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Man fined $90,000 for destroying wetlands in Pierce County

A Gig Harbor man was fined $90,000  by the Washington Department of Ecology after destroying 1.5 acres of forested wetlands in Pierce County, according to a news release.  (Photo courtesy of the Washington Department of Ecology)

PUYALLUP, Wash. -- A Gig Harbor man was fined $90,000 on Wednesday by the Washington Department of Ecology after destroying 1.5 acres of forested wetlands in Pierce County, according to a news release.

The destroyed area could reportedly take up to 50 years to restore.

According to officials, Richard Leone hired a contractor in 2016 to illegally drain, clear and fill two protected wetlands in order to expand a housing development on 82nd Avenue East in Puyallup.

Leone will be required to pay for all costs related to the restoration.

Perry Lund of the Department of Ecology said in the release that wetlands are necessary for the overall health of Washington's watersheds.

"...he (the landowner) was fully aware of their locations and took specific, targeted steps to destroy them," Lund said.

The landowner is also facing a combined $5,000 in penalties from Pierce County and will not be allowed to develop any portion of the property at this time.

In 2014, Leone was approved by Pierce County for a preliminary step to develop the area, which detailed the protection of the wetlands and their required buffers. According to the release, the man destroyed the wetlands to support full development of the property.

The landowner reportedly has 30 days to pay the penalty or appeal it to the state's Pollution Control Hearings Board.


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