Garfield Man Sentenced For Constructing A Road Through A Protected Wetland Basin
MINNEAPOLIS—Earlier today in federal court in Fergus Falls, a 49-year-old man from the central Minnesota community of Garfield was sentenced for constructing a road through land he knew was a federally protected wetland basin. United States Magistrate Judge Leo I. Brisbois sentenced James Bosek to two years of probation on one misdemeanor count of filling a wetland that was subject to a federal easement under the National Wildlife Refuge System Act. In addition, Bosek was ordered to remove the road and complete the restoration as outlined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”). Bosek was convicted on January 4, 2013, based on evidence presented to Judge Brisbois during a bench trial last August.
Judge Brisbois told Bosek that the restoration of the wetland is the only way to “undo the injury to the public interest.” So, he fined Bosek $2,500, but said if the restoration is completed by March 31, 2014, the fine will be waived.
Following today’s sentencing, Larry Martin, USFWS Fergus Falls Wetland Management District Project Leader, said, “The USFWS purchases wetland easements to protect wetlands from this type of alteration, along with any type of drainage activity, and we are pleased to see the Court upholding our easement and restoration efforts in Minnesota.”
Judge Brisbois found that Bosek engaged in prohibited activity when he built a road across the eastern edge of his property, which is located in rural Douglas County. The property is subject to a perpetual easement that the U.S. Department of Interior purchased in 1963. Bosek bought the property subject to the easement in 2001.
Bosek acknowledged during the trial that he knew of the easement before building the road. In finding him guilty, Judge Brisbois found that Bosek failed to obtain permission or authorization from the USFWS to construct the road over the protected wetlands. The USFWS discovered the road while making an unrelated visit to Bosek’s property in April 2008. Judge Brisbois credited the trial testimony of a USFWS biologist, who surveyed the property and concluded that Bosek’s action damaged the wetland as a protected native habitat for waterfowl. Bosek was charged on August 19, 2011, after refusing the USFWS’s request that he remove the road and restore the wetland.
This case was the result of an investigation by the USFWS. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lola Velazquez-Aguilu, Thomas Calhoun-Lopez, and William J. Otteson.