Friday, April 20, 2012

Background on Sackett from the Environmental Consultant

Earlier this month I wrote about how the U.S. Supreme Court gave the Sacketts the right to take the EPA to court over the EPA's compliance order finding the their property to be wetlands. Take a look at the interesting discussion going on at the LinkedIn page of ABA Section on the Environment, Energy, and Resources Law's. Ray Kagel, Jr., of Kagel Environmental, LLC writes about the background of the Sackett case. His firm had involvement early on working with the Sacketts. It seems their neighbor had also been subject to EPA enforcement actions:
When Mike and Chantell Sackett asked us (Kagel Environmental, LLC), to perform a wetland assessment of their personal homesite property located at Priest Lake, Idaho, we agreed to their request since we had already traveled to northern Idaho to provide expert testimony at a federal trial whereby Sackett's neighbor, Jack Barron, had been criminally charged for allegedly filling 4 acres of wetlands associated with the construction of his retirement home. Upon digging several soil [test] pits on the approximate .6 acre Sackett homesite, it became clearly evident to us that the major portion of Mike and Chantell's property was NOT a jurisdictional wetland. To their demonstrated courage and resolve, their unshakable belief in our professional [wetlands] opinion, and to the credit and excellent legal representation by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a unanimous Supreme Court handed down a serious spanking to the EPA as a consequence of their "high handedness" against private property owners everywhere. My firm anticipates a return to the Sackett homesite to complete a more comprehensive identification and/or delineation of jurisdictional wetland resources later this year in hopes of helping Mike and Chantell to reach final, and satisfactory resolution to a nightmarish ordeal that unfortunately is far from unique to the Sacketts'. By the way, after an 8-day trial whereby EPA and Corps of Engineers wetland experts tried to convince a 12 member jury that his entire 4-acre homesite was jurisdictional wetlands, the jury determined that Mr. Barron's wetland consultants demonstrated stronger scientific evidence to the contrary, and Barron was therefore acquitted of all 4 felony counts upon which he'd been indicted.
This was interesting to me because I had been wondering why the EPA started looking at the Sacketts' property. It will be interesting to see how Mr. Kagel's firm is able to help the Sacketts reach a final resolution in their case.

EDIT 4/28/12: Here is a story about Jack Barron's plight.