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Next Generation ESI Workshop Report Completed

DEC. 20, 2021 — The Office of Response and Restoration released a report on Nov. 20 detailing the proceedings and recommendations of last year’s workshop on the Next Generation of the Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) program and products

A map.
Sample section of an ESI map showing shoreline, biological, and human-use resources for an area around Essex Bay and Cape Ann in Massachusetts. Image credit: NOAA.

The workshop took place virtually over the span of four days in the fall of 2020, with roughly 80 people in attendance each day representing a diverse group of federal agencies, state agencies, tribal representatives, private industry, and nonprofit organizations. 

The primary objective of the workshop was to explore the future of ESI mapping in a constrained budget environment. With no funding for ESIs from NOAA’s base budget in recent years, the program must either drastically cut costs or identify new funding sources in order to continue producing up-to-date products to meet critical response and planning needs across the country. The workshop explored what data is most important, how the data is used, and what OR&R can do to maintain the utility of the ESI products. 

This report, issued a year after the conclusion of the workshop, aims to capture the key takeaways and set a course of action to develop the next generation of ESIs. Recommendations include: 

  • Establish a working group on biological and human-use data layers. 
  • Establish a working group on the development and production of shoreline layers.
  • Analyze and compare various existing shoreline classification products. 
  • Explore the hurdles to using Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) funds towards ESI updates.
  • Engage in further conversations about funding with a wider set of partners. 
  • Convene a meeting of developers to discuss technological efficiencies and innovations.
  • Begin research on additional indices to enhance support for coastal planners.
  • Conduct additional outreach regarding the ESI product and its uses.

These recommendations are explored in more detail in the report

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Last updated Tuesday, November 8, 2022 1:42pm PST