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.


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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

Congress Passes Legislation to Update to Coastal Barrier Resources System Maps in Four States

On December 20, 2018, Congress passed H.R. 5787, a bill that adopts 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. Fifty-seven of these units were mapped through the Service’s Digital Mapping Pilot Project, and two of these units (Florida Units P31 and P31P) were mapped through a separate effort. The new maps will be effective once the bill is signed into law by President Trump. The Service will post updated maps online and update the boundaries in the CBRS Mapper as soon as possible. The new maps will correct errors and add eligible undeveloped areas to the CBRS once effective.

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. In the future (anticipated January 25, 2019), CBRS boundaries and flood insurance prohibition dates will no longer be depicted on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) issued by FEMA. The most up-to-date CBRS digital data will be 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: December 26, 2018