What We Do

The Coastal States Organization represents the nation’s coastal states and territories on coastal management issues, working to:

  • Help states and territories maintain their leadership role in the development and implementation of national coastal and ocean policy.
  • Provide information, updates, and alerts that keep states attuned to developments in Washington, D.C.
  • Conduct outreach and education with Congress and the Administration.
  • Maintain a national coastal and ocean management community of practice.
  • Utilize Work Groups to implement specific initiatives or address topic areas that are of importance to the membership.

Work Groups

From time to time, CSO members convene Work Groups to implement specific initiatives or explore topic areas that are of importance to the membership. CSO also supports a state Legal Council, which convenes to discuss pertinent legal issues and provide a network of state attorneys focusing on coastal and ocean issues. Active Work Groups include:

Coastal Hazards Planning & Adaptation Work Group

Co-Chairs: Nathalie Morison & Jennifer Kline

The Adaptation Work Group provides guidance to CSO on legislative and policy issues related to climate change. They engage with federal agencies and national NGOs on priorities for coastal resilience and adaptation. The Work Group developed the CSO Coastal Hazards Policy, which was adopted in 2013.

Staff POC: Brittney Parker

Coastal Non-Point Source Pollution Work Group

Chair: Randy Shaneyfelt

The Coastal NPS Work Group facilitates information sharing between federal agencies and states, working with states individually and collectively to respond to water quality issues. The Work Group meets regularly to discuss priority Management Measures and other relevant topics, providing insight and information sharing to support states in attaining water quality goals.

Staff POC: Shelby Butz

Communications Work Group

Co-Chairs: Kim Cole and Steve Holland

The purpose of the Communications Work Group is to equip the CSO membership and staff with communications tools and messages that clearly communicate the value of coastal management programs and advance support for CSO and the CZMA. Work Group Members provide input and guidance on messaging materials, identify connections with social media campaigns, and participate in communications community of practice.

Staff POC: Rachel Keylon

CSO Legal Council

The CSO Legal Council brings together state attorneys and coastal zone managers to discuss timely legal themes and issues impacting the coastal states. The group works to provide opportunities for members to coordinate with other states on key issues and cases, share ideas, and network with counterparts from across the nation.

Staff POC: John Ryan-Henry

Partnerships and Collaborations

CSO works in collaboration with federal, regional, and nonprofit partners to develop innovative methods to: protect and adapt shorelines to ever-changing conditions; assess and share the science and best management practices for coastal resilience; and unify the efforts of the public and private sectors so that homes, jobs, recreational areas, and natural resources are all protected from the threats facing our coasts.

Beach and Inlet Management Policy

CSO partners with the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association to advance shared priorities in protecting, preserving, and enhancing the beaches, shores, and other coastal resources of our ocean and Great Lakes states. Well-functioning beaches sustain tourism, protect coastal communities, and support significant coastal habitats for marine fisheries, shorebirds, and sea turtles. CSO and ASBPA work together to support comprehensive beach management policy.

See our Joint Beach and Inlet Management Policy here.

CRS for Community Resilience

CSO is partnered with the Association of State Floodplain Managers to enhance coastal communities’ resilience through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) Community Rating System (CRS) program. In 2017, CSO and ASFPM released the “CRS Green Guide” to assist existing and prospective CRS communities with techniques, best practices, and case studies for activities that maximize a community’s CRS score and resilience by strengthening natural and beneficial features.

See the Guide at no.floods.org/GreenGuide/

Strengthening Coastal Counties' Resilience

CSO, the National Association of Counties (NACo), and the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) are undertaking a project focused on outreach to county and local elected officials in the Gulf of Mexico region to improve communities’ resilience to changing coastal and economic conditions. The project partners will create a web-based, multimedia training program called the “Guide to Working with Local Elected Officials on Coastal Management.” The Guide will have modules for coastal managers on how to educate local elected officials on coastal management issues, and for elected officials.

NOS Roundtable

CSO coordinates and partners with the nation’s coastal management leaders through the National Ocean Service Roundtable, representing the coastal zone management program alongside the National Estuarine Research Reserve Association, the Sea Grant Association, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, and the Integrated Ocean Observing System Association,.

Digital Coast Partnership

CSO partners with the NOAA Office of Coastal Management and seven national NGOs to deliver data, tools, and resources for coastal management to states and communities through the Digital Coast web portal. Beyond ensuring that critical informational resources are available via the Digital Coast website, the partnership works to unify and coordinate national NGOs working coastal management issues through conferences, webinars, workshops, and meetings to give coastal professionals a forum to collaborate on key coastal issues.

The Digital Coast Partnership includes these organizations:
American Planning Association
Association of State Floodplain Managers
Coastal States Organization
National Association of Counties
National Estuarine Research Reserve Association
National States Geographic Information Council
The Nature Conservancy
Urban Land Institute
NOAA Office for Coastal Management


SAGE, the Systems Approach to Geomorphic Engineering, is a community of practice dedicated to protecting our coastlines. SAGE promotes the wise use of both green (natural and nature-based) and gray (hard, structural engineering) approaches to make our coasts more resilient. Our systems approach addresses large areas of shoreline to foster thriving communities and flourishing natural ecosystems. For more information visit: www.sagecoast.org