Geographic Response Strategies

Geographic Response Strategies (GRS) are map-based oil spill response plans tailored to protect specific environmentally sensitive areas. By selecting and mapping these areas in advance, a GRS can save time during the critical first few hours of oil spill response. The GRS informs oil spill responders where sensitive areas are located and where oil spill protections resources should be placed.

Alaska is divided into ten regions, or subareas. Workgroups for the various subareas are formed to develop the GRS. The council is involved in the development of GRS for the Prince William Sound Subarea, the Cook Inlet Subarea, and the Kodiak Island Subarea.

In addition to PWSRCAC, GRS work group members include natural resource agency representatives, oil spill response professionals, and local community and tribal organization representatives.

Guiding Principles for GRS

• responder-oriented strategies and techniques to protect sensitive areas
• strategies should be flexible and modifiable to fit the prevailing conditions
• no unnecessary duplication of information in other plans
• identifies resources at risk and sets priorities for their protection
• response resource lists, logistical information, and field instructions for deployment
• easy to use, test and update
• content more important than form

• increase public awareness of response plans prior to a spill
• low maintenance cost and time
• low unit cost
• Incident Command System friendly

Site Selection

Criteria for site selection includes environmental sensitivity, risk of oil spill impact, and ability to protect the site. Public feedback is sought for GRS site selection after the workgroup selects a preliminary list of sites. Feedback is solicited from tribal representatives, user groups, environmental organizations, and the general public.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) has a public information web page devoted to the Prince William Sound GRS development. It provides an index of draft plans for each Prince William Sound GRS site, work group meeting information, and work group member information.

Public Input for GRS Plans

Public input is essential to ensure that the sites selected reflect the environmental protection priorities of local communities, stakeholders, and resource users.

If you wish to comment, please contact Lisa Matlock, Outreach Coordinator. We welcome comments by phone, email, or mail:

Lisa Matlock
3709 Spenard Rd., Ste. 100
Anchorage, AK 99503

GRS Criteria for Environmental Sensitivity

In Prince William Sound, the workgroups for each sub zone consider potential GRS locations based on the following criteria of environmental sensitivity, which are set forth in the Prince William Sound Subarea Plan:

-threatened and endangered -species/habitats
-eel grass beds
-sheltered tidal flats
-sheltered rocky shores
-sea otter concentration areas
-harbor seal haulouts
-sea lion rookeries and haulouts
-large seabird colonies
-waterfowl and shorebird spring, -fall, or winter concentration areas
-eagle nest sites
-large anadromous fish streams
-intertidal salmon spawning areas
-hatcheries & aquaculture sites
-herring spawning areas
-federal wilderness areas, wild and scenic rivers, and national natural landmarks
-state refuges, sanctuaries, and critical habitat areas
-cultural resources and archaeological sites
-intertidal sites
-subsistence harvest areas
-high use commercial fishing areas
-high use recreational areas

Joe Banta, council project manager, contributed to this National Wildlife Federation report titled Special Ecological Sites in Alaska’s Eastern Prince William Sound and Copper River Delta. Republished with permission.

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