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United States v. Hamilton

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20180
Nos. 10-cv-00231, (D. Wyo., 07/31/2014) (Johnson, J.)

A district court upheld a jury verdict that a Wyoming farmer who discharged material into a creek on his property without a permit was exempt from the CWA's permitting requirements. Below, the jury found in the farmer's activities fell under the CWA's "normal farming and ranching activities" exemption and the "construction or maintenance . . . of irrigation ditches" exemption. It also found that the farmer established that the discharge was not "recaptured" under the first prong of CWA §404(f)(2). The government filed a motion as a matter of law, arguing that the farmer introduced insufficient evidence, but the court disagreed. The evidence sufficiently demonstrates that the purpose of the project was to channelize a creek, stabilize its banks, and prevent soil erosion. In addition, the areas adjacent to the creek were used for agriculture before and after the fill project. As such, the evidence supports the jury's finding that the farmer escaped the CWA's recapture provision and that the activities were exempt from the Act's permitting requirements.