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C L (Butch) Otter Receives $80,000 EPA Complaint For Wetlands Violation

Release Date: 9/7/1999
Contact Information: Mark Ryan & Carla Fromm
(208) 378-5768 & (208) 378-5755

September 7, 1999 - - - - - - - - - - 99-38

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing an $80,000 civil penalty against C.L. “Butch” Otter and Charles Robnett for the unlawful discharge of dredged and/or fill material into a side channel of the Boise River, in violation of the federal Clean Water Act. EPA’s complaint alleges that Mr. Otter excavated and filled in 2.7 acres of wetlands on his property without proper authorization by an Army Corps of Engineers permit.

Mr. Otter owns property on the Boise River near Star, Idaho and Charles Robnett is a Nampa contractor. In the complaint filed today, EPA alleges that in November, 1998, Mr. Robnett, on Mr. Otter’s behalf, used heavy equipment to dredge and fill certain wetlands and a stream channel on Otter’s property.

According to Chuck Clarke, EPA Regional Administrator in Seattle, this is not the first time Mr. Otter has run afoul of wetlands protection statutes in Idaho.

“Through this action, we’re hoping to send a clear message,” said Clarke. “Mr. Otter has received two previous cease-and-desist orders from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for unauthorized wetlands work on his property, but for some reason they apparently had no effect. Idaho’s wetlands are too valuable to be treated with such little regard.”

In southern Idaho’s naturally arid climate, wetlands play an especially important role in providing valuable wildlife habitat, riparian cover and surface water filtration. During runoff or other high-water events, they can also help control flooding by absorbing and slowly discharging snowmelt and stormwater. Experts estimate that Idaho has lost more than 50 percent of its wetlands from the time of European settlement to the present. More recently, the U. S. Department of Agriculture estimates that about 360 acres of Idaho’s wetlands (on non-federal lands) were lost each year between 1982 and 1992.

Mr. Otter and Mr. Robnett have 30 days to respond to this complaint. While cooperative settlement discussions are on-going with Mr. Otter and his legal representatives, he and Mr. Robnett may also request a hearing on the proposed penalty.

By receiving the complaint, Mr.Otter and Mr. Robnett neither admit nor deny the listed allegations.