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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection-Office of Natural Resource Restoration
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Program Overview

Natural Resource Restoration

Restoration: is the remedial action that returns the natural resources to pre-discharge conditions. It includes the rehabilitation of injured resources, replacement, or acquisition of natural resources and their services, which were lost or impaired. Restoration also includes compensation for the natural resource services lost from the beginning of the injury through to the full recovery of the resource.

Examples are:

  • GROUND WATER: non-point source pollution abatement projects, acquisition of land for aquifer recharge

  • WETLANDS and HABITAT: rehabilitation or creation of wetlands / habitat in the appropriate ratios to compensate for the functions and services lost

  • INJURED SPECIES: restoration of appropriate habitat and monitoring of success / research projects

  • LOST PUBLIC USE: enhanced public access, information and interpretive centers

Program Administration

Natural Resource Restoration is administered by the Office of Natural Resource Restoration (ONRR), which was established in the early 1990s to restore for environmental injury caused by multiple oil spills and discharges. The authority for addressing injuries to the public’s natural resources is derived from the Public Trust Doctrine. This common law provides that public lands, waters and living resources are held in trust by the government for the benefit of its citizens. In New Jersey, the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is the designated “trustee” charged with administering and protecting the State’s natural resources.

Overall natural resource restoration process

When contaminants, such as oil and other hazardous substances are released into the environment, wildlife, habitat, and other public natural resources may be injured or lost. The following steps outline the restoration process:

  • ONRR ensures that natural resource injuries resulting from a pollutant discharge are accurately characterized.

  • Using information generated pursuant to the Technical Requirements for Site Remediation and other investigation documents, ONRR coordinates with those responsible for the injuries to ensure that an appropriate restoration project is implemented to compensate the public for the loss and enjoyment of the natural resource.

  • ONRR coordinates restoration activities with a variety of NJDEP programs, such as the Site Remediation Program, Division of Fish &Wildlife, and the Green Acres Program. ONRR also has restoration partnerships with environmental organizations, and solicits input from environmental and local community groups with special resource expertise and knowledge of the restoration area.

  • ONRR brings together the necessary ecological and legal expertise within the state to pursue natural resource restoration. In this capacity, the Office serves as technical and litigation support to the New Jersey Attorney General's Office in pursuing natural resource damage claims and restoration settlements.


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Last Updated: October 24, 2003