Beaches play an important role in America's livelihood and economy. More than one-half of all Americans live within an hour's drive of the beach, and coastal towns depend on tourist revenue for their survival. Catastrophic events in coastal areas,such as hurricanes, earthquakes, landslides, and tsunamis, cost the nation more than $30 billion per year and have serious economic consequences for coastal communities. In addition, all 35 coastal states and the island territories are experiencing coastal erosion. Continued development of the coast, combined with the rise in global sea level, will only increase the problems and the cost of dealing with them.