Hanalei man told
to fix wetlands

The resident contends the EPA
censure is bureaucratic zealotry

LIHUE >> The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordered a Hanalei man yesterday to restore "sensitive wetlands adjacent to the Hanalei River."

From October 2002 until February 2003, the EPA contends, Ed Ben-Dor had contractors excavate a pond and ditch in the wetland area that caused the discharge of dredged materials into the water. The contractors then buried portions of the remaining wetlands with dredged soil and other materials, according to the EPA.

Ben-Dor, a 20-year Hanalei resident, said he slightly enlarged an existing pond to hold his canoe and widened an existing ditch to move the canoe to and from the Hanalei River.

"I've never done anything to harm any land," Ben-Dor said. "The only plants we removed were some hau bushes and replaced them with banana plants and the federal government provides grants to help get rid of hau bushes. It's hardly an endangered species."

His wife, Joan, agreed: "All we did is buy some property and make it pretty. Everybody's happy -- the fish, the wildlife."

Ben-Dor said he is the victim of overzealous bureaucrats who were embarrassed three years ago when they failed to take action and land excavated by retired auto dealer Jimmy Pflueger collapsed into Pilaa Bay following a rainstorm. That incident remains the subject of a series of lawsuits.

Ben-Dor pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of grading without a permit and paid a $1,000 fine to Kauai County.

The EPA then charged him with building a marina without permits and violating the Clean Water Act. The area is less than a half-acre.

Ben-Dor said he would restore the area.

The agency gave Ben-Dor until July 6 to hire an EPA-approved contractor and another 45 days to submit a restoration plan including "replanting the wetland with native plant species."

"They want me to put back the hau bushes? I really don't know what it is they want," Ben-Dor said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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