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Under Investigation Over Wetlands posted on 07/27/2023
By Ty Walker
The Mountain Times

A land developer building short-term rental homes near the upper Sandy River is under investigation by the Division Of State Lands for violating the Oregon removal-fill law, which protects wetlands.
Complaints made by Brightwood resident Dan Thompson and others have drawn the state’s attention to property owned by Michael Gregory along the scenic upper Sandy River near Mt. Hood’s Rhododendron and Brightwood communities. Thompson and his neighbors claim that the construction of housing is wreaking havoc on wildlife in the area, threatening some endangered species.
The Division of State Lands in March 2022 assessed a civil penalty of $6,000 – reduced to $2,000 – against Gregory, owner of Gregory Management LLC, for building on wetlands without a permit. The state reduced the civil penalty to $2,000 contingent upon Gregory completing restoration requirements specified in a consent order.
Gregory signed the consent order and agreed to its terms. He then subsequently continued illegal activity, adding more than 50 cubic yards of wood to a wetland without a permit. That likely could mean another penalty for Gregory for violation of the removal-fill law, according to Ali Ryan Hansen, Division of State Lands communications director.
“We haven’t determined which agency will take the lead on investigating that likely violation,” Ryan Hansen said.
Besides the Division Of State Lands, other agencies involved in the investigation  include the  Army Corps Of Engineers and Fish And Wildlife.
The wetlands extend 1 and ¼ miles on the south side of the Sandy River running west near its confluence with the Salmon River. The Division of State Lands determined the wetlands to be spring fed.
Thompson said the wetlands are home to salmon, salamanders, turtles, bears, beavers, eagles and other creatures. The wetlands are composed of ponds, creeks, marshes and varieties of plants.
“His development has devastated 6.1 acres of timber and wetland thus far,” Thompson wrote in a letter to the Division of State Lands. “These acres have been logged and timber lies in large piles to be milled, providing lumber to the homes being built.”
“The company has dumped logged stumps into the small streams. Construction has muddied these streams, allowing contaminants like diesel fuel to poison clean water. These streams connect to the Sandy River.”
Thompson, a board member of Timberline Rim Recreation Club and Timberline Rim Water Co., is active in his community. An ex-police officer and former local school board member, he said the Timberline Rim community shares his concerns about protecting the Sandy River floodplain habitat for wildlife.
For his part, Gregory obtained permits from the Clackamas County Planning Commission to build four short-term rental homes. He said he asked county planners before he bought the property if there were any issues with wetlands that would restrict him from building. He said according to the property description on the county’s map, none were identified.
Then neighbors complained when construction started this spring. The Division Of State Lands and Army Corps of Engineers got involved and Gregory found himself the target of an investigation, which led to the civil penalty and consent order.
After “jumping through all their hoops,” Gregory expects to complete construction of the four homes sometime over the winter. Plans include building a 12 feet wide by 25 feet long road and a culvert under it to let the wetlands pass through, he said.
“The Army Corps Of Engineers is making me pay exorbitant amounts of money to a consulting engineering company, to come and delineate the wetlands to see what it is and where it is,” Gregory said.
Gregory made his last comment during the interview for this story while laughing: “Private property. That’s what I want to say. Get off my land.”



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