North American Special Session: Wildlife Successes in Optimum Funding Scenarios - Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon Restoration

North American Special Session: Wildlife Successes in Optimum Funding Scenarios - Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon Restoration

“A fully loaded supertanker has run hard aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska.” That March 24, 1989 news was followed by agonizing images of millions of gallons of oil gushing from the Exxon Valdez. On April 20, 2010, a nighttime explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon from an oil well blowout 20,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico seared this catastrophe into the public’s psyche. While everyone is aware of the nation’s two worst oil spills and has vivid memories of impacted wildlife and wetlands, few Americans or resource professionals know of the experiences of hundreds of biologists responsible for restoring these ecosystems. Wildlife Successes in Optimum Funding Scenarios – Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon Restoration, one of four special sessions at the 82nd North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, will feature presentations by professionals experienced in the aftermaths of America’s two worst oil spills. Panel speakers will detail the challenges and opportunities when disasters create billions of dollars in fines amidst an aroused public and aggrieved stakeholders. These two examples of meeting restoration goals in the context of funding abundance are especially instructive in 2017 as a new President and Congress address daunting responsibilities and states face budget shortfalls.

Restoration workers assisting and oiled pelican.

Exxon Valdez panel

Steven E. Kallick, Director, International Lands Conservation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Seattle, was a legislative staff attorney when pandemonium swept Juneau and the Walter Hickel Administration reached the $1 billion Exxon settlement. Jim Kurth, now Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Washington, DC, arrived in Alaska’s Region 7 in 1991 as the Exxon Valdez Trustee Council began drafting the nation’s largest ecosystem restoration plan. Tim Richardson, public affairs consultant, Washington, DC, represented Alaska Native Corporations and Tribes that owned over 70 percent of the private lands oiled by the Valdez.

Deepwater Horizon panel

Thomas L. Strickland, Partner, WilimerHale, Washington, DC, former Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Department of the Interior was lead federal negotiator with BP, Transocean et al, and the five Gulf state Governors, reaching the world’s largest environmental settlement. Robin Riechers, Director, Coastal Fisheries, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department in Austin serves as the rotating-Chair of the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damages Act Trustee Council. Thomas Kelsch, Senior Vice-President, Gulf Environmental Benefits Fund for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Washington, DC.

Wildlife Successes in Optimum Funding Scenarios – Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon is co-chaired by James L. Cummins, a certified fisheries and wildlife biologist and executive director of Wildlife Mississippi and the Gulf Coast Land Trust and Ross Melinchuk, Deputy Executive Director, Natural Resources, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. The session will be held after the plenary session on March 8, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to noon at the Davenport Grand Hotel, Spokane, Washington.

Photo Credit
Deepwater Horizon Response, Flickr
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January 12, 2017