News and Press Releases

Complaint Alleges Violation of Clean Water Act

March 26, 2008

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington today filed suit against the Bonneville Hot Springs Resort and resort owners, Pete and Elena Cam, for violations of the Clean Water Act, and for Trespassing on publicly-owned land that is part of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area. Pete and Elena Cam reside in Woodburn, Oregon, and operate the Bonneville Hot Springs Resort in North Bonneville, Skamania County, Washington.

According to the Complaint, the Cams, or their agents, built trails on U.S. Forest Service land that is part of the Scenic Area. After building the trail, the Cams or their agents used heavy equipment to build trenches in three different locations, and to fill 2.25 acres of wetlands. The workers also burned vegetation, and used pesticides and herbicides on the Forest Service Land. The Cams or their agents also removed orange boundary markers that had been placed to show the property line between the Forest Service Land and resort property.

The work on the Forest Service Land filled wetlands and a tributary to Greenleaf Creek and Greenleaf Creek itself. The creek and its tributaries flow into the Columbia River.

Damage from the defendants’ unlawful actions could cost as much as $100,000 to repair. Defendants also face a fine of up to $27,500 per day per violation of the Clean Water Act.

The lawsuit filed by the Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office calls for triple the damages sustained by the United States as a result of defendants’ alleged trespass, as well as costs and attorney’s fees. It also seeks a civil penalty for each day of each violation of the Clean Water Act.

The lawsuit is filed on behalf of the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Army Corps of Engineers. The litigation is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Harold Malkin and Kayla Stahman.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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