SANTA YNEZ VALLEY, Calif. - Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce E. Dudley announced today that an environmental-protection lawsuit against Ludlow Westerly, LLC, reached a resolution.
The District Attorney's Office said the final judgment, without admission of liability, in this civil case filed on November 8 in the Superior Court for Santa Barbara County, Cook Division.
Ludlow Westerly operates a business called the Westerly Stud Farm and Equestrian Center in the Santa Ynez Valley.
In March 2015, the Department of Fish and Wildlife claimed that Ludlow Westerly filled in around 700 to 1,000 linear feet of creek channel with dirt from a nearby slope.
This creek is an unnamed tributary to the south form of the Santa Agueda Creek in the Santa Ynez watershed.
The incident allegedly occurred sometime between April 2011 and April 2013. The environmental damage was significant, according to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office.
The civil complaint said that the filling of the creek channel caused the removal of native plants including mature oak riparian habitat, the burial of ground-dwelling animals which did not or could not escape, loss of nesting and foraging habitat for birds and mammals and the sedimentation of the creek downstream of the fill site. In conclusion, the complaint claims that Ludlow Westerly’s misconduct violated the Fish and Game Code.
Ludlow Westerly cooperated with the authorities to reach a settlement that includes mandatory provisions for environmental remediation and restoration.
District Attorney Dudley said, “Our successful civil environmental actions are the direct result of the smart and hard work of DDA Christopher Dalbey. These particular violations harmed our wildlife and riparian resources. The primary goal of this settlement is habitat restoration, and we are grateful that the defendant agreed to resolve this matter on terms necessary to achieve this goal.”
The Final Judgement reached included provisions that added up to $45,000 in civil penalties, payable to the County of Santa Barbara; $5,000 to the Department of Fish and Wildlife as reimbursement for costs of investigation; and an injunction requiring Ludlow Westerly to comply with the terms of a Streambed Alteration Agreement as directed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and with the terms of a Stream Channel and Riparian Restoration Plan that the Department of Fish and Wildlife already approved.