How many miles of coastline/shoreline does Maryland have?

  • According to NOAA, Maryland is home to 3,190 miles of coastline – about 3.4% of the U.S. total of 95,471 miles.
  • Although it’s based on data from the 1930s, scientists deem this the best number to use for legal and regulatory purposes, in part because it helps put Maryland’s coastline in perspective with the rest of the country (the numbers are currently being updated).
  • Other commonly cited estimates include 4,360 miles (from a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 1990 study), and 7,719 miles (from a Maryland Geological Survey 2006 report and likely the most accurate for educational/informational purposes).
  • Different survey methods and tools – such as what portion of tributaries are included and what base map is used -- yield different results.
  • The terms coastline, tidal shoreline and shoreline continue to be used interchangeably, and for us include the Maryland portions of the Atlantic Ocean, the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays, and the tidewater portion of tributaries.
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Coastal Planning

People in kayaks near a bridge.With the pressures of continuing coastal growth, offshore energy development, and the escalating effects of climate change, there are increasing demands on Chesapeake, coastal and ocean resources – our Blue Infrastructure. Coastal and estuarine habitats shield us from storms; filter pollutants to maintain water quality; provide shelter, nesting and nursery grounds for fish and wildlife; and provide access to beaches. The resources within these regions are critical for commerce, recreation, energy, environment, and our quality of life. As new uses of these regions become a reality, there are increasing demands on the available space and resources.

For the past three decades, Maryland’s Chesapeake & Coastal Service (CCS) has helped the state respond to increasing demands - working to reduce the environmental impacts of coastal development, resolve significant conflicts between competing coastal uses, and to provide critical assistance to local governments in coastal planning and resource protection.

CCS constantly seeks ways to improve coastal management, working with regional, state, and private partners to ensure thriving coastal communities and ecosystems and their continued capacity to serve vital ecological, economic and recreational needs. To meet this goal, we: work to assess the state’s Blue Infrastructure and use marine spatial planning tools to evaluate compatible coastal uses; work to restore habitats, create public access opportunities and protect important coastal habitats through acquisition; In the face of climate change and sea level rise, work to plan for habitat changes and identify coastal habitat adaptation options; and we conduct research, provide technical services, and distribute federal and state funds to enable on-the-ground projects that benefit Maryland’s coastal communities.​​

Blue Infrastructure (BI) is a detailed spatial assessment of coastal habitat, critical natural resources & associated human uses in the tidal waters & near-shore area of MD’s coastal zone.

Learn more about the CoastSmart Communities Program and access the online resource center for financial and technical assistance to add​ress vulnerability to the impacts of sea level rise and climate change.

Learn more about how Maryland is working at both local and regional scales to support ocean ecosystem health, foster sustainable ocean uses, and plan and prepare for changing ocean conditions.

Learn more about how Maryland is devel​oping new conservation criteria to identify coastal habitats that may help Maryland proactively adapt to sea level rise and increased storm events associated with climate change.

Works to develop and promote water trails and public waterway access sites that provide recreational boating opportunities for people to enjoy.

Efforts to analyze socio-economic impacts of working waterfronts and methodologies for preservation of existing and historic working waterfronts in Maryland.

Mallows Bay is well-positioned to be one of the first new National Marine Sanctuaries in over 20 years. Learn more about this unique area in Maryland.

Efforts are underway to target, design, implement, and monitor restoration projects in vulnerable communities. Learn how restoration can enhance community resiliency to climate impacts.