The Nature Conservancy in Alabama is spending a great deal of staff time and resources responding to the Gulf oil spill.
Listed below are examples of what we are doing. This list will be updated as the situation persists.
Protection of Nature Conservancy Assets
- ARRA Oyster Reef Restoration Project – Staff has spent substantial time and energy coordinating with project partners to protect the restoration materials already deployed in Mobile Bay.
- To-date: Deployment operations for the oyster reef restoration project were halted and efforts initiated to place 840 feet of oil absorbent boom and 2,900 feet of oil containment boom around the project site. See a map.
J&W Marine Enterprises Inc., a contractor for the oyster reef restoration project, unloaded the boom from the delivery truck, loaded it on a barge, assembled the boom, then provided the equipment and manpower (in addition to Conservancy and Dauphin Island Sea Lab staff) to deploy 26 anchors along a 3,000-foot stretch, with 40-pound anchors securing each end.
Coastal Environments Inc., another contractor, provided transport to check the boom deployed the previous day, as well as assisting with loading and installing about 1,600 feet of oil absorbent boom. Another of our contractors, Reef Innovations, also supported this effort.
- Future: Additional monitoring will be needed to examine the response and resiliency of the oyster reef restoration project based on the extent, duration and consistency of the oil spill impact.
Once the threat of the oil spill has dissipated, we will recover and dispose of the containment and absorbent booms and hazardous material.
Reef material currently in place may have to be physically cleaned or replaced, involving a significant time commitment as well as need for proper disposal. We will need to re-mobilize contractors to finish the project.
Science and Pre-condition Monitoring
The Nature Conservancy is closely monitoring the impacts of the oil spill across the Gulf Coast. Already, we’ve put to work The Nature Conservancy’s best knowledge and expertise in the Gulf region. Examples include:
- To-date: We are gathering photo documentation of known sensitive areas and working with a coalition of organizations (primarily Mobile Baykeeper, Mobile Bay National Estuary Program and Alabama Coastal Foundation) to coordinate volunteer efforts.
Additionally, we are 1) identifying and prioritizing areas where initial response and recovery actions should take place; 2) developing tools for recovery (including bioremediation); 3) planning for short and longterm recovery and restoration efforts; and 4) working with the Global Marine Team to synthesize information into a centralized database.
We have also started reviewing published and gray literature focused on biological effects of oil spills, recovery potential, response efforts and restoration strategies.
- Future: We will continue to 1) gather data; 2) work with partners to understand the extent of the coastal impacts from the oil spill; 3) provide information on scientific needs; 4) prioritize coastal resources for protection and recovery; and 5) develop a process for including partners in the development recovery and planning initiatives.
A substantial commitment of time and staff resources will be needed to formulate plans, document responses and define the roles of research and restoration efforts from this point forward.
Media Relations and Targeted Outreach
- To-date: We are responding to numerous requests from both large and small media outlets for information on what the Conservancy is doing to respond to the oil spill. We are keeping our donors and supporters up-to-date through various mediums, including 1) Keith Ouchley’s interview on the Conservancy's Cool Green Science blog; 2) updates from our conservation staff regarding our assessment of damage; and 3) other information concerning the spill.
- Future: We will continue to document post-event responses, recoveries and restoration activities to learn as much as possible and provide relevant information to diverseaudiences, such as voters, coastal decision-makers, elected officials, media and the general public.
The Conservancy is committed to providing information through the impact, response and recovery efforts, which could go on for years.
If you would like to volunteer for Alabama’s restoration and rescue response, please register on our website.
Fund for Gulf Coast Restoration
Already, we’ve put to work The Nature Conservancy’s best knowledge and expertise in the Gulf region.
Our Fund for Gulf Coast Restoration will help us do even more and will be put to use by the Conservancy and its marine scientists and staff knowledgeable about the Gulf and about oil spill impacts to help the long-term restoration of this critical ecosystem.