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MADISON - A Marinette County man who illegally filled in wetlands, and then failed to remove the fill as ordered, will have to pay $20,000 in penalties in a settlement reached this week with the Wisconsin Department of Justice.


Wisconsin law prohibits the filling of a wetland without a certification of compliance with state water quality standards, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's office confirmed. Habitat and human health can be adversely affected when the wetlands and waters of the state are compromised.


According to the DOJ complaint, in 2001 Jay Behnke filled 1.35 acres of wetlands in the Town of Lake, in Marinette County, without applying for or obtaining the necessary certification. In 2004, Behnke reached a settlement that was incorporated in a court order, which required him to remove the fill and restore the wetlands by October 15, 2005. The Department of Natural Resources discovered that the fill had not been removed in April 2006. According to DOJ, Behnke completed removal of the fill in August 2006.


The Department of Justice filed the lawsuit at the request of the Department of Natural Resources. Marinette County Circuit Court Judge David G. Miron approved the settlement.