EPA and East Valley Cattle, LLC, settle federal wetland violations near Burley, Idaho
Landowner paid penalty, will restore damaged bed and banks of Raft River
A Declo, Idaho, cattleman agreed to pay a fine and perform restoration work on a reach of the Raft River in Southeast Idaho following an enforcement action taken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. East Valley Cattle, LLC, Idaho, reached a settlement (Consent Agreement & Final Order and Administrative Order on Consent) with the EPA.
EPA alleges that East Valley Cattle filled an approximately 425-foot-long meander and erected a 114 foot earthen dam in the Raft River(a tributary to the Snake River) without a permit. East Valley Cattle removed the earthen dam once they were alerted to the need for an Army Corps of Engineers Clean Water Act (Section 404) permit for such work.
According to Ed Kowalski, Director of EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Division in Seattle, unpermitted projects can have undesirable consequences for both landowners and the environment.
“The Clean Water Act requires permits to protect people, fish and wildlife from harm,” said EPA’s Kowalski. “Altering stream channels or building diversions using heavy equipment without a permit can harm our rivers, streams and wetlands and can result in serious impacts to fish and wildlife habitat as well as downstream landowners.”
Under the terms of the settlement, East Valley Cattle agreed to pay a $17,500 penalty and implement an EPA-approved technical restoration plan to repair the damage caused. The river restoration work is expected to begin in November 2019.
River bottoms, especially in dry, arid climates like Southeast Idaho’s, are fragile ecosystems that deserve protection. Many species, both aquatic and land-based, depend on intact river environments to survive and thrive. Introducing heavy equipment in rivers or otherwise altering stream channels with dams, dikes and berms without necessary planning and permits not only puts important habitat at risk but can pose flooding dangers to downstream property owners when poor engineering fails.