SEATTLE — Washington state regulators have fined a property owner $79,000 for clearing sensitive shoreline on San Juan Island.
The Department of Ecology last week issued two penalties to Orca Dreams LLC for illegally cutting down at least 80 trees last fall, as well as failing to get a permit and allowing polluting material to enter False Bay.
Orca Dreams was formed by Dave Honeywell, a Fredericksburg, Virginia, man who won a $217 million Powerball lottery last year, KUOW-FM reported. The company paid $6 million for the property on San Juan’s outer shore and plans to develop it into a retirement home and family compound with multiple buildings.
Friday Harbor lawyer Stephanie Johnson O’Day, who is representing Honeywell and his wife, said they accept responsibility for their contractor clearing more brush than they wanted. She said the couple will appeal the fine.
“Admittedly, the fellow who did the brush clearing went overboard,” she told KUOW. “But it wasn’t clear-cutting. Instead of thinning out the bushes, he took out all the bushes.”
The Honeywells are being “crucified” for something that’s been blown completely out of proportion, she said.
The state has ordered the company to come up with a restoration plan by the end of August and to replant the site by Oct. 31.
Ecology officials said investigators observed vegetation cleared to bare soil on a steep bank above the bay and found slash and debris on the beach at the tide line. The property is near a biological preserve owned by the University of Washington.
“It was basically clear-cut, so all of the trees were cut down to a pretty low stump height, then it was burned,” said Doug Allen, with the Washington Department of Ecology. He added that it will take decades of growth for the slope to regain the function that the mature trees provided.
Ecology officials said the clearing took out dozens of trees more than a foot in diameter.