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.

Overview

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

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 to 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.

Congress Passes Legislation to Update to Coastal Barrier Resources System Maps in Four States
On December 21, 2018, Public Law 115-358 was enacted, adopting 35 revised maps produced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) depicting 59 Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS) units in Delaware, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina. These maps constitute the largest legislative update to the CBRS since 1990. The Service has now posted updated maps online and updated the boundaries in the CBRS Mapper to reflect the changes, which went into effect on December 21, 2018. The new maps correct errors and add eligible undeveloped areas to the CBRS. Learn More.

Public Review Period Open for CBRS Units in Five States Affected by Hurricane Sandy

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces a 120-day public comment period on draft revised boundaries for 310 units of the CBRS (256 existing units and 54 proposed new units) in Connecticut, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia. This project makes significant progress towards fulfilling a statutory requirement to modernize the entire set of CBRS maps. The proposed revisions are based on objective mapping criteria and are designed to fix technical mapping errors and add qualifying areas to the CBRS. The comment period will close on April 17, 2019. 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 Coastal Barrier Resources System (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: March 20, 2019