Alaska Landowner Filled in Wetlands, Faces Penalties

David R. Sweezey is facing penalties from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for illegally filling wetlands and streams on his Anchorage, Alaska property, according to an Aug. 5 press release.

By filing its Clean Water Act complaint against Sweezey, EPA can seek penalties of up to $32,500 per day of violation and administrative penalties of up to $11,000 per day for each violation.

In July 2003, Sweezey used heavy equipment to clear, grade, and fill wetlands and streams to create a pond on his property without first obtaining a required Clean Water Act Section 404 permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. His actions seriously damaged 300 linear feet of nearby stream channels and a half acre of wetlands on the property. This site is adjacent to Craig Creek, which drains into Cook Inlet.

In May 2005, EPA issued a Compliance Order requiring Sweezey to restore the streams and wetlands. Since 2005, Sweezey has refused.

According to Greg Kellogg, EPA Alaska Operations Office deputy director, because Sweezey has failed to cooperate and restore the damaged wetlands and streams, EPA has decided to pursue penalties in this case.

"Alaska's wetlands aren't just valuable habitat for fish and wildlife, they contribute substantially to Alaska's economy," said Kellogg. "Wetland construction should only be undertaken with great care after securing the necessary permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers," said Kellogg. "If you work in wetlands, you must obey the law or you will face fines."

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