US EPA - Environmental Protection Agency

Maine Vacation Parcel pay US$115,000 fine for filling a wetland

Robert and Gayle Greenhill, owners of more than 3,200 acres of land on the western shore of Moosehead Lake, will pay an EPA fine of $115,000 for filling 1.5 acres of freshwater wetlands on their property between 2001 and 2005.

The filling of wetlands without a permit, which occurred during the expansion of a private airstrip and the development of a rock quarry, is a violation of the federal Clean Water Act and other federal requirements designed to protect wetlands.

This is the second violation of wetlands protections in the federal Clean Water Act by the Greenhills. In 1997, the Greenhills constructed a trout pond on the property, altering approximately 0.4 of an acre without first seeking a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, as required by the federal Clean Water Act. The Greenhills also did not apply for the necessary permit for the more recent violation. The recent work included the clearing, grubbing, grading, and filling of several segments of forested evergreen and deciduous wetlands – totaling 1.5 acres – on the site.

“Especially where violators are on notice of the requirements of the law, penalties for wetland violations are warranted,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “If it had been followed, the permit application process would have ensured that the impacts of these activities would have been avoided or minimized. All landowners -- whether real estate developers or the owners of a vacation retreat – are required to follow appropriate steps before altering wetlands, to ensure that these valuable areas are protected.“

Under related Administrative Orders issued in January 2006 and August 2008, the Greenhills are required to restore approximately one acre of the filled wetlands, and to conduct compensatory mitigation by creating wetlands at another half acre. This restoration work is expected to be completed by the end of 2008.

Undisturbed wetlands provide many environmental benefits, including wildlife habitat, groundwater discharge and recharge areas, sediment and toxin removal and flood water storage. The wetlands filled were part of larger forested complexes and directly abutted two unnamed tributaries which flow to Moosehead Lake.

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