Western Mass. Farmer Ordered to Restore Damaged Wetlands

Last week, the EPA ordered in an Administrative Order a complete restoration of more than 17 acres of freshwater wetlands in Whately, Mass. due to the destruction of the Wetlands that were altered during the production and preparation of new farm fields by the farmer from 1984 to 2005.

James Pasiecnik, the farmer accused of initiating the grading and filling of 17.3 acres will be required to restore the wetlands back to its original environmental state. Pasiecnik owns J. M. Pasciecnik Farms in Whately, Mass where total acres on this farm exceed 150. Officially tagged at 157 acres, the farm has been under operation since 1984. Workers have been filling, dredging, and destroying wetlands there ever since.

Under instruction from the EPA, the western Mass. farmer will be required to remove all unnatural land fill and other ecological imbalances. To be returned to its previous state, a seed conservation mix including shrubs and trees will be introduced to restore the wetlands in the terraces of the Old Connecticut River.

In addition, Pasiecnik will be expected to fill a 1,400 foot linear trench along the western border of the farm located near the Old Connecticut River. The interrupted wetlands have been molded over thousands of years of undisturbed wildlife habitat.

In order to extricate the wetlands,  it is necessary to acquire a federal permit as per the Clean Water Act, which would have given authorization to add fill materials to the wetlands. This permit was never attained by Pasiecnik, and is only given out strictly by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Corps must be briefed in regards to the reason for changing the wetlands even when the expansion of Farming lands. The independent farmer must now consult the National Resources Conservation Service on appropriate irrigation services that will minimize environmental discourse such as lowering the water table.

The dire importance of the wetlands must not be miscalculated. The area provides large quantities of food, attracting a a variety of animal species. The animals rely on the area for all or part of their life-cycle. Organic matter feeds small aquatic insects and fish that become food for a larger group of species.

The farmer and the EPA will have a gigantic mess to sort out between the wetlands and the enforcement of regulations in the near future as a result of the degradation of ecological life.

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