Environmental Protection

EPA Orders Developer to Restore Wyoming Wetlands

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a compliance order to Michael Gard, Richard Gard, and Professional Home Design, Inc., of Riverton, Wyo., in response to unauthorized impacts to wetlands adjacent to the Wind River in Fremont County.

Between June 2008 and April 2009, the Gards, or persons acting on their behalf, partially drained, excavated and filled approximately 0.81 acre of wetlands on two adjacent lots at the River Park subdivision located six miles east of Dubois. The Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of material to wetlands unless authorized by a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“EPA is encouraged that the Gards have expressed a clear intent to resolve this matter,” said Darcy O'Connor, acting director of EPA's Water Enforcement program in Denver.

An investigation of the site by the Army Corps of Engineers found that two trenches, each 3 to 4 feet deep and 60-feet long, had been cut in wetlands in 2008, resulting in the discharge of dredged material. Four perforated drain pipes were installed on site in 2009, which involved the excavation of two additional trenches through wetlands. Material excavated from onsite as well as offsite material was used to construct a building pad and access road in wetlands. The Corps issued a cease and desist order in May of 2009 and referred the case to EPA.

The EPA order requires Professional Home Design and Michael and Richard Gard to conduct restoration or mitigation activities in accordance with an EPA-approved plan. The Gards will remove unauthorized material in the wetlands and restore areas to their pre-impact condition and grade.

The wetlands associated with the Wind River are important habitat for local and migratory birds and wildlife, water storage and retention, water quality enhancement, flood control and aesthetics. Sediment from construction activities is a major water quality issue and results in negative impacts to aquatic life and wetland functions.

Developers, consultants, government agencies and other landowners who plan to conduct earth-moving activities near wetlands, rivers, streams, ponds and other water bodies should contact their local office of the Army Corps of Engineers to determine if a permit is required for the activity.

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