The Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) conducts Natural Resource Damage Assessments (NRDAs) on many small pollution events. The Department of Fish and Game (CDFW) is typically the only natural resource trustee agency involved in these spills. Unless otherwise specified, the settlement funds from small spills are deposited into trust sub-accounts held by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Most of these settlements are deposited into “habitat-specific” sub-accounts. Each settlement is deposited into the account that is most appropriate for the resource injuries caused by the spill. It is the responsibility of OSPR to see that these funds are used in a timely fashion for the designated types of habitat restoration. It is also a goal of OSPR to conduct restoration in a way that is coordinated with the needs and priorities of the CDFW Regions.
The public may submit habitat restoration project proposals for funding consideration. Consideration will be given to projects that restore habitats designated by the small spill case settlement funds available at any given time. Priority will be given to projects that have the commitment of other project partners, that have completed the environmental review and approval process, and that are considered to be high priority by CDFW’s regional biologists. An example of a small spill case settlement fund that is currently available is the “Torch/Nuevo: Santa Barbara County Projects” sub-account. This fund is aimed at restoring chaparral, relict bog, closed-cone pine, and grassland habitats in Santa Barbara County, particularly in the vicinity of Vandenberg Air Force Base.