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Northern California tribe agrees to restore damaged Klamath River wetlands

Release Date: 09/11/2008
Contact Information: Wendy Chavez, 415/947-4248, chavez.wendy@epa.gov

Resighini Rancheria cleared willow forest adjacent to river, caused discharges to wetlands

(San Francisco, Calif. -- 09/11/08) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has entered into a consent order with the Coast Indian Community of the Resighini Rancheria that requires the tribe to restore approximately 15 acres of willow forest it cleared that caused unauthorized discharges to wetlands adjacent to the Klamath River in Northern California.

In December 2006 and January 2007, the Resighini Rancheria placed fill material without a permit into wetlands adjacent to the Klamath River just east of the Highway 101 bridge crossing in Del Norte County.

“We’re taking action to benefit the Klamath River and its local communities -- restoring a willow forest that serves to lessen the severity of floods, filter pollutants, and provide habitat and nutrients for several native fish species, including coho and steelhead salmon,” said Alexis Strauss, director of the EPA’s Water Division for the Pacific Southwest. “The EPA is committed to working with the tribe to enforce federal laws to protect these valued resources.”

The Clean Water Act prohibits the placement of dredged or fill materials into wetlands, rivers, streams and other waters of the United States without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The tribe agreed to begin restoring the wetlands within 90 days, submit quarterly progress reports, and submit annual monitoring reports to the EPA once the work is completed.

The Klamath River Basin, which covers 10.5 million acres in southern Oregon and Northern California, is home to six federally-recognized tribes and several National Wildlife Refuges, parks and forests. The Klamath Basin has resource issues including water allocation, water quality, and threatened and endangered species. The Klamath River is the third-largest producer of salmon on the West Coast, following closely behind the Sacramento and Columbia rivers.

For more information on the EPA’s permit program, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region09/water/wetlands/index.html or for more information on the Klamath River Basin, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region09/water/watershed/klamath.html

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