It’s not the same area, it’s the SAME LAND that Duarte bought from the farmer (from the article).
The attorneys representing Duarte are now also representing the farmer (from the article).
Duarte sold a portion of the property to Goose Ag who heavily modified the pastures for orchards. Goose Ag and its operations managing company were fined $5.3 million last year.
“This case stems from activities these companies conducted after they purchased property that had laid fallow and unfarmed for more than 20 years. Goose Pond bought the 1,500-acre property in 2012 from Duarte Nursery, Inc. for $8.7 million, and shortly thereafter, Farmland Management Services began operating heavy machinery through streams and wetlands as part of the companies efforts to convert the property to a walnut orchard. That machinery included deep rippers that drag long metal shanks through the ground to break up or pierce highly compacted, impermeable or slowly permeable surface layers, or other similar kinds of restrictive soil layers. The deep ripping in this case destroyed or significantly degraded the streams and wetlands at the site.”
“Last year, in resolving a related case against John Duarte and Duarte Nursery, Inc., who had conducted unpermitted ripping activities immediately south of the property at issue here, the United States gave assurances that these cases are not (and will not be used as) a pretext for federal prosecution of farmers who engage in normal plowing on their farms. No federal dredge-or-fill permit is required for plowing as defined in the regulations, and no such permit is required for discharges from normal farming activities, such as plowing, if they are part of an established ongoing farming operation and not for the purpose of converting federally protected waters to new uses. Those protections for farmers remain in the law today and will continue to be recognized.”
Also from the article (linked).
It seems clear that the farmer is being punished for simply having owned the land at one time or, perhaps, some ACE intern matched a map of his plowing in 2011 to a map of a dry indentation in a field which they define as ‘wetland’ or a ‘dry stream’...same crap they’ve pulled in Oregon.