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Santa Barbara County farming company to pay $1.15 million for wetlands violations

Release Date: 3/7/2005
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano, (415)947-4307

     SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached an agreement with Adam Brothers Farming, Inc. for the payment of $1.15 million in penalties and conservation projects, and the preservation of approximately 20 acres of wetlands, creeks, and riparian habitat on their property in Santa Barbara County.  

    The agreement represents a full settlement of a civil enforcement action brought by the United States alleging that the company unlawfully filled 70 acres of federally-regulated waters in the late 1990's, including portions of Orcutt Creek.

     "The EPA will continue to be vigilant in ensuring activities affecting our waterways and wetlands are properly permitted under the Clean Water Act," said Alexis Strauss, water division director for the U.S. EPA's Pacific Southwest Office in San Francisco.  "We remain steadfast in safeguarding California's imperiled wetlands.  This settlement protects Orcutt Creek and permanently preserves nearby wetlands widely recognized as conservation priorities."

    Under the terms of the proposed settlement with the U.S. EPA and the Department of Justice, Adam Brothers Farming, Inc. will pay a $200,000 penalty to the federal government, and $915,000 to the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County.  In turn, the Land Conservancy will spend the money buying and protecting parcels containing wetlands, creeks, and riparian habitat in southern San Luis Obispo County; these important parcels are threatened by landscape fragmentation and suburban development.  Specifically, the Conservancy will buy two properties sheltering aquatic resources similar to those damaged along Orcutt Creek:

      * Black Canyon Mouth, a 12-acre parcel adjacent to the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes wetland complex, the largest coastal dune ecosystem in the Western United States.  The Conservancy will protect and restore maritime chaparral habitat, which includes the Marsh Sandwort, a federally-listed endangered plant species.

     * Dana Adobe Wetland Complex, a 40-acre parcel next to the historic Dana Adobe.  Here, the Conservancy will protect and restore nearly three quarters of a mile of the Nipomo Creek waterway   including its confluence with the Santa Maria River   and surrounding natural areas.  This conservation project will secure under a single ownership, one of the longest, intact stretches of Nipomo Creek in the entire watershed.

    The EPA learned of the violations from the Los Angeles District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Together, the EPA and the Corps administer the federal wetlands regulatory program.  The proposed settlement allows Adam Brothers Farming, Inc, to farm legally on their 261-acre parcel near the town of Orcutt in northern Santa Barbara County.

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