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Alaska Landowner Ordered To Restore Wetland Habitat

Release Date: 07/13/2009
Contact Information: Rebecca Chu, EPA Wetlands Program, (206) 553-1774, chu.rebecca@epa.gov; Hanady Kader, EPA Public Affairs, (206) 553-0454, kader.hanady@epa.gov

(Hoonah, Alaska – July 13, 2009) Clifford Walker, former owner of Whitestone Logging, Inc., has been ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency to remove unauthorized fill material in wetlands and intertidal areas at his property in Southeast Alaska and to restore the site to its original pre-disturbance conditions. The site is adjacent to Game Creek, an important salmon bearing creek that flows into Port Frederick.

According to the EPA compliance order, Walker violated the federal Clean Water Act by failing to obtain required permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during the construction of access roads and foundation pads between 2003 and 2005. Walker allegedly used heavy equipment to place 3,000 cubic yards of fill material, including shot rock and gravel, into one acre of wetlands and intertidal areas of Port Frederick.

Wetlands and intertidal areas of Alaska provide important habitat for fish and other wildlife.

"Construction activities near Alaska's wetlands can have serious consequences for Alaska's water quality and critical habitats," said Marcia Combes, Director of EPA's Alaska Operations Office. "Landowners planning to conduct work in wetlands must obtain the right permits and follow the requirements to avoid unnecessary impacts and protect these valuable resources."

The wetlands adjacent to Game Creek and the intertidal areas were directly impacted by the unauthorized activities at the site, resulting in the loss and impairment of fish and wildlife habitat.

Walker previously applied for and received permits for other construction work from the Army Corps of Engineers. In 2004, he and his logging company received a permit for construction of a dock in Hoonah.

For more information about the Clean Water Act Section 404 wetland regulatory authority, visit:
http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/pdf/reg_authority_pr.pdf

For more information about Wetlands protection work, visit:
http://epa.gov/owow/wetlands
http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/functions.html
http://www.usace.army.mil/