Contact Us


All News Releases By Date


U.S. EPA orders Fillmore property owner to remove illegal barrier in Sespe Creek

Release Date: 02/03/2010
Contact Information: Francisco Arcaute, 213 244 1815, cell: (213) 798-1404,

For Immediate Release: February 3, 2010

    LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered Beverly Hills resident James Van Trees to remove an earthen dam he built across portions of Sespe Creek and Little Sespe Creek on his property near Fillmore, Calif. Mr. Van Trees built the dam without a federal permit, in violation of the Clean Water Act.

    A major tributary of the Santa Clara River, Sespe Creek is a critical habitat for Southern California steelhead. Winding through the Los Padres National Forest, Sespe Creek flows to the Santa Clara River and into the Pacific Ocean near Ventura.

    “Sespe Creek is one of the few streams which supports the endangered Southern California steelhead and other aquatic species,” said Alexis Strauss, Water Division director for EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “We are committed to protecting the Santa Clara River watershed from unauthorized fill or damming of the stream.”

    According to EPA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers inspected the Van Trees Property in February 2009. During this inspection, the Corps observed that earthen fill and rock had been placed within Sespe Creek and Little Sespe Creek on the Van Trees property to create a crossing that obstructs migration of steelhead and other area species. EPA inspected the Van Trees property in May 2009 and confirmed the Corps’ observations.

    “We are ordering James Van Trees to immediately stop placing fill materials into the creeks and develop a plan to remove the unauthorized fill and restore steelhead passage,” said Greg Gholson of the EPA Pacific Southwest region’s Clean Water Act Compliance Office. Following approval of the Removal and Restoration Plan, EPA will monitor its implementation by Mr. Van Trees to ensure the creeks are restored to their condition prior to the unauthorized activities.

    The Clean Water Act prohibits the placement of dredged or fill materials into wetlands, rivers, streams and other waters of the United States without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. For more information on the EPA’s permit program, visit: To view the Findings of Violation and Order for Compliance issued by EPA to Mr. Van Trees, visit:

    The Santa Clara River watershed is protected and managed by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, which produced this map through its Watershed Management Initiative. For more information, visit:
    - ### -

    Follow the U.S. EPA's Pacific Southwest region on Twitter: and join the LinkedIn group: