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MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that the Wisconsin Department of Justice has settled a lawsuit against Donald Gerlach and Wondra Excavating, Inc. (Wondra) for violations of state environmental protection laws.
According to the complaint filed at the request of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Wondra hauled approximately 550 truckloads of fill material (clayey soil) to Mr. Gerlach's property, at his request. A portion of this fill was initially placed in wetlands on the property. Mr. Gerlach then proceeded to move fill into wetlands on over 2 acres of his property.
When DNR discovered the wetland filling violations, Wondra agreed to remove the fill it had provided, but Mr. Gerlach was not cooperative. After DNR referred the violations to the Department of Justice for enforcement, Mr. Gerlach allowed Wondra to remove fill, and after the State filed its lawsuit against Mr. Gerlach, he agreed to remove the remainder of the fill and to restore the wetlands.
Wondra removed approximately 609 truckloads of fill, at an estimated cost of $45,438, and it agreed to pay $1,483 in forfeitures. Mr. Gerlach has agreed to pay $5,000.00. He will pay additional penalties of $2,500.00 if the remaining fill is not removed by August 15, 2009, he will pay $25 per day if the fill is not removed by October 1, 2009, and he will restore the wetland vegetation on his property.
"The law is clear. Those wishing to place fill in wetlands must first seek and obtain a permit from the DNR," Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said. "Not only do wetlands provide habitat for more species of plants and animals than any other type of landscape in Wisconsin, wetlands can store water to prevent flooding, purify water and minimize erosion. The Department of Justice will continue to work with the DNR to ensure compliance with the law."
Assistant Attorney General Diane Milligan represented the State. The settlement was approved by Fond du Lac County Circuit Court Judge Steven W. Weinke.