Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Service Sends Coastal Barrier Resource System Report to Congress with Updated Maps for 65 Units
Maps include updates to units in Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana

November 29, 2016

Contact(s):

Brian Hires, brian_hires@fws.gov, 703-358-2191



The Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) of 1982 is a map-based law that continues to serve as a free-market approach to natural resource conservation by protecting undeveloped coastal barrier habitat from intensive development. While development within the Coastal Barrier Resource System (CBRS) is allowed, most federal expenditures and financial assistance that encourage development – such as flood insurance – are prohibited, meaning private developers or other non-federal parties must bear the full cost. This saves taxpayer money and helps conserve these vitally important, biologically rich areas.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) administers the law and is charged with updating the maps and making recommendations to Congress for appropriate changes to the CBRS. The Service has completed a pilot project for updating the CBRS maps and submitted to Congress a report with the final set of recommended maps for 65 CBRS units in Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana. These maps will only take effect if adopted by Congress through legislation.

In addition to the revised maps the report contains an analysis of the benefits to the public from using digital mapping technology for all CBRS units; benefits that include more accurate and user-friendly CBRS data and maps, increased awareness of and compliance with the CBRA, and opportunities for enhanced state, local, and non-governmental conservation efforts.

As a result of these recently modernized maps, the report identifies areas recommended for removal that were inappropriately included within the CBRS decades ago, while also recommending for addition thousands of acres of undeveloped lands and associated aquatic habitat that meet the CBRA criteria for inclusion within the CBRS.

The revised maps and additional information about the CBRS can be found on the Service’s website at www.fws.gov/cbra.

The CBRS currently contains a total of 859 geographic units covering about 3.3 million acres of relatively undeveloped coastal barrier areas in 23 states and territories along the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico coasts.

At the time the CBRA was enacted in 1982, President Ronald Reagan said, “This legislation will enhance both wise natural resource conservation and fiscal responsibility. It will save American taxpayers millions of dollars while, at the same time, taking a major step forward in the conservation of our magnificent coastal resources.”

Since that time, the CBRA has saved American taxpayers well over $1 billion by removing federal incentives to develop and redevelop sensitive coastal areas. It continues to save taxpayer money while benefitting fish and wildlife, including migratory birds and species listed under the Endangered Species Act, and today the CBRA is more relevant than ever. The costs of armoring vulnerable shorelines, replenishing eroded beaches, rebuilding washed out roads, dredging channels and subsidizing coastal flood insurance will only continue to increase with projected increases in sea level rise and storm surge, and the increased frequency and severity of storms impacting our coasts. 


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

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