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Van Hollen Announces Settlement in Marinette County Wetlands Violations Case

 

MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen today announced that David Betzig has agreed to pay penalties and costs totaling $25,000 for his unlawful draining and filling in a wetland in Marinette County.

 

Betzig installed a .19-acre pond in a trout stream located on his property in Marinette County and placed the resultant spoils in an adjacent wetland area of .32 acres  The trout stream located on Betzig's property is a tributary to the North Branch of the Pike River, a state-designated "wild river". The pond construction discharged silt downstream covering spawning beds resulting in higher water temperatures in the stream that harm trout.  The filling of the wetlands reduced the water quality, flood protection, and wildlife habitat values of the wetland area.  Betzig's actions had direct adverse impacts upon the fish population in the stream.  Under direction of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff, the pond was filled back in, the natural stream channel was restored, and the fill material was removed from the wetlands.  The area has now been restored so that a healthy trout population will be available to anglers.  

 

After the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conducted an investigation and referred the matter to the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) for prosecution, Betzig was named as a defendant in a civil enforcement action for these violations of environmental protection laws. 

 

Betzig has agreed not to contest the civil charges, and to pay these penalties.  Before the case was filed, and at the DNR's request, Betzig agreed to remove the illegal fill from the wetland areas. 

 

On May 26, 2010, Marinette County Circuit Court Judge David G. Miron approved the settlement agreement entered into between Betzig and DOJ.  In addition to paying penalties, Betzig agreed to monitor the site on an annual basis to prevent the introduction of undesirable invasive plant species in the disturbed areas of the wetland. 

 

"For the protection of Wisconsin citizens and our natural environment, the Wisconsin Department of Justice will continue to work with DNR to ensure that Wisconsin environmental laws are followed," Van Hollen said.

 

Assistant Attorney General Mary Batt represented the State.