Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Borden Ranch Partnership v. United States Army Corps of Engineers case brief

Borden Ranch P’ship v. United States Army Corps of Eng’rs case brief summary
261 F.3d 810

SYNOPSIS: Plaintiff land owner appealed the final order in favor of defendants, the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California for the land owner's repeated violations of the Clean Water Act.

FACTS: The land owner purchased a ranch to convert into vineyards and orchards and subdivide it into smaller parcels for sale. The ranch contained significant hydrological features that constituted wetlands under the Clean Water Act. The wetlands on the ranch required a permit to fill the protected wetlands before the landowner could have begun deep ripping in the wetlands. The land owner proceeded without a permit and in violation of a cease and desist order. After the Environment Protection Agency issued an Administrative Order, the land owner filed suit challenging the authority of the defendants to regulate deep ripping. The district court found that the land owner had repeatedly violated the Clean Water Act and ordered him to pay a penalty and restore some of the wetlands.

ANALYSIS:
-On appeal, the court affirmed the defendants' jurisdiction over the land owner's activities.
-The findings of violations in the vernal pool were reversed because it exceeded the defendants' jurisdiction.
-The finding that deep ripping in the swales was affirmed because it was supported by evidence.
-The civil penalties were remanded for recalculation because the vernal pool violation was reversed.

OUTCOME: The final order was affirmed in part, reversed in part, vacated in part and remanded.

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