Passive Use

Recreational area in Prince William Sound.Injury
Passive use is the service provided by natural resources to people that will likely not visit, contact, or otherwise use the resource. Thus, injuries to passive use are tied to public perceptions of injured resources. Passive use is the appreciation of the aesthetic and intrinsic values of undisturbed areas and the value derived from simply knowing that a resource exists. The oil spill occurred in what many Americans viewed as an undisturbed area and caused visible injury to shorelines, fish and wildlife. The loss to passive use following the oil spill was estimated by the State of Alaska at $2.8 billion. Using a contingent valuation approach, this was the median value that those surveyed were willing to pay to prevent a catastrophe similar to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill from happening again.

Recovery Objective
Passive use will have recovered when people perceive that aesthetic and intrinsic values associated with the spill area are no longer diminished by the oil spill.

Recovery Status
The Trustee Council determined that passive use injuries occurred as a result of the oil spill because natural resources including scenic shorelines, wilderness areas, and popular wildlife species, from which passive uses are derived, were injured. The key to the recovery of passive use is providing the public with current information on the status of injured resources and the progress made towards their recovery.

Recreational area in Prince William Sound.Two vital components of the Trustee Council's restoration effort are the research, monitoring, and general restoration program and the habitat protection and acquisition program. Extensive work has been done to restore and monitor resources and communicate these findings to the public. The research, monitoring, and general restoration program is funded each year through the annual work plan, which documents the projects that are currently funded to implement restoration activities for injured resources and services. The habitat protection program preserves habitat important to injured resources through the acquisition of land or interests in land. As of 2006, the Council has protected more than 630,000 acres of habitat, including more than 1,400 miles of coastline and over 300 streams valuable for salmon spawning and rearing.

Other public information efforts in which the Council is currently engaged follows:


  • The Trustee Council's web site ( offers detailed information regarding past, current, and future restoration efforts.
  • The Trustee Council prepares a number of documents for distribution to the public including:
  • The Invitation for Proposals, which solicits restoration project ideas from the scientific community and the public.
  • The Annual Work Plan (described above)
  • Updates to the Restoration Plan (1996, 1999, 2002) which periodically provides new information on the recovery status of injured resources and services.
  • Project final reports are available to the public at the Trustee Council's website, through the Alaska Resource Library and Information Services (ARLIS) in Anchorage as well as at several other libraries in the State, at the Library of Congress, and through NTIS (National Technical Information Service). In addition, the Council supports researchers in publishing their project results in peer-reviewed scientific literature, which expands their audience well beyond Alaska.
  • The Council supports an annual marine science symposium, which is open to the public that provides a venue in which to report the progress of restoration in the spill area.
  • Public Input: The Public Advisory Committee (PAC) is an important means of keeping stakeholders and others informed of the progress of restoration and providing the public's opinions to the Trustee Council as they make decisions. Additionally, public meetings are held periodically throughout the spill area. All meetings of the Council are widely advertised and opportunity for public comment is always provided.

Until the public no longer perceives that lingering oil is adversely affecting the aesthetics and intrinsic value of the spill area it cannot be considered recovered.

Because recovery of a number of injured resources is incomplete, the Trustee Council considers services related to passive use to be RECOVERING from the effects of the spill.

Click HERE for more information on Trustee Council funded studies involving passive use.