BLM Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Handbook

BLM Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Handbook
BLM Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Handbook
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This Handbook provides detailed guidance and policy that the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Bureau of Land Management (BLM) personnel should follow when undertaking Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) activities. This Handbook provides the BLM policy for NRDAR, its statutory basis, the relationship between NRDAR and response actions, and steps for integrating the two processes. This Handbook also provides guidance to field staff and technicians on how to determine whether NRDAR is necessary, and if so, how to manage and conduct NRDAR.

BLM Handbook H-1703-3. Release 1-1712, May 27, 2008.

BLM Responsibilities

The BLM is responsible for sustaining the health, diversity, and productivity of the BLM-managed land under its jurisdiction for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Pursuant to these responsibilities, the resource management goals of the BLM are to maintain the health of the land and, to the best of its ability, to restore or replace resources that are harmed by pollution.

What is NRDAR?

The purpose of the NRDAR process is to enable Federal and State government agencies and Indian tribes who manage land and natural resources as trustees to assess resource injuries and restore those affected resources. The trustees can use NRDAR to address only injuries and service losses caused by releases of hazardous substances or discharges of oil. Trustees cannot use NRDAR to address harm caused by physical damage, unless the physical damage is incurred during the response to a discharge or release; NRDAR does not directly protect human health or compensate for private losses.

The authorities and process of NRDAR are very useful tools for the BLM to use in accomplishing these resource stewardship responsibilities. The NRDAR authorities enable the BLM to seek compensation for restoration of injured resources from the potentially responsible party (PRP) to fund restoration, but NRDAR injury assessment and restoration planning steps also can be a part of the BLM site activities that are funded by the BLM.

Table of Contents

CHAPTER 1. Overview
Purpose of NRDAR
Definitions, Terminology, and Acronyms
The BLM Acting as a Natural Resource Trustee
When NRDAR May Be Appropriate
NRDAR Authorities
Statutes and Regulations
DOI and BLM NRDAR Authorities, Policies, and References
The BLM and Other Trustee Agencies 
  • DOI Bureaus
  • Other Federal, State, and Tribal Trustees
  • Coordination with other Trustees and Response Agencies
Relationship between NRDAR and Response Actions
Introduction to the Steps of Natural Resource Restoration
  • Pre-NRDAR Preparation
  • Injury Scoping
  • Pre-Assessment Screening
  • Assessment Planning and Implementation
  • Post-Assessment
Alternatives to the Full NRDAR Process

NRDAR Management Responsibilities
  • Assistant Director: Washington Office (WO)
  • State Director
  • DOI Lead for NRDAR: The Authorized Official
  • Authorized Official Designation
  • The BLM and the Authorized Official
  • Deciding To Proceed with NRDAR
The Trustee Council, the AO, and Lead Administrative Trustee
Management Involvement and Decisions
  • State Director: Administrative Process Approvals and Decision Points
  • State Director: Technical Process Approvals and Decision Points
  • State Director: Legal Process Approvals and Decision Points
  • District/Field Office Manager
Staff NRDAR Responsibilities
  • NRDAR Involved Staff
  • The BLM Coordinator
  • Legal Representation
  • Other BLM Staff 
  • Case File and Administrative Record (AR)
NRDAR Case Financial Management
  • Funding
  • Cost Coding
  • Cost Avoidance and Recovery
  • Cost Tracking and Documentation

CHAPTER 3. The NRDAR Process
Pre-Planning for NRDAR 
Natural Resource Injury Scoping (NRIS) 
  • Purpose and Process
  • Emergency Restoration
  • Ephemeral Data Collection
  • Documentation
Pre-Assessment Screen
  • Purpose
  • Pre-Assessment Screening Criteria
  • Review of Available Data
  • Additional Data Collection for Pre-Assessment
  • Exemptions from NRDAR Liability
  • Decision to Initiate NRDAR
  • PAS Determination (PASD) Report
  • Notice Letter to PRPs
The Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA)
  • Introduction: Goals of the Assessment
  • The Preliminary Estimate of Damages
  • The Assessment Plan (AP) 
  • The Assessment: Injury Determination and Quantification.
  • Damages Determination
  • Pre-Claim Restoration Planning
Post Assessment
  • Required Documentation
  • Damages Claim and Demand Letter
  • Claim Report for Negotiations and Legal Issues
  • Damages Claim Settlement or Litigation
  • Damages Claims in Bankruptcies
  • Receiving Damages Claims from Settlement or Litigation
  • Restoration Planning After Damages Receipt
  • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Other Requirements
Cooperative Agreements and Assessments with PRPs
  • Introduction
  • Cooperative Assessments
  • Factors to Consider in Cooperative Assessments

Appendix A: Legal References and Background Information
Appendix B: Example Supplemental Cost Documentation Forms
Appendix C: Natural Resource Injury Scoping Report
Appendix D: Determination Details of Resource and Habitat Injury
Appendix E: Habitat Equivalency and Resource Equivalency Analysis and Metrics


Federal employees of the Department of the Interior (DOI), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and other technicians could use this resource to determine if Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) is necessary, and if so, how to use NRDAR.

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Interior Dept., Bureau of Land Management
Key Phrases:
  • Bureau of Land Management Project Management Handbook H 1703 3
  • Natural Resources
  • Natural Resource Damage Assessment
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