System dynamics concepts and methods are rarely referenced in the field of coastal resources management, even though coastal systems and decision-making are dynamically complex and the SD literature offers a rich and relevant body of theory, practice and models. Recent work in the theory of ecosystem management calls for the use of modeling and is becoming of increasing interest to coastal managers. A simple stock and flow model of coastal management is presented that is drawn from the legislative design of one of the oldest and certainly successful U.S. state programs, Rhode Islandís Coastal Resources Management Program. This model exhibits several dynamic behaviors intuitively familiar to coastal managers. Model runs are presented using parameters taken from the Rhode Island case, including runs with and without the coastal management program in place. These results are compared with performance data from the 35 year Rhode Island coastal programís permit data base, and closely reproduce long term trends in key variables. The forward-looking scenarios are utilized to suggest approaches for the state program as it enters the new century. Implications for newly emerging coastal programs in developing countries are also drawn.