A decision by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council to take an ecosystem approach to the oil spill boundary clears access to habitat conservation oil spill settlement funding.
Long time advocates for extending the restoration boundary to include the Copper River Delta and purchase of a Bering River coal field owned by Korean firm were cheered by the EVOSTC
6-0 vote, the Eyak Preservation Council said in a statement.
“The Copper River Delta is the real winner here,” said Dune Lankard, co-founder and chair of the Eyak Preservation Council. “By taking an ecosystem approach to restoration and expanding the restoration boundary to include the sister watersheds to Prince William Sound, the lower Copper River Delta and the Bering Rifer region, the EVOS Trustees Council is recognizing the importance of one of the last thriving wild places in the region, that many of the spill impacted species need to full recover. It is about time and it’s about the Delta.”
Resolution 20-D, to take an ecosystem approach to the oil spill boundary, was one of four before the council at its Jan. 19 Zoom meeting. The council also adopted resolutions to eliminate the annual council public meeting and funding process and change reporting schedules, and to change procedures for approval of multi-year projects. A fourth resolution, that would have combined habitat and research sub-accounts into a single multi-purpose account failed, as it was not legally permissible without congressional action.
“The council now has clear, unequivocal authority to conduct restoration projects across the Copper River/Bering Rifer region, as they are integral to the injured environment,” said Rick Steiner of OasisEarth, a conservation biologist and former University of Alaska professor.
“Now we will work with the council to finalize a deal with KADCO (the Korean owners of the coal field) to permanently retire its coal rights at Bering River, as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to replace injured resources and services by protecting this spectacular, productive ecosystem,” he said.