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Abstract/ Summary

Working waterfronts and the waterways that connect them are an important component of the U.S. economy. Working waterfronts provide critical access for water-dependent activities. They also create dedicated space for those engaged in tasks like cleaning and storing gear, loading and unloading materials or the day’s catch, and conducting related land-based operations.

Frequently, efforts to preserve a particular working waterfront from the threat of conversion to non-working waterfront use occur in a piecemeal fashion and on a parcel-by-parcel basis. In many cases, the rate of loss and conversion to non-working waterfront uses has outpaced community action to address the issue. In order for working waterfronts to remain economically vibrant, coastal and riparian communities need to increase their capacity to withstand changing demands on the waterfront and develop creative solutions to maintain water access for businesses and users. Understanding the historic changes and trends of the nation’s working waterfronts, as well as the contribution of these working waterfronts to local and regional economies, is critical to informing decision-makers, business owners, and others about the importance of protecting and maintaining working waterfront infrastructure. In order to equip communities, states, and regions with the ability to develop creative solutions to address their specific issues, decision-makers must have access to strategies and tools that have been used in the past to successfully preserve working waterfronts.


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