Anchorage developer fined for destroying wetlands

Posted: Monday, July 19, 2010

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage developer has been fined for destroying wetlands and streams on his property, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said.

David D'Amato has been fined $177,500.

The EPA says beginning in 2005, he used heavy equipment at the Hunter Heights subdivision to illegally excavate 1,300 feet of streams. He then filled nearly an acre of wetlands on the 29-acre property in the Bear Valley area with the stream material.

The EPA says the excavation caused erosion in the streams and sediment flowed into nearby Little Rabbit Creek, which is used by salmon to spawn.

Heather Dean, an environmental scientist at the EPA, said this week that the sediment flows on through the creek to Potter Marsh, where it threatens salmon and bird populations.

D'Amato couldn't be reached for comment. He has until August 7 to contest the fines, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

D'Amato did not get needed permits from the Army Corps of Engineers, a violation of the Clean Water Act, the EPA said.

"When a property owner ignores his obligation to build housing developments responsibly, Alaska's environment takes the hit," said Michael Szerlog, manager of EPA's Aquatic Resources Unit in Seattle. "There are real consequences - environmental and legal - from skirting the law."

The EPA sent the developer warnings over the years but he never fixed the problem, Dean said.

The agency said it issued D'Amato a compliance order in 2007 requiring him to restore the damaged wetlands and streams. He hasn't done that and continued to dredge and fill the streams and wetlands on his property until at least July 2008, the EPA said.



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