News and Press Releases

Couple Agrees to Repair Damage and Pay $30,000 Penalty

September 12, 2008

The U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Corps of Engineers, and Bonneville Hot Springs Resort and resort owners Pete and Elena Cam today entered into a consent decree to settle civil litigation over 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 own and operate the Bonneville Hot Springs Resort in North Bonneville, Skamania County, Washington. Under the terms of the consent decree, approved by U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton, the Cams must pay $30,000 to the government and are responsible for restoring the wetlands damaged by their activities.

According to the civil complaint filed in March 2008, 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 workers used heavy equipment to build trenches in three different locations, and to fill 2.25 acres of wetlands. The workers also burned some of the vegetation, and used some pesticides and herbicides on the Forest Service Land. The Cams or their contractors installed pipes to alter the runoff on land surrounding their resort. 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.

As part of the settlement, the Cams are required to undertake extensive restoration of the wetlands and removal of all non-native trees and shrubs, and removal of rock and fill they deposited on the site. A time table has been set for the restoration project, with U.S. Forest Service monitoring of the restoration activities. The U.S. Forest Service must approve the contractor hired by the Cams to do the restoration work. If the work does not move forward according to the agreement, the Cams will face penalties of up to $15,000 per day for non-compliance. Additionally, the Cams must pay for a new survey marking the property line, and will reimburse the U.S. Forest Service $7,500 for the previous survey work. The Cams are required to place restrictions on their deed so that future owners of the property will not be able to damage the restored wetlands.

The lawsuit was 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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