Tag Archives: OSPR

CDFW Honors Wildlife Officer of the Year

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement Division has selected Warden Anastasia Norris as the 2019 Wildlife Officer of the Year.

“Warden Norris has spent plenty of time doing traditional wildlife law enforcement work, but her expertise in oil spill investigations and response is where she has shined over the course of her career,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “Investigations involving habitat damage from oil and hazardous materials spills are integral to the Law Enforcement Division’s mission. Warden Norris is one of the finest in this regard.”

Warden Norris received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Sciences from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1998 and a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from the University of Oklahoma in 2001. She graduated as part of Academy Class 53 at Butte College in 2009 and began her career as a wildlife officer in Long Beach, where she gained expertise in marine enforcement and commercial fishing.

She soon transferred to the CDFW Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR), where she has excelled as the State On-Scene Coordinator and/or lead investigator for 20 complicated oil and hazardous materials spills. In 2015, Norris was designated the lead investigator on the Plains All-American/Refugio spill in Santa Barbara County, one of the largest and most detrimental oil spills to hit California’s coast in the last 50 years.

The Refugio oil spill began on May 19, 2015. Norris managed and coordinated the evidence and documentation efforts throughout the investigation, including embarking upon a cross-country drive to ensure chain-of-custody and security of a seized section of pipeline in Ohio. She interviewed dozens of witnesses during the investigation. The final 118-page report included support documentation that was an additional 13 inches thick. Norris also provided support for the prosecution and was in court every day of the almost four-month duration of the trial. On Sept. 7, 2018, guilty verdicts were reached on nine counts, including eight misdemeanors and one felony. Even while the Refugio investigation was dominating her workload, Norris continued to respond to numerous other petroleum spills.

“Warden Norris is the force behind major investigations involving water pollution and numerous environmental statutes and regulations affecting our great state’s waterways and ocean environment,” said Brett Morris, Supervising Deputy Attorney General of the California Attorney General’s Office, which prosecuted the Refugio case. “While away from her assigned beat and her family for over three months, Warden Norris successfully guided to conviction the largest criminal prosecution of corporate water polluters in Santa Barbara County’s history.”

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Media Contact:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-6692

 

Grant Funding Available for Oil Spill Prevention and Response Studies

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is currently accepting proposals to fund up to $200,000 in specialized oil spill-related scientific studies in marine and inland environments. Eligible studies must relate to improved oil spill prevention and response efforts, best technologies and the improved understanding of the effects of oil on state waters.

CDFW’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) operates the California Oil Spill Study and Evaluation Program (COSSEP), which fulfills a legislative mandate to provide funding to any person or entity that qualifies to contract with the state for studies in the following areas:

  • Investigation and evaluation of applied spill prevention and response technologies
  • Effects of oil and spill response on fish and wildlife habitat and water quality
  • Strategies for best achievable protection of wildlife and habitats
  • Wildlife collection and rehabilitation during a spill incident
  • Natural resource damage assessment technologies and methods

Applications must be received by Sept. 12, 2018, and award recipients will be notified in December.

Full funding for COSSEP projects comes from the Oil Spill Prevention and Administration Fund, which assesses a per-barrel fee on oil entering California refineries. No taxpayer-funded dollars are directed to this account.

The number of contracts to be awarded is not pre-determined, but the total amount budgeted for Fiscal Year 2019-2020 is approximately $200,000. There is also no specified minimum amount to be awarded.

For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/OSPR/Science/SSEP or contact CDFW Contract Analyst Heather Sironen at (916) 324-6252.

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Media Contacts:
Eric Laughlin, OSPR Communications, (916) 214-3279
Heather Sironen, OSRP Grants, (916) 324-6252

Siskiyou County Receives Equipment and Training for Oil Spill Response

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) oversaw the delivery of oil spill response equipment and training for Siskiyou County first responders today. Siskiyou County is the fourth inland area awarded the spill equipment grant since OSPR expanded its preparedness activities statewide in 2014.

“For 25 years, we’ve protected the coast from oil spills. Now we want to bring the same level of protection to communities that have a long history of rail traffic and potential river impacts,” said OSPR’s Local Government Outreach and Grant Coordinator Scott Lipton. “It’s crucial that we all work together to protect these vital areas.”

Siskiyou County Environmental Health Department received the $30,000 grant that provides 1,000 feet of containment boom, absorbent materials, a mobile trailer and eight hours of training. The equipment will strengthen oil spill preparedness and response at the Upper Sacramento River.

Today’s training included a four -hour classroom instruction session, followed by four hours of on-water equipment deployment with spill response professionals.

“On behalf of Siskiyou County First Responders and the Upper Sacramento River Communities, we are grateful to OSPR and the people of the State to have been awarded this grant which will provide swift water oil response equipment and training to local personnel.  Siskiyou County is home of the head waters of the Sacramento River and its diverse habitat, we are very pleased to have these additional tools to help protect this crucial waterway.”

OSPR began offering equipment grants in 2007 and has since provided nearly $1 million to more than 40 local government agencies and tribes in California.

Equipment grants are available to any local public agency or tribe in the state. In order to be considered, agencies must be at risk of an oil spill occurring in their jurisdiction. The Response Equipment Grant Program webpage offers more information.

Media Contact:
Eric Laughlin, Public Information Officer, (916) 214-3279

State Offers $200,000 in Grants to Benefit California Habitat

California’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) is accepting grant proposals for projects that enhance wildlife habitat and environmental restoration.

The funds come from OSPR’s Environmental Enhancement Fund (EEF), which originates from oil spill violations, in accordance with California’s Lempert-Keene-Seastrand Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act.

Multiple projects may be selected, with available funding up to $200,000; typically past grant recipients have been awarded between $50,000- $100,000. Multi-year projects are also considered.

To qualify, an environmental enhancement project must acquire habitat for preservation or improve habitat quality and ecosystem function. In addition, it must meet all of the following requirements:

  •  Be located within or immediately adjacent to waters of the state.
  • Have measurable outcomes within a predetermined timeframe.
  • Be designed to acquire, restore, or improve habitat or restore ecosystem function, or both, to benefit fish and wildlife.

“It’s great to be part of an environmental restoration program that makes a difference,” said OSPR Environmental Scientist Bruce Joab. “We’re proud that our Environmental Enhancement Fund projects have helped improve California’s habitats.”

The California Coastal Conservancy and National Fish and Wildlife Federation will join OSPR in selecting the winning recipients.

Disbursement of the grants is contingent on the availability of funds in the EEF.

Grant applications must be received by 5 p.m. on 31 August 2016. To contact the grant coordinator, email bruce.joab@wildlife.ca.gov. For more information, visit

https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/OSPR/Science/Environmental-Enhancement-Fund/About

Media Contacts:
Steve Gonzalez, OSPR, (916) 327-9948

 

 

 

State Releases Summary Report on Refugio Oil Spill

Today, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife‘s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) released a report describing and evaluating its response to the May 2015 Refugio Oil Spill in Santa Barbara.

OSPR acts as the public trustee in protecting, managing and restoring California’s wildlife and habitat, and represents the state as the On-Scene Coordinator during oil spill response efforts that include federal and local partners. The OSPR After Action Report  focuses on OSPR’s performance and lessons learned from the Refugio spill, and includes an Appendix with detailed improvement recommendations for future events.

“Refugio was a test of our office’s preparedness to immediately plug in to a unified response to a devastating oil spill crisis,” said Thomas Cullen, OSPR Administrator and State On-Scene Coordinator. “Our successful cooperation with the US Coast Guard, US Environmental Protection Agency, the County of Santa Barbara and other partner agencies allowed us to quickly assess the damage and coordinate our response and cleanup efforts.” The busiest phase of the cleanup effort included more than 1,400 responders and 22 skimmer and support vessels on the water.

Key findings from the report highlight successful operations:

  • Consistent interagency coordination between state and federal partners
  • Prompt fisheries closure and sampling to ensure safety, and a reopening of the fisheries as soon as possible
  • Regular communication with non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
  • Tribal training and participation in monitoring and cleanup of areas of cultural concern

Suggested actions to improve future response efforts include:

  • Increase education efforts and information sharing with local governments and NGOs before spills happen
  • Plan for earlier community engagement
  • Develop an electronic shoreline assessment data management system
  • Train additional OSPR staff for Volunteer Unit positions to plan for and manage spill volunteers

Although winding down, the Refugio oil spill response is still ongoing. An evaluation of shoreline cleanup and assessment will be added as an addendum to the report following the full demobilization and closing of the response. Additionally, this report does not cover any civil or criminal investigations which are outside the scope of managing the incident.

Today, the US Coast Guard also issued the Federal On-Scene Coordinator Report reviewing its Refugio response operations under the multi-agency Unified Command.

Background
In May 19, 2015, a buried section of a 24-inch pipeline owned and operated by Plains All American Pipeline, LLC, ruptured in a cliff above Highway 1 near Santa Barbara, releasing more than 100,000 gallons of crude oil, with a significant amount entering the Pacific Ocean at Refugio State Beach. On May 20, 2015, the Governor issued a State of Emergency for the incident. OSPR served as the State On-Scene Coordinator in the Unified Command with the U.S. Coast Guard, a Plains All American Pipeline representative, a Santa Barbara County representative and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Media Contact:
Amy Norris, OSPR Public Affairs, (916) 322-1683