Possible Points: 750 points for the element.

Learn from the experiences of a community that was successful in earning credit for this CRS element! Check out the Success Story for Myrtle Beach, SC.

Purpose of Element: In areas that are vulnerable to coastal erosion and sea level rise, open space preservation can be a vital tool for preventing future flood damages. As a result, the CRS rewards communities that preserve their coastal erosion hazard area, defined by the CRS as “the area between the current location of the community’s erosion reference feature and the projected location of that erosion reference feature 30 to 100 years into the future,” as open space. The purpose of this element is to reward communities that protect coastal erosion hazard areas as open space.

Credit can be earned for preserving open space in the coastal erosion hazard zone on public or private land through the use of tools like rolling conservation easements, setbacks, or land acquisition (NOAA, 2012). Regardless of how the land is protected, it must meet all of the same credit criteria as land that is credited under element 422.a. Open Space Preservation. For more information reference pages 420-20 - 420-21 of the CRS Coordinator’s Manual.

Impact Adjustment: Yes. The impact adjustment for this element is based on three factors. 1. The ratio of the area of the coastal erosion hazard area to the area of the coastal erosion hazard area that qualifies for credit; 2. The projected number of years the current erosion setback is referenced to relative to the current year (i.e. projected year - current year); and 3. The degree to which the community considers sea level rise in its projections.

Potential to Double Count Credit: Yes. Areas that qualify for CEOS credit which are preserved as open space are also eligible for OSP, DR, NFOS, and NSP credit.

Degree of Difficulty - Documentation: Low. The required documentation for this element includes copies of relevant ordinances, an impact adjustment map for areas that are vulnerable to coastal erosion, and evidence that the community meets the element prerequisites. These documents can be assembled and/or created easily by most communities.

Degree of Difficulty - Implementation: High. In order to obtain credit for this element, a community must receive credit for mapping coastal erosion hazard areas under element 410 Mapping for Coastal Erosion (MCE). The community must also maintain data on shoreline erosion rates and implement higher regulatory standards that prevent development seaward/lakeward of the 30-year erosion-prone area. Creating the maps and completing the calculations required to obtain credit for these elements can take a significant amount of expertise and time. Many communities will need to hire a contractor to assist with this task. As a result, the amount of effort associated with earning credit for this element is high.

Dune habitat in Myrtle Beach, SC. Image courtesy of Michael McCarthy via the Flickr Creative Commons.
Dune habitat in Myrtle Beach, SC. Image courtesy of Michael McCarthy via the Flickr Creative Commons.

Tip for Success:

  1. According to a 2012 report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, more than 20 coastal states/territories have state-mandated shoreline no-build areas (NOAA, 2012). In some cases, these state-mandated no-build areas may be stringent enough to qualify for CEOS credit.

Co-Benefits Associated with this Element: Protecting coastal floodplains as open spaces is especially important when these areas are vulnerable to other hazards like coastal erosion and sea level rise. By preventing development in these coastal erosion hazard areas, loss of life and property due to erosion can be minimized or prevented altogether. Protecting open space from development preserves habitat for fish, wildlife, and fowl, and also allows beaches and marshes to migrate over time in response to sea level rise and natural sediment transport processes. Finally, maintaining pristine coastal habitat is vital to supporting the economy as a significant proportion of recreational and commercial fish catch in the southeastern U.S. is comprised of fishes and shellfish that rely on coastal wetlands (Task Force on the Natural and Beneficial Functions of Floodplains, 2002).