Wine exec cleared 40 acres of trees for vineyard, CA officials say. He faces $3.75M fine

·2 min read
North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board

A wine executive faces millions in fines after razing dozens of acres of trees for a vineyard in California, water officials said.

The clearing of the oak woodlands caused “significant damage to the streams and wetlands” in the former Alexander Valley Ranch in 2018, according to a news release from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Hugh Reimers and his business Krasilsa Pacific Farms, LLC face a $3.75 million fine from the state board, according to the May 24 news release.

Reimers is accused of removing 40 acres of oak woodlands for vineyard development. The acreage is about 3 miles east of Cloverdale in northern Sonoma County.

In a complaint filed by the state water board, Reimers is accused of not restoring the streams and wetlands to their previous condition after he razed the 40 acres on the 2,278-acre property, which caused “significant damage.”

The streams and wetlands were damaged with fine sediment that led to the tributaries of the Little and Big Sulphur creeks in the Russian River watershed, the release states.

These creeks already had high levels of sediment before the development, so it raised the levels making the creeks “impaired under the Clean Water Act.”

Aquatic creatures and their habitats can also be smothered by the fine sediment, and it can make it difficult for them to find food, the release states.

“Their resistance to restoring those waters caused a loss of natural resources that would otherwise benefit the public, and the proposed fine shows there is a cost for failing to comply with regulations that protect the environment,” North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board assistant executive officer Joshua Curtis said in the release.

Reimers was supposed to submit a work plan in 2019 that would “assess, restore and mitigate for the impacts on their property” by 2020, the release states. But he has not submitted anything as of May 26.

“One of the board’s priorities is to hold accused parties accountable for missed deadlines on existing enforcement orders,” the board said in the release.

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