California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham made the following statement today regarding a large settlement agreement reached after two Humboldt County residents entered felony and misdemeanor pleas regarding violations to the Clean Water Act.
“While none of us are pleased at such severe damage to our natural resources, this outcome sends an encouraging signal that large-scale environmental crimes will be prosecuted fully. We are incredibly proud of our environmental scientists and wildlife officers who were involved in this case. We also thank the California District Attorneys Association for providing expertise and seeing this case through to completion.”
The pleas and subsequent settlement agreement resolve a significant case of illegal mining of valuable peat from sensitive wetlands in the Bridgeville area near Highway 36. The penalty assessed in this matter is one of the largest to ever be assessed in California against individuals, rather than corporations, for violations of section 404 of the Clean Water Act.
CDFW Environmental Scientists Mike Van Hattem, Scott Bauer, Gordon Leppig, Geologist Mark Smelser, and Senior Environmental Scientist Tony LaBanca of the CDFW northern region, and Wildlife Officers Ed Ramos and Shane Embry were involved in this case. Deputy District Attorney Matthew Carr was the environmental prosecutor from CDAA on the case.