In the event of a Presidentially-declared disaster, the Department of the Interior (DOI) becomes the lead Federal agency to coordinate response and recovery of natural and cultural resources under the National Response Framework (NRF) and the National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF).
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The NRF is a guide for planning and coordinating all-hazard response activities, immediately following a disaster, ensuring that sensitive natural and cultural resources are not permanently lost, either by the disaster itself or by actions undertaken by responders that may negatively impact these resources. The NRF is activated once the President of the United States has issued a presidential disaster declaration for an area or region. When that declaration occurs, State governments requesting aid submit Action Request Forms to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). If FEMA approves a request, it will send a Mission Assignment (MA) to the appropriate Emergency Support Function (ESF). The NRF divides response activities and resources into 15 different ESFs. DOI is the leading agency for ESF #11 Protection of Natural and Cultural Resources and Historic Properties (NCH). If the MA requests assistance for NCH resource, it will be sent to DOI, detailing the type of aid requested. Utilizing ESF #11 NCH capabilities, DOI manages and coordinates the appropriate actions to protect, conserve, rehabilitate, and restore NCH resources. DOI provides personnel, equipment, and supplies in support of State, Tribal, Territorial, and local authorities or other federal agencies involved in NCH resources protection efforts.
Building upon the response activities, the disaster recovery process, outlined by the NDRF, focuses on restoring, redeveloping, and revitalizing communities affected by disaster. Immediately following a disaster, the recovery process is activated at the same time as response in order to maintain situation awareness and gain an understanding of potential recovery issues related to housing, infrastructure, health, economics, and environmental and cultural resources. The NDRF divides recovery activities into 6 Recovery Support Functions (RSFs) based on these areas (RSFsn>). DOI is the coordinating agency for the Natural and Cultural Resources RSF (NCR RSF), which provides guidance and resources for addressing long-term environmental and cultural resource recovery needs following a disaster. When there is a need for the NCR RSF assistance, DOI will coordinate with primary agencies, supporting organizations and other partners to identify and assess the disaster impacts and recovery needs, and facilitate Federal and other resources to assist State, Tribal, Territorial, and local authorities for natural and cultural resources recovery and help rebuild more sustainable and resilient communities.