Farmer’s guilty verdict affirmed

Staff reports

On January 27, 2011, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of Alvin Peterson, 79, Lawton, ND, on two counts of improperly draining wetlands.

The draining occurred on July 5, 2007, when Peterson hired a contractor to construct ditches into protected wetlands. Peterson had farmed the land for decades, and knew where the wetlands were located. Peterson was previously convicted of draining certain wetlands in 2004. Peterson was sentenced to probation, and restoration of the injured wetlands was a condition of probation in his previous conviction for draining wetlands. Peterson did not comply with the restoration conditions and the Court issued an order authorizing U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to restore the wetlands and Peterson was to pay the costs of restoration.

The restoration work was completed in the fall of 2006. Some of the wetlands drained in the July 2007 incident included wetlands restored in 2006.

On February 24, 2009, Magistrate Judge Senechal sentenced Peterson to a $10,000 fine, five years of probation, $20.00 special assessment, and restoration of the protected wetlands. All of the wetlands were restored in the late fall of 2009.