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Avoyelles Sportsmen's League v. Alexander

Citation: 11 ELR 20315
No. No. 78-1428, 473 F. Supp. 525/13 ERC 1353/(W.D. La., 06/09/1979) Injunction granted

The court holds that land-clearing operations in wetlands are subject to the dredge and fill permit program of § 404 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA). Plaintiffs sought to enjoin private defendants from clearing certain wetlands for agricultural use, claiming violation of § 301(a) of the FWPCA. The court rules that the defendants' land-clearing equipment is a point source within the meaning of § 502(14) of the FWPCA. Further, the clearing of trees and other vegetation, which are part of the navigable waters of the United States under the Corps of Engineers' definition of wetlands, constitutes the discharge of dredged or fill material. The court thus concludes that since the permanent removal of vegetation will destroy the functions performed by wetlands, it must be subject to the § 404 permit program. The court also finds that since defendants' actions are not part of an ongoing farming or forestry operation they do not constitute normal farming or silviculture practices and thus are not exempt from the permit program under § 404(f)(1)(A). In addition, the activities are denied exempt status under § 404(f)(2) because they involve converting the use of the land. Although the court enjoins operations on uncleared wetland areas, it does not enjoin farming activities or require reclamation of cleared lands based on equitable considerations.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Donald R. Wilson
Gaharan, Richey & Wilson
Gaharan-Richey Bldg., Drawer G, Jena LA 71342
(318) 992-2104

James T. B. Tripp
Environmental Defense Fund, Inc.
475 Park Ave. S., New York NY 10016
(212) 686-4191

Counsel for Defendants
Frances O. Allen, Ass't U.S. Attorney
P.O. Box 33, Shreveport LA 71161
(318) 226-5292

Fred R. Disheroon, Nancy L. Long
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2307

Catherine A. Winer
Office of the General Counsel
Environmental Protection Agency, Washington DC 20460
(202) 755-2511

Counsel for Intervenor Department of Natural Resources
Edwin R. Woodman
Dep't of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 44396, Baton Rouge LA 70804
(504) 342-4500