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Hood River cherry farmer agrees to restore wetlands

Release Date: 06/27/2006
Contact Information: Yvonne Vallette, (503) 326-2716, Tony Brown, (206) 553-1203,

(Hood River, OR. – June 27, 2006) Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the owner and manager of the Twin Forks Ranch in Hood River have agreed to restore 4.32 acres and enhance an additional 1.38 acres of wetlands that were impacted while constructing irrigation facilities on the property in 2004.

The property owner, Oswald Ranches, LLC., and its manager, Hugo Oswald, entered a voluntary agreement with the State of Oregon under their state Fill and Removal Law and EPA under the Clean Water Act (CWA) in which they agreed to conduct the wetlands restoration and mitigation work.

Mr. Oswald and his company violated the CWA when he cleared a portion of a 73-acre parcel to convert to cherry orchards. Oswald believed that these areas were covered under state and federal agricultural exemptions and did not qualify as regulated wetlands. However, according to EPA, not all activities associated with agriculture, are exempt.

“The landowner in this case, mistakenly believed that its land clearing activities and irrigation reservoir construction were exempt from state and federal regulations,” said Socorro Rodriguez, Director EPA’s Oregon Operations Office in Portland. “The basic message here is when in doubt, check first.”

The Oregon Department of State Lands has already assessed a $3,600 penalty for the violation.

Once implemented, the mitigation and restoration proposed by the landowner will enhance both fish and wildlife habitat and water quality in the area.

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