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

What's New

New CBRS Digital Data Now Available

In September 2018, the Service released a new Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS) prohibition date 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. These data are complete nationwide and available in three formats: (1) downloadable shapefile, 2) Web Map Service (WMS), and 3) ArcGIS Representational State Transfer (REST) Service. Previously, the flood insurance prohibition dates were only available on FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). Please note the CBRS boundaries depicted in the data (digital representations of the CBRS unit boundaries shown on the official CBRS maps) were not revised in September 2018. However, the maps and data have been revised since then to reflect subsequent changes made to the CBRS by Congress.

The Service has also released a downloadable shapefile of the “CBRS Buffer Zone,” which is intended to be paired with the other CBRS data sets to illustrate the stated horizontal accuracy of the boundaries (+/- 20 feet). The CBRS Buffer Zone was previously only available in the CBRS Mapper and the CBRS Web Map Service.

The new data sets and additional information are now available at https://www.fws.gov/cbra/maps/Boundaries.html. Metadata files are available at https://www.fws.gov/cbra/Metadata.html.


New Data and Functionality in the CBRS Mapper

The Service has also incorporated the new CBRS prohibition date data described above into the CBRS Mapper and in October 2018 released a “CBRS Validation Tool” which allows users to create their own CBRS documentation for specific properties. This self-service tool will allow users to produce documentation that indicates whether a specific area is within or outside of the CBRS and will also provide the necessary dates needed for flood insurance and other purposes. This documentation may be used in lieu of an official “CBRS Property Determination” letter from the Service, except in the case of properties that are very close to the CBRS boundary (i.e., within the “CBRS Buffer Zone,” an area within about 20 feet of the CBRS unit boundaries). The Service will continue to offer CBRS property determination letters for properties within the CBRS Buffer Zone, however we anticipate that in most cases the CBRS Validation Tool will be a faster and more convenient way to obtain the necessary information. Additional information regarding this tool and the updated determinations process is available at https://www.fws.gov/cbra/Documentation.html.


Removal of CBRS Boundaries from FEMA FIRMs

The official CBRS maps are maintained by the Service and are the definitive source for the location of the CBRS boundaries. However, given the Coastal Barrier Resources Act’s (CBRA) restrictions on Federal flood insurance, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has historically shown CBRS boundaries on coastal FIRMs as a courtesy to users. When the CBRS maps are modified through an act of Congress, the Service updates the official maps within days and makes the new maps and digital data available through the CBRA website and the CBRS Mapper. However, due to the length of time required to perform a coastal study, it is not feasible for FEMA to update the FIRMs to coincide with the CBRS revisions in a timely and seamless manner. It often took years to reflect the changes to the CBRS on the FIRMs. Because of the prohibitions on National Flood Insurance Program coverage (and other Federal expenditures) within the CBRS, property owners, buyers, or developers who use outdated information can face significant financial impacts.

FEMA and the Service have worked collaboratively to update the delivery of CBRS data to the public. As of February 15, 2019, CBRS boundaries and flood insurance prohibition dates are no longer depicted on static, legacy FIRMs. Communities with effective FIRMs that show CBRS boundaries have received a Letter of Map Revision indicating that their maps have been revised to remove this information. The most up-to-date CBRS boundaries and prohibition date data can be found on the Service’s CBRS Mapper and via the data sources described above. While the CBRS boundaries and prohibition dates have been removed from FEMA’s FIRMs, CBRS data will continue to be delivered via web map service on a number of platforms, including the National Flood Hazard Layer (NFHL) Viewer. Users that utilize FEMA data in other systems independent from the NFHL viewer are encouraged to incorporate either the Service’s CBRS WMS or downloadable data into their systems.

For additional information, please see the fact sheet on changes to CBRS boundaries on FIRMs.


Additional Links and Resources

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

Relevant FEMA links:

Last updated: April 11, 2019