In a conclusion likely to displease both sides, owners of a Tehama County property have agreed to pay over a million dollars to the federal government over alleged violations of the Clean Water Act.
The case was perceived as a legal showdown between federal officials and Libertarian property rights groups over the limits of environmental regulations. Some observers predicted the case would wind up at the Supreme Court.
According to the settlement terms, John Duarte and Duarte Nursery will spend $1.1 million on civil penalties and restoration work to repair seasonal ponds that federal officials say were damaged by plowing and ripping work five years ago.
Federal prosecutors say 22 acres of seasonal wetlands, creeks and streams were disturbed.
The Libertarian Pacific Legal Foundation, which defended Duarte, argued that the areas weren’t damaged, didn’t meet the criteria for protection and that Duarte’s rights to due process were violated.
The settlement came just as the trial was set to get underway. Duarte was facing nearly $3 million in fines.