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EPA settlement with Oregon landowner results in wetland restoration in Warrenton

02/08/2017
Contact Information: 
Mark A. MacIntyre (macintyre.mark@epa.gov)
206-553-7302

(Seattle) - This spring, Martin Nygaard and Nygaard Land, LLC, will embark on a major wetland restoration effort, covering 72 acres of a formerly wooded property owned and cleared by Mr. Nygaard, east of Airport Lane and west of Highway 101 in Warrenton, Oregon. Work was originally scheduled for last fall, but heavy Autumn rains pushed the restoration activities back until spring. Work at the site will involve heavy equipment working in the fragile wetland habitat to remove culverts and other structures, while also restoring filled tidal channels.

The project is part of a federal Clean Water Act settlement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Mr. Nygaard and Nygaard Land, LLC, to resolve clean water act discharge violations on the property. The alleged violations include discharging dredged or fill material into wetlands and other waters of the United States without an Army Corps of Engineers Clean Water Act Section 404 permit.

While a large portion of the site will be left to recover naturally, active re-vegetation will occur on just over 2 acres, including restoring an additional ½ acre of tidal channels that run through the site. Along with agreeing to perform the restoration project and doing the streambank repairs, Mr. Nygaard will pay a $62,924 penalty.

The site’s wetlands and tidal channels are connected to the Lewis and Clark River, which flows into Youngs Bay, then into the Columbia River, and ultimately into the Pacific Ocean. The river is home to bottom-feeding sturgeon, which is a popular sport fish in the area. It is also home to an extensive salmon repopulation program. The river also supports runs of wild steelhead and cutthroat trout. Each of these species depend on cold, clean, oxygen-rich water to survive and use tidal channels and wetlands for feeding and rearing their young.

This is not the first time Mr. Nygaard and his companies have experienced regulatory transactions with both state (Oregon Department of Lands) and federal (Army Corps of Engineers) authorities.  The state and Corps elected to refer this case to the EPA based on multiple past violations by the Nygaard family’s companies, including wetland fills near their stockyard in Hammond (OR) in 2009 and on a Seaside (OR) property in 2007.

Wetlands are important features in the Oregon landscape that provide many benefits for people, fish, and wildlife. These include: Protecting and improving water quality, providing fish and wildlife habitat, storing floodwaters, and maintaining surface water flow during hot, dry summers.

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