The Sacketts’ Wetland Mapped

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The Sacketts’ Wetland Mapped

The USFWS wetland inventory map. An arrow shows the bulldozed Sackett property.

It took all of 5 minutes to create the above map, using the US Fish and Wildlife Service wetlands mapper. Had the Sackett’s taken the time to to look into it before bulldozing their property and filling it with gravel, or had they made a call to the US Army Corps of Engineers for an advance wetland determination, they could have avoided the legal mess that they find themselves in. 

Indeed, it is so easy that since 2008, Bonner County has required this minimal wetlands reconnaissance prior to granting Building Location Permits.

This map is not the final word, because before EPA actions can be enforced by a court, experts will need to discuss, for example, whether the map is accurate, whether the soils are wetland soils, and whether the plants are wetland plants. Foremost, the EPA will need to prove that there is federal jurisdiction, by proving there is “a significant nexus” to “navigable water.”

Ultimately, the Sacketts could very well be right about the non-existence of wetlands on their property. Still, a modicum of due diligence should be a prerequisite for a Supreme Court case of Constitutional due process.  It takes very little effort to avoid EPA enforcement actions.

By | 2012-03-22T10:53:33+00:00 November 6th, 2011|blog, Land Use, Water|5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. […] KEA joined several other conservation organizations in a brief to point out that the Sacketts had ample opportunity to work with EPA and the Corps of Engineers to avoid the compliance order, and unnecessary expense, had they chosen to do so. […]

  2. csmith January 20, 2012 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    The problem that is not discussed is that most people are not born with knowledge that they must separately contact the EPA before filling in (oh, I mean discharge) the dry gullies and low places on their properties. If all the required building permitting officials in their communities are not aware how in the world would the average person know. The EPA creates rules and the way they get the word out or educate is to come out and start fining people for rules they have no knowledge of.. and if you complain they threaten you with the 37,500.00 per day….I am watching the same scenario develop here first hand. I am an engineer and cringed when I witnessed EPA field inspectors calling dry gullies 8″ deep just caused by a heavy rain as ephemeral streams….All the engineering, permits etc all in order and the EPA just shows up and declares they have jurisdiction and they were not consulted……And in a not too subtle way implied they wouldn’t have declared it was not their jurisdiction if we had asked..Who knows to even ask…You are not dealing with evil people, enemies or necessarily rich people taking advantage or destroying nature or the environment.. Cooperating in the case I am following cost hundreds of thousands $$…for working in a cow pie pasture rather than the literally millions THREATENED by the EPA and no recourse to say it is not a wetlands..

  3. […] The wetland shows up in the USFWS wetland inventory. The Sacketts’ own consultant said it was likely a wetland. (Until they changed consultants, of course.)  Just because the property contains a wetland doesn’t necessarily mean that the EPA and the Corps of Engineers have jurisdiction.  But these facts and circumstances are obviously not very helpful to the Sacketts when the case comes back to Idaho after its trip to Washington, DC. […]

  4. […] The wetland shows up in the USFWS wetland inventory. The Sacketts’ own consultant said it was likely a wetland. (Until they changed consultants, of course.)  Just because the property contains a wetland doesn’t necessarily mean that the EPA and the Corps of Engineers have jurisdiction.  But these facts and circumstances are obviously not very helpful to the Sacketts when the case comes back to Idaho after its trip to Washington, DC. […]

  5. […] Originally Posted by Toyman at Jewel Lake I have seen videos on the news coverage, it didn't look wet to me. Which is beside the point. The court case doesn't grant them the right to build on property. It simply gives the landowners an appeals process to often capracious EPA decisions. In this case the owners had a legal building permit. The did some work on the property. The EPA decides that this is a wetlands, demands that they stop work and pay a fine of $75,000 per day. In order to even get a hearing or appeal, they have to pay $200,000 just to apply for the appropriate federal permit. They have no appeals path until they did so. Until this case. The EPA is all too often an agent for de-facto seizure of private property. This case simply says that private land owners get a fair day in court to contest their case. The Sackett's had a building location permit, but the county does require landowners to check the possibility of wetlands with the maps they supply online. The county has nothing to do with wetlands in thier location permitting. This is how we knew to have our property checked for wetlands. Had they done the necessary due diligence that they were supposed to have done, they could have avoided the whole mess. The Sacketts’ Wetland Mapped | Kootenai Environmental Alliance […]

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