Coastal Barrier Resources Act

By 2010, the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) will have saved taxpayers approximately $1.3 billion by restricting Federal spending in vulnerable coastal areas.

Coastal barrier islands provide many services that are foundations for a robust economy and healthy coastal ecosystem. These landforms create the back-bay waters needed to support productive and lucrative fisheries, provide habitat for migratory birds and diverse species of plants and animals, and are popular vacation destinations that support local coastal economies. They also serve as the mainland’s first line of defense against storm surges and hurricane winds. Consequently, coastal barrier islands are a risk to develop on (USFWS, 2005).

Aware of this risk and value, Congress adopted the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) in 1982. This act resulted in the Coastal Barrier Resources System totalling 3.1 million acres of land and associated aquatic habitat (USFWS, 2010). The CBRA limits the Federal financial assistance for development related activities such as spending for roads, wastewater systems, potable water supply, and disaster relief in CBRS designated areas. In essence, disaster relief assistance provided by FEMA under the National Flood Insurance Program is restricted. From 1982 to 2010, the CBRA will have resulted in a savings of $1.3 billion to U.S. tax payers, by limiting development in high risk coastal barrier island areas.


FEMA NFIP map with restricted areas

CBRS boundaries are designated on FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps by slanting diagonal lines. Credit: FEMA, 2010

For further information:

Coastal Barrier Resources System Fact Sheet (USFWS)

Coastal Barrier Resources Act Fact Sheet (FEMA)

Closer Look

Relevant Links

National Flood Insurance Program

NOAA Coastal Climate Adaptation

NOAA Coastal Storms Program