U.S. EPA Orders Sacramento Companies to Restore Damaged Wetlands

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently ordered Race Builders Inc. & MRM Marine, LLC to stop dumping dredged and fill material into wetlands bordering Magpie Creek in Sacramento, a violation of the Clean Water Act.

In addition, the EPA ordered the companies to develop a restoration plan for the site, and a 5-year monitoring plan to ensure the restoration project succeeds.

"For years, the EPA has worked closely with local governments and developers to protect vernal pool wetlands in the Sacramento area," said Alexis Strauss, director of the EPA's water division for the Pacific Southwest regional office. "It is important to protect these unique wetlands from damage, and our enforcement action will ensure the environmental damage is mitigated."

In November 2004, the EPA inspected the site at the request of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The agency found that Race Builders had used heavy equipment to re-contour a parcel of land, and to move dredged and fill material into a vernal pool adjacent to Magpie Creek.

In addition to requiring the companies to immediately stop their unauthorized activities, the EPA's order requires the companies to:

*Develop a removal and restoration report to determine if the impacted wetlands can be restored;

*If restoration is feasible, the companies must restore and revegetate the wetland area; and

*Develop a 5 year monitoring program to measure the performance of the restoration project.

If it is determined that a restoration plan is not feasible, the company must identify and restore a similar wetland elsewhere in the Sacramento region. Failure to comply with the EPA order could result in penalties against Race Builders for as much as $32,500 per day per violation.

Vernal pools form in landscape depressions filled by rainwater, groundwater, or overland flows. These seasonal wetlands come alive during winter and spring with uniquely adapted wildflowers, insects, shrimp, and other wildlife many found nowhere else on earth. A number of the fairy shrimp species and plants are listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.


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