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Washington farm, Ecology settle irrigation fine – Water

A Western Washington blueberry farm has agreed to restore habitat to settle allegations that it illegally irrigated 200 acres

Courtesy of Washington Department of Ecology

A picture taken June 16, 2015, shows a blueberry field at U.S. Golden Eagle Farms in Skagit County, Wash. According to an allegation by the Washington Department of Ecology, the farm exceeded its water right by irrigating too many acres. The farm and Ecology have settled the allegation, with the farm admitting no wrongdoing but agreeing to fund habitat restoration.

A Western Washington blueberry farm has agreed to plant trees and place logs and limbs in a creek and slough to settle an accusation that it illegally irrigated 200 acres in 2015.

The state Department of Ecology on Thursday announced the deal with U.S. Golden Eagle Farms in Skagit County. The farm will do the work, and Ecology will suspend a $16,000 fine, according to the agreement.

Golden Eagle already had agreed last year to do some of the fish habitat restoration to settle a fine issued by the state Department of Natural Resources for illegally cutting down trees on its farm.

Ecology’s Northwest regional director Tom Buroker said the agency preferred that the farm do more habitat restoration to paying a fine into the general fund.

“All the way around, we think it’s a good deal,” he said. “As far as Ecology is concerned, we’re getting $16,000 worth of habitat restoration out of the penalty.”

Ecology levied the fine in early 2016, alleging the farm on Cockerham Island had exceeded its water right. At the time, Ecology said the farm was allowed to water 250 acres, but it irrigated 450 acres. Since then, the farm has obtained water rights to irrigate 743 acres of blueberries.

Golden Eagle appealed Ecology’s fine to the Pollution Control Hearings Board. The agreement settles the appeal, with the farm admitting no…

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