Natural Resource Trustee Agencies

Under the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), two types of liability are assigned for releases of oil or hazardous substances: 1) responsibility for cleanup of the environment (which is overseen by the lead cleanup agency) and 2) responsibility for addressing injury to natural resources (which is overseen by natural resource trustees). The natural resource trustees are the designated federal, state and tribal agencies who are responsible for the natural resources impacted by an oil spill or hazardous substance release. Federal trustees are designated by the President; state trustees are designated by governors; tribal trustees are designated by the affected tribes' governing bodies.

State of Texas

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) - Environmental Assessment Response and Restoration Program
As the state's primary fish and wildlife agency, the natural resources trustees at TPWD work to protect these resources.
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) - Natural Resource Trustee Program
The TCEQ's goal is clean air, clean water and safe management of waste. The mission of TCEQ's Natural Resource Trustee Program is to fulfill the agency's natural resource trustee role of evaluating injury to natural resources as a result of discharges of oil or releases of hazardous substances and to seek restoration of the injured resources when appropriate.
Texas General Land Office (GLO) - Natural Resource Trustee Program
With diverse responsibilities over regulation and protection of the Texas coast, the GLO works every day to ensure our coast remains healthy both ecologically and economically. The GLO's work to protect the fragile coastal environment involves cleaning up and recovering from oil spills, eliminating marine debris and much more. The GLO NRDA Trustees act on behalf of the public to identify the injured natural resources and determine the extent of the impact. They also recover damages from the responsible party to plan and carry out restoration activities.

Federal Agencies

U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program (DARRP)
NOAA's Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program (DARRP) works to protect and restore injured natural resources at hazardous waste sites and oil spills on behalf of the United States Department of Commerce.
U.S. Department of the Interior's (DOI) Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program (NRDAR)
The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) protects America's natural resources and heritage, honors our cultures and tribal communities, and supplies the energy to power our future. The DOI's Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program (NRDAR Program) manages the confluence of the technical, ecological, biological, legal, and economic disciplines and coordinates the efforts of six bureaus and four other offices within DOI to accomplish their mission. The NRDAR Program has a nationwide presence encompassing nearly the full span of natural and cultural resources for which the Secretary of the Interior has trust responsibility and authority. Each bureau has its unique natural resource trusteeship and brings its expertise to bear on relevant sites. Generally in Texas, DOI is represented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. National Park Service. The five DOI bureaus with natural resource trust responsibilities include:
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Restoration Program
    The USFWS has responsibility for all resources contained within the National Wildlife Refuge System, species listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act, species listed under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and other sensitive natural resources such as wetlands. These efforts are possible under the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program (Restoration Program), the goal of which is to restore natural resources and their services which are injured by contamination caused by spills or releases.
  • U.S. National Park Service (NPS)
    NPS preserves the unimpaired natural and cultural resources and values of the 84-million-acre national park system and conserves the scenery, natural and historic objects, and wildlife of the park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of current and future generations. The NPS participates as a natural resource trustee when property it manages has been impacted.
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs
    The Bureau of Indian Affairs administers and manages over 55 million acres of surface land, 57 million acres of subsurface mineral estate held in trust by the United States for American Indians, Indian Tribes, and Alaska Natives and provides assistance to 565 federally recognized tribal governments to help protect water, natural and cultural resources, and land rights. The Bureau of Indian Affairs participates as a natural resource trustee when property it manages has been impacted
  • Bureau of Land Management
    The Bureau of Land Management administers 245 million acres of surface land and 700 million acres of subsurface mineral estate, located primarily in 12 western states, sustaining the health, diversity, and productivity of these public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau of Land Management participates as a natural resource trustee when property it manages has been impacted.
  • Bureau of Reclamation
    The Bureau of Reclamation, working primarily in 17 western states, manages nearly 7.1 million acres of land and easements associated with water reclamation projects to protect local economies by providing electrical power and irrigation water and preserving natural resources and ecosystems through the management and effective use of water resources. The Bureau of Reclamation participates as a natural resource trustee when property it manages has been impacted.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
The USDA participates as a natural resource trustee when property it manages, such as federal rangeland, federally-managed fisheries, wetlands, or National forest land, has been impacted.
U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)
The Secretary of the DOD has trusteeship over the natural resources on all lands owned by DOD or the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Defense Logistics Agency. These lands include military bases and training facilities, research and development facilities, and munitions plants.
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
The Secretary of the DOE has trusteeship over natural resources under its jurisdiction, custody, or control. DOE's land-holdings include national research and development laboratories, facilities, and offices.

Indian Tribes

Indian Tribe Trustees act on behalf of the Indian Tribe for natural resources, including their supporting ecosystems, which are belonging to, managed by, controlled by, or appertaining to such Tribe; held in trust for the benefit of the Tribe; or belonging to a member of the Tribe, if such resources are subject to a trust restriction on alienation. Examples of resources under the trusteeship of Tribal groups include tribal-owned minerals, ground and surface water resources on Tribal lands, and any other natural resources found on Tribal land.


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