- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

POINT BUCKLER, Calif. (AP) - A state water agency on Tuesday proposed a Northern California man pay $4.6 million in fines and restore wetlands he allegedly damaged while trying to build a kite-surfing hub and revive a duck hunting club in a small island northeast of San Francisco.

The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board said John Sweeney and his Point Buckler Club filled and degraded more than 29 acres of tidal wetlands on the 51-acre Point Buckler Island located in Solano County’s Suisun Marsh.

A board hearing on the proposed fine and cleanup order is scheduled for August 10, the board said.

Sweeney bought the island in Grizzly Bay in 2011 and has been trying to recreate a dormant duck club and build a kite-surfing outfit catering to Silicon Valley executives. In September 2014, when he repaired his breached levees without permits, the government stepped in.

State officials say that because the levees had eroded years earlier, the island had reverted to a natural tidal wetland.

Sweeney has said he moved far less material and made the levee fixes following the Suisun Marsh policies set forth by duck clubs, which do not require permits. He also argued that the state mistakenly called his island a tidal wetland, when it is actually an upland.

He sued the agency in March asking the court to ban the board from further abatement orders.

“The regional water board has a vendetta against the club and simply wants to take the land for it to use as a restoration site without buying it,” Sweeney told the East Bay Times (https://bit.ly/1TiWmKD).

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Information from: The East Bay Times, https://www.eastbaytimes.com


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