EPA Sends 'Strong Message' to N.C. Campground

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July 20, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

A federal agency has fined a Bladen County, N.C., campground nearly $40,000 for filling wetlands near White Lake.

Camp Clearwater Enterprises Inc. will pay $38,000 for violating the federal Clean Water Act, according to a release from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

A spokeswoman for Camp Clearwater, a camp located along the lake that offers more than 1,100 campsites for vacationers, said the violation was the result of a misunderstanding and was not intentional, the Fayetteville Observer reported.

The EPA said that camp workers filled approximately three quarters of an acre of wetlands between March 2009 and May 2010.

The wetlands were adjacent to Colly Creek, a tributary of the Black River, the agency said.

The camp spokeswoman said the violation came when the campsite constructed an equipment storage area.

Workers used wetlands markers that were several years old and avoided the wetland areas, but later learned that newer, updated markers were required by law.

The camp did not obtain a necessary permit needed to perform the work near the wetland area.

"As soon as officials made Camp Clearwater aware of problems with permits, we fully cooperated with state and federal officials," said a release from the camp. "The 0.75 acres have been completely restored and are being professionally monitored. This area is now in its natural state and is vibrant and full of life."

An EPA official said the fine was meant to be a "strong message about the importance of protecting wetlands across the Southeast."

"Wetlands are important, yet diminishing resources that serve as habitats for critical fish and wildlife and also help control floods, recharge groundwater and capture pollutants," said Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming, a regional EPA administrator.

Camp Clearwater is a family-run, third-generation campground that mostly serves seasonal campers. It opened in 1964 and has since grown to be one of the largest commercial campgrounds in the state.

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