Saturday, January 13, 2007

Developer Compensates for Damage to Ocean Shores Wetlands

Developer Compensates for Damage to Ocean Shores Wetlands
OCEAN SHORES, Washington, January 8, 2007 (ENS)
Developer Dunes Estates Inc. has agreed to permanently preserve and enhance over 114 acres of wetlands near the upscale city of Ocean Shores as part of a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for Clean Water Act violations.

Dunes Estates was charged last year with dredging and filling wetlands adjacent to the Pacific Ocean and Connor Creek without a permit between 1998 and 2001.

The corrective actions contained in the enforcement agreement made public January 4 are intended to compensate for the loss of 1.7 acres of coastal dune wetlands and the excavation of 2.7 acres of wetlands adjacent to Connor Creek, a salmon bearing creek.

The wetlands are just north of Ocean Shores in Grays Harbor County on the central Washington coast. Under the terms of the agreement, Dunes Estates Inc. has agreed to enhance 2.9 acres of wetlands impacted during the excavation of wetlands along Connor Creek, create approximately 3.4 acres of wetlands, and permanently preserve over 114 acres of wetlands and wetland buffers. Another part of the settlement was an $8,000 fine imposed by the EPA last summer.

“Protecting Washington's shrinking wetlands is a top priority for EPA," said Tom Eaton, EPA's Washington State Director in Olympia. "Wetlands provide significant wildlife habitat as well as provide benefits to neighboring property owners. Anyone working in wetlands must obey the law and protect them."

The EPA has been working with Dunes Estates Inc., the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Grays Harbor County to assure that the restoration is carried out according to law.

Now famous, the coastal city of Ocean Shores was a cattle ranch until 1960, but it boomed as a celebrity destination after entertainer Pat Boone became a local resident in 1967 as a stockholder in the Ocean Shores Estates Incorporated. The community became well known as a result of the famous Celebrity Golf tournaments hosted by Boone. By 1969 Ocean Shores was declared the "Richest Little City" with an assessed evaluation of $35 million and 900 permanent residents. During the 1980s, the town struggled through the state's economic recession, but by the 1990s the slump was over and construction of homes and businesses has increased.