Beaches are a public resource held in the public trust. Beaches provide affordable recreational access available to everyone. As human activities and development in coastal areas increase, preservation of these areas becomes more important. Increasingly, coastal development poses a threat to our naturally dynamic shoreline.
Protecting development has become a priority over protecting the shoreline and beaches and Surfrider is concerned about that. Preservation and restoration of Wisconsin’s natural beaches and nearshore environment is important. The goal is preservation of Wisconsin’s remaining natural coastline and restoration of the coast to its natural, unarmored state.
The Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act was signed into federal law on October 10, 2000, amending the Clean Water Act (CWA). The BEACH Act addressed pathogens and pathogen indicators in coastal recreation waters.
The BEACH Act is responsible for vast improvements in beach monitoring programs across the country. Prior to the passage of the BEACH Act, states such as Washington, Oregon, and Wisconsin did not even have state-coordinated beach monitoring programs. Other states improved their already-established monitoring programs with the new federal funding by adding beaches and sampling more frequently. The BEACH Act set national water quality monitoring and reporting standards, creating a uniformity throughout the nation that did not exist prior to its passage.
Find more information on Wisconsin Beach Access here!
Furthermore, a great online coastal access resource in Wisconsin is the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant’s Wisconsin Coastal Guide. From this site you can see a map of any of Wisconsin’s beaches as well as a 360-degree panorama for many locations.
As part of establishing a comprehensive beach monitoring program, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources hired field staff who drove the entire coast of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior searching for and visiting beaches. They identified 173 public beaches along the two lakes, and staff literally walked the coast using global positioning system (GPS) and geographic information system (GIS) technologies to geo-locate each beach.