Camden in negotiations for fine, terms for Snow Bowl environmental violations
CAMDEN — The Department of Environmental Protection has set the fine for the town of Camden and BCD Excavation and Forestry at $44,000 for violations caused by logging operations in 2014 to enlarge ski trails at the Snow Bowl.
Select Board Chairman John French said DEP and Town Attorney Bill Kelly are negotiating the consent agreement. The negotiation regards possible in-kind payment of the fine, such as mitigation, French said. Wetland or stream restoration are two examples of environmental mitigation.
French said the logging company came to the town "highly recommended." He said that "in hindsight, we should have had a project manager. It would have been easier on everybody."
Dave Madore, DEP spokesperson, said $44,000 is "a baseline." He said the final amount of the fine can vary depending on the negotiation, but will probably not be higher. Madore confirmed that mitigation ordered as a result of a consent agreement can be done to restore a different site in need of the work.
Dawn Hallowell, with the DEP Bureau of Land Resources enforcement division said she has inspected the Camden Snow Bowl many times over a two-year period. The process involved the DEP asking for additional erosion controls, she explained, and the town of Camden doing the work to install the controls. She last inspected the Snow Bowl area in Spring 2016, and said it is stable and under control, and that vegetation is growing there.
In 2014, during logging to expand ski trails, the logging operation and heavy logging equipment caused areas of soil to be exposed. According to a Sept. 18, 2014, DEP Notice of Violation, "during the logging operation, BCD Excavation and Forestry skidded trees down several pre-existing ski trails, severely disturbing soils, without the use of erosion and sedimentation controls."
In 2015, town officials reported that approximately 15 acres was cleared for trails. Heavy rains in June and December 2014 washed loose soil down the mountain and into Hosmer Pond, prompting concern from neighbors on the pond and generating the attention of DEP. Ineffective erosion control measures were also cited by town officials.
In May 2016, an aerial photograph identified a blob of algae in Hosmer Pond, estimated by the DEP to be around 2.5 acres in size. In July, staff from the Lakes and Ponds unit visited Hosmer Pond to investigate removal processes for the algae blob.
DEP Notice of Violation
The DEP notice states that it received complaints in 2014 with "photographic documentation of erosion occurring from the project area into Hosmer Brook and Hosmer Pond." During site visits, the DEP observed sediment suspended in the waters of the brook and pond, and in the woods between construction activity and the brook.
Activities that were not permitted are noted by the DEP. The DEP had approved alteration of wet meadow and forested wetlands in an area of 7,028 square feet. The town was required to submit after-the-fact permit applications for the "additional wetland impacts associated with construction activities," was required to remove sediment from Hosmer brook and other areas, and to restore "freshwater wetlands altered during construction."
The DEP also observed that "several areas adjacent to a regulated, unnamed stream, located between the old t-bar lift and Northeaster ski trail had been cleared of vegetation and the soil disturbed. Additionally, the unnamed stream had been diverted in several locations into water bars created across the slope to divert runoff and stabilize the slope."
In the notice, the DEP cited the following violations:
— Filling, displacing or exposing soil without taking adequate measures to prevent unreasonable erosion of soil or sediment beyond the project site or into protected natural resources, a violation of the Erosion and Sedimentation Control Law;
— Discharging a pollutant, namely soil, to waters of the state without first obtaining a permit from the DEP, a violation of the Protection and Improvement of Waters Act;
— Starting construction of a project that includes an acre or more of disturbed area without first obtaining a permit from the DEP, a violation of Stormwater Management Law;
— Removing or displacing soil and vegetation adjacent to a stream, filling a stream, and displacing soil and vegetation in a freshwater wetland without first obtaining a permit from the DEP, and failing to follow DEP approved plans, violations of the Natural Resources Protection Act.
Courier Publications reporter Jordan Bailey contributed to this report. Courier Publications reporter Susan Mustapich can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.