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MADISON/SHAWANO - Shawano County Circuit Court Judge Thomas G. Grover ordered landowner and landowner's agent Michael Dettlaff, and excavator Todd Tatro to pay $53,198 in forfeitures, costs and attorneys' fees for violating the state's environmental laws while building roadways through a Northern Tamarack - Spruce Bog.
Wisconsin law prohibits the placement of fill material in waters of the state, including wetlands, without a permit from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). According to the civil complaint, filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) at the request of the DNR in May 2006, Mr. Dettlaff arranged and directed the filling of 2.16 acres, or approximately one mile of roadways, without first securing the proper permits. Mr. Tatro placed approximately half of the fill, in violation of state law. The fill placed by Mr. Tatro was not removed until after the Court ordered restoration during an April 2007 hearing, and was not fully removed until August 2007, over 200 days after the filling was completed.
The Court ordered Mr. Dettlaff, to pay $28,198 in forfeitures, surcharges and court costs; to complete restoration of the site; and to monitor it for exotic invasive species for the next five years. The Court also ordered Mr. Dettlaff, who had been found in contempt of the court's prior restoration order, to pay the Department of Justice $10,000 toward its attorneys' fees. At the same time, the Court approved a settlement between the Wisconsin Department of Justice and Mr. Tatro. By the terms of the settlement, Mr. Tatro will pay $15,000 in forfeitures and will pay stipulated penalties of at least $5,000 if he fills additional wetlands during the next three years.
"The law is clear. The wetlands are not wastelands. Those wishing to place fill in wetlands must first seek and obtain a permit from the DNR," Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said. "This process ensures the state's waters are protected, for the benefit of Wisconsin citizens and the environment. The Department of Justice will continue to work with the DNR to ensure compliance with the law."
Assistant Attorney General Diane Milligan represented the State.