Another update from me, Sarah, a Natural Resource Policy Fellow (NRPF) working for the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians (CTCLUSI) on their Tribal Spill Response Plan (TSRP). Last week I had the amazing opportunity to visit the places I had only seen on maps in person, with a tour of CTCLUSI’s water resources in Coos Bay and of their forestry lands. I also completed field training for oil spill response, along with members of Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, EPA, NOAA, and CTCLUSI. .
This SCAT (Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Technique) training is run through NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration and was developed for 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. This is a replicable method of recording the spill type, cover, any wildlife damage, and cleanup method suggestions. Completing this training in person helped me to envision what a real oil spill may look like (without the potential smells) and apply some of the oil spill response information I have been learning about through my work with the TSRP. It is critical that the SCATers identify both environmental and cultural sites of importance and record those for the cleanup operations. Ideally, there would be a SCAT representative from tribal, federal, state, local and any important stakeholder in the area.
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After completing the training in Portland, I made my way to Florence, Oregon where I was shown the Lower Smith Tract of CTCLUSI’s Tribal Forest. This tract is in the Siuslaw National Forest and is adjacent to some land managed by Bureau of Land Management (BLM). This was a fantastic opportunity to see a natural resource of great importance to CTCLUSI, that is outside of my career focus in the marine sciences. Everything is connected – land and sea, environment and culture. I also saw some sites of importance in Coos Bay and surrounding areas, including Coal Bank Slough and a lookout north of Cape Arago State Park. This was an awesome opportunity to connect with the people from the Department of Natural Resources at CTCLUSI and to see the land that we’re working towards protecting.
I was also gifted some CTCLUSI gear, including this hat with a logo created by Ashley Russel, the Assistant Director of the DNR. The logo art is based on a historical tale of a sea serpent that comes to shore to hunt for dear. Looking forward to wearing this the next time I’m out in the field!
Just a quick introduction – I’m Sarah, a recent master’s graduate of Oregon State University where I worked on a project on ghost shrimp in the Benthic Ecology lab. I have had an interest in both science and policy throughout my education and the Natural Resource Policy Fellowship provided an excellent opportunity to engage in both!
These past few months since I started my fellowship with Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians (CTCLUSI) have been an exciting time in which I have learned a slew of information on environmental policy at various governmental levels and emergency response. My specific task is to edit the Tribal Estuary Response Plan which outlines policies and procedures related to hazardous materials spills. I recommend checking out the abundance story map available here, which goes over the history and culture of CTCLUSI. There are three separate languages of the people who inhabited the ancestral territory– Hanis Coos and Miluk Coos (Coos Languages), Sha’yuushtl’a uhl Quuiich (Siuslaw and Lower Umpqua language). While updating the list of foodstuffs and ecological resources, I learned that the name for ghost shrimp of the scientific name Netorypaea californiensis is ‘wayaq’ in Hanis Coos and Miluk Coos and ‘chimws’ in Sha’yuushtl’a uhl Quuiich.
At the end of February, I was able to virtually attend an annual meeting for the Region 10 Regional Response Team (RRT10) and the Northwest Area Committee (NWAC). At this meeting, there were members from tribes, federal agencies, state agencies, local government as well as industry. This included people from the EPA, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Department of Interior, Washington State Department of Ecology, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, NOAA, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, Makah Tribe, Yakama Nation, the Stillaguamish Tribe, and CTCLUSI. It was interesting to hear everyone’s input, updates, and perspectives on hazmat and emergency response.
Key takeaways from that meeting include:
The importance of overlap and consistency among regional response plans and local response plans.
The array of spill response methods and opportunities – particularly in industry.
Washington State Legislation SB 5344: This requires certain vessels transiting in Juan de Fuca to fund an emergency response towing vessel in Neah Bay. I was unfamiliar with this legislation; vehicle towing could be an additional section in our own document.
In the Tribal Subcommittee meeting, the objectives included tribal access, delivery of service to tribal groups, development of outreach and communications, and timely notification of issues and initiatives for tribal feedback.
These were just a few out of many topics that I learned about from attending that meeting. It was interesting to hear updates from all of the agencies and partners and to see how many people come together to work towards emergency preparedness. I’m looking forward to updating you next time on participating in emergency response training and visiting CTCLUSI on the Oregon Coast!