The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached an agreement with Bar-1 Ranch, LTD, Bar-1 Ranch, LLC, Bar-1 Ranch 2, LLC, Bar One Ranch Management, LLC, and Alfred Barone (collectively settling defendants, or Bar One Ranch) resolving violations of the Clean Water Act in Missoula County, Montana.
Under a proposed settlement lodged by the U.S. Department of Justice in the U.S. District Court for Montana, Bar One Ranch will pay a penalty of $275,000 and will complete the restoration of 13.9 acres (approximately 13 football fields) of wetlands and stream channel adjacent to Ninemile Creek. The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.
In October 2003, Bar One Ranch began extensive construction along the southern bank of Ninemile Creek, a perennial stream that flows into the Clark Fork River and a renowned trout fishery. During construction activities, 13.9 acres of wetlands were destroyed and millions of pounds of sediment were discharged in violation of the Clean Water Act. Additionally, Bar One Ranch violated the terms of a general storm water permit issued by the State of Montana.
“Bar One Ranch’s unpermitted construction activities significantly degraded wetlands and impacted a tributary to one of Montana’s most valued aquatic ecosystems,” said Mike Gaydosh, EPA’s enforcement director in Denver. ”EPA will vigorously enforce the laws to protect our nation’s water resources.”
The rivers, lakes, streams, and wetlands in this area are important as habitat for fish and wildlife, water storage, water quality enhancement, flood control, and aesthetics. Sediment from construction activities is a major water quality issue and can have a negative impact on aquatic life. The State of Montana has designated Ninemile Creek as impaired due to sediments.
A Clean Water Act permit is required before performing any work that results in discharges of material into rivers, lakes, streams, and wetlands. Any person planning to do such work in western Montana should contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Helena Regulatory Office (10 West 15th Street, Suite 2200, Helena, MT, 59626; telephone, (406) 441-1375) or Missoula Regulatory Office (1600 North Avenue West, Suite 105, Missoula, MT 59801; telephone, (406) 541-4845) before beginning work to determine if a permit is needed.
Developers, contractors, and other landowners who plan to conduct construction activities disturbing one acre of land or greater should contact the Montana Department of Environmental Quality at (406) 444-3080 to obtain storm water permit coverage. Information on storm water requirements in Montana may also be found online at: http://www.deq.mt.gov/wqinfo/mpdes/stormwaterconstruction.mcpx