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Eoff plans challenge to dam removal

A Clinton landowner has filed a court challenge to an EPA order to remove his dam.

Lawyers for Dan Eoff argue that removing the dam would place an immense financial expense on Eoff, as would having to pay $37,000 per day in fines under an order by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Eoff built the 30-foot tall dam on a tributary of the South Fork of the Little Red River in June 2012. He did not have a permit to build the dam and received notice in August 2012 from the Van Buren County flood plain manager and the Army Corps of Engineers to remove it. There was concern that the dam could cause sedimentation in the waterway and the Corps of Engineers voiced concern over two endangered species — the yellowcheek darter and the speckled pocketbook mussel — that are found in the river’s South Fork.

Eoff’s lawyer Grant Ballard has asked a U.S. District court to rule that the dam does not violate the federal Clean Water Act because it does not add dirt to waters of the United States.

In March, the Arkansas Attorney General’s office asked to enter the case as an adversarial party. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said he was “concerned about the danger that this dam poses to the environment and to Van Buren County residents.”

Ballard said in court filings Friday that any pollution from the dam is speculative and the state has “no recognizable or cognizable interest in the subject of this litigation.”

U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. has not ruled on the state’s request.

At a hearing held last summer at the Clinton Municipal Airport the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission ordered that the dam be removed. An engineering firm hired by Eoff said the removal and restoration could cost up to $750,000. After questions about a possible FOIA violation at a dinner held the night before the meeting, the ANRC has rescinded its order and removed itself from the case.

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