Do you know what a wetland looks like or the limits of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife jurisdiction? Do you know how the US Army Corps of Engineers classifies “normal and on-going” farming practices? Many landowners from across the North State have received Clean Water Act or California Fish and Game Code violation notices from federal and/or state agencies, after farming or developing lands where 1) the presence of wetlands had not been properly assessed by qualified biologists and were thought to contain no environmental constraints, 2) farmers had planted wheat or rice in previous years and converted the land to orchards, or 3) previous environmental permit requirements were not addressed. Due to the large number of Clean Water Act violations, the US Army Corps of Engineers have created a new enforcement division to specifically work on processing violations.
Gallaway Enterprises has been in the forefront of helping clients through the Clean Water Act and California Fish and Game Code violation process and working with the regulatory agencies to resolve the violation as efficiently as possible. The quick and efficient resolution of violations has been critically important to our clients since agricultural and construction activities cannot commence on a site until the violation is fully resolved. Based on our experience with navigating the Clean Water Act and California Fish and Game Code violation process, we highly recommend that landowners consult with our professional staff prior to conducting any open land conversions to agriculture, development or prior to deep ripping land for conversion to orchards. Even though the land may have Natural Resource Conservation Service designations as crop land, prior converted or farmed wetlands those designations may not apply to conversion of certain crops. Most conversions from grazing lands or dry land farming that contain jurisdictional wetland to orchards are regulated by the Clean Water Act. Often our agricultural clients are confused as to which regulations apply to their proposed land use changes and are even more bewildered and frustrated when they receive violation notices. The cost of preliminary consultation is significantly less than resolving a violation.