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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection-Office of Natural Resource Restoration
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Natural Resources: Federal and State laws define natural resources as land, fish, wildlife, biota, water (surface / groundwater), wetlands, and other resources, such as public beaches and parks, that are managed by or held in trust by the government for the benefit of the public. Natural resources are not limited by the ownership of the property on which the natural resources are found.

Natural Resource Injuries: any adverse change or impact of a discharge into or on a natural resource or impairment of natural resource services, whether direct or indirect, long-term or short-term, and includes the partial or complete destruction or loss of the natural resource. Injuries can be ecological based, such as the contamination of a stream habitat and/or use based, such as the public’s inability to use the same stream for fishing.

Natural Resource Services and Functions: are the physical, chemical, and biological processes that natural resources perform, include services to other natural resources as well as services, which directly benefit humans. Some examples of natural resource services / functions are:

  • purification of air and water
  • mitigation of droughts and floods
  • generation and preservation of soils and renewal of their fertility,
  • detoxification and decomposition of wastes
  • pollination of crops and natural vegetation
  • dispersal of seeds
  • cycling and movement of nutrients
  • control of potential agricultural pests
  • maintenance of biodiversity
  • maintenance of ecosystem functions
  • protection of coastal shores from erosion by waves

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

Natural Resource Damages: the dollar value of the restoration that is necessary to restore the injured resource and to compensate the citizens of the State for the injury to natural resources as a result of a discharge. The Department prefers that the person responsible for conducting the remediation will complete a Departmentally approved restoration plan in lieu of a cash payment.


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Last Updated: October 24, 2003