Environmental Protection

Fish & Wildlife Sets Webcasts on Coastal Barriers

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will conduct several virtual town hall meetings on the recently submitted Report to Congress: John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System Digital Mapping Pilot Project. The Service is soliciting public input on the report and draft maps during a 120-day public comment period that closes on Aug. 5.

The agency will hold the public meetings via Webcast and teleconference on July 14-15. This will provide an overview of the pilot project effort and offer an opportunity for questions and answers by the public and press. Members of the public planning to participate must register at www.fws.gov/habitatconservation/coastal_barrier.html by close of business on July 10. Registrants will be provided with instructions for participation via e-mail. Participants must have access to a computer and telephone to fully participate.

The report, which was directed by the Coastal Barrier Resources Reauthorization Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-514), highlights the benefits of updating Coastal Barrier Resources System maps with more accurate and precise digital maps to better protect people, coastal areas, and natural resources. The Coastal Barrier Resources Act removes the federal incentive to build on the coastal barriers designated within the system by prohibiting most federal expenditures, including federal flood insurance, that promote development in environmentally sensitive areas that may be subject to regular storm surge and flooding.

The Coastal Barrier Resources Act established the system in 1982. The system is comprised of 857 geographic units totaling 3.1 million acres of relatively undeveloped coastal barriers located along the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Great Lakes coasts, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The report provides a

  • background of the system,
  • presents the challenges associated with the existing maps and the benefits of digital maps,
  • explains digital mapping data needs,
  • outlines the digital mapping protocols and methodology,
  • presents the results of the pilot project, including the draft digital maps, and
  • identifies the next steps for comprehensive map modernization.
The report includes draft revised maps for 70 units, or approximately 10 percent of the entire system, and a framework for modernizing the remainder of the maps.

The 70 pilot project units are located in Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana. For more information about the pilot project, including a downloadable version of the report and draft maps, visit www.fws.gov/habitatconservation/coastal_barrier.html.

The draft maps presented in the report will not become effective until they are enacted by Congress. The agency will conduct a public review and finalize the pilot project maps as directed by the Coastal Barrier Resources Reauthorization Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-226). Comments on the report and draft maps can be submitted by mail to the Coastal Barriers Coordinator, Division of Habitat and Resource Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 860A, Arlington, VA 22203 or electronically to CBRAcomments@fws.gov.

From 10 a.m. to noon on July 14, the pilot projects in Delaware and Louisiana will be addressed. From 1 to 3 p.m. the North Carolina and South Carolina pilot projects will be addressed.

On July 15, 10 a.m. to noon, the North Florida pilot projects will be addressed and from 1 to 3 p.m., the South Florida pilot projects will be addressed.

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