Begin Main Content Area

About the Program

Pennsylvania’s Two Coasts

The coastal zone is the area where the land meets the sea, including coastal waters and adjacent shorelands. These areas face increasing pressure from development, shoreline erosion, biodiversity losses and nonpoint source pollution. Pennsylvania has two coastal areas: 77 miles of shoreline along Lake Erie and 112 miles of coastline along the Delaware Estuary.

The Lake Erie Coastal Zone is located within Erie County and includes the shorelines of major tributaries. The coastal zone also extends to the middle of the lake, to the boundary with Canada and inland an average of 1.4 miles. The Lake also contains Presque Isle State Park and Pennsylvania’s only international inland port.

The Delaware Estuary Coastal Zone lies within Bucks, Philadelphia, and Delaware counties. The coastal zone also contains islands, marshes and shorelands of tributary streams that are tidally influenced. The combined facilities of the Delaware Estuary comprise the largest freshwater port in the world.

Coastal Resources Management Program

In September 1980, the U.S. Department of Commerce approved Pennsylvania's Coastal Zone Management Plan under the authority of the federal Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972. At the state level, Pennsylvania’s Coastal Resources Management (CRM) Program is established by Executive Order 1980-20, a Memoranda of Understanding between Commonwealth Agencies, and Article I, Section 27 (the Environmental Rights Amendment) of the Pennsylvania Constitution. DEP's Compacts and Commissions Office administers and implements the program to execute sound coastal management program policies in Pennsylvania's two coastal areas.

CRM receives annual funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to address eleven policy areas described in the approved Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Coastal Resources Management Program Guidance Document. A portion of this funding is also passed through to state agencies, local governments, and nonprofit groups in the form of competitive coastal zone grants that further the goals and objectives of the program. These policy areas, featured activities in the coastal zones, and related links are described in the section below.

Program Policies and Activities:


Expand AllClick here for a more accessible version