Resource ChallengeThe comprehensive Exxon Valdez oil spill restoration plan prioritzed habitat protection for oil spill injured fish and wildlife resources as the best way to have injured populations rebound from the 1989 spill disaster. A six member state and federal trustee council adopted the recommendation of wildlife professionals, spill region communities and the public in the decision to protect spawning, breeding, feeding, nesting and wintering habitat for an array of wildlife injured by the spill. The north coast of Afognak Island in the Kodiak Archipelago was identified as having the best habitat areas with a 'link to injury' and a 'benefit to injured species' among 1,500 miles of coast impacted by the spill. Afognak Island habitat protection received the greatest amount of habitat restoration dollars, but 18,000 acres amidst 180,000 acres of adjacent conserved land remained subject to development and habitat fragmentation that posed a threat to the largest financial investment of the restoration plan.
Examples of Key PartnersAmerican Land Conservancy, Kodiak Brown Bear Trust and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation are working with the Afognak Joint Venture, Alaska Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Paul Allen Foundation, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, Thorsen Foundation and Vital Ground Foundation to complete a coastal conservation project that is a top priority of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Restoration Plan.
Results and AccomplishmentsWith the cooperation of willing seller landowners in Afognak Joint Venture, and funds from Paul Allen Foundation and the Federal Coastal Wetland Grant Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the most important 4,500 acres of the remaining area are being purchased and given to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. These Perenosa Bay 'phase one' lands contain the two best salmon rivers in Perenosa Bay, part of the world's best marbled murrelet nesting habitat, Kodiak bear feeding areas, Roosevelt elk calving and wintering habitat, sea duck wintering habitat and critical breeding and rearing areas for sea otters, harbor seals as well as feeding areas for other marine mammals. Continuing efforts by the partners and state and federal agencies will seek to complete the project. All the conserved lands and adjacent public lands are open to hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation.