Coastal Zone Management

Coastal Zone Management Program

The Maryland Coastal Zone Management Program (CZMP) is a partnership among local, regional and State agencies.  As a networked program, no one State agency or Department is solely responsible for implementing the Program along Maryland's entire coast, rather all partner agencies help to ensure its proper management.  As a networked partner, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) supports the CZMP's efforts to ensure that proposed federal activities are consistent with Maryland's coastal resource objectives and policies.


Maryland's Coastal Zone

The Maryland coastal zone is comprised of the land, water and subaqueous land between the territorial limits of Maryland in the Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic Coastal Bays and the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the towns, cities and counties that contain and help govern the thousands of miles of Maryland shoreline. The Maryland coastal zone extends from three miles out in the Atlantic Ocean to the inland boundaries of the 16 counties and Baltimore City that border the Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River up to the District of Columbia. This area encompasses two-thirds of the State's land area and is home to almost 70% of Maryland's residents.

CZM map



Federal Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) Consistency

Under the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), direct Federal actions, Federal license or permit activities and federal financial assistance activities that have reasonably foreseeable coastal effects must be consistent with the enforceable policies of state coastal management programs approved by NOAA. The process by which a state decides whether a federal action meets its enforceable policies is called federal consistency review.

DNR's CCS has published a guide to the federal consistency process in Maryland. Federal consistency applies to Maryland’s enforceable coastal policies below:


  1. General Policies
    1. Core Policies
    2. Water Quality
    3. Flood Hazards
  2. Coastal Resources
    1. The Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Critical Area
    2. Tidal Wetlands
    3. Non-Tidal Wetlands
    4. Forests
    5. Historical and Archaeological Sites
    6. Living Aquatic Resources
  3. Coastal Uses
    1. Mineral Extraction
    2. Electrical Generation and Transmission
    3. Tidal Shore Erosion Control
    4. Oil and Natural Gas Facilities
    5. Dredging and Disposal of Dredged Material
    6. Navigation
    7. Transportation
    8. Agriculture
    9. Development
    10. Sewage Treatment


Requesting CZMA Consistency Determinations


As of October 1, 2019, Federal Consistency responsibilities for the Maryland Coastal Zone Management Program are split as follows:

Mr. Joseph Abe (Department of Natural Resources) handles Federal Agency Activities and Development Projects, Financial Assistance to State & Local Governments, Outer Continental Shelf Exploration, Development and Production, and federal consistency program changes, including coastal policy updates.

Joseph Abe at, 410-260-8740.

Ms. Denise Keehner (Maryland Department of the Environment) and Ms. Heather Nelson (Maryland Department of the environment) cover Federal Permits & Licenses.

Denise Keehner at, 410-537-3638

Heather Nelson at, 410-537-3528

Your request must include the appropriate Category of Activity:

  • Federal Activity or development Project (15 C.F.R. Part 930, Subpart C) (generally a direct federal action, including federal funding to a private entity)
  • Federal License or Permit Activity (15 C.F.R. Part 930, Subpart D)
  • Outer Continental Shelf Exploration, Development and Production (15 C.F.R. Part 930, Subpart E)
  • Federal Financial Assistance to State and Local Governments (15 C.F.R. Part 930, Subpart F) (includes grant or contractual arrangements, loans, subsidies, guarantees, insurance, or other forms of financial aid)

For Federal Permits and Licenses that are not associated with a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Permit and include the submission of a Joint Federal/State Permit Application (JPA) to MDE, please use this Coastal Consistency Request Form​ to initiate the review process for your project or activity. The Coastal Consistency Request Form is not required for projects that involve the submission of a JPA unless specifically requested to be completed by MDE. Applicants are encouraged to send this completed form via email, along with supporting documentation, to the lead agency contact(s) listed above and copy Maryland Department of Environment or Maryland Department of Natural Resources counterparts to ensure that each project or activity review request gets a prompt response and a comprehensive and thorough review.

The core team listed above, which actively supports each other’s roles, is also supported by numerous staff from network partner agencies who conduct reviews to ensure projects and activities are consistent with Maryland’s enforceable policies. More information on the federal consistency review process is available at


Supporting Information

Maryland’s Enforceable Coastal Policies 2011 - Full Document

MD 2010 Routine Program Change Approval Letter

Routine Program Change to Update Coastal Policies - November 2010

Routine Program Change Overview

Additional information is available from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Chesapeake and Coastal Service web page.