Natural Resource Damages Program


What are natural resources?

Natural resources are resources that occur on the earth, in the natural environment, without the intervention of human beings. These include land, fish, water, wildlife, air, groundwater, drinking water supplies, or any other such resources. 

In the context of natural resource damages, these are resources that are "belonging to, managed by, held in trust by, appertaining to, or otherwise controlled by" the United States, any State, an Indian Tribe, a local government, or a foreign government. 42 U.S.C. § 9601(16) and 33 U.S.C. § 2701(20).

Who are the natural resource trustees?

In Colorado, the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Attorney General, and the Executive Director of the Department of Natural Resources serve as the Natural Resource Trustees. The trustees are responsible for acting on behalf of the public when Colorado’s natural resources are injured or destroyed as a result of an oil spill or release of hazardous substances. 
More information and materials about past and future meetings are available on the Colorado Attorney General’s Natural Resource Damage website.


What are natural resources damages?

Natural resources can be injured when there has been a spill of hazardous substances or oil into the environment. The Trustees authorize their agency staff to evaluate contaminated sites for potential natural resource injuries; conduct natural resource damage assessments; resolve natural resource damage claims through settlement or other legal action; and distribute funds received from responsible parties for restoration projects.

Additional resources

EPA's Natural Resource Damages primer

United States Department of Interior Restoration Program primer


Jennifer Talbert
Remediation Program Manager