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For Immediate Release
April 18, 2007

Media Contact:
Raquel Guillory, 410-576-6357
rguillory@oag.state.md.us

Attorney General Gansler Sues Caroline County Land Owner and Contractor for Nontidal Wetlands Violations

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler today filed a civil complaint against Fred Hertrich, owner of Hertrich Properties III, LLC of Seaford, Delaware, and contractor Gregory Bee, owner of Busy Bee Contracting of Federalsburg, Maryland. The complaint alleges Hertrich and Bee violated the Nontidal Wetlands Protection Act and the Water Pollution Control Law on Hertrich’s property located at White Road in Federalsburg. The complaint filed today in the Circuit Court for Caroline County seeks restoration of the nontidal wetlands and civil penalties.

“This suit sends a clear message to anyone who destroys protected, environmentally sensitive areas of our state,” said Attorney General Gansler. “In this particular case, almost 50 acres of nontidal wetlands were destroyed. The owner and his contractor failed to seek the appropriate state permits for their activities and proceeded with large scale grading in violation of the law. We want the land restored in a timely fashion and we want to make sure that the defendants are fined substantially.”

In April 2005, Bee entered into a contract with Hertrich to clear, grade and seed Hertrich’s property. Bee proceeded to remove all the tree stumps, and graded and backfilled the area where forest harvesting had occurred previously. No authorization to do the work was obtained from the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). The defendants also failed to obtain the required state approvals for their grading activities or to implement erosion and sediment controls at the property.

An inspection of the property in December, 2006 by officials from the MDE, United States Department of Agriculture, and the Army Corps of Engineers determined that approximately 50 acres of forested nontidal wetlands on the property had been destroyed.

“Enforcement is the core of MDE’s mission to protect public health and the environment,” said Environment Secretary Shari T. Wilson. “This is an egregious violation impacting nearly 50 acres of nontidal wetlands. State law sets a goal of ‘no net loss’ of nontidal wetlands and calls on Maryland to strive for gains of wetlands over time. This single incident is a significant setback.”

Specifically, the complaint asks the Court to order the defendants to submit within 15 days to the MDE a plan and timetable for restoring the affected property and to implement and complete restoration of the nontidal wetlands in accordance with that plan and time schedule. Additionally, the complaint asks for civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation per day.
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