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EPA Penalizes Couple $9500 for Repeat Wetlands Violations

Release Date: 6/5/2003
Contact Information: Bill Dunbar
(206) 553-1203

June 5, 2003

Pair continued filling wetlands in Skagit River Delta despite repeated warnings

The Environmental Protection Agency announced today that Scott and Ann Price of Bellevue have paid $9,500 in penalties as settlement of an EPA complaint alleging the Prices repeatedly violated federal wetlands protections laws at their property on Utsalady Road on Camano Island.

The Prices must also return some of the damaged wetlands on their property to their original state by revegetating the site to protect water quality under a separate EPA compliance order.

The EPA alleges that the Prices began excavating a drainage ditch and sidecasting the excavated soils, filling wetlands without a permit. Such permits are typically issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps issued a stop-work order, yet the Prices continued filling wetlands on the property. Subsequent inspections by EPA and the Corps led to the discovery that an additional acre of wetlands had been illegally graded and filled.

The property is located in the Skagit River estuary and watershed. EPA has designated the Skagit as a priority watershed for protecting and improving water quality.

The un-permitted changes to the wetlands have deposited sediments into adjacent waters; removed much-needed shade and therefore increased water temperatures well above optimal levels for young salmon and trout; increased nutrients going into the water, thus reducing critical dissolved oxygen levels; and generally made the tidal influenced waters on the property far less hospitable for sensitive fish populations.

“This has been a long and difficult process,” said Michelle Pirzadeh, Director of EPA Region 10's Office of Ecosystems and Communities.

“Because wetlands do so much for water quality and for fish and wildlife, protection of our priceless wetlands is a top priority.”