California's Humboldt County Attorney Convicted of Multiple Land Use Violations
On Feb. 15, 2012, Humboldt County Attorney Kenneth Bareilles was convicted of violating his felony probation, resulting from prior land use violations in 2011. The case was prosecuted in two days by Deputy District Attorney Christa McKimmy of the Consumer and Environmental Protection unit.
“This is a significant victory for California’s natural resources,” said Warden Jackie Krug of the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG). “As illegal rural development increases each year, so do sediment pollution, stream barriers and the clearing of timber and riparian vegetation. The impacts to our forests and our salmon and steelhead populations are now on a scale not seen in decades.”
The case broke open in the summer of 2011 when DFG Warden Joshua Zulliger responded to a complaint of illegal grading activity on a subdivision owned by Bareilles. Upon inspection, Zulliger found numerous land-use violations impacting fish and wildlife, including a tributary to Redwood Creek that is designated as critical habitat for steelhead trout.
From there, DFG launched an investigation with Zulliger, Environmental Scientist Jane Arnold and Krug. Arnold prepared an analysis of the risk to aquatic resources which documented the impact of road construction, soil stock piled next to or in the stream channels, removal of riparian vegetation and poorly installed stream crossings. DFG then filed a formal complaint against Bareilles and he was convicted.
During a storm in January 2012, the team then returned and witnessed sediment entering streams and flowing downstream toward Redwood Creek during the salmon and trout spawning and rearing season. As the rain continued, video was taken of an estimated 10 cubic yards of sediment becoming saturated and flowing like lava into one of four affected streams on site.
At a sentencing hearing on March 15, 2012, Bareilles submitted a signed Streambed Alteration Agreement with DFG, as ordered by the court. Judge Schafer denied Bareilles’ request to reduce his felony probation to a misdemeanor and was also ordered to comply with the Streambed Alteration Agreement to help restore the site.