Coastal Barrier Resources Act

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Overview of Federal Project Consistency Consultations

The Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) established the John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS), a defined set of geographic units along the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico coasts.  Most new Federal expenditures and financial assistance are prohibited within the CBRS, unless those activities qualify for an exception under Section 6 of CBRA (16 U.S.C. § 3505).  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), through the Secretary of the Interior, is responsible for administering CBRA which includes consulting with Federal agencies that propose spending funds within the CBRS.

The Federal agency proposing to spend funds within the CBRS must send a written request to the appropriate Service field office with a description of the project or action, the location of the project or action, the particular CBRA exception(s) that applies to the project or action, an explanation of how the project or action meets that exception(s), and any other supporting materials.  It is the responsibility of the funding agency to provide evidence that a proposed project or action meets an exception under CBRA.  It is the Service's responsibility to review the evidence provided and respond to the funding agency as to whether or not the proposed funding obligation qualifies for an exception under CBRA.  The Service’s response to a consultation request is in the form of an opinion only.  The funding agency is responsible for complying with the provisions of CBRA.

The Section 6 exceptions are divided into two groups.  The first group only requires that the proposed funding is in fact for a project or action that is a listed exception. The second group requires that the exception also meet the three purposes of the CBRA.  Those purposes are to minimize the loss of human life, wasteful expenditure of Federal revenues, and the damage to fish, wildlife, and other natural resources associated with coastal barriers.  For more information regarding the exceptions, see the Limitations on and Exceptions to Federal Expenditures web page.

Federal Regulations Referencing the CBRS

The following document lists Federal agency regulations relating to the CBRS in the Code of Federal Regulations.  This list may not be comprehensive, and even if an agency does not have regulations relating to CBRA, that agency may still have CBRA responsibilities. 

Other Federal Resources Referencing the CBRS

Where to Find CBRS Maps and Digital Boundaries

Official Maps:

The official CBRS maps and statewide locator maps are available at

Digital Boundaries:

The Service maintains an interactive mapper and a CBRS boundaries shapefile that is publicly available for download.  The CBRS shapefile can be incorporated into any GIS to view properties and project sites as they relate to the CBRS.  This data set is also available in KMZ format for use in Google Earth.  The CBRS digital data is provided for informational purposes and is not recommended for making determinations as to whether properties or project sites located close to a CBRS boundary (within about 150 feet) are in or out of the CBRS.  Additionally, the seaward boundaries of the units are defined by either the 20’ or 30’ bathymetric contour depending on the location of the unit, so the Service should be consulted for any projects located offshore near a CBRS polygon.

Types of Units: System Units and Otherwise Protected Areas

There are two types of units within the CBRS, “System units” and “Otherwise Protected Areas” (OPAs).  The boundaries of System units are generally intended to follow geomorphic, development, or cultural features (e.g., wetland/upland interface, roads, etc.) and are depicted on the CBRS maps with bold solid lines.  Most new Federal expenditures and financial assistance, including Federal flood insurance, are prohibited within System units.   

The boundaries of OPAs are generally intended to coincide with the boundaries of conservation or recreation areas such as state parks and national wildlife refuges.  OPAs are depicted on the CBRS maps with dotted/dashed lines and unit names followed by a “P” (e.g., FL-20P).  The only Federal spending prohibition within OPAs is the prohibition on Federal flood insurance. 

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