Coastal Barrier Resources System Mapper Is Now Available Online
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has released an interactive Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS) Mapper (beta version). This online mapper can be used to help property owners, project proponents, Government officials, and other stakeholders determine whether properties or project sites may be affected by the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA).
The Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA)
First, what is the CBRA? As our readers may know, the CBRA of 1982 established the CBRS, a defined set of geographic units along the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands. Congress enacted CBRA to minimize the loss of human life in high flood and hurricane areas and to lessen the damage to natural resources associated with coastal areas. Coastal barriers are unique land forms that provide protection for a broad range of aquatic habitats and serve as the mainland's first line of defense against the impacts of severe coastal storms and erosion. Located at the interface of land and sea, these areas are at high risk of damage from weather, and the effects of human presence can be harmful to the flora and fauna native to those areas.
FWS is responsible for administering CBRA. Other Federal agencies, including FEMA, are responsible for
complying with CBRA. Most new Federal expenditures and financial assistance, including Federal flood insurance,
are prohibited within the CBRS. CBRA does not prevent development, and it imposes no restrictions on development conducted with non-Federal funds. The CBRS section in the NFIP Flood Insurance Manual provides guidance on how an agent should handle insurance sales in coastal areas. The Manual offers information about the CBRS, including a list of communities that contain CBRS areas, definitions, and information on how to determine property eligibility if located in a CBRS area or an otherwise protected area (OPA).
Understanding the CBRS and Why These Areas Are Singled Out
Federal assistance for most emergency actions that are essential to saving lives and protecting property and public health and safety is allowed within the Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS). However, Federal funding for most activities that encourage development such as dredging new navigation channels; structural beach or shoreline stabilization projects; and the expansion of roads, wastewater facilities, and bridges is prohibited within the CBRS unless the project meets one of CBRA's exceptions (16 U.S.C. 3505).
There are also restrictions on the availability of Federal flood insurance within the CBRS. The CBRS boundaries depicted in the mapper are representations of the controlling CBRS boundaries, which are depicted on the official CBRS maps maintained by the Service and available for download at the CBRA website. The boundaries depicted in the mapper should not be relied on for making in/out determinations close to a CBRS boundary (i.e., the area identified within the “CBRS Buffer Zone”).
How to Get a CBRS Determination from the Fish and Wildlife Service
In response to Hurricane Sandy, the Service has also updated its CBRA website with additional guidance on project consultations for federally funded actions within or affecting the CBRS. This guidance can be found through the "Project Consultations" tab at the top of the CBRA website.
Stakeholders requiring (1) a CBRA property determination to determine whether or not a particular property is located within the CBRS for Federal flood insurance purposes or (2) a project consistency consultation to determine whether disaster assistance or other Federal funding is available for a particular activity within the CBRS should contact the appropriate Service field office.
Please visit the Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRA) page for more information.
For more information:
Mapper (beta Version)
Official CBRA maps
The FEMA CBRS page
The NFIP Flood Insurance Manual
Please see the Coastal Barrier Resources System Section
eWatermark Article about Expediting Determinations under the CBRA.