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

Overview of Federal Project Consistency Consultations

The Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) (16 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) 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. The CBRA encourages the conservation of hurricane prone and biologically rich coastal barriers. No new expenditures or financial assistance may be made available under authority of any Federal law for any purpose within the System Units of the CBRS including: construction or purchase of roads, structures, facilities, or related infrastructure, and most projects to prevent the erosion of or otherwise stabilize any inlet, shoreline, or inshore area. However, the appropriate Federal officer, after consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), may make Federal expenditures and financial assistance available within System Units for activities that meet one of the CBRA’s exceptions (16 U.S.C. 3505). The CBRA imposes no restrictions on actions and projects within the CBRS that are carried out with State, local, or private funding.

There are two types of units within the CBRS, System Units and Otherwise Protected Areas (OPAs). OPAs are denoted with a “P” at the end of the unit number (e.g., “FL-64P”). Most new Federal expenditures and financial assistance, including Federal flood insurance, are prohibited within System Units. The only Federal spending prohibition within OPAs is on Federal flood insurance; other Federal expenditures are permitted. Consultation with the Service is not needed if the proposed action or project is located within an OPA. However, agencies providing disaster assistance that is contingent upon a requirement to purchase flood insurance after the fact are advised to disclose the OPA designation and information on the restrictions on Federal flood insurance to the recipient prior to the commitments of funds.

The Service published a general statement of policy and advisory guidelines regarding the provisions of the CBRA in the Federal Register on October 6, 1983 (48 FR 45664), which provides information regarding the Service's interpretation of the law.

  • Federal Register notice (48 FR 45664). NOTE: a revised notice was never finalized after the enactment of the Coastal Barrier Improvement Act of 1990 (Pub. L. 101-591), which made some minor modifications to the CBRA's exceptions.

Where to Find CBRS Maps and Data

The following resources can be used to help determine whether properties and project sites are located within the CBRS:

Consultation Process

Any Federal agency proposing to spend funds within a System Unit of the CBRS must send a written request to the appropriate Ecological Services 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 the CBRA. If none of the CBRA's exceptions are applicable, the proposed project should not proceed with federal funding. For more information, see the fact sheet on CBRA Consultation Guidance for Federal Agencies (PDF).

The Service has developed a flow chart to assist Federal agencies in determining whether a CBRA consultation is necessary and an inter-agency CBRA consultation template to help facilitate the process. Federal agencies may submit the template and any additional documentation to the appropriate field office to fulfill the CBRA's consultation requirement. Any response from the Service to a CBRA consultation request is in the form of an opinion only. The Service has not been granted veto power. The responsibility for complying with the CBRA and the final decision regarding the expenditure of funds for a particular action or project rests with the Federal funding agency.

CBRA Consultations Flow Chart

Inter-agency CBRA Consultation Template

NOTE: this form is for use only by federal agencies for federally funded projects.

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

Last updated: April 3, 2020