U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Coastal Barrier Resources System
Ecological Services

Credit: USGS Post-Hurricane Isaac Coastal Oblique Aerial Photographs Collected along the Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana barrier islands; 2012.


CBRS Mapper screen capture.

In the early 1980s, Congress recognized that certain actions and programs of the Federal Government have historically subsidized and encouraged development on coastal barriers, resulting in the loss of natural resources; threats to human life, health, and property; and the expenditure of millions of tax dollars each year.  To remove the federal incentive to develop these areas, the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) of 1982 and subsequent amendments designated relatively undeveloped coastal barriers along the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico coasts as part of the John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS), and made these areas ineligible for most new federal expenditures and financial assistance. CBRA encourages the conservation of hurricane prone, biologically rich coastal barriers by restricting federal expenditures that encourage development, such as federal flood insurance. Areas within the CBRS can be developed provided that private developers or other non-federal parties bear the full cost.

Hot Topics

FWS Provides Updated Interpretation for Beach Nourishment Projects

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will advise federal agencies that the Coastal Barrier Resources Act allows for sand removal from Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS) units to be used to replenish beaches located both within and outside the CBRS, so long as the proposed project is consistent with the purposes of the Act and meets the statutory exception for "nonstructural projects for shoreline stabilization that are designed to mimic, enhance, or restore natural stabilization systems." FWS will assist federal agencies in evaluating such projects through the interagency consultation process.

CBRA Guidance Following Hurricane Dorian

After a Presidentially-declared disaster, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other federal agencies make expenditures and provide financial assistance to help communities recover and rebuild. Most federal funding for disaster relief is prohibited within the CBRS, with some exceptions (including certain emergency actions). Helpful information is available on our website, including: the CBRS mapperGIS dataCBRS in/out documentation, a CBRA consultation fact sheet, and additional information about the CBRA consultations process. For assistance,  please contact the local FWS Ecological Services Field Office.

New Study on CBRA Estimates Billions Avoided in Coastal Disaster Expenditures

A recent study in the Journal of Coastal Research analyzed the economic benefits from the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA). This study found that CBRA reduced federal coastal disaster expenditures by $9.5 billion between 1989 and 2013, and forecasts that additional savings will range between $11 and $109 billion over the next 50 years.

Congress Passes Legislation to Update Two Coastal Barrier Resources System Maps in Florida

On March 12, 2019, Public Law 116-9 was enacted, adopting two revised maps produced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) depicting two Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS) units in Florida, Unit P30 and Unit P30P. These revised maps make progress towards fulfilling a mandate in the Coastal Barrier Resources Reauthorization Act (Pub. L. 109-226) to modernize the CBRS maps. The Service has posted updated maps online and updated the boundaries in the CBRS Mapper to reflect the changes, which went into effect on March 12, 2019. The new maps correct errors and add eligible undeveloped areas to the CBRS. Learn More.

New CBRS Data Available and Removal of the CBRS boundaries from the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps

In September 2018, the Service released a new CBRS data set which contains the flood insurance prohibition date for each area within the CBRS and the System Unit establishment date for each area within a System Unit. As of February 15, 2019, CBRS boundaries and flood insurance prohibition dates are no longer depicted on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) issued by FEMA. The most up-to-date CBRS digital data is available via: the Service’s CBRS Mapper, downloadable shapefile, Web Map Service and Arc GIS Representational State Transfer Service. Learn more.

New CBRS Validation Tool

In October 2018, the Service released a new CBRS Validation Tool within the CBRS Mapper which allows users to create their own CBRS documentation for specific properties and project sites. This self-service tool will allow users to produce documentation that indicates whether or not a specific area is within or outside of the CBRS and will also provide the necessary dates needed for flood insurance and other purposes. Learn more

Last updated: November 14, 2019