The state and federal trustees responsible for the natural resources impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have released a Natural Resource Damage Assessment Status Update for the spill (pdf, 5 MB).

The goal of this status update is to compile an overview of the potential impacts to the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem caused by the spill.

This document focuses on presenting an approach that begins with quantifying impacts with either specific resources (e.g., birds) or habitats (e.g., nearshore marsh).

As individual impacts to these interconnected resources are assessed, the results will provide the information and framework required to evaluate how they produce adverse impacts throughout the larger Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. The figure at right illustrates this concept.

This document outlines the trustees’ past and near-term future activities to assess the injury to the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and the lost human use of those resources caused by the oil spill and associated response actions, such as dispersant application, in situ burning, booming, and oil and debris removal. To that end, this status update provides a snapshot of assessment activities. It also describes the trustees’ processes for developing and implementing restoration plans and projects.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment is by far the largest ever conducted. Given its geographic size, three-dimensional nature and ecological complexity, the assessment likely will continue for years.

The state and federal trustees will continue to work together to determine how the oil spill affected the Gulf of Mexico’s natural resources and the human use of those natural resources.