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The USCG Fly Arctic Mission to Assist 
BLM-Alaska with Its North Slope Science Initiative

NSSI and BLM directer boarding US Coast Guard aircraft
BLM-Alaska State Director Bud Cribley and NSSI Deputy Director Denny Lassuy with USCG C-130 pilots. Photo by Matthew Vos
Though it may not be well known, BLM-Alaska supports a program known as the North Slope Science Initiative (NSSI). The mission of the NSSI is to improve scientific and regulatory understanding of terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems for consideration in the context of resource development activities and climate change. The vision of the NSSI is to identify those data and information needs management agencies and governments will need in the future to develop management scenarios using the best information and mitigation to conserve the environments of the North Slope. This is particularly useful to the BLM as they are the land managers for the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A) which is the single largest tract of public land in the United States at 23.5 million acres.

On October 2, BLM-Alaska State Director and NSSI Oversight Group member Bud Cribley, along with NSSI Deputy Director Denny Lassuy and Communications Specialist Matthew Vos joined the United States Coast Guard (USCG) for an Arctic Domain flight out of Kodiak, Alaska. The flight was originally set to fly over the Artic sea ice which had retreated well beyond 82 degrees north making such a trip out of reach. Instead the crew flew north to Prudhoe Bay where a NOAA researcher took air samples starting at 28,000 feet, spiraling down to 500 feet. The plane then turned south and flew a low-level flight through the BLM's pipeline corridor and then headed West to Anvik following the Yukon River to its Delta to take more air samples before returning back to Kodiak. The flight was a learning experience for both NSSI members and the USCG crew. The crew wanted to know what issues decision makers have and need addressing and how the Coast Guard can help support NSSI in its mission of North Slope Science Coordination.

NSSI and BLM directer boarding US Coast Guard aircraft
Braided river near the BLM Dalton Highway Corridor. Photo by Matthew Vos

View the entire set of pictures from the trip on NSSI's Facebook page

To learn more about the NSSI, check out www.northslope.org, or find them on social media at www.facebook.com/northslopescienceinitiative or www.twitter.com/NSlopeScience.

—By Matthew Vos

Last updated: 07-22-2016