures and high lake levels, had caused an acceleration of erosion along the unprotected areas of the coast. Based on data resulting from this study and recognizing a system-wide change in coastal conditions, the state modified administrative rules to use short-term recession rates (maximum 30-year interval) to designate coastal erosion areas.



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