The Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) (16 U.S.C. § 3504) prohibits most new federal expenditures and financial assistance that may have the effect of encouraging development or modification of coastal barriers coastal barriers
Learn more about coastal barrier landforms.

Learn more about coastal barriers
 within the John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resource System (CBRS). The CBRS contains two types of units, System Units and Otherwise Protected Areas (OPAs). OPAs are denoted with a “P” at the end of the unit number (e.g., FL-64P, P10P). System Units carry CBRA's full suite of restrictions on federal expenditures and financial assistance (e.g., road construction, flood control projects, dredging, federal grants and loans), while OPAs restrict only federal flood insurance.

CBRA does not restrict activities carried out with private, state, or local funds; does not limit the issuance of federal permits or environmental studies; and does not prohibit new development. The main restriction affecting property owners is on federal flood insurance provided through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is generally prohibited within the CBRS with some exceptions. Learn more about CBRA and flood insurance.

Except as provided for in CBRA's exceptions (following consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), no new expenditures or financial assistance may be made available under authority of any federal law for any purpose within the CBRS, including, but not limited to:

  • the construction or purchase of any structure structure
    Something temporarily or permanently constructed, built, or placed; and constructed of natural or manufactured parts including, but not limited to, a building, shed, cabin, porch, bridge, walkway, stair steps, sign, landing, platform, dock, rack, fence, telecommunication device, antennae, fish cleaning table, satellite dish/mount, or well head.

    Learn more about structure
    , appurtenance, facility, or related infrastructure;
  • the construction or purchase of any road, airport, boat landing facility, or other facility on, or bridge or causeway to, any System unit; and
  • the carrying out of any project to prevent the erosion of, or to otherwise stabilize, any inlet, shoreline, or inshore area, except that such assistance and expenditures may be made available on units designated pursuant to section 3503 of this title on maps numbered S01 through S08 and LA-07 for purposes other than encouraging development and, in all units, in cases where an emergency threatens life, land and property immediately adjacent to that unit.


An expenditure or financial assistance is considered “new” if: (1) no money for construction or purchase purposes was appropriated before the date on which the relevant System Unit or portion of the System Unit was included within the CBRS; or (2) no legally binding commitment for the expenditure or financial assistance was made before such date (16 U.S.C. § 3504(b)).

The term ‘‘financial assistance’’ is defined as any form of loan, grant, guaranty, insurance, payment, rebate, subsidy, or any other form of direct or indirect federal assistance other than (1) deposit or account insurance for customers of banks, savings and loan associations, credit unions, or similar institutions; (2) the purchase of mortgages or loans by the Government National Mortgage Association, the Federal National Mortgage Association, or the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation; (3) assistance for environmental studies, planning, and assessments that are required incident to the issuance of permits or other authorizations under federal law; and (4) assistance pursuant to programs entirely unrelated to development, such as any federal or federally assisted public assistance program or any federal old-age survivors or disability insurance program (16 U.S.C. § 3502(3)).

Related Resources & Information

Aerial view of an undeveloped coastal freshwater pond.
We administer the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA), which encourages the conservation of storm-prone and dynamic coastal barriers by withdrawing the availability of federal funding and financial assistance within a designated set of units known as the Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS)....