Ohio Coastal Management Program
Designated Coastal Management Area
Territory from nine of Ohio's 88 counties is included in the state's designated Coastal Management Area. Those counties include from west to east: Lucas, Wood, Ottawa, Sandusky, Erie, Lorain, Cuyahoga, Lake and Ashtabula. Of these nine counties, Wood County, whose northern border is marked by the Maumee River, is the only county not adjacent to Lake Erie.
Ohio’s Designated Coastal Management Area appears on the interactive maps as a blue and white dashed line as shown in the top right map image. Click on the map to go directly to the Interactive Ohio Coastal Atlas.
The designated Coastal Management Area can also be viewed on static PDF maps by selecting the county names in the above text or by select the names below the bottom image at right.
Summary of Coastal Boundary
Ohio Revised Code §1506.01 (A), defines the coastal area to include the waters of Lake Erie, the islands in the lake, and the lands under and adjacent to the lake, including transitional areas, wetlands, and beaches.
The coastal area extends in Lake Erie to the international boundary line between the United States and Canada and landward only to the extent necessary to include shorelands, the uses of which have a direct and significant impact on coastal waters as determined by the director of natural resources.
Chapter 3 of the Ohio Coastal Management Program Document further defines the extent of the designated Coastal Management Area. It is also summarized below and shown on the series of PDF maps for each county.
In the Western Basin, the coastal area extends many miles upstream on major tributaries to include the lake influenced waters and adjacent shorelands, the uses of which may result in direct and significant impacts upon these waters.
For example, the coastal area extends upstream approximately 16 miles from the mouth of the Maumee River into Lucas and Wood counties. It extends approximately 14 miles up the Sandusky River into the city of Fremont in Sandusky County.
From the mouth of the Maumee River east into Ottawa and Sandusky Counties, the inland boundary ranges from 1 mile to several miles. This area includes extensive coastal wetlands, lands subject to coastal flooding and lands along many major and minor lake-influenced tributaries.
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In Erie County, the transition to the Central Basin becomes evident where the coastal area boundary becomes more constricted. Erie County begins to show higher relief and less expansive lake-influenced areas and areas subject to coastal flooding. The inland boundary ranges from 2 miles to about an eighth of a mile or less, with certain areas extending farther landward along tributary streams and associated shorelands.
From the mouth of the Huron River, the coastal area goes several miles upstream and includes adjacent wetlands, floodplain areas and adjacent shorelands.
About 2 miles east of the city of Huron, the coastal area surrounds the Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve.
Continuing east through the Central Basin into Lorain, Cuyahoga, Lake and Ashtabula counties, the coastal area extends inland on average from about one-eighth mile to one-quarter mile, but continues to incorporate lake-influenced tributaries, embayments, wetlands and estuarine areas. In urban areas, the coastal boundary is generally less than one-half mile from the shore.
Eastward to the Pennsylvania border, the coastal area generally follows the higher bluffs and is extended landward primarily to incorporate coastal erosion and flood hazard areas. The Mentor Marsh wetlands system in Lake County also is included in the coastal area.
A full narrative description of the coastal area boundary is located in Appendix A of the Ohio Coastal Management Program document. Boundary maps are found in Appendix B. provide links to the OCMP’s Appendix A and B.
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Establishing the Coastal Area Boundary
Starting in the 1970s, the ODNR began an extensive process to determine the precise boundary lines and narrative descriptions of the coastal area. Today’s coastal area reflects the consensus view developed among the county advisory groups that Ohio's inland coastal area boundary should be defined by the lake-related resources and land uses that have an impact on coastal waters.
The Early Years
In 1974, for purposes of preliminary planning, ODNR initially defined the coastal area boundary as encompassing counties along Ohio’s coast. Coastal management staff then conducted a detailed survey of both coastal resources and related issues to refine the boundary.
In 1977, after examining several approaches for inland boundary determination, ODNR proposed a boundary that would extend 1,000 meters (0.62 miles) inland from the shoreline. This area would be enlarged around critical coastal resource areas and reduced in urban and developed areas, allowing for consideration of both biophysical and cultural features.
This recommendation was then presented to county-level advisory groups as a guide for local determination of the inland boundary. It was agreed that, where possible, recognizable cultural and political features should determine the boundary rather than a uniform 1,000-meter zone.
Discussions among ODNR and the county-level advisory groups led to a consensus that resources and features that should serve as the basis for establishing the coastal area boundary should be:
- Lands subject to lake erosion;
- Lands subject to lake flooding;
- Estuaries and coastal wetlands;
- Lake-related recreation areas, including beaches;
- Activities affecting lake water quality; and
- Other areas with lake-related uses.
In 1978, most advisory groups formed subcommittees to establish the boundary in their respective areas. Maps were presented for review to the full county-level advisory committees, local officials and county planning agencies.
In March 1989, the state coastal management law became effective, providing the statutory definition of Ohio's "coastal area" which includes Ohio's portion of Lake Erie, the islands in the lake and lands adjacent to Lake Erie.
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After the Ohio Coastal Management Program went into effect, the ODNR consulted with local officials, state agencies and the public in an effort to further refine the proposed coastal area boundary.
Local water quality planning agencies, Ohio EPA and other agencies, were also developing Remedial Action Plans (RAPs) for each of Ohio's four Areas of Concern (AOCs) designated under the 1987 Protocol Amending the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
AOCs are severely polluted areas in the Great Lakes watershed. In Ohio, the four AOCs are the lower Maumee, Black, Cuyahoga and Ashtabula rivers and the corresponding areas contributing to the pollution of coastal waters and sediments. ODNR included portions of these AOCs within the coastal area boundary, recognizing the potential for direct and significant impacts on coastal waters of present and future activities and remedial actions. The state of Ohio is committed to restoring and protecting water quality and beneficial uses in these coastal waters.
In February 1992, coastal area boundary maps and a narrative description were published in the Public Review Draft of the OCMP document. Two public hearings and two public meetings and open houses provided additional opportunities to raise questions and make specific recommendations on the proposed boundary. Subsequent to the public review, planning agencies, local governmental officials and others provided assistance and consultation on modifications to the boundary.
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The boundary was expanded to provide additional protection to the Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve east of Huron in Erie County and the Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve in Lake County.
The boundary has been modified, where possible, to coincide with the area covered under the Port Development Plan adopted by the city of Sandusky and adjusted to include former swamp lowlands that drain to the lower Maumee River at Toledo in recognition of the potential for activities to affect coastal water quality and the potential for the enhancement of wetlands in an urban setting.
The boundary also was adjusted to include the Swan Creek seiche area in Lucas County. This modification was made at the request of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments (TMACOG) in its written and oral comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement published in August 1996.
Other refinements to the boundary were made to ensure inclusion of the Coastal Erosion Areas, coastal flood hazard areas and certain tributary stream reaches where potential exists for direct and significant impacts to coastal waters.
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How to Determine if Property is in the Designated Coastal Management Area
To find out if a particular property in Lucas, Wood, Ottawa, Sandusky, Erie, Lorain, Cuyahoga, Lake or Ashtabula county is located within the Designated Coastal Area, follow these steps:
- Select the county where the property is located by clicking on the names above or on the map at the top of the page.
- Each county map has a series of numbered boxes along the landward most border of the Coastal Management Area which appears a dashed blue-white line on the maps. (County boundary lines appear as orange highlights over black lines.)
- Estimate if the property falls within a numbered box, lakeward of a numbered box or landward of a numbered box.
- If the property falls lakeward of a numbered box (between the numbered box and the water shown as light blue on the map), it is likely within the designated Coastal Area. Please note that all islands in Ohio's portion of Lake Erie are entirely included in the designated Coastal Management Area.
- If the property falls landward of a numbered box, it is likely outside of the designated Coastal Management Area, but still within the Lake Erie Watershed.
- If a property falls inside a numbered box, select the numbered box for a more detailed map.
- On the detailed maps, land located within the designated Coastal Area is highlighted in light blue with a dashed blue-white line designating the boundary.
- If you are still unsure as to whether a property is located within the designated Coastal Area, the Appendices section of the on-line Ohio Coastal Management Program document contains a written description of the boundary; or contact the Office of Coastal Management at 419-626-7980.
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