Wednesday December 14, 2022

US Department of Justice

 In a decision issued on December 9, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California granted the request of the Justice Department to direct John Sweeney and his company, Point Buckler Club LLC, to restore sensitive tidal channels and marsh they unlawfully harmed. The court’s decision follows an earlier order dated Sept. 1, 2020, when the court found defendants committed “very serious” violations of the Clean Water Act associated with the construction of a nearly mile-long levee without a permit.

The defendants’ violations occurred on Point Buckler Island, an island in the greater San Francisco Bay that Sweeney had purchased in 2011. The Island’s tidal channels and marsh are part of the Suisun Marsh, the largest contiguous brackish water marsh remaining on the west coast of North America. The Island is located in a heavily utilized fish corridor and is critical habitat for several species of federally protected fish.

When Sweeney acquired the Island, nearly all of it functioned as a tidal channel and tidal marsh wetlands system. Beginning in 2014, without a permit, Sweeney excavated and dumped thousands of cubic yards of soil directly into the Island’s tidal channels and marsh. This unlawful conduct, the court found, eliminated tidal exchange, harmed aquatic habitat and adversely impacted water quality.

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