dig brown go green

Natural Resource Damages

“The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased; and not impaired in value.”

— Theodore Roosevelt

Federal and state laws define natural resources as land, fish, wildlife, biota, surface water, groundwater, wetlands and other resources, such as public beaches and parks.

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.

Natural Resource Injuries: Natural resource injuries are any adverse changes or impacts to a natural resource, including its use and service, whether direct or indirect, long-term or short-term.

Natural Resource Restoration: Restoration is the remedial action that returns the natural resources to pre-discharge conditions. It includes the rehabilitation, replacement or acquisition of natural resources and their services.

Restoration also includes monetary compensation for the natural resource services lost from the onset of the injury through to the full recovery of the resource.

Natural Resource Damages: Natural resource damages is the dollar value deemed necessary to restore the injured resource.

HCI has performed natural resource damages and natural resource injuries evaluations on hundreds of cases in the State of New Jersey. Characterization of natural resource injuries falls into two categories: ecological injury and groundwater injury. As per the Technical Requirements for Site Remediation (TRSR), the characterization of ecological natural resource injuries is a two-step process consisting of a baseline ecological evaluation and an ecological risk assessment.

In evaluating damages to groundwater, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection requires that the ground water injury calculation developed by the Office of Natural Resource Restoration be used. This calculation incorporates plume size, duration of injury, groundwater recharge rate and groundwater flow rate in the derivation of a monetary value for injuries.

For injuries to a resource other than groundwater (including the limitation placed on a human use, such as fishing or swimming), such as wetlands, wildlife and surface water, the process involves collecting, compiling and analyzing information, statistics and data relevant to the injured resource.