Gales Creek Residents who Diverted Stream and Destroyed Seetlhead Habitat Sentenced
PORTLAND, Ore. - U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall and Oregon Attorney General John Kroger jointly announced today the outcome of a prosecution targeting two individuals who used heavy machinery to divert Gales Creek, which destroyed the habitat of threatened Upper Willamette River (UWR) Steelhead.
Defendant David Dober, Sr., 69, of Gales Creek, Oregon, pleaded guilty today to violating the Rivers and Harbors Act and the Endangered Species Act. Defendant Robert H. Block, Jr., 61, of Gales Creek, Oregon, previously pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown sentenced Block to five years probation, and ordered him to pay a $2,500 fine and to implement a restoration plan on his property designed to mitigate the damage he caused to Gales Creek and its threatened UWR steelhead. Today, Judge Brown sentenced Dober to pay a $500 fine. Judge Brown ordered that half of each defendant's fine be allocated to the Oregon Governor's Fund for the Environment. That Fund is dedicated to local environmental cleanup and restoration efforts focused on preserving and protecting Oregon's rivers, watersheds, and fish and wildlife.
"We will continue to enforce federal environmental laws to protect our wildlife and to keep our waterways clean. We are pleased that the Court allocated half of the fines imposed to be used here in Oregon to benefit our environment," said U.S. Attorney S. Amanda Marshall.
Defendant Block is the owner of a parcel of property that abuts Gales Creek in Gales Creek, Oregon. In October 2009, Block and Dober used an excavator and a wheel loader to move earthen materials within the Gales Creek stream channel to divert the flow of the stream. During the course of the work, defendants moved approximately 100,000 pounds of material in and around Gales Creek, impacting an area approximately 700 feet long and 50 to 90 feet wide. A National Marine Fisheries Service biologist concluded that defendants' actions significantly modified and degraded UWR steelhead habitat. That habitat destruction is significant because the affected reach of Gales Creek is an important spawning, incubation, and rearing area and an important migration route for UWR steelhead. The biologist concluded that as a result of the habitat destruction, UWR steelhead were killed or injured. UWR steelhead are listed as a threatened species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act.
The case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacie F. Beckerman and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Flanagan of the Oregon Department of Justice's Environmental Crimes Unit prosecuted the case.