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EPA Orders Buffalo Developer to Stop Destruction and Restore Wetlands

Release Date: 05/31/2007
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez (212) 637-3664, rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y.) Stop what you’re doing and undo the damage you already did. That’s the clear message that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is sending to William L. Huntress and his development companies, Acquest Wehrle LLC, et al. The Agency has ordered Mr. Huntress to immediately stop activities that might impact wetlands along Wehrle Drive in Amherst, New York and to restore to its original condition the area that he already damaged. The developer violated the Clean Water Act by removing vegetation, uprooting trees and destroying natural habitat in a nine acre wetland area. In addition to issuing this order, EPA may seek financial penalties for the violations.

“Mr. Huntress quite simply didn’t care about this protected area of sensitive wetland, but now EPA is holding him responsible,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. “Obeying environmental laws is not optional. Wetlands are a precious resource we can’t afford to lose, so it is critical that developers respect and follow wetland rules.”

Under federal wetland regulations, developers must first obtain the necessary permits and try to avoid building in them. If they have no viable alternative to building in wetlands, they are required to find ways to make up for the wetland losses. Possible options to compensate for such losses include creation of new wetlands or restoration of degraded wetlands.

In addition to protecting water quality, wetlands provide storm protection, erosion control and food and habitat to wildlife. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers share enforcement authority for the federal wetlands protection laws. Anyone planning construction activities in wetlands or streams must contact the Corps well in advance to obtain a permit. Construction projects are a potentially significant source of storm water related sediment runoff when soil at these sites is disturbed or left in loose piles. When rain washes through the soil, large amounts of sediment may wash into local water bodies, clogging rivers, shore lines and wetlands.

To learn more about wetlands, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/

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