Hello from beautiful British Columbia! Scott and I are attending Clean Pacific this week in Vancouver, BC. The Clean Pacific conference is an annual meeting of the response community of the Western US and Canada. There are a number of regional response conferences like this around the US and Canada each year.
For the OWCN, this meeting brings the opportunity to network with responders up and down the Pacific coast as well as Hawaii. Why is that important you ask? Aren’t we, the California network with our 40+ Member Organizations and 7+ permanent facilities, the model for wildlife response that everyone else aspires to? While it may or may not be true that everyone wants to be the OWCN, that is not the point. If we are something to aspire to a huge reason is that we are always trying to improve and always trying to learn from other people’s experience and perspective as well as our own.
Presentations, workshops, exhibits and networking at an event like Clean Pacific provides opportunities to step outside of our narrow world view as wildlife responders, veterinarians, and rehabilitators and look at the bigger picture challenges of spill response. This allows us to bring back a fresh approach to wildlife response problems. Equipment is a perfect example. The oil spill response industry is very good at equipment. Boom, skimmers, boats, drones, dispersant jet packs – boys and their toys, as some say. But some of these things can repurposed for wildlife response with a little creative thinking. One person’s wastewater tank is another person’s aquatic bird conditioning pool with a little netting spread on top.
The other big benefit gained by being here is the opportunity spread the word about wildlife response and what we believe it takes to do an effective job. This is key in building relationships that will facilitate collaboration if a Deepwater Horizon/Exxon Valdez/Oregon Standard/Union Oil Santa Barbara Channel spill happens on “our” side of the Pacific. That is why Mike contributes his time to the Clean Pacific Steering Committee, why Scott is chairing the Wildlife Session and why I am speaking about the OWCN system for statewide wildlife response. This talk emphasized how the OWCN is built on our Member Organizations throughout the state, our facilities and equipment caches that are strategically placed, and our recent mobile equipment additions which allow us to provide primary care in remote inland locations when that provides “best achievable care”.
So, this week, Scott and I will be listening, looking, asking questions, and networking with colleagues from industry and governmental trustees and NGO’s aimed at improving wildlife response in California but also in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii. If you ever get the chance to attend one of these “Clean” conferences, I think you might find it very interesting.