Originally enacted in 1982 by President Reagan, the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) encourages the conservation of storm-prone and dynamic coastal barrier land known as the Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS). The Coastal Barrier Resources System currently consists of 585 defined areas along the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico coasts – totaling 3.5 million acres of wetlands, estuarine areas, beaches, and islands. In addition to helping protect millions of acres of wildlife habitat, most notably for migratory bird species, the CBRA also saves taxpayers from the costs of developing in these high-risk areas. The law does so by removing the eligibility for federal funding and financial assistance, such as flood insurance, in the legally defined maps that comprise the Coastal Barrier Resources System.
In June 2022, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on draft legislation to expand and modernize the CBRS. Senators continued to fine-tune the draft bill, and LWF (along with 26 other organizations) signed onto a group letter that urged the Senate to enact the legislation.
This legislation would increase benefits to public safety, the taxpayer, and the environment by:
- Enlarging the CBRA System by adding more than 277,000 acres along the coasts of the nine states most impacted by the 2012 Hurricane Sandy (NH, MA, RI, CT, NJ, NJ, DE, MD, VA). The Department of the Interior recommended to Congress in April 2022 that these areas be added to the CBRA System after years of careful review and public input.
- Expanding the definition of a “coastal barrier” that can be included in the System to encompass additional landforms and habitats that help protect coastal communities and provide habitat, such as rocky bluffs and spits of land.
- Helping to address new climate change threats to our coasts by directing the Department of the Interior, along with other federal and state agencies, to identify coastal areas that could provide habitat and storm-buffering benefits as sea levels rise, such as wetlands migration corridors, and develop ways to include these valuable areas in the CBRS.
Read the full comment letter here.