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U.S. EPA orders Nevada beef company to correct violations of federal water regulations

Release Date: 11/8/2004
Contact Information: Laura Gentile ( gentile.laura@epa.gov ) - 415/947-4227 (desk) or 415/760-9161 (cell)

Boise, Idaho-based company illegally filled, diverted Elko County river.

Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordered the Agri-Beef Company to correct damage done to a local river on its 1.4 million acre IL Ranch in Elko County, Nev., in violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

The EPA ordered the company to correct damage done to a segment of the South Fork Owyhee River at the company’s ranch which is located approximately 80 miles north of Elko. The company placed roughly 3,200 cubic yards of dredged material -- dirt and debris – into the river to divert 1,200 feet of its flow without first obtaining a federal permit.

"The Owhyee River is a treasured natural resource of the Western United States," said Alexis Strauss, director of the EPA's water division for the Pacific Southwest regional office. "We will ensure this company complies with our order to undo the damage, and restore the river."

The order requires the company to prepare a comprehensive plan for restoring the river's flow back to its natural course. The company must remove the dirt and debris, replace any vegetation removed, and take steps to prevent further erosion of the stream banks. In addition, the EPA is requiring the company to monitor the area for five years to evaluate the success of the restoration project.

The EPA discovered the violations after a site inspection last July.

Federal regulations prohibit the placement of dirt, debris or dredged material into waterways without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. When projects are undertaken without a required permit, environmental damage can occur from increases in erosion, water pollution and flooding. The EPA and the Corps share responsibilities for enforcing specific provisions of the federal Clean Water Act and they are working together to resolve the violation at the IL Ranch.

The IL Ranch encompasses one of the most pristine natural landscapes left in the Western United States. The Owyhee River, which flows from Nevada into Idaho’s Snake River, is a popular recreation destination for fishing and rafting.