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Calif. trailer park owner ordered to correct wetlands violations
Release Date: 02/09/2006
Contact Information: Francisco Arcaute, (213) 244-1815
SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered the owner of a Southern California trailer park and campground to remove illegal structures and restore a section of the Santa Clara River and wetlands near Acton, Calif., or face fines up to $32,500 per day per violation.
The violations at the Robin's Nest Campground owned by Young Song – referred to the EPA by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – included unauthorized diversion of the river and extensive clearing and grading of wetlands near the headwaters of the Santa Clara River. This reach of the river, which is known for its water quality and abundant vegetation, contains some of the only remaining habitat for an endangered fish, the Unarmored Threespine Stickleback.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Game, and the California Regional Water Quality Control Board informed Song in 2003 of objections to his plans to grade the wetlands and impound the river to create a swimming pool and of the state and federal permit requirements. In May 2005, after learning from a local resident that large scale earth moving activities were underway, the U.S. Arm Corps of Engineers ordered Song to stop filling the river without the required Clean Water Act permit.
A recent inspection by EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found that Song’s activities have filled approximately 2.2 acres of the river and its adjacent wetlands. The activities have compromised the river’s natural flow and endangered species habitat, increased the potential for stream bank erosion, and contributed to loss of downstream habitats.
“Unauthorized filling of wetlands and damming of open waters can have serious environmental consequences,” said Alexis Strauss, water division director for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. “The Santa Clara River is one of the last free-flowing rivers in Southern California. The EPA’s action today underscores our commitment to protecting this very important water resource and to work closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other resource agencies to achieve this goal.”
Wetlands provide wildlife habitat and are valuable in cleaning water, increasing recharge to groundwater supplies, and reducing flood risks. The Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of dredged or fill material into open waters and adjacent wetlands without a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
For more information about the EPA’s wetlands permitting program, go to: http://www.epa.gov/region9/water/wetlands/index.html