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EPA Orders Oregon Landowner and Contractor to restore wetlands

Release Date: 12/30/2008
Contact Information: Michael Szerlog, EPA Wetlands Program Manager, (206) 553-0279, Tony Brown, EPA Public Affairs, (206) 553-1203,

(Seattle, WASH. December 30, 2008) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a Compliance Order to Mr. Kurt Carstens (landowner) and Mr. Steve Morrill (excavator operator), of Lincoln County near Siletz, Oregon, to address wetlands violations of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). The violations occurred at Mr. Carstens’s 5 acre property (Site) along the Siletz River (4508 Logsden Road near Siltez, Lincoln County, OR) which includes impacts to wetlands, side channels and river banks.

EPA alleges that in September 2008, Mr. Carstens asked Mr. Morrill to remove woody material and vegetation from his property. This resulted in approximately 0.5 acres of wetlands, and other aquatic resources impacted at the Site in an area used as rearing habitat by coastal Coho salmon.

On December 3, 2008, EPA issued Mr. Carstens and Mr. Morrill a Compliance Order requiring them to cease unpermitted fill at the Site, and develop a Site Restoration Work Plan. Mr. Carstens and Mr. Morrill have 45 days from receipt of this order to submit the Plan to EPA. If Mr. Carstens and Mr. Morrill do not comply with the Order, they may be subject to civil penalties of up to $32,500 per day of violation under the CWA.

According to Anthony Barber, Oregon Operations Office Director for EPA, the Clean Water Act requires property owners and their contractors to avoid, minimize and mitigate the impacts of development on our nation’s wetlands and waters.

“Rather than illegally impacting these aquatic resources, the property owner should have gone through the permitting process with the Army Corps of Engineers,” said EPA’s Barber. “That process helps ensure his compliance with the Clean Water Act’s requirements to avoid or minimize damage to wetlands and other aquatic resources. Impacts to aquatic resources extend beyond the individual landowner – they affect the entire surrounding community.”

Under the Compliance Order issued, EPA has directed Mr. Carstens and Mr. Morrill to complete and implement the Site Restoration Work Plan by March 13, 2009. The Order requires Mr. Carstens and Mr. Morrill to restore the Site to its original condition to the maximum extent possible. Restoration activities must include:

  • removing all of the unpermitted fill material from the wetlands and side channel; and
  • replanting the area with native wetlands vegetation.

The goal of the CWA Section 404 permitting program is to ensure no-net-loss of wetlands. EPA’s wetlands program seeks to ensure an over-all net increase in wetlands nationally.
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For more information about the importance of wetlands in flood control and habitat conservation, go to:,

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