Grandmother could see jail time for infilling a wetland

16 March 2012

An Iowan grandmother, thirteen times over, could see the inside of a jail for between 8 and 14 months for infilling 7000 sq meters (0.7 hectares) of wetland on her property. Penalties for damaging wetlands in the US are particularly onerous, resulting in fines of thousands of dollars per day by the EPA where orders to cease work are ignored.

The facts of this specific case are unclear but it seems the lady may have ignored a requirement to have a wetland assessment done before she went ahead – which may be why the possible penalty seems unusually harsh – but ignoring such instructions is asking for trouble! And, it appears, this was one of the high-end value wetlands on the USA’s list as well.

… the plea agreement called for Kelly to publicly apologize “for ignoring the repeated oral and written lawful instructions of the United States Army Corps of Engineers and knowingly destroying a protected wetland.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency decided to pursue a criminal charge after taking over the case in 2010, Fournier said. Typically, the Army Corps works with developers who disturb wetlands to mitigate damage, and it’s unusual for such matters to turn into criminal cases, he said. An EPA spokesman declined to comment.

Prosecutors say fixing the damage will be costly and require additional land to be purchased [ Source: Muscatine Journal].

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