Washington County wetlands suit


Sunday, April 6th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


BARTLESVILLE, Okla. (AP) -- A judge is expected to decide later
this month whether a local water board has the right to refuse a
permit for a federally funded wetlands project on private property.
Ramona property owner Ron Griggs filed a lawsuit challenging a
December 2002 ruling by Washington County's Floodplain Board, which
unanimously denied a permit a 186-acre wetlands project.
The wetland project is built six miles northeast of Ramona using
National Resource Conservation Service funds.
Griggs is asking the court to rule that the county board did not
have jurisdiction to require a permit for construction of the
wetlands, which used federal tax dollars.
Griggs, a biologist, returned the property to a wetlands habitat
similar to what existed in the area until the 1970s, hoping it
would benefit wildlife, fishing, hunting and students studying the
environment.
The $22,000 wetland project was designed by the federal resource
conservation service, and Griggs said he was told local permits
would not be required.
Area property owners concerned about the flooding of their land
protested and learned that permits were required by both the local
Floodplain Board and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Concerned landowners have spent a year fighting the project.
Property owners claim the wetlands prevent water from flowing in
its natural path and have caused flooding problems.
A district judge is expected to hear the case April 17.