Four programs receive money for oil spill response


OLYMPIA — The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community is one of four recipients of $200,000 in state funding for programs designed to recruit volunteers to prepare for and clean up oil spills.

The grant program, managed by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the state Department of Natural Resources, will allocate $196,000 provided by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Volunteer programs funded this year include counting birds to establish a baseline population, learning how to remove oil from wildlife and identifying sensitive habitat.

More than 20 billion gallons of oil and hazardous chemicals are transported through the state each year, presenting a significant risk of a major spill, according to the state Department of Ecology.

Patricia Jatczak, who manages the program, said the grants were directed to applicants representing northern Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where the likelihood of a catastrophic oil spill is greatest.

The Swinomish are receiving $35,003 to establish standard operating procedures for responding to an oil spill within or adjacent to the Swinomish Reservation. The grant also will support identification of priority habitat, propose updates to regional response plans and help train employees and volunteers who respond to oil spills.

Other recipients of the grant money include:

Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team ($52,660):

Based at the University of Washington, COASST has enlisted hundreds of volunteers to establish baseline data for bird mortalities in coastal areas of the state. The grant will help expand the baseline — an important tool in assessing future bird losses — and provide training for team members who respond to oil spills.

Seattle Audubon Society ($48,479): This project expands the Puget Sound Seabird Survey to include the Strait of Juan de Fuca and supports training for volunteers to provide real-time monitoring and data collection on sea birds.

Northwest Straits Foundation ($60,000): This project will provide training for citizens and local officials on the region’s coordinated oil spill response system and spill response techniques. It also will provide hands-on opportunities for volunteers to be involved in preparing for and responding to spills.

The program has received $12 million in funding from the EPA National Estuary Program since 2010.