Developer Ryan Voorhees has been fined $47,500 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for grading land in a Calaveras County creek two years ago.
Voorhees, a Galt resident who has developed several ranchettes west of Galt, is also required to offset damage made to 3.07 acres in Cosgrove Creek, according to Jorine Campopiano, an environmental scientist for EPA's wetlands office who was the enforcement officer on the Voorhees case.
The creek is a tributary to the Calaveras River.
As the developer of Gold Creek Estates, a 385-home gated community proposed south of New Hogan Reservoir, Voorhees allegedly piled dirt and rocks into the creek and some seasonal wetlands, a violation of the federal Clean Water Act, said EPA spokeswoman Lisa Fassano.
Voorhees said in a written statement that most of the three acres consisted of roadbeds to subdivision roads constructed 10 years before CRV Enterprise acquired the property. Voorhees extended a sewer line through the property.
"We needed to stop the damage (caused by the filled wetlands)," Fassano said. "Seasonal wetlands are part of the puzzle in the entire ecosystem."
Filling wetlands with dirt and rocks, she said, takes away nature's filter for water percolating into the groundwater basin. Because dirt has been moved around, dirt could flow downstream and harm animals and plants, Fassano said.
Voorhees, who owns CRV Enterprises, must also preserve 14 acres of similar habitat in the project area, Campopiano said.
He must also purchase 6 acres worth of credits from a privately owned wetlands mitigation bank and maintain a 75-foot buffer on two tributaries to Cosgrove Creek on the project site until obtaining a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
"It's good to have this behind us and have a resolution at hand," Voorhees said in his written statement.
"It is unfortunate that these expenses couldn't have been used to benefit the Gold Creek Estates homeowners or to providxe other local mitigation benefits to the Valley Springs community as a whole," Voorhees added.
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