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EPA orders restoration of West Bridger Creek

Release Date: 09/12/2007
Contact Information: Diane Sipe, 303-312-6391, sipe.diane@epa.gov Wendy Silver, 303-312-6637, silver.wendy@epa.gov Monica Heimdal, 303-312-6359, heimdal.monica@epa.gov

Damage includes creek diversion, floodplain loss, creation of dam

(Denver, Colo., Sept. 12, 2007) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered Bob and Traci Burleson and Wayne Herling to restore a 1,500-foot segment of West Bridger Creek in Sweet Grass County, Mont., after damaging it in violation of the Clean Water Act.

The order cites significant damage to West Bridger Creek in violation of the federal CWA which prohibits the discharge of a pollutant unless authorized by a permit. The order includes compliance measures to correct the environmental damage.

The violations occurred in the spring of 2005 when the Burlesons and Herling constructed two ponds adjacent to West Bridger Creek, plus berms on a creek bank that sloughed into the creek and separated it from its floodplain. They installed two diversion structures to divert water from the creek into the ponds. At times, the entire flow of West Bridger Creek was diverted into the downstream pond with no water being released from the pond to the creek. In addition, they removed vegetation along the creek, dredged gravel and stream bed material to create a dam for a swimming hole, installed two culverts in the creek and placed large landscaping boulders into the creek bank.

"These activities were done without a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers," said EPA Deputy Assistant Regional Administrator Eddie Sierra. "We are issuing this order to protect the quality of water in West Bridger Creek”

“The environmental impacts cited here could have been avoided if the Burlesons and Herling had consulted with the Corps prior to commencing their activities,” Sierra noted.

Property owners, contractors or developers planning to do work in such waters need to contact the Corps of Engineers' regulatory office in Helena, Mont., at 406-441-1375 before they begin work to determine if they need a permit.