The MISSION of the North Slope Science Initiative (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 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.
The NSSI works to provide resource managers with the data and analyses they need to help evaluate multiple simultaneous goals and objectives related to each agency’s mission on the North Slope. The NSSI uses and complements the information produced under other North Slope science programs, both internal and external. The NSSI also facilitates information sharing among agencies, non-governmental organizations, industry, academia, international programs and members of the public to increase communication and reduce redundancy among science programs.
The NSSI traces its beginnings to the 1998 Northeast National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A) Integrated Activity Plan and Environmental Impact Statement Record of Decision. That decision authorized a research and monitoring team with a chartered mission to determine the effectiveness of mitigation and stipulations for oil and gas development in the Northeast NPR-A. The team’s charter was signed by the Secretary of the Interior in November 2000 and expired in November 2002. Eventually, exploration and development activities on the North Slope extended beyond the Northeast NPR-A, setting the stage for an organization with an expanded mission.
The NSSI was formally authorized in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 with its stated purpose “to implement efforts to coordinate collection of scientific data that will provide a better understanding of the terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems of the North Slope of Alaska.” It was developed by federal, state, local and Alaska Native entities with trust responsibilities for land and ocean management, to facilitate and improve collection and dissemination of ecosystem information pertaining to the North Slope of Alaska, including coastal and offshore regions.
Oversight Group – The NSSI Oversight Group is an executive level organization that sets direction for the NSSI, sets NSSI goals and expectations, and serves as the decision-making body for NSSI priorities. It includes executive membership from federal, state, local and Alaska Native entities that have responsibilities for land and resource management across the North Slope and its adjacent seas. Members include the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. The U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Geological Survey, National Weather Service, U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Arctic Research Commission serve the Oversight Group in an advisory capacity.
Science Technical Advisory Panel – The NSSI Science Technichal Advisory Panel is an integral part of NSSI, providing advice to the Oversight Group on proposed inventory, monitoring and research functions. The STAP has a membership of up to 15 scientists and technical experts from a diversity of professions and interests. This group is chartered under the Federal Advisory Committee Act with appointments made by the Secretary of the Interior.
Senior Staff Committee – Each Oversight Group member provides a senior-level member of their organization to work with the STAP and NSSI staff on Oversight Group priorities. Senior staff participation in NSSI activities helps ensure relevance to the management interests of the broad cross section of its member agencies.