Md. probes wetlands use in Caroline

Land turned into pasture, state says

April 06, 2007|By Chris Guy | Chris Guy,Sun reporter

State environmental officials are investigating complaints that a Caroline County car dealer and harness racing horse breeder violated terms of a 2004 forestry harvesting plan by cutting trees, clearing stumps and grading a 70-acre tract of non-tidal wetlands, a violation of clean-water laws.

According to the Maryland Department of the Environment, the property near Federalsburg has been converted for use as a pasture for a horse farm. The property owner, Fred Hertrich, operates a half-dozen car dealerships in Maryland and southern Delaware and is a prominent breeder of race horses. Hertrich could not be reached for comment.

Inspectors from the MDE first visited the rural site near the Delaware border in February 2006, the agency said. Inspectors found that in addition to the legal harvesting of timber at the site, stump removal and grading had "changed non-tidal wetlands to another land use and converted non-tidal wetlands to uplands," said a site complaint report filed by the MDE.

"MDE spokeswoman Julie Oberg said the agency has been working with Hertrich to develop a plan for restoring the property.

After a visit in December, state and federal inspectors estimated that 30 to 40 acres would have to be restored as wetlands.

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