The Natural Resources Section is a nationwide team of attorneys, paralegals, and administrative professionals who apply their expertise in support of NOAA’s mission as a Trustee under various
natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) legal authorities.
The NRDA is a process through which State, Federal, and Tribal Trustee agencies, like NOAA, work together to assess injuries to natural resources, primarily from pollution, and seek monetary recoveries from polluters to restore the injured resources. The NOAA team addressing NRDA matters is called the Damage Assessment, Remediation and Restoration Program (DARRP) and is made up of scientists from NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration and NOAA’s Office of Habitat Conservation, as well as staff from GCNR.
In this role, GCNR staff provide expertise in case development and litigation to the DARRP when pursuing NRDA claims. The Natural Resources Section provides similar support to NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries when these incidents occur within units of the Marine Sanctuary System. Over the course of its history, the Natural Resources Section has helped secure settlement or judgments for NRDA matters in every coastal and Great Lakes state. The result is over $10.5 billion in recoveries, the vast majority of which goes directly back into restoring fish, wildlife, and habitats harmed by pollution.
To support the broad geographic scope of its mission, the Natural Resources Section has staff in NOAA regional offices across the country. The leadership team includes Section Chief Chauncey Kelly, who works in NOAA’s headquarters office in Silver Spring, Maryland, and Deputy Section Chief Laurie Lee, who works in NOAA’s Southwest Regional Office in Long Beach, California.