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Triumph Man and Contractor Fined for Wetlands Damage

Release Date: 1/3/2001
Contact Information: Carla Fromm
(206) 553-5755

January 3, 2001 - - - - - - - - - - - - 01-001

As part of its ongoing effort to protect Idaho’s vanishing wetlands, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it has settled a case against Walter Wright of Ketchum, Idaho and his contractor, Charles Erwin of Bellevue, Idaho, for damaging sensitive wetlands on and near Wright’s property in Triumph.

The settlement requires Wright and Erwin to pay fines totaling $15,000 for filling of 3/10 of an acre of wetlands on and adjacent to Wright’s property without the necessary permit. The damage occurred in October, 1997, during the construction of a driveway on Wright’s property. The unauthorized filling or damaging of wetlands and nearby waters is a violation of the Clean Water Act and is punishable with fines up to $27,500 per day.

Wetlands are a valuable natural resource that are often lost when land is developed. An estimated 75% of Idaho’s wildlife depend on wetlands for all or part of their life cycles. Wetlands also absorb water during spring floods and return water to thirsty streams during the hottest times of the year. Since settlement, 56 percent of Idaho’s wetlands have been permanently lost and now comprise less than one percent of Idaho’s land.

Mr. Wright has applied to the Army Corps of Engineers for an after-the-fact permit to allow the driveway to remain. If such a permit is issued, it will require Wright and Erwin to make up for the loss of wetlands. If the permit is denied, EPA will require that the driveway be removed and the wetlands repaired.