Exceptions to Limitations on Federal Expenditures

Section 6 of Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) (16 U.S.C. § 3505) permits certain federal expenditures and financial assistance within the Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS), but only after consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service). The exceptions are divided into two groups. The first group only requires that the proposed funding is in fact a listed exception. The second group requires that the project not only meet the exception but also be consistent with the purposes of CBRA. The purposes of CBRA are to minimize the loss of human life; wasteful expenditure of federal revenues; and damage to the fish, wildlife, and other natural resources associated with coastal barriers coastal barriers
Learn more about coastal barrier landforms.

Learn more about coastal barriers
by restricting federal expenditures and financial assistance which have the effect of encouraging development of coastal barriers, and by considering the means and measures by which the long-term conservation of these fish, wildlife, and other natural resources may be achieved (16 U.S.C. § 3501(b)).

The federal agency that is proposing the expenditure is responsible for providing the Service, in writing, evidence that it meets one of the exceptions in Section 6 of CBRA and, if applicable, providing justification that the project is consistent with the purposes of CBRA. The Service’s response should provide technical information and an opinion as to whether the activity meets an exception. If applicable, the Service should also comment on the consistency of the proposed activity with the purposes of CBRA.

A federal expenditure is allowable within System Units of the CBRS if it meets any of the following exceptions (16 U.S.C. § 3505(a)(1)-(5)):

  • Any use or facility necessary for the exploration, extraction, or transportation of energy resources which can be carried out only on, in, or adjacent to a coastal water area because the use or facility requires access to the coastal water body.
  • The maintenance or construction of improvements of existing federal navigation channels (including the Intracoastal Waterway) and related structures (such as jetties), including the disposal of dredge materials related to such maintenance or construction. A federal navigation channel or a related 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…

    Learn more about structure
    is an existing channel or structure, respectively, if it was authorized before the date on which the relevant System Unit or portion of the System Unit was included within the CBRS (16 U.S.C. § 3505(b)).
  • The maintenance, replacement, reconstruction, or repair, but not the expansion, of publicly owned or publicly operated roads, structures, or facilities that are essential links in a larger network or system. Note: the restriction on highway expansion in this exception does not apply to highways in Michigan in existence prior to November 16, 1990 (16 U.S.C. § 3505(c)). 
  • Military activities essential to national security.
  • The construction, operation, maintenance, and rehabilitation of Coast Guard facilities and access thereto.

A federal expenditure is allowable within system units of the CBRS if it meets any of the following exceptions (16 U.S.C. § 3505(a)(6)) and is also consistent with the three purposes of the CBRA:

  • Projects for the study, management, protection, and enhancement of fish and wildlife resources and habitats, including acquisition of fish and wildlife habitats, and related lands, stabilization projects for fish and wildlife habitats, and recreational projects.
  • Establishment, operation, and maintenance of air and water navigation aids and devices, and for access thereto.
  • Projects under chapter 2003 of title 54 and the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) of 1972 (16 U.S.C. § 1451 et seq.). For additional information on the use of this exception for projects under the CZMA, please see this fact sheet.
  • Scientific research, including aeronautical, atmospheric, space, geologic, marine, fish and wildlife, and other research, development, and applications.
  • Assistance for emergency actions essential to the saving of lives and the protection of property and the public health and safety, if such actions are performed pursuant to sections 5170a, 5170b, and 5192 of title 42 and are limited to actions that are necessary to alleviate the emergency.
  • Maintenance, replacement, reconstruction, or repair, but not the expansion (except with respect to U.S. route 1 in the Florida Keys), of publicly owned or publicly operated roads, structures, and facilities.
  • Nonstructural projects for shoreline stabilization that are designed to mimic, enhance, or restore a natural stabilization system.

Additional exceptions and requirements relating specifically to projects affecting South Padre Island Unit T11 in Texas are listed under 16 U.S.C. § 3505(d). There are also special provisions for shoreline stabilization in certain Louisiana units and for emergencies immediately adjacent to the CBRS listed under 16 U.S.C. § 3504(a)(3).

Additional Guidance

Learn more about CBRA and shoreline stabilization.

Learn more about CBRA and disaster assistance.

Learn more about CBRA and property buyouts.

    Related Resources & Information

    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)....
    This library collection includes resources and information related to Coastal Barrier Resources Act project consultations, as well as guidance for shoreline stabilization, disaster assistance, and property buyouts.