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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes
CARLSBAD FWO: Workshop Focuses on Sensitivity of Coastal Environments and Wildlife to Spilled Oil
Region 8, March 3, 2009
Workshop participants at the Carlsbad Fish and Widlife Office (from left) Kris Wiese (CDFG-OSPR), Judy Gibson (USFWS), Christine Boring (Research Planning Inc.), Dale Sweetham (CDFG), Robin Lewis (CDFG-OSPR), Don Montoro (US Navy). (photo: USFWS) 
Workshop participants at the Carlsbad Fish and Widlife Office (from left) Kris Wiese (CDFG-OSPR), Judy Gibson (USFWS), Christine Boring (Research Planning Inc.), Dale Sweetham (CDFG), Robin Lewis (CDFG-OSPR), Don Montoro (US Navy). (photo: USFWS)  - Photo Credit: n/a

by Stephanie Weagley & Judy Gibson Carlsbad FWO
The Service’s Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (FWO) Environmental Contaminants Division hosted a workshop on January 29, 2009, to update the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 1995 Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps for spill response in coastal southern California.  In addition to representatives from the Service, participants included the U.S. Navy, California Department of Fish and Game, natural resource environmental consultants and non-governmental organizations.

The ESI maps of southern California—also referred to as the ESI Atlas—serve as an essential, quick reference tool for oil and chemical spill responders and coastal zone managers.  They address oil spill response to wildlife in their sensitive coastal environments, as well as provide resource information for shorelines, biological resources (such as bird colonies and shellfish beds), and human-use resources. The ESI Atlas covers a coastal geographical area from Point Conception (north of Santa Barbara) to the Mexico Border (south of San Diego). 

Responders use these maps to identify environmentally sensitive resources and their habitats in order to implement strategies to contain, recover, and cleanup oil to minimize impacts to listed species and critical habitats.  They also use them during the pre-spill planning activities to develop proactive measures and strategies designed to protect, minimize, and reduce impacts on sensitive resources.

The ESI map workshop was coordinated by Judy Gibson, field spill response coordinator at Carlsbad FWO Environmental Contaminants Division.  Joel “Jeep” Pagel, Ph.D., environmental contaminants and raptor ecologist at Carlsbad FWO,  provided expertise to the group on raptors, and in particular key information on peregrine falcons, which has not been previously included in the ESI Atlas of coastal southern California. Additionally, the workshop provided Carlsbad FWO an opportunity to update the status on listed species, as well as hear concerns for proposed and candidate species.

The Carlsbad FWO Environmental Contaminants Division remains proactive in pre-spill planning for oil spill response activities consistent with the National Inter-agency Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).  Data collection and revisions for the ESI Atlas will continue until mid-2009.  The final updated ESI Atlas is expected to be available by early 2010.  It will provide state and federal agencies and stakeholders with current information to use during their joint spill response efforts.  

The Carlsbad FWO serves a six county area in southern California that includes approximately 18 million people, 100 federally protected species and 12.9 million acres of land.

Contact Info: Stephanie Weagley, 805-644-1766, stephanie_weagley@fws.gov