Fish, wildlife, and other natural resources can be injured when oil or hazardous substances spill or are released into the environment. During the oil and hazardous substance response, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) contaminant specialists collect data to help document the impact on wildlife and other natural resources. This information can be used to pursue a National Resource Damage Assessment claim against the potentially responsible parties. The Service, along with other federal, state, and tribal partners, acts as a trustee for natural resources in these claims. The Service has responsibility for conserving National Wildlife Refuges, endangered and threatened species, migratory birds, and other natural resources. Trustees seek to identify the natural resources injured from oil or hazardous substances, determine the extent of the injuries, recover damages from those responsible, and plan and carry out restoration activities. These efforts are possible for Department of Interior Bureaus under the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) Program.
To fulfill the mission of restoring natural resources injured by oil spills or hazardous substance releases, several steps must be taken:
- First, trustees conduct a natural resource damage assessment to determine the extent of injury to natural resources caused by the oil spill or hazardous substance release.
- This information is then used to determine the amount of restoration needed and the costs for the restoration, as well as the costs to compensate the public for lost use of the land or natural resources injured.
- Trustees then try to reach a settlement with the responsible parties for these costs, as well as the costs incurred by the trustees to assess the injury and damages.
- Once a settlement has been reached, the trustees begin restoration actions to benefit injured resources.
- Finally, the trustees monitor the completed restoration projects to ensure their long-term success.
The primary benefit of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program is that injured natural resources can be restored at no cost to taxpayers. Instead, the responsible parties pay for the restoration. This program allows all Americans to enjoy healthy public rivers and lands that are once again teeming with wildlife and safe for recreation.
Learn more about the NRDAR Program.
Access the laws and regulations authorizing the NRDAR Program.
Wildlife and Habitat Conservation
- Conservation Planning