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Rhode Island. Coastal Resources Management Council (1971-) | State Archives Catalog

Name: Rhode Island. Coastal Resources Management Council (1971-)

Historical Note:

In 1971, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed legislation that created the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC). The legislative findings recognized the paramount importance that the coastal resources provide to the social and economic welfare of the state, and charged the CRMC with the explicit policy

"...to preserve, protect, develop, and where possible, restore the coastal resources of the state for this and succeeding generations through comprehensive and coordinated long-range planning and management designed to produce the maximum benefit for society from such coastal resources; and that the preservation and restoration of ecological systems shall be the primary guiding principal upon which environmental alteration of coastal resources shall be measured, judged and regulated."

In order to properly manage coastal resources, the General Assembly has given the CRMC explicit powers and duties. Specifically, the CRMC is charged with the primary responsibility for the continued planning and management of the resources of the state's coastal region. It is authorized to formulate policies and plans, to adopt regulations necessary to implement its various management programs; coordinate its functions with local, state, and federal governments on coastal resources issues (including advising the Governor, the General Assembly, and the public on coastal matters, and acting as binding arbitrator in any dispute involving both the resources of the state's coastal region and the interests of two (2) or more municipalities or state agencies. It is also responsible for the designation of all public rights-of-way to the tidal water areas of the state, and carrying on a continued discovery of appropriate public rights-of-way.

The regulatory authority of the CRMC is generally defined by the area extending from the territorial sea limit, 3 miles offshore, to two hundred feet inland from any coastal feature. In addition, natural features such as coastal beaches, dunes, barriers, coastal wetlands, cliffs, bluffs, and banks, rocky shores, and manmade shorelines all have an extended contiguous area of two hundred feet from their inland borders which is under the authority of the Council. Cultural features of historical or archaeological significance are also within the jurisdiction of the Council as required by the Federal Government.

In addition to developing coastal management plans and policies and implementing the state coastal regulatory program, the CRMC also has other important functions. It has a coordinating and oversight role for other state agencies and local governments which do not inherently consider coastal zone management issues in their decision-making processes. It has a leadership role in identifying new issues and seeking their resolution. It sponsors coastal zone research that has lead to new initiatives in public trust issues, coastal flooding, hazard mitigation, and special area management planning. And it provides the state with a continuing process of public rights-of-way discovery: an issue that is integral to all Rhode Islanders.

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