Farmer fined

Tehama County farmer will pay $1.1 million for damaging waterways

A farmer at the center of a high-profile lawsuit over environmental regulations has agreed to pay $1.1 million in civil penalties and mitigation for work done on his Tehama County property, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice Tuesday (Aug. 15).

John Duarte was ordered to pay to restore streams and wetlands on farmland he purchased in 2012 and “ripped” without a permit. Ripping is a form of tilling aimed at loosening soil, and in this case converted flowing streams, creeks and wetlands to dry land.

Duarte’s case has become a talking point for opponents of environmental regulations, including Rep. Doug LaMalfa, who mentioned Duarte in a June press release, saying he faced fines “simply for plowing his fields.”

The DOJ’s press release notes the land in question hadn’t been plowed for 24 years.