United States Reaches Proposed Settlement with Ranch Owner, John Raftopoulos to Restore Creek and Wetlands and Pay Damages for Trespass
(STL.News) The U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced that they have reached a proposed settlement with John Raftopoulos, Diamond Peak Cattle Company LLC and Rancho Greco Limited LLC (collectively, the defendants) to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) involving unauthorized discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States and trespass on federal public lands in northwest Moffat County, Colorado.
On Oct. 22, 2020, the United States filed suit in federal district court alleging that beginning in approximately 2012, and as recently as approximately 2015, the defendants discharged dredged or fill material into Vermillion Creek and its adjacent wetlands in order to route the creek into a new channel, facilitate agricultural activities and construct a bridge. These alleged unauthorized activities occurred on private land owned by the defendants and on public land managed by BLM, constituting a trespass in violation of the FLPMA. Vermillion Creek and its adjacent wetlands are waters of the United States and may not be filled without a CWA Section 404 permit from the U.S.