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Fish and Wildlife Service appeals for accurate coastal barrier maps

USA: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released its “Report to Congress: John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System Digital Mapping Pilot Project” and announced the start of a 90-day public comment period.

The report, which was directed by the Coastal Barrier Resources Reauthorisation Act of 2000, 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 established the system in 1982 and prohibited most federal expenditures that promote development, including federal flood insurance. The location and dynamic nature of coastal barriers makes building on them risky because they are susceptible to storm surge and erosion—issues of increasing concern in the wake of global climate change and associated sea-level rise.

The system is composed 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 modernising the remainder of the maps. The 70 pilot project units are located in Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana.