The Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan (OSAMP) had its genesis in early efforts of the coastal management programs from New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts during 2005 and 2006, regarding a possible interstate special area management plan. This plan was to be for the sounds along the shoreline of the northeastern United States. A Special Area Management Plan (SAMP) is a tool that is available through the federal Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) that balances both economic development with environmental protection. SAMPs are intended to provide for a greater level of specificity in policy development, and thus coordination between levels of government, thereby adding certainty to the decision-making process. The issues of energy and coastal hazards, precipitated by climate change, were in the forefront of this effort. Although this endeavor never materialized, it did bring home one glaring lesson—we knew little about the uses and the system itself. Given this, it was impossible for us to understand the pressures the system was under and the changes it was going through.