The concept of restoring natural resources is derived
from the Public Trust Doctrine. This body of common law provides that
public lands, waters, and living resources are held in trust by the
government for the benefit of its citizens. The Doctrine establishes
that the government is to administer such resources for the public’s
use and enjoyment.
The President, the Governors of each state, and Native
American tribes each designate officials who may act on behalf of the
public as trustees for natural resources.
In New Jersey, the Commissioner
of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is the designated
"trustee" charged with the duty of administering and protecting
the state’s natural resources. The NJDEP’s Office of Natural
Resource Restoration (ONRR) represents the Commissioner in this capacity.
Federal trustees and their representatives include:
Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior (U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, U.S. National Park Service)
Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce (National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration)
Secretaries of the U.S. Departments of Defense, Energy, and Agriculture.
Trustees are authorized to pursue restoration for
NRD injuries pursuant to Federal and State law, including those listed
on the NRD Applicable Statutes page.