EPA Orders Landowners to Restore Salmon Stream, Wetlands
Robert and Nancy Loomis of Kilgore, Texas, have to repair damaged wetlands, restore a salmon stream and better manage stormwater runoff on their property located near Haines, Alaska, according to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency press release.
The Loomis’ received the order after EPA alleged they discharged fill material, consisting of mud, dirt, gravel and rock, to this fish and wildlife habitat.
According to Marcia Combes, director of EPA’s Alaska Operations Office in Anchorage, wetlands on the Loomis’ property drain into the Takhin River, an important salmon stream that flows into the Chilkat River. Both the wetlands and adjacent small stream provide essential fish habitat for juvenile coho, cutthroat trout and Dolly Varden.
“Landowners must get the necessary permits before beginning construction and fill projects to protect Alaska’s unique environment,” said EPA’s Combes. “Filling wetlands, installing culverts and failing to control storm water runoff can harm both water quality and fish and wildlife habitat.”
EPA further alleges that the Loomis’ failed to obtain the necessary Clean Water Act permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, EPA, and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation before:
Placing fill material into 3.3 acres of wetlands for a construction pad;
Altering the natural channel of a salmon-bearing stream by installing a culvert as part of an access road;
Directing construction activities resulting in stormwater discharges to an adjacent wetland and salmon stream.
EPA has ordered the Loomis’ to remove all unauthorized fill material from the salmon stream and wetlands by Sept. 1, and comply with stormwater requirements within 30 days of receipt of the order. The Clean Water Act authorizes civil penalties of up to $37,500 per day of violation and administrative penalties of up to $16,000 per day for each violation.
For more information about the Clean Water Act Section 404 wetland regulatory authority, visit www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/pdf/reg_authority_pr.pdf.