Cape Cod Owner Agrees to Restore and Preserve Wetlands to Resolve Clean Water Act Violations
David Deegan (email@example.com)
BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice have reached an agreement with Idlewild Acres, LLC, and Peter M. Wild, its owner and manager, resolving violations of the federal Clean Water Act related to wetlands.
The alleged violations occurred when Idlewild Acres and Mr. Wild dredged and filled about 14.7 acres of wetlands and other waterways on property they own in East Sandwich, Mass., without first obtaining a permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers. The property had historically been operated as a cranberry farm. The wetlands were filled in order to convert the cranberry bogs at the property to a tree and shrub nursery.
The settlement requires Idlewild Acres and Mr. Wild to successfully establish or maintain approximately 12.7 acres of freshwater wetlands and ponds, including about 3.8 acres of ponds that were constructed in the wetlands. The wetlands will be restored by removing fill, or, for those areas that currently appear to function as wetlands, by maintaining wetland hydrology that already exists. The settlement also requires Idlewild Acres and Mr. Wild to place a conservation easement on the entire 14.7 area to permanently prevent uses other than agriculture or nursery operations. Finally, they will pay a civil penalty of $22,000.
Wetlands are vital to protecting the integrity of our rivers and estuaries, and help to protect the health and safety of people and their communities by providing a natural filtration system for pollution before it gets into our rivers, lakes and ponds, and by preventing flooding after storms. Wetlands also provide valuable wildlife habitat, offering breeding and feeding grounds for a broad array of fish, birds and other wildlife.
"Protecting wetlands is important because they are important ecological areas that provide valuable functions such as protecting and improving water quality, and helping to buffer floods and major storm events," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "When we lose wetlands, our communities lose resources that feed the rivers, lakes and streams we depend on to provide sources of food, transportation, and recreational opportunities."
The Complaint and Consent Decree were filed in federal District Court in Massachusetts on September 30, 2016.
The settlement agreement is subject to a thirty day public comment period and court approval. A copy of the Consent Decree will be available on DOJ's website (www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees).
Protecting wetlands and CWA Section 404 (www.epa.gov/cwa-404/section-404-permit-program)