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Division of Land Use Regulation
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

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Beaches, Dunes & Seaside Boardwalks

  • Overview
  • Freshwater Wetlands
  • Flood Hazard
  • Coastal
  • Tidelands

DuneDunes provide protection for houses and other construction behind them, and critical habitat for wildlife.

Activities which may disturb special areas of the State that are regulated by the Department, including something as seemingly iniquitous as a nature trail, may require an approval from the Division prior to construction. An area containing sensitive and endangered plant species for example, may be irreparably damaged by such activities. It is important therefore to closely examine a proposed project relative to the sensitive areas which may be impacted.

Trails, boardwalks and bike paths may require multiple approvals from the Division, depending on the special areas impacted by the project. If you don't know what special areas are on your site, please check out the before you buy, before you build section of this website for guidance on determining if your site has one of these regulated special areas on it.

For information on Land Use permit requirements for Trails, boardwalks and bike paths within specific "special areas", please click on each of the tabs above.*

*For impacts to Streams, Rivers, Lakes, Ponds, Flood Plains, Flood Way, Riparian Zones and other water body related areas, please click on the "Flood Hazard" tab. For impacts to special coastal areas, please click on the "Coastal" tab. For impacts to Freshwater Wetlands, click on the "Freshwater Wetlands" tab. Information on Tidelands can be found in the "Tidelands" tab.

Beaches dunes and seaside boardwalks very rarely impact freshwater wetlands. Should an area of coastal wetlands not appear on the promulgated coastal wetlands mapping however, then the Department will likely take jurisdiction over that wetland under the Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act and Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules. Please see the Freshwater Wetlands Section of this website for more information.

Dunes are regulated by the Coastal Zone Management Rules. Please see the Coastal tab for more information.

Routine beach maintenance, emergency post-storm beach restoration, construction of a seaside boardwalk, and dune creation and maintenance are all regulated activities generally requiring a CAFRA and/or Waterfront Development permit. Bulldozing, excavating, grading, vegetation removal or clearing, or relocating existing dunes require authorization by the Division prior to being undertaken.

Please refer to the “Jurisdiction” section of the "Coastal Permitting" section of the website to determine which areas regulated under the Coastal Permit Program Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:7-1.1 et seq.) and the Coastal Zone Management Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:7E-1.1 et seq.) occur on your site. The availability of certain exemptions or permits for a project depends on where your project is proposed.

Some seasonal and/or temporary activities on beaches and dunes are exempt from permitting requirements. Please review the available exemptions listed under the “Jurisdiction” tab in the “Coastal Permitting” section of the website.  In addition, one permit-by-rule is available for the placement of sand fencing and a general permit is available for some beach and dune activities as described below.

These permits-by-rule may apply to your project –

  • Permit-by-Rule 4 authorizes the placement of public safety or beach/dune ordinance signs on beaches and dunes provided no footings are required.  Please refer to N.J.A.C. 7:7-7.2(a)4.
  • Permit-by-Rule 16 authorizes the placement of sand fencing to create or sustain a dune provided the project complies with all of the requirements of the permit-by-rule.  Please refer to N.J.A.C. 7:7-7.2(a)16 for more information.

This coastal general permit may apply to your project --

  • Coastal General Permit 6 authorizes routine beach maintenance, emergency post-storm beach restoration and dune creation and maintenance. This permit cannot be used in for activities proposed in wetlands.  For further information regarding the requirements and limitations of this general permit, please refer to N.J.A.C. 7:7-7.6. 

Emergency Permits are available for beach and dune restoration after storm events when there is an imminent and direct threat to life and/or property.

If the project does not meet the requirements for a coastal exemption, a permit-by-rule or a general permit, the project will generally require a Waterfront Development, CAFRA, and /or Coastal Wetlands Individual Permit.  Additional information regarding the Division’s coastal program can be found on the “Coastal Permitting” section of this website.  If necessary, please contact the Division’s Technical Support Center for further assistance.

Tidelands, also known as riparian lands, are all those lands now or formerly flowed by the mean high tide of a natural waterway; that is to say any land that is currently or was previously covered by tidal waters.  The State of New Jersey, and therefore the people of New Jersey, owns all Tidelands except for those to which it has already sold its interest in the form of a riparian grant.  It is important to note that the State generally does not own artificial waterways such as lagoons however, the State does claim those lands within a lagoon that were flowed by the mean high tide of a natural waterway which existed prior to the creation of the lagoon.

Beach and Dune activities that are proposed in a tidelands area may require a tidelands grant if the activities are taking place in an area that is currently landward of the mean high water line but was, at some point, flowed by the tide.

A riparian grant, or tidelands grant, is a deed from the State of New Jersey selling its tidelands. Tidelands grants are generally only issued for lands that have already been filled in and are no longer flowed by the tide.

For more information on tidelands instruments, please see the tidelands section of this website.

For information and instruction on how to determine whether you are in an area that may require either a license or a grant, or for information how to apply for Tideland instruments please see the "Before you Build, Before you Buy" webpage.

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Last Updated: February 9, 2015