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Habitat Protection

Habitat Protection

The long-term protection of threatened habitat, considered essential for the well-being of species injured by the oil spill, was one of the earliest goals of the Trustee Council. Restoration efforts in the Pacific Northwest have taught us that habitat protection is essential to the health of salmon species. Researchers have concluded that depleted salmon populations cannot rebuild if habitat that is critical during any of their life stages is seriously compromised.

This lesson extends as well to the other fish, birds, and mammals that nest, feed, molt, winter, and seek shelter in the spill area. Habitat protection also supports the restoration of commercial fishing, subsistence, recreation, and tourism, all of which are dependent upon healthy productive ecosystems.

A Double Life?
Marbled murrelets, which were injured in the Exxon Valdez oil spill, go out to sea for feeding, but travel up to fifty miles over land to find old growth forests to make their nests. To assist this species' recovery from the oil spill, it was necessary to protect upland terrestrial nesting habitat.

Logged area- Prince William Sound
By purchasing land throughout the spill region, the Trustee Council ensured that key habitats for injured species would not be further damaged by extensive development or logging, serious threats at the time of the spill. The Trustee Council felt that in an already spill impacted environment, purchasing land could go a long way toward allowing the ecosystem to recover.

The Trustee Council has dedicated nearly 60 percent of available settlement funds - over $400 million - for habitat protection in the spill region.

The habitat protection program is split into two programs based on the sizes of the land purchases.


Large Parcel Program
The goal of the Large Parcel Program (generally parcels over 1,000 acres) is to protect key habitats for injured species throughout the spill region. Lands are protected through a creative series of conservation easements, timber easements, and fee simple acquisitions.

Small Parcel Program
The Small Parcel Program (generally parcels of 1,000 acres or less) deals with strategically located habitats, usually located on coves, along important stretches of river, or adjacent to valuable tidelands. They are often close to spill area communities or within already protected areas, such as refuges and parks. These lands are acquired for their habitat qualities as well as their importance for subsistence and recreational use.

2006 Habitat Protection & Acquisition Catalog (17 Mb PDF)