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EPA orders restoration of damaged South Dakota wetlands


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered Randy L. Brownlee, Rita Brownlee, and Brownlee Construction, Inc. to restore approximately 0.65 acres of wetlands they damaged adjacent to the Big Sioux River in Codington County, S.D.

The Brownlees illegally discharged material into the wetlands to prepare the site for commercial use without a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Federal Clean Water Act prohibits such discharges unless authorized by a COE permit.

The EPA order requires the Brownlees to remove all unauthorized material placed into wetlands and to restore the wetlands to pre-impact conditions.

Mike Risner, EPA Region 8 Legal Enforcement Director, said, “EPA is taking this action to protect the wetlands of South Dakota and to provide deterrence against future violations of Federal laws designed to protect valuable water resources.”

“The environmental impacts cited here could have been avoided if the Brownlees had consulted with the Corps prior to commencing their activities,” Risner noted.

The creeks, streams, rivers and adjacent wetlands in this area are important as habitat for wildlife, water storage and retention, and flood control. Placing dredged or fill material in creeks, streams, rivers, or wetlands can have adverse impacts on fish and wildlife habitat and can adversely impact the plants or insects they rely on as food sources. Damaging or destroying wetlands can lead to serious results such as increased flooding, a decline of water quality and extinction of species.

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ permit is required before performing any work that results in discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, which include lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands.

Property owners, contractors or developers planning to do work in such waters need to contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ South Dakota Regulatory Office, 28563 Powerhouse Road, Room 118, Pierre, S.D. 57501, telephone number (605) 224-8531 before they begin work to determine if they need a permit.


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