Ecosystems such as salt marshes and mangroves also improve climate resilience by providing protection from storm surge and increasing flood resilience. Proximity to the ocean has even been found to improve people’s mental and spiritual well-being.
Everyone should have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the country’s coasts and beaches, regardless of race, ethnicity, residency, or socioeconomic status. In fact, equitable coastal access is a fundamental right guaranteed by the incorporation of the public trust doctrine into U.S. federal law. This doctrine, upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000, establishes that a “public beach is held for the use of the general public and not solely for use by the residents of the municipality.”
Yet the responsibility for implementing equitable public access policies falls to individual states. And according to a new data analysis from the Center for American Progress and the Hispanic Access Foundation, only 10 percent of the U.S. coast and Great Lakes is covered by strong legal protection laws to ensure equitable public access.
This is also available in Spanish.